When People Comment on Your Weight Fluctuations Due to Illness
After making a meme about weight gain with chronic illness, I have noticed the matter of weight is a huge and distressing subject in chronic illness land.
So many people seem to dislike their bodies because of weight gain or weight loss, and dislike themselves because of it.
One thing that’s almost as certain as the moon in the sky: weight changes are likely going to be part of your life when you are sick.
There are many reasons for this: lack of mobility, side effects of medication, not being well enough to prepare meals, side effects of said illness, i.e. endometriosis causing stomach swelling. Like many people who are unwell, I often cannot cook or prep food every day, especially if I am going through a flare or symptoms are overtaking bodily movement and function. So, I eat whatever is close at hand. I try to make it fruit or something nutritious but, more often than not, it’s not healthy food.
No, it’s not ideal, but you know what else isn’t ideal? Living with conditions that don’t allow my body to function in the average way, causing my body to be disabled and me to be laid up for two days or more because I forced my body to stand, prep food, bend to the oven several times, put out plates/cutlery and then sit upright to eat it. Then wash up after myself and put said items away. It just isn’t possible to do every day.
Nor is shopping for fresh food easy. I cant just pop to the supermarket a few times a week for fresh fruit, veggies and food.
I shop online, and one big issue with that is the use-by dates on the food are so close to the shopping delivery day, I either have to eat all said fresh food in two days or end up having to waste food, which I absolutely hate to do.
Along with the weight gain comes depression and insecurities about said weight and changes in and to my body.
Changes I have no control over whatsoever. My body no longer functioning as it should, including metabolism and lack of mobility or range of movement, is devastating enough, let alone the weight changes that come with it.
Society is almost always catered towards being a certain size, and most people have that image forced onto them through magazines/TV/clothes/diets and “summer body-ready” diets! Man, how I hate that phrase…
But worse are the comments, sideways looks and murmurs about my weight gain or loss from others…family, friends and acquaintances.
“Have you seen so and so? Wow, she’s let herself go…”
Looking at pictures of when you weighed less: “Aww look at you, you looked so cute!”
“You would look so much better with a bit of meat on your bones.”
Sometimes people don’t even whisper, but say straight to my face, “You’ve put on/lost weight, haven’t you?”
For some reason, it seems to be the first thing they concern themselves with – not the wheelchair, aide, looking sick, rashes, sweating, mobility or limb issues – no, it’s the weight that matters.
But one of the worst things to hear, because it holds so much emphasis, is this line: “Maybe if you lost/gained some weight your illnesses would go away.”
And let me tell any able-bodied, non-sick person why this is, because it is said so often that it seems I need to explain to you why saying this is so terrible.
Straight away, it can make me feel like I’m not really sick, just overweight or underweight. That the terrible symptoms, side effects of illness and medications are my own fault. That losing or gaining weight would cure me, and how ill could I be if weight change would cure me?
It is incredibly offensive to even suggest. It is hurtful to feel others think I am doing this to myself. But medications can make you put on weight, or you might lose weight because you cant keep food down. It goes both ways – extreme weight loss as well as weight gain.
Don’t you think I feel devastated that not only has this condition or conditions swept in and taken over my life, but also my body?
Do you know I look back at pictures of myself and cry for the person I was once?
Do you know that as the size of my clothes change, so does my self-confidence and self-esteem?
I know the medication will change me, but without it I could be experiencing extreme symptoms 24/7, or could even die.
To weight-shame for any reason is disgusting, especially when you have no idea why I am the size I am. So much can factor into a change in size; dieting or eating more will not help or magically cure me!
I might lose our identities, independence, daily life, plans, family, partners, money, home or job, but the only thing that seems to matter to you is my weight?
It is clear who the person with the problem is, and it’s not me.
So what if my weight changes and I look different?
So what if I don’t fit into the stereotypical image society perpetuates?
So what if I don’t juice, cleanse or eat perfectly?
You know what the only thing that matters is?
That my illnesses are kept as stable as possible, and I am alive.
That is all that matters.
And it should be the only thing that matters to everyone in my life.
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Thinkstock photo via kotoffei.