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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85 Comments

  1. Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Crazy fat lady representing!! I am glad you wrote about this because I have some head rats too, and I’m all for making mental illness more visible, but it has such unfun ramifications sometimes. So, I applaud your discussing the mental + fat intersection.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      It’s like talking about mental illness KILLS THE PARTY. Man. I talk about it in my LJ a pretty good deal but I realized that I never talk about it here and that’s kind of ridiculous.

      Don’t the head rats just suck? I mean, they suck so profoundly sometimes there really isn’t a profound way to say it.

  2. Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    *hug* Seemed appropriate. :)

  3. Cara Wallace
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Good post! I think the intersectionality of things is key, and part of why being in the moment is both so hard and so vital. If that makes any sense.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      It does make sense – and I agree. Being part of a social justice movement often challenges people to think about things they never have before or in ways they wouldn’t on their own. And it makes me think SO MUCH about how much things suck. That’s kind of heavy (no pun intended) and it’s work. It’s just really really really worthwhile work.

  4. Liza-the-second
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    From one crazy fat lady in her 30s (who is never going to marry and have children oh noez!) to another: thank you.

    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.

    This, this, a thousand times this. And there was a time when–basically there was a period of four or five years where I was in no condition to make decisions. And I didn’t. I just went on existing from day to day, and it sucked, but I did get out of it, and now I have those days from time to time, and it is so damn tempting to give in to them.

    But like you say, I have to remind myself that I wouldn’t run a marathon with a broken ankle and I don’t make major life decisions with station KCUF playing in my head, and so far, I’m mostly doing okay.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I am glad you are mostly doing okay. That’s a pretty damn big accomplishment, don’t you think?

      One of the things that pisses me off no end is when people talk about medication/therapy being a crutch. Fuck yeah, it’s a crutch. I’d use a crutch if my damn leg were broken and as long as my brain chemistry is broken, I’ll use one for that, too!

      • Liza-the-second
        Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Heh, I use that same reply to that delightful bit of ass-haberdashery. A CRUTCH IS A USEFUL MEDICAL TOOL YOU GOOBERS.

        I had a (former) (for various reasons) friend–a med student at the time–tell me, “Oh, I don’t believe in anti-depressants.” And I was like… they’re real? I have a bottle of ‘em right here? What do you say to that kind of stupid?

        • TR
          Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          GOOBERS! HAHAHAHAHA!

          Ahem.

          I don’t think there is any adequate response to that kind of ridamndiculousness.

        • Caitlin
          Posted May 6, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          “Great, ’cause I don’t believe in your ability to deliver adequate medical care”?

          WTF doesn’t believe in anti-despressants. Cool, yeah. I don’t believe in insulin! Give me an MD and unleash me on the public.

      • Sarah M.
        Posted May 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        I NEVER thought of it like that…brilliant phrasing. And I’m happy about the anti-anxiety meds I take, but this just…helps!

  5. Annie
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for acknowledging that, even you (what did they call you – leader of the FA movement), in your darkest moments think about dieting. And yes, I validate my craziness with the acknowledgment of other crazy thoughts/actions.

    I have to say, though, to some extent, I believe my fat is caused by my crazy. My crazy isn’t caused by my fat, though. I would classify an eating disorder as crazy, and said eating disorder makes me fat.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m not entirely sure that it is possible for ANYONE including big fat activist fatties to complete clear out that old record that gets played about how much easier/better/whatever life would be if we just lost weight. It’s on mute most of the time but every now and then the volume gets turned up to 11. My hope, with FA reaching younger audiences, is that this won’t be true for everyone for always, you know?

      Your fat might be caused by your crazy – I think that’s going to be just as individual as pretty much everything else is when it comes to HAES.

  6. Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad you wrote this. I’m a bi-polar type II Fats and have been struggling to find a balance inbetween exercise because it’s fun and good for me and exercising to try and lose weight. Ack.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Bi-polar represent! Type II, with hypomania, here. *high five* I wrote about it a little bit in the book but I just don’t touch on it much and I have a sneaking suspicion that I should – there seem to be a good number of us crazy fat ladies running around.

