I don’t talk about the Crazy here much. Mostly because this is a topical blog about the Fat. Also, mental health falls under that “my health is not your damn business” umbrella.
But mental illness also continues to be stigmatized until we can’t even talk about it in public – there’s a lot of shame in our society, enough for everyone! – and talking about it is one of the best ways to undermine that.
What I can do right now today is talk about one way the Fat and the Crazy are currently intersecting for me.
So, for me, one of the very hardest, most awfulest to try to overcome parts of FA was the idea that I had to listen to my body and trust that I was interpretting its messages correctly. For an example: I have a proliferation of allergies, both food and environmental. Before I pursued actual useful medical treatment (as opposed to being told the allergies would go away if I lost weight), I had no goddamn idea if I was having an allergy attack or if I had a cold. In fact, it was so impossible to tell that everything read as allergies.
Everything read as allergies to the point that, even when genuinely ill in ways that allergies do not generally produce, I’d think it was allergies. I’d be throwing up and blaming it on my allergies. Because, you know, having strep throat is JUST like having a response to rampant pollen. Because having pnuemonia is identical to a sinus headache!
*facepalm* I was, of course, being an idiot. But an idiot in a really common way. I was entirely disconnected from my body but I was also so used to not trusting my own perceptions, to disbelieving my own interpretations that any messages that DID come through were dismissed.
Not only did I not listen to my body, I didn’t believe it. Because hey, my own senses were not to be trusted.
But the thing about FA is that you have to listen to what your body says and you have to reject the dominant cultural paradigm and you have to trust, as close to unwaveringly as possible, that your experience does matter, that it isn’t a lie – you have to believe that not only is your experience not something you’ve made up but that other people have also experienced these things, enough other people that maybe the crazy person isn’t you – it’s our cultural standards.
That’s when people start to call you crazy. They accuse you of being delusional. They accuse you of willfully ignoring all the evidence that says you’re Going To Die of Fat. Need I say how hard this was for me? I think it’s one reason that, while I’m very good at talking to strangers about FA, I’m not so great at talking about it (or talking about writing in general, for that matter) with people I hold near and dear.
I’ve been having a really hard time of it for a little while – not in a doubt-my-commitment-to-FA way but in a doubt-my-identity-and-worth-and-skill way. And I have these moods… a friend of mine describes obsessive thoughts as head rats. They chew at the wiring and short circuit all the coping mechanisms and compartmentalization. Another friend calls it the hamster wheel – because you really are just running in place no matter how much your mind races.
And here is what I have to say to myself when that hamster wheel starts to squeak: My fat is not caused by my crazy. My commitment to FA is not caused by my crazy. My crazy is not caused by my fat. My crazy is not caused by my commitment to FA. And I do use the word crazy because that is how my diagnosed mental illness makes me feel and that is part of the vocabulary we use in the community of people with mental illnesses that I have somehow become a part of. It isn’t a huge community and I don’t know what the larger community would prefer but this is what I’ve got at the end of the day right now. It is my crazy. I will own it.
I am currently in the market for a new therapist. I thought I had one but she stood me up (NICE) so I’m still looking, wading through the lists from my insurance company. And in my head is this creeping dread of going to a new therapist’s office and having The Fat Conversation on top of the History of My Mental Illness and Treatment conversation. I’m so freaked out that I am going to have to, once again, tell a medical professional: My fat is not caused by my crazy. My commitment to FA is not caused by my crazy. My crazy is not caused by my fat. My crazy is not caused by my commitment to FA.
Doubting my own ability to correctly interpret what is going on around me means that I often let things go without trusting that, yes, xyz situation is fucked up. It’s why I let some exes do some shady things and why it is hard for me to break off unhealthy friendships. It’s also one reason I don’t tend to call people out very often. What if I’m WRONG???
Sometimes my temper gets the best of me or sometimes something is so heinous that it has to be called out though – and that leads into a different spiral about how, sure, it needed to be done but now I’m an awful person for being the person to do it.
I realize this is probably one of the most unfun posts I’ve ever made here. *laugh* I swear, I’m not entirely seriousface about this – I can talk about my brain dysfunction without it meaning I think I’m a bad person. I’m not a bad person – I’m a good person with some bad brain chemistry that gives me shit of all varieties from time to time. This happens to a lot of people and what makes them good or bad people is not the fact of their screwed up chemistry.
Sometimes I have really bad days. I say to myself, self, what if you are wrong about all of this and you are leading other people to ruin because of your epic wrongness? Wouldn’t it be easier to just go on a diet? You could totally do it this time!
This is why I have a policy of not making any big life decisions when I am depressed, anxious, manic, or otherwise chemically out of the whack. Because those thoughts are really seductive. They promise the illusion of control, an illusion of control over my body even if I can’t have it over my brain.
These are the days I really do have to walk around reminding myself: My fat is not caused by my crazy. My commitment to FA is not caused by my crazy. My crazy is not caused by my fat. My crazy is not caused by my commitment to FA.
And of course it isn’t even as simple as all that because there are so many environmental factors – none of us are living in a vacuum so when people scoff at intersectionality I kind of want to ask them what’s WRONG with them. It won’t ever be JUST the Fat and the Crazy that are fighting it out in my head for title of Most-Influential-Cultural-Message-of-the-Day.
It could just as easily be: My crazy is not caused by me being a woman. My crazy is not caused by me being a fat woman. My crazy is not caused by me being a fat woman in her 30s. AND SO ON.
There’s no neat summation for any of this. Maybe that’s part of the difficulty with talking about mental health issues in general. And issues of intersectionality in general – there is no tidy bow you can wrap around it. We just have to keep talking about it.
At the end of the day, I am a crazy fat lady. And I think that’s not a bad thing to be.
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