Friday, 22 April 2016

How Your Fat Friend Feels

This is a post I've wanted to write for a long that I've drafted in my head countless times before, but never actually managed to sit and write...because whenever I try to start it, the words never seem to come.

My emotions and thoughts on the topic are so plentiful and varied that it's almost impossible to actually single them out and really make any proper sense of them.

It's almost as if my mind is screaming a billion different things at once, so that I can't actually focus on any one single's just a mess of noise. A mess of feelings, a mess of conflicting emotions and of points I want to raise but without really knowing how to. sum it all up in the most basic of terms...I'm fat, and it feels pretty shit.

Now don't let the title of this post give you the wrong impression...I'm not here to speak on behalf of all overweight people, I can't do that...everybody is different and I'm sure plenty of larger people feel perfectly comfortable in their own skin, happy with their size and never feel judged or less than anybody else or uneasy like I do.

Which is GREAT...I wish I could be that way and I applaud and celebrate everybodys right to be at ease with themselves at whatever size or shape they happen to be.

This is written purely from my own perspective...I'm the fat friend this title refers to.

It's a strange thing you know...being fat...because in my head, I'm not.

In my minds eye, when I imagine what I look like...I don't see myself as a fat person.

I don't see myself as a perfect person either, don't get me wrong...regardless of whether I'm a size 6 or a size 26 I don't think I'll ever feel truly comfortable in my skin, I'll never be ecstatic about my appearance, i'll never feel pretty.

I spent my school years being bullied and told everyday how ugly I am, how goofy my teeth are, how pale my skin is...things like that don't go away easily, not for me anyway, and so pretty is something I'll never run the risk of feeling.

But the "me" in my minds eye and the me looking back at me in the mirror don't tally up...and so I get a bit of a shock on those days when I linger a little longer than usual to evaluate my reflection in the mirror and really take stock of what my body looks like these days. Because it's such a far cry from the "me" I see in my head.

Let me rewind things a little for you...because my body didn't always look this way.

In fact when I was 18, I had the opposite issue to the one I have now - I was 8 and a half stone back then, and a size 8.

This was before it was really trendy to be a size 0, and at that time a size 8 was the smallest size you could buy in most high street was considered the smallest anyone would want to be and was definitely considered "Too skinny", at least by people I knew...the ideal size then was supposed to be a 10.

At 5'9, I felt too thin and I didn't think it suited me.

So I worried a lot about my appearance but for different reasons than I do now - I worried that my hip bones stuck out too much so I wouldn't wear cropped tops, I worried that my arms looked long and gangly so I avoided short sleeves, I worried that my face looked haggard and too thin.  I wore short skirts like there was no tomorrow but you'd never have caught me in anything showing my bony shoulders.

Around that time, I was diagnosed with graves disease - an autoimmune disorder that alters the thyroid function and makes it go from underactive to overactive at random. It was overactive at the time I was diagnosed, which was probably contributing to my skinniness.

I was put on steroid based medication to straighten things out...and I soon ballooned up.

My weight from that point has yo-yoed a lot...I've gone up and down depending on my thyroid function and medication at the time.

I've gone from that size 8 figure feeling self-consciously thin, to a size 22 feeling self-consciously fat and basically everywhere in between.

The most comfortable I've ever felt was just before I fell pregnant with my first child...I was around 12 and a half stone, and a comfortable size 14 - I felt like that was the right size for my frame. I felt comfortable in any clothing, and I felt that weight suited me - I didn't look too thin and I didn't feel at all fat.

During my pregnancy I remained on thyroid medication, and I struggled to get my levels back to normal after the birth.

My weight was soon ballooning higher than ever before, and once my second child had arrived two years later I was the heaviest I'd ever been, having gained over 5 stone since my first pregnancy.

And then suddenly I was pregnant again...the 3rd pregnancy in as many years.... and although I only gained 13lbs during this pregnancy and I have lost a total of 24 lbs since his arrival 9 weeks ago - I am still 5 stone over my target weight.

Everyday when I see my reflection in the hallway mirror, I feel like crying...often I do cry...I feel repulsed by the image looking back at me, I feel like that's not really me.

I raid my wardrobe and try on several outfits before I find something that I feel confident enough to walk downstairs in...I study every angle in that mirror, I pick myself apart, I berate myself over and over again...I tell myself how disgusting I am, how hideous I look, how much other people must be repulsed by me.

Lately it's gotten to the point of not wanting to leave the house - I had to call in to a supermarket last week to pick up a birthday cake for my sister, once I was in there I suddenly felt like everybody was staring at me.