      It’s so easy to get obsessive about exercise. I have found that doing nontraditional stuff – or just stuff I didn’t do during my dieting days – helps with that. Like, water aerobics and that sort of thing. I get the benefit of movement without the baggage.

  7. Lori
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Another crazy fat woman in her 30s. (I used to pull my son home from preschool in a wagon, and so I’d pull the empty wagon the mile to his school every afternoon. One day I was walking down the street, wearing a silly hat and orange shoes and pulling my empty wagon, and I looked down at myself and thought, “I look like Crazy Wagon Lady. I bet there’s people looking outside there window right now going, ‘There goes Crazy Wagon Lady again.’” And I have to say I really didn’t mind.)

    I have huge issues with trusting my body. In my case, having panic disorder, I do find my body responding to things in inappropriate ways. I find myself feeling a sense of impending doom when there’s really nothing wrong. So, dealing with my crazy has involved learning to not listen to my body at times: to not take my heart racing as a sign that something is wrong, to not take that feeling that something horrible is going to happen as a signal that there’s any real danger, to ignore the feeling of light-headedness or dread and just do what I need to do, because every single time things end up being fine and I feel better pretty quickly.

    That can sometimes make it difficult to trust my body, but I guess there’s a difference between trusting my body (which I can do) and trusting in what I’m feeling at the moment (which could very well be wrong). I don’t need to trust that my racing heart means that something is wrong, but I can trust that my heart can handle the racing just fine. I don’t need to trust the danger signals my body is sending me when I’m going to do something perfectly safe, but I can trust that my body will get me through the situation. I guess it’s a matter, for me, of learning to trust my body in the right things.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Crazy Wagon Lady! That is utterly fantastic.

      Thank YOU. It’s a valuable perspective, to think about the different ways we can and cannot trust our bodies and their messages and the compromises we have to make when we’ve got the crazypants on.

  8. Misti
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I really, *really* dig this. I needed this today like woah.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      I was really unsure about posting this because, when I read back over it, I’m not sure how much sense it makes. But I am so glad that I did now. Thank you.

  9. Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    As another Crazy Fat Lady, I think it’s important to talk about how the Crazy and Fat intersect and do NOT intersect – and hearing your take on The State of the Marianne is a good thing. Even parties have their serious moments, right?

    [ ps - love YOU! *hug*]

  10. Eustaciavye
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not also forget the fact that a lot of mentally ill people need to take psych meds to be productive and happy, and those psych meds can make you gain weight. At which point the doctor will criticize the mentally ill person for gaining and send them to a nutritionist, a health coach, a personal trainer and god knows what all because they HAVE to lose the weight. Or worse, will take them off meds that are working because of weight gain and then they will lose the weight super fast BUT be depressed or manic or psychotic and end up back in the hospital with cut marks up and down their body… and will be criticized for the cutting and then the cycle begins again.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      SO MUCH WORD.

      I meant to mention this – thank you for bringing it up. I’d So Much Rather be fat and alive than… not.

    • occhiblu
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      I was trying to find information about anti-depressant-caused weight gain, and I found a discussion site in which a woman on an SSRI decided, based on others’ experiences, to stop taking it because she didn’t want to gain weight. She said something like, “I want to be as healthy as I can for my upcoming wedding, so I’m going to stop taking Prozac.”

      I thought, That right there is what happens when we conflate “skinny” with “healthy,” and it’s really not good.

      • Anna2
        Posted May 6, 2010 at 2:51 am | Permalink

        When I went off my SSRIs suddenly (I forgot to refill the subscription) I ended up crying in public because of very stressful traveling. I was then told by a stranger to suck it up, things couldn’t be that bad. Instead of trying to convince him otherwise I lied and made up a “justifiable” excuse for crying- which he harped until had to explicitly tell him to leave me alone

        FUN!

        also hugs for everybody!

  11. Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Shout-out from the Crazy Fat Dude across the room.

    We’re Fat
    We’re Crazy
    Let’s Party!

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      CRAZY FAT PARTY!!!

