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Out With The Old

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Today I went through my closet on a mission to get rid of things I never wear but it quickly turned into a mission with a different goal. Pretty soon, as I looked over the rows of clothes, I realized I wanted to get rid of everything that didn’t fit me anymore.

I’ve been putting on weight over the past couple years. Like many tend to do, I made resolutions this year to be healthier and be more active. I am doing this with the goal of getting stronger and having better stamina, but also wanting to lose some weight. I’ve reached a point where I’m not comfortable in my body and I want to navigate the world a little more easily.

Despite my goals to lose weight, I don’t see the value in hanging onto clothes that don’t fit in the hopes that they might fit again someday. I think this creates an unhealthy pattern where were lose a little weight, try the clothes on, find they still don’t fit, and get discouraged. I think it’s easier in some ways to discard everything that doesn’t fit and just get new clothes as we reach new weights. This is just what works for me, and to each their own.

As I rifled through my closet I thought about things that have changed. I used to wear lots of t-shirts and now I almost exclusively wear dresses, because I don’t have to worry about my belly poking out. I can no longer button up my favorite pair of ripped denim shorts that I used to live in a couple summers ago. I decided to get rid of my last two pairs of jeans, because I now wear leggings everyday (and have never looked back. Leggings aren’t just pants, they’re BETTER than pants. Fight me.) I hung onto my Star Wars shirts despite wearing dresses almost everyday, because those I knew I would miss too much.

I thought about how this moment would be considered by many to be a failing of sorts. Here I am giving up, getting rid of my smaller clothes instead of striving to fit into them. But what do I have to gain (pun fully intended) but hanging onto the past? I have plenty of clothes that fit me now, and are stretchy enough to fit me as I lose some weight, so where is the benefit to be had by letting ill-fitting, uncomfortable clothing take up space in my closet? What will I get out of trying on my shorts every few weeks, hoping that this time they fit? I would much rather buy a new pair of shorts in six months. Out with the old.

There is a fear that comes with getting rid of things that only those of us with limited means really understand. What if I need this someday and it’s not there anymore, and I can’t afford to replace it? This is why so many of us hang on to things we don’t need, “just in case”. I used to do this with a lot of things. I hung onto large amounts of art and craft supplies, for a project I might do, someday, sometime in the vague future. I hung onto books I never read, movies I never watched, things I never used. As the years have gone by I’ve become quite fond of clearing things out. I love going through boxes and drawers, finding what I don’t use, donating things, only keeping what I really need and use. I have very rarely found myself missing something I got rid of, and it was never anything I needed, only things that had a small amount of sentimental value. So why hang on to clothes that won’t fit me for months, maybe a year, maybe longer?

I filled up three paper grocery bags with clothes I don’t wear or fit into anymore. I thought, oh, I’m supposed to feel ashamed aren’t I, that I’ve outgrown this much. But no, I just felt relief to be getting rid of that which is not useful to me anymore. There is something comforting and pleasing about looking at your clothes and knowing you can fit into all of them. There is something freeing in letting yourself be comfortable, in not punishing yourself for getting bigger. Outgrowing clothes doesn’t make you any kind of failure.

Today I took control and decided to do what was best for my well-being by letting go of that which does not serve me any longer. It felt good and even more, it felt freeing. I refuse to play the game of holding up a pair of pants, desperately hoping I fit into them this time. I refuse to hang onto anything that makes me feel less than good about myself. After all, I can always buy new shorts.

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Feeling Good For Once

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Hello. To cut straight to the point, I suffer from anxiety, severe depression, and borderline personality disorder. These things have been with me my entire life and only recently, within the last two years, have I been seriously trying to tackle my mental health problems through therapy and a variety of medications.

I will go into more detail on another post about how these illnesses have affected my life,  and what lead me to seek treatment, but today I want to talk about something amazing: I’ve actually been feeling GOOD! What? That can’t be right.

Ever since my journey of mental health treatment began, I have been told things would get better eventually, while I refused to believe it and continued to suffer almost every day. I was generally miserable and frequently suicidal. I never thought I would be a happy or optimistic person again. I had mostly accepted that things were as good as they were going to get.