 I headed to the clothes section to browse for tops with long sleeves because I don't want to have my arms on show anymore...a woman stood next to me to look through the tops and I panicked...My mind was flooded with thoughts of "Is she looking at what sizes I'm buying? If I accidentally pick up a small size is she going to laugh and say "You wish!"..Is she thinking someone my size shouldn't be buying this kind of top?"...

I got myself to the till as quickly as possible, with my head down so nobody could see the tears in my eyes and I vowed that from now on I'd only shop online, because I just can't deal with the worry of what people might be thinking and how they might be judging me.

The next day we needed to go out for some reason or other, Jon had loaded all the kids into the car...all I had to do was go and get into it.

It was right outside our front garden...about 10 steps from the front door. But I couldn't do it.

I sat there for about 15 minutes, crying on the sofa...terrified of the thought of walking those few steps  from my front door to the car.

I can't explain how awful I felt...I just couldn't handle the thought of anybody seeing me. I didn't want anybody to look at me. Just the thought of a neighbour looking out of their window and catching a glimpse of me was enough to send me into a panic.

These days the only time I feel comfortable heading out of the front door is after dark...when I feel protected, when I feel like my body isn't so visible to everybody.

I know this isn't healthy, I know it's becoming dangerous mental health territory.

I'm trying my best to eat healthier and the weight is coming off slowly...but this is the problem with a thyroid disorder, the weight will only come off very slowly and only if my thyroid is behaving itself...if its not then my weight could balloon again regardless of what I'm eating or I could end up back on more steroid medication which will have the same effect.

Even if my thyroid does behave itself, losing 5 stone isn't going to happen overnight and it's going to be a long hard slog to get there.

And so, in the meantime, I'm left with these fat friend feelings.

What do I mean by fat friend feelings?

Well you see....when you're the fat friend, a simple conversation with friends that you were enjoying just moments ago can suddenly head into uncomfortable territory.

When you're the fat friend, you dread the conversation turning to appearance... I understand that everybody has their body image struggles but when you hear your size 10 and 12 friends start referring to themselves as "So gross" or "Whales"'s a pretty shit feeling when you're 5 sizes larger than them.

When you're the fat friend and you hear your friends speak about themselves that way, you worry about what they must think of somebody your size if that's how they see themselves.

When you're the fat friend, you worry that these conversations have them wondering how uncomfortable it's making you feel...your paranoid mind has you wondering if they think you ought to be feeling uncomfortable given how disgustingly large you are...

When you're the fat friend, you avoid conversations about favourite foods or what you ate for dinner because what if they're all silently judging you and thinking "So that's why she's the size she is..." or "I doubt she just ate a salad for dinner, look at the size of her!"

When you're the fat friend, you sit in a restaurant worrying about what to order incase people around you are going to look at it and judge...Is she eating too much? Is that why she's fat? Did she order something unhealthy? It's been a while since I felt comfortable enough to order any dessert in a restaurant, that's for sure!

When you're the fat friend, you silently cringe and well up a little every time you see a friend share a "funny" meme or video with some underlying fat joke on Facebook...those oh-so-hilarious dancing fat girl vines just make me die a bit inside and wonder if you're laughing at me the same way behind my back coz it so hilarious purely because that person is fat?!

When you're the fat friend, you imagine that every single snub...every lack of approval...every sideways glance is because of your appearance. You didn't get many likes on a Facebook picture? It's because you're fat. You tried to join in a conversation at mummy group and they didn't seem to want to talk to you? It's because you're fat. You didn't picked for a certain blog opportunity? It's because you're fat.

I hate that this is how I feel right now.

I've never been a confident person but the low I feel right now is on a whole new level...every day when I look in that mirror I feel ashamed. I feel appalled. I feel sub-human. I feel unworthy of kindness, of being a normal part of society. I feel as though I should hide. I feel as though I shouldn't subject anybody to seeing me. I feel as though I should expect nasty comments because I deserve them.

And I know that's wrong. But its true.

I feel as though my appearance is an embarrassment not only to me but to my kids. I don't want them to have the fat mum...I don't want them to feel ashamed of me, or to have anybody ever question why their mum looks the way she does.

It's easy to say "Keep trying to lose weight"..."You'll get there in the end"..."Love yourself as you are" and all the rest of it...but it's not so easy to really take those things in.

You can't force a feeling and right now the only thing I feel is shame.

If you enjoy my blog, please consider taking a moment to vote for me as Best Pregnancy Blog in the 2016 MAD Awards here - it would mean the world to me!

Blogger Template by pipdig