  12. Quisp
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this today, Marianne. It resonates with me more than you know, and I really needed to read it this afternoon.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for reading it and for commenting. Maybe there’s just something going around?

  13. Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I too have Bipolar type II and am fat. I’ve been told so many times (not by any one in charge of my health care, just various people, mostly family members) that it’s the meds doing it. Which, you know, might be true, because before I went on them I weighed like 130 pounds, but I am SO MUCH SANER these days.

    Once the fat making (oh noes!) medication was replaced by another, less effective one, so I would lose weight. I didn’t. Not a pound. And of course, I felt so crappy by the end of it that they had to put me back on it, and I gained more weight…

    Still, these days I’m sticking to my pills, please and thank you, because I once watched a 16-year-old bipolar (type I, crazy mixed episodes) go off her meds in secret after her Mum put her on Weight Watchers and it of course ended in a disaster, yet nobody but me believed she was actually off her meds until things were extremely bad.

    I like to say that spotting when people lapse in medication is my superpower. Anyway, I don’t know what my point was here, but I had to say something, I usually lurk around here, but don’t say anything.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Sane is so good! I am totally a fan of being fat and properly medicated.

      I am really really glad you commented.

  14. Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Fat bipolar type II here as well. I spent the last two days unable to get out of bed, doubting myself and everything I ever believed in. I’m slogging through today by ignoring the head rats as hard as I possibly can … but I am glad I got out of bed to read this. *wan smile*

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      *fistbump* We need t-shirts.

      You got out of bed today – that is a huge deal and I am proud of you for it. Thank you for reading this and for commenting.

  15. Anna2
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    This is totally unrelated but episode 2 is not up on itunes but I know you recorded it (its up on the website). I desperately want to listen on my ipod.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Lesley and I have noted that – basically, if you are subscribed to the podcast in iTunes and you refresh the screen where it lists the episodes, Episode 2 will download. It’s a random bug, or so Lesley’s research has found, and there doesn’t seem to be a fix for it. I am slightly disgruntled by this. Let me know if this works!

  16. silentbeep
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I like this “crazy fat party” concept. I’m a single crazy fat lady my 30s: I’m sure I would have the most fun at this party! Oh and a librarian so all I need are some cats so my spinster insanity will be complete! lol

    Sorry for making light of this (but it’s the kind of thing that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry) but seriously this was an awesome post. For the past ten years or so I’ve been through several psychiatrists, therapists and been on several different types of meds for my recurring severe clinical depression. I honestly identify myself as crazy too.

    Sometimes when I’m having really destructive thoughts I label them as “o.k. that’s my crazyness talking” or “that’s my low self-esteem” talking, as opposed to taking these thoughts as objective truth.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes you really do have to laugh, right?

      And, absolutely 100%, it is so useful to recognize and label crazy!thoughts. They are NEVER objective truth.

  17. Emily
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Yet another crazy fat lady representing! This post really resonated with me (as did the comment from Lori, above.) I have avoidant personality disorder which means I am truly convinced that everyone is thinking awful, negative things about me all the time, or that I will be awful at things I’ve never tried, etc. This has made fat acceptance fucking hard. I also have panic disorder, which means when the avoidant shit enters my head, I usually have a panic attack so as Lori said above, trusting my body is sort of a mixed bag.

    Embracing my fat has actually helped me tremendously with the case of crazy I’ve got going on. The idea that my fat body was okay and not worth shaming was a game changer for me. Most days I feel minimal anxiety about taking up more space than others, and looking damn cute doing it. Finding a therapist who realizes that embracing my body has actually helped me, however, is pretty tough (especially for a size 24/26 death fatty because apparently loving yourself at my size is sacrilegious to most “health”–YEP, scare quotes–professionals.)

    Thank you for this, Marianne. Like many others I *really* needed this today.

    • TR
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I am so glad that FA has helped you with the crazy – it helped me by giving me one less destructive outlet for obsessing. You are doing so well.

      Man, finding an actively FA therapist… Have you checked the Fat Friendly Health Professions list? The pickings are still, if you’ll forgive the pun, kind of slim but it might be a place to start. We’ll both keep up our search though, right?