Something happened recently. I’m not sure what and I’m not entirely sure how or why, but something shifted. I started to feel cautiously optimistic at first. Then I started to enjoy my days a little more. Then it seemed like I was enjoying more and more days. Then I stopped thinking it was the end of the world when things would go wrong. For about a month now I’ve been feeling more level and positive. That is a long time for me to be feeling good. Before now I was lucky if I felt this good for a day.

I chalk up this new view on life as finally having found the right combination of medications and getting a new therapist that I really like. After years I am in a good place and taking care of myself as well as I can. This is a really big deal for me, and anyone reading this who has struggled with mental illness probably knows that finding the right medication combo is the holy grail, and can literally take years of trial and error.

Now, I’m a realist. Have been for some time. I think it’s the safest way to be, because you never get your hopes up too high and you’re aware that things may go wrong so you can be prepared. Every day I wake up and sort of wait and see if I still feel ok. But things have gone wrong since my shift began and I have handled them, and more importantly I didn’t feel like everything was terrible just because things were going wrong. This tells me that this might actually be a long term change, that maybe I can handle the ups and downs of life without falling apart again.

I’m writing to express my joy but also to tell you not to give up hope. You might be where I was, struggling and unhappy every day and giving up hope. It is possible for things to get better, despite how impossible it may seem in the moment. I hated being told it would get better because I never believed it, but one day it did get better, when I wasn’t paying attention. And it kept getting better.

I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know if my medications will keep working or what things will go wrong down the line. But right now I feel like I can handle what life throws at me. I can see through the fog. I can see that I am not alone. And neither are you.

Resolutions

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Just for fun I decided I wanted to talk about resolutions and goals for the new year. This year I decided to be more kind to myself in that if I don’t stick to my resolutions perfectly, that’s ok! I’m just going to do my best. It’s ok to skip a day in the habit tracker, or not start a resolution until partway into the year. That’s the beauty of resolutions; you have a whole year to do them! All that being said, here are my personal goals and resolutions for 2018. (Note: there is some talk of food and eating.)

-Keep a bullet journal. I have attempted this once before and gave up on it almost immediately. This time I am giving it a go with more gusto. I have already filled in seventeen pages and am having fun checking it every day to stay on track. To inspire me I started following bullet journal instagram accounts, and I’m enjoying seeing all the beautiful journals people share.

-Move more. I am an unemployed artist, which means I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk, usually on the computer, sometimes drawing. If I am not sitting at my desk I’m laying in bed, reading or watching Netflix. I want to move more, at least a little every day, without the pressure to lose weight or look a certain way. I imagine my heart growing stronger and don’t worry about how my body looks.

-*sigh* Eat healthier. UGH, SUCH A CLICHE. Setting this as a resolution has so much baggage as a fat person who embraces fat positivity and fat acceptance. I don’t want to diet, I don’t want to go hungry, I don’t want to deprive myself. I am trying to focus on how I feel, and just eating what makes me feel good. I am also trying to think about adding things into my diet, instead of taking things away. I will probably make a whole separate post about this at some point.

-Dental care! I have dental insurance, FINALLY, so I have started going to the dentist and will continue going for as long as I am able to in an effort to get my mouth in better shape. I have been flossing and started a habit tracker in my bullet journal to make sure I brush twice a day. This may be easy for some people, but I have a horribly sensitive gag reflex and this makes brushing difficult. If you also struggle with tooth stuff, you have my sympathies and you are not alone!

-Consume more new media. I have a habit of just watching Great British Baking Show on repeat so this year I am trying to watch more movies I’ve never seen before, read more books, and listen to new music. I also have a vague goal to understand a Shakespeare play.

-Keep taking my meds and going to therapy. This also warrants it’s own post, but I take anti-depressants, anxiolytics, and I’ve started seeing a new therapist. They are working great right now so I just need to keep doing these things.

-Less drama! I’m the sort who says they don’t want any drama but then shows up with the popcorn whenever someone else is fighting in the comments. Basically I just want to take care of my blood pressure and not get involved in bullshit, but, like, not completely. A little bullshit can be fun. After all, resolutions should be realistic.

Well there you have it! If I am still blogging at the end of this year I will check in and see how I did. Happy new year!