  18. Danielle
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    It took me a long time to come to terms with my crazy. Early in life I was IQ-tested to ‘highly intelligent’ or even ‘gifted’ but instead of that being any help, it made me feel like a huge failure all the time (after all, if I was so clever, then why was everything so difficult and painful and other kids bullied me and my grades dropped etc.)

    Fast forward to today, I’ve finally realized that yes, I am clever, and I have a lot of special and odd and strange things about my brain that aren’t necessarily about intelligence. I have a lot of labels that *could* apply, labels the DSM manuals are a real fan of, but I discovered all those labels make me feel worse. So all I say to people is, I have epilepsy, and I have a weird brain. I think and feel differently and odd. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes not so much. And that’s okay, ’cause I cope. I like my crazy. It’s me. I wouldn’t be me if not for all that.

    For me, what really works is *not* thinking in labels. Not thinking in diagnoses. Not looking them all up on Wikipedia and searching for symptoms. Not asking a psychologist or doctor what is wrong with me because I do this and that. Not wondering whether I’m just permanently f-ed up.

    No labels. Just accept my freaky brain the way it is. Best thing I ever figured out.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      I think that is an awesome way to handle it.

  19. Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    “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.”

    I can totally relate to that!I’m 30 something, I have serious mood swings and I’ve been treating depression for a while now. And yes, sometimes I have this thoughts that if I were thinner the hurt would go away: but I’ve been thin and it didn’t make ANY difference. I was a thin child and I started to gain weight as a young adult and being thinner for sometime since that. And the crazy wasn’t different.
    I’m learning to separate my value as a person from my body issues and from depression. Sometimes they feel all the same to me, but they are not and if we know how to identify our issues and respect our internal timing and cope with these hard moments, it’s likely that i will make our lives easier. Body love helps a lot to deal with depression, but it doesn’t necessarily cure it. You are not alone!

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      When I was thinner (I have never been THIN), my crazy was actually worse because of the lifestyle I had to lead to stay as close to thinner as possible. I’d say that the thinnest I have ever been as an adult was actually the most mentally unhealthy I have ever been too.

  20. Wacky Lisa
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Fat depressive with anxiety in her 30s here who has been diagnosed with a whole slew of other things in the past.
    A well meaning therapist is actually the one who helped me develop my full fledged eating disorder and she never realized it. She was just so happy for me that I was getting smaller.
    The party sounds like a great idea but I’d be quivering mass of fear in a corner so I’ll pass.
    I used to think that socializing would be easier if I was thin. Or at least it would be easier to not be noticed. Or more exactly, at least I’d only be taking up the amount of space I deserved to take up. (Well, honestly if I ever really tried to take up the amount of space I thought I deserved I’d have to be micronized. Just is never gonna happen.)
    I know I’m crazy but the meds don’t work for me and if I take them my doctors treat me like crud. (Even more so than some do for being fat.)
    Accepting and trusting my body is hard. It means feeling it. And somehow that has translated to experiencing both the physical sensations and the emotional ones. That can be a huge disincentive for me to be in my body but I try.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      I think it would wind up being a really geeky party where half the people were chatting on their laptops.

      It really resonates with me when you talk about how you will never take up a small enough space – I really struggled with those feelings.

      None of this is easy. I hope you are taking care of yourself and doing what makes life better for you.

  21. Miriam Heddy
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I think what keeps me from ever thinking that being fat and living with depression are at all causally connected is feminism and all that I’ve learnt about structural analysis.

    Of course, it also means that I end up thinking a lot about the cultural construction of depression (as people experience it) and my own personal experience of it (which of course is as culturally conditioned as my experience of my own, fat body).

    I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but it’s like, if I were a vampire slayer and these irrational thoughts you’re talking about are vampires (in the sense of sucking the energy out of us as activists), then feminism is a big, honking cross (or, in my case, a Jewish star) that I hold up to ward them off and put them in their place.

    Of course, I’m not an actual vampire slayer. I think I’m more of a Xander–fighting to keep fighting even though I’m not always strong, and trying not let depression keep me fray-adjacent.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Miriam, I have been picturing you as a vampire slayer since yesterday and it IS SO RAD. I love it so much.

      This is a really good point and an very interesting something to think about. Thank you.

  22. Posted May 5, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Married to a not-fat crazy person and it’s hard. It makes me compassionate, though. I love him, and I realize that staying with him when he is not doing so well (like today, there’s lots of bringing up stuff from the past which makes it next to impossible to be around him and he does not own up to how hard he is being on me) is like staying with someone with a chronic illness for which there are no good treatments but I love him, he’s a great dad, and a great person. No one is perfect. I’m far from perfect. He is who he is, crazy and all, and the same can be said for me. I would rather have him when it’s possible than never have him at all.
    Someday, I might be able to tell our story, my story as it relates to his craziness, and I’m sure he has his version, too. But right now, I’m just trying to make it until the morning.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Being a partner to a crazy person has its own unique challenges. I hope the morning came quickly and relatively easily. <3

  23. Phoebe
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Oh wow. I’ve never thought to delink my fat from depression. My fat doesn’t cause my depression and my depression doesn’t cause my fat. Thanks for this.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      It’s really kind of liberating, isn’t it?

  24. SC
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      You are welcome. Thank you for reading it.

  25. Posted May 5, 2010 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    You know where I’m coming from on this, TR, but for those who don’t: I’m bipolar type II. I see I am really not alone in comments here, which is awesome.

    I love everything you’ve written here. I know you’ve been in a suck place lately, and I am really sorry for that.

    I am always glad when people talk about intersectionality with mental illness, though, because you are right: this is culturally very much NOT a neutral thing, just like being fat, and for me, the relationship between the two is pretty twisted and painful.

    You made this brilliant point about FA being a process of learning to trust your body and trust yourself, and that is SO true. I could write so much about that being true. And while FA is about trusting yourself, sometimes being crazy is about knowing that you can’t trust yourself, and it can be hard, when the crazy is strong and the wolves are howling at the door and the hamsters are going full-speed, to keep the two straight. You wind up using the crazy part against your fat self, or wind up using your fat self against your crazy parts.

    And it’s not just difficult in a “wow, Bob, I had no idea that this would suck so much!” way. It’s difficult in a “this is actually dangerous” way. The stakes are not small change here, and I wish more people realized that. For some of us, FA is the difference between a way of life that we can maintain without irrevocably harming outselves physically or emotionally, and a life that slowly destroys us in a truly agonizing way.

    GAH. I am probably not making sense. This is SO hard to articulate.

    (And also, hey, if my commitment to FA is coming from my crazy, FINE. I don’t CARE. If that were true, it would be the best thing to come out of it so far, and everyone else can STFU about it. Being crazy doesn’t automatically mean you’re *wrong*.)

    • Zette
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Naamah, you make sense. I know it’s hard to articulate, but I hear you, and I promise the FA is not coming from the crazy but is, as I think you feel, a way to help balance the crazy.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      It makes perfect sense to me. And at the same time, I feel like I need to go reread my own post because I think you have gotten everything I WANTED to say and flailed around saying badly.

      And you are SO right about the stakes in this game, man. It really is the difference between having a life, an actual LIFE and, you know, slowly (or quickly) killing myself through self-loathing and self-destructive behaviors.

  26. Posted May 5, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    I really appreciated this post! People always say that mentall illness should be talked to death not silenced to death, but there’s not really a lot of follow through.

    Oh, and about leading us in the wrong direction. I once read a theory of Sokrates’ (or was it Plato?) which stated that all knowledge is stored within us just waiting for us to discover it. Therefore, if you gave a man a problem with a clear solution and enough time to think about it, he would feel if the solution he’d reached was wrong or right. This theory has some problems of course, but that’s what finding FA was like for me. I don’t know if logic gets through to you on your crazy days, but at least now you know. For me, it was like a large lightswitch being switched on in my brain, and I thought: ‘Oh, RIGHT! Of course!’
    What I’m saying is; if you’re unsure that you’re leading us in the right direction, I’m not, because I keep recognizing the scenery along the way.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for this, so much.