 

 

 

New Year, New Blog!

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Ok, not a new blog per se, but a new desire to blog! A new urge! A new promise to myself to use this outlet to express my thoughts and feelings and ideas to the world!

Hello.

There is a lot of pressure associated with the new year. The holidays in general are filled with pressure from friends, family, society as a whole, to be cheery and happy and that can be really hard some of us. It’s just not realistic to turn on happiness for a set period of time in the year. I will write a seperate blog post about this, but for now I will just acknowledge that some of that pressure extends to the new year. We have to make resolutions, start fresh, “new year, new me!”, etc.

Speaking only for myself, I put a lot of pressure on myself to enjoy specific days. The new year has to be special and meaningful in some way. If my year doesn’t start off right, it sets a tone, or at least that is how I perceive it. I feel the same way about starting individual days off on the right foot as it were. I am trying to shift my mindset in this area.

This year I have decided to be much more gentle with myself. I will admit I am a bit of a new year’s cliche. I love to set resolutions and start new calendars and planners. This year I decided to fully embrace my desire for an organized life and started a bullet journal. My fresh calendar is up on the wall, my resolutions are written down, my habit tracker is laid out, and I am READY. That being said, I am giving myself a break. I have decided to tell myself that every day doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s ok to start things slowly. It’s ok to ease into things. It’s perfectly fine to take time to test things out, figure out how they work for you, and change your mind about things later on. Not every resolution has to stick. Not every habit has to last. Not every day has to flow.

As they say on one of my favorite shows, “If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs!”. Give yourself a break. Happy new year.

Being Crazy In The Age Of Trump

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He’s crazy. Out of his mind. A lunatic. A madman. These are the terms I often hear thrown around to describe Trump. I’m sure you’ve heard it too, if not said it yourself. Every ridiculous and hateful action taken on his part is met with bewilderment and a shake of the head, accompanying the claim that he’s just plain mentally ill. It must be as simple as that, he must just be nuts.

I happen to be a “crazy” person. I am mentally ill. I take a handful of pulls twice a day to control my severe depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. I’ve been hospitalized multiple times as a result of my illnesses. In addition to being mentally ill I am also smart, thoughtful, compassionate, funny, and I try every day to do the right thing. I don’t try to hurt people, I don’t try to strip them of their rights. I try to be a good friend, sister, daughter, and partner.

Why do broad actions of hatefulness and ridiculousness get labeled as Crazy? What has Trump done to earn that label? He is ignorant, hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, ridiculous, and has no concept of actions having consequences. He is a bad, angry person. Why are these traits conflated with mental illness? Is that what people think of me?

I don’t believe any of my loved ones that call Trump crazy think I am anything like him. And yet the comparison continues without thought for those that are victims of Trump. I am not like him, I am one of the people he wants to stamp out. I am a target. He wants to take away my right to healthcare, my right to choose, my right to marry who I want. He would have me suffer greatly as a mentally ill person by taking away my ability to afford my prescriptions.

Do we just label actions we don’t understand as crazy? It is easier to label someone as crazy than it is to confront the systems that they uphold. It’s easier to talk about Trump in terms of mental illness than it is to talk about how white supremacy got him elected. It’s easier to say he is crazy than it is to ask what we can do to stop him. To say he is merely crazy is dangerous because it dismisses his actions and beliefs. It also dismisses the lives of actual mentally ill people. It’s too easy, too lazy, to shrug off what we don’t understand and say oh, that’s just crazy. We must ask questions. We must dig deeper. We must remember that mentally ill people are varied and complex. When we dismiss Trump as being crazy, we must stop and ask ourselves exactly what we mean. Do we think all mentally ill people are unstable, dangerous, hateful? Or do we simply think Trump is not worth listening to because his ideas are mad? If that is the case, does that reflect the way we view actual mentally ill people? To dismiss Trump as mentally ill and nothing more is to dismiss real people. I am not to be dismissed.

Fewer Sprinkles, More Outrage

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I started this blog years ago as a way to work out my feelings about being fat and share my story. The fat acceptance community helped me to become the person I am today. It’s been years since I have written anything new. I thought perhaps I had run out of things to say that were new or interesting. I thought I didn’t have much to add to the conversation. Then life just got busy and I lost my interest in writing in general.