      What I’m saying is; if you’re unsure that you’re leading us in the right direction, I’m not, because I keep recognizing the scenery along the way.

      I’ve been carrying that around with me since you posted it and it means so much to me.

    • Caitlin
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      if you’re unsure that you’re leading us in the right direction, I’m not, because I keep recognizing the scenery along the way.

      Cosigned.

  27. queenofnuffink
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    *HUGE HUGS*

    PTSD with a large size of anxiety on the side here!

    I also have a long list of douchenozzle exes that did not hear it is not good to hit girls.

    They have little to do with my fat EXCEPT they are all a part of me. My body, my mind, my slightly different way of dealing with things because my parents should not have been allowed a hamster let alone a human child and well….whatever. I am still awesome and pretty and in therapy. I love my therapist. I love myself, now at 31 after 30 years of shame and self loathing.

    It is good to be in such awesome company. I am proud of everyone up above me. We are strong, our mental issues do not define us. <3

    • Annie
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Isn’t douchenozzle the BEST word? And I hear you on the PTSD.

      • TR
        Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        It’s such a great word.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Some of my issues DO define me – and that is okay, too, I have decided because I wouldn’t be me without my issues, right?

      I am so proud of everyone who has posted to this thread. It’s just amazing.

  28. Posted May 5, 2010 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Thank you Marianne. You have totally and I would say serendipitously posted an entire blog post on the very subject and damn similar situation I am currently swirling around in right this very moment. And it’s helped me put a few of the pieces of the puzzle in the right place, shot down a few of those gnawing rats and generally just hit the spot for me.

    So thank you for your honesty and candidness and for going there with this subject.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Kath, for reading and for the blogging that you do.

      Man, this subject is hard, isn’t it? And yet so many of us really NEED it.

      • Posted May 8, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I would say it’s the subject I find the most complex to work with. Maybe I’m overthinking it. I dunno, all I can say is thank God for a therapy appointment in 10 days!

  29. Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure if this is a repeat comment but:

    When you said, “My crazy is not caused by me being a woman.” that really stood out to me. One of the things I really hate hearing is “Oh you just feel like so-and-so because you’re a woman” and what I hate EVEN MORE is “you just feel like so-and-so because of PMS” and EVEN MORE THAN THAT “you’re being such a bitch, are you on your period?!”

    Because yeah, I must be having these opinions because of PMS or my period, right? How dismissive of my feelings can you possibly be? Thanks.

    And I will readily admit that when another *woman* says that to me… well I see red.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! When people blame anger on pms it drives me MORE CRAZY THAN I ALREADY AM. It’s just so GROSS.

      *froth*

  30. Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    All the love in the world fellow crazy fat lady *^_^*

  31. Posted May 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    i really got nothin’ here — just wanted to say i’m sorry you’ve been having a hard time, and i hope you feel better soon.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      I made this list several days ago, of all the major Things in my life that have happened since I turned 30, 2 1/2 years ago. And then I was like, NO WONDER I FEEL CRAZY. I really will be okay and I appreciate you thinking about me here. Thank you.

  32. Posted May 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I searched long and hard for a therapist – I was afraid of the Fat Talk too. I found mine by first finding a local HAES nutritionist and getting her recommendations for HAES-friendly therapists. Her recommendations were all full/not on my insurance, but one of them was able to give me a recommendation for the therapist I’m currently with, who is wonderful and totally behind the HAES philosophy.

    You might look for nutritionists who specialize in eating disorders (even if you don’t have that particular brand of crazy), because they tend to be more HAES-friendly, and ask them for therapist recs.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      That is a REALLY phenomenally good idea! I am so glad you posted this, thank you.

  33. asa
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Yea for talking about mental illness, to break down the stigma! Yes, yes, yes. The crazy is separate from other issues, and you are right to not make decisions on those issues when the crazy is in the forefront.

    My anxiety led me to overeat (to where I was physically uncomfortable–not binge eating, though). I kept thinking, if I stop overeating, and lose weight, the depression will improve? That was crazy depression talking. In a better moment, I decided I had to fix the depression, and the overeating would have to follow (totally separate from my weight! I overeat, an action. But I weigh what I weigh). Overeating was an important coping mechanism at the time, and I needed to do it.

    The right focus made ALL the difference for me. Weight=/=overeating=/=crazy, even though there were incidental connections for me. They are all separate and #1 is taking care of yourself, in whatever way is appropriate at the moment!

    Sorry for my own story. I just mean, you are right, and so many of us experience it in our own way.

    • TR
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t think you have to apologize for sharing your story. I think it’s when we talk about this stuff, share it, that we all benefit the most. THANK YOU for sharing it.

  34. Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m a big girl with depression. I’ve been on various meds over the years and I haven’t found any that work for me. They all just make me flat, you know no emotion?? I stopped about 3 years ago, and my Daddy died 10 months and 5 days ago. I’m glad that I’ve been able to feel, even though this is the most awful thing I’ve ever lived through. At least I know I’m sad or mad or whatever. I do wish though that when I’m depressed for weeks (sometimes just days) that there was something to make me feel better. I’m not downing meds, I think they work really well for some. Thank you for writing this!!

  35. Princess
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    I definitely believe that the fat does not cause the depression. However, often the depression can cause the fat. I got told I was depressed by my doctor and put on an AD and subsequently put on 30 kilos in 3 months even though I barely ate and slept almost 20 hours a day in those 3 months. I did end up stopping the AD’s after a couple of years, not because of the weight gain but because I didn’t like the way they made me feel.

    Anyway, I’ve since discovered I have hypothyroidism. I knew there was something wrong with me and had to push to get a doctor to test me. Hypothyroidism can cause depression, weight gain, allergies, brain fog, mood swings, low body temperature, lethargy etc. I believe there are a lot of undiagnosed patients out there because doctors are too quick to blame us for being fat and lazy. Since I have started medication I have felt a huge difference in my moods. I no longer feel suicidal or have crazy mood swings. I feel more motivated. I’m not 100% yet but the difference is incredible. I urge everyone who may have hypothyroid symptoms to seek treatment. Check out http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/long-and-pathetic/ to see if you have any of the symptoms. Plus theres a lot of really good info on how it affects mental health http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/thyroid-depression-mental-health/

    I just want to encourage you that life can get better. You’re not crazy and it’s not because you’re fat. There is a physiological reason for the way you feel and you just need the right treatment for you (if you can find a doctor who will treat your concerns with respect).

    Good luck!

    • TR
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Part of HAES (Heath At Every Size, if you aren’t familiar with it) is absolutely being on top of stuff like this – and because I finally have a doctor I can trust, I’ve been tested. I’m just fat and crazy both. *grin* But it’s very good advice for other people, especially people with doctors who just automatically leap to the assumption that everything is because you won’t stop stuffing your face.

  36. Monica
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the head rats metaphor. That is just so ridiculously, painfully apt. I’m totes co-opting it. Basically I am a big fan of all things in this post– talking about the crazy, calling it “the crazy” (and calling people out when they use “crazy” in an ableist way, at least with people I am out to about the crazy and who I think would understand), not being entirely seriousface about the crazy, etc.

    But for serious, Marianne, you are wonderful and brave and The Rotund is for sure among the Blogs What Helped Me Stop Hating My Body. I find it really interesting that for you, the crazy co-opts FA, uses it against you and makes you doubt yourself, because for me, FA has been an incredible weapon against the crazy. My body hatred, my self-hatred for living in a fat body, was a huge component of my first major depressive episode. And I came out of that, and gained about 30 lbs and three pants sizes because I stopped being functionally anorexic and started SSRIs, and I wasn’t super thrilled.