Much has happened since I last wrote for this blog. I’ve grown so much as a person (both literally and figuratively, hahaaaaa, we’ll get into that another time) and have learned so many new things. My life is filled with many more people than i knew before, and they have taught me about ableism, the gender binary, and many other things I never put a lot of thought into. I always tried to be  a good person and do the right thing, but in the last few years I have finally started to become a better version of myself.

I decided I wanted to start writing for this space again because I believe with my new knowledge, and several more years of life experience under my belt, I can bring something to the table that I couldn’t before. I’m stronger, better informed, more wiling to take action but most importantly, more willing to listen. I want to have a conversation. I want to hear the ways in which body positive spaces fall short for some so that I don’t fall into the same traps. I want to do more, I want to grow, and learn, and share what I can.

I’m back, and I’m ready to work.

No Judgement For Weight Loss

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I tend to feel frustrated when I hear people decrying fat acceptance or health at every size because they had a bad encounter with a blog or blogger. I want to wave them back over, so to speak, and tell them no no, it’s okay, this really is a great place to be. This place really is for everyone, it’s all about acceptance! But I’ve been hearing a couple specific, related complaints from people who have decided that FA or HAES are not for them, namely that they felt shamed for choosing to lose weight. I’ve also heard people say they are uncomfortable with some writers and activists who give the impression that you should never listen to your doctor, or that any doctor who suggests weight loss is pushing body-hate.

The truth is, as much as I may see the FA movement as a place of pure acceptance and positivity, that has simply not been the experience for everyone. I personally only read blogs and books where insulting women for being thin is strictly forbidden, so I forget that some thin woman are still told they need to eat sandwiches, or inundated with the message that “real woman have curves” ( a message I am completely against, as previously discussed).

Not only are there thin women being told that their bodies are not acceptably feminine or desirable, but fat women are saying they have felt judged or shamed for deciding that weight loss is the best course for them. I can say that as a fat woman who doesn’t diet, doesn’t own a scale, and who tries to just practice intuitive eating, it’s almost like being in an alternate universe when fat women say they are shamed for dieting. In the normal, non-FA world, we are encouraged to lose weight at every turn. Commercials, magazine ads, television shows where fat people are almost exclusively used as jokes, and of course the regular interactions with well-meaning family, friends, and doctors. Many things unwittingly conspire to encourage fat people to lose weight, telling us we are unhealthy because you can’t be fat and healthy, telling us we are undesirable, unsuccessful, lack willpower and ambition. That is my reality, but it’s the reality for others that they feel unwelcome in some body-positive spaces because they feel that by choosing to diet or lose weight, they are going against everything we believe and will be judged for it. And, unfortunately, sometimes they are judged for it.

Here is where I stand: I am pro-health, by choice. I support people doing what they want to do in order to be healthy and feel good, as long as they are doing it by choice and not being shamed into their decision (and is that is the case, I am against the people doing the shaming). I am against forcing people to follow a strict path to supposed health. I am against listening to doctors unquestioningly, because doctors are prone to bias and do not always recommend what is best for each individual. I am against shaming people for their size, be they fat or thin, and I am against shaming people for being unhealthy, be they fat or thin. I am against trying to achieve weight loss by unhealthy means, but also do not judge those that do so. I do not support shaming people for deciding that they want to lose weight.

Every person has extremely unique circumstances. Some fat people may have back or joint pain that they can reduce with just exercise, others may need to actually weigh less in order to reduce their pain. Some people may be tired all the time, and have decided to cut out refined sugar and up their veggie intake to see if it helps. Some people may just be sick of being judged for being fat and want to change. There are too many reasons why someone may do the things they do, and at times people like me that are heavily into FA and HAES may jump to conclusions that if someone is trying to lose weight, it means they have failed to love themselves in some way. We need to be open to everyone’s stories. We need to make room for discussion about health, without judgement.

One thing I personally don’t tolerate is FA spaces becoming weight loss spaces. People who have decided to lose weight should not be shamed out of FA, but should also be sure to respect those that choose to remain the way they are. If weight loss is