    Then I found FA, and I learned to love my body, and it changed my life in a really fundamental way. I absolutely credit FA with teaching me to learn to listen to my body, which is such an important skill to have in my arsenal if I am going to keep the crazy at bay. I’m currently emerging from my second MDE after an awful year-and-a-half on the meds-go-round, looking for something that worked, enrolling in a partial hospitalization program, living terrified with head rats yelling “kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself” at unpredictable times. It was absolutely awful, but I know it would have been a million billion times worse if I were still hating myself for being fat, thinking not exercising made me worthless, policing my food intake, counting calories, etc. By embracing FA (which was a struggle, and sometimes still is, I pulled the floor out from under this huge chunk of my crazy, cartoon-style.

    And this is of course not to mention how FA has helped me in other ways, like believing I’m sexy and dressing better and actually enjoying fruits and vegetables for the first time in my life. Before I found FA, fruits and vegetables were so morally charged and fraught that I was never able to eat a bowl of raw spinach with vinegar and maybe some sprouts and green peppers for the sheer sensory OM NOM NOM I LOVE THIS joy of it, because I simultaneously felt obligated and therefore resentful but also morally vindicated. It’s hard to really taste food with that many feelings in your mouth, you know? Whereas yesterday, I went to a departmental picnic and was like YESS GRAPES and they were SOOO GOOD OMG. Three years ago, that was an experience I NEVER HAD, EVER.

    So hopefully my story and my conviction are something you can use against the crazy. When FA has helped me so profoundly with my own crazy, and probably made me an actually healthier person in the process, how could it possibly be wrong?

  37. Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    This is something I have a hard time with, personally. Not so much the Crazy, but for me, the Chronic Illness And Pain (CIAP). And here’s where it gets trickier – my CIAP is, at least partly, a cause of why I am fat (Medications = fat; not exercising because I am in too much pain to move = fat; no energy to prepare healthy food = fat). But the inverse is NOT true, no matter how many doctors tell me that if I just lost (some, a lot, tons of)weight, I would feel so much better. I know that it is not the truth, because, hell I was thin when I got sick, I got thinner, I got fat, I got fatter, and you know what: I stayed sick the whole damn time! My illnesses will not go away because I lose weight, and it is OK for me to accept the body I have RIGHT THIS MINUTE, because it is doing the best it can for me. (And oh, hello internalized disabilism, and internalized fat hatred: I know you don’t want me to say that, but you can shut it!)

    Anyways, all that rambling (and yelling at myself) was meant to say, Yes: I understand. And I only wish you well as you remind yourself that trusting in your body should always come above trusting in what other people think your body should be doing.

  38. Posted May 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    This was a great post! It really resonated with me. I have schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type AND am in recovery for an eating disorder. I have attended a lot of recovery centers and it used to kill me how they do not like to treat both an eating disorder and the other disorder. Intersectionality is a great thing, but it’s hard to find people that will address it. (My bipolar type is type II and it’s sorta comforting to see so many of us here!)

  39. Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    I have the crazy too. And it is bad crazy at the moment : (

  40. foreveropera
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    “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???”

    This describes my whole life! I’ve never been able to trust that ‘I’ have the right perspective, which, if left unchecked leads to awful things like depression/anxiety/cutting because if everyone else is right, that means you’re wrong and inherently flawed…
    And just for extra fun, all the CRAP society tells us about fat people just adds to the party. I weigh 265 so I MUST get winded (no offense to those that do) just walking to the mailbox. Except, I don’t. And get this: I JOG. I do yoga. Which means I don’t fit into the thin world AND I don’t fit into what’s expected of me as a fat girl either. And oddly enough, all it does for me is make me doubt myself more.
    Sorry for the rant…it’s such a deep subject that there’s just so much feeling and so few words at my fingertips to express it.
    Loved your post.

One Trackback

  1. By It’s nice to share | definatalie.com on May 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    [...] Fat and Crazy; Not Entirely Coherent, Awkward Musing On My Fat And My Crazy And How They Party Toget… Marianne discusses how the issues of fat and health intersect and disadvantage individuals. Not only do many health professionals fail to be aware of the intersectionality of these two issues, with disastrous ramifications for health, but individuals may then internalise that blame… with disastrous ramifications for health. It makes me angry! [...]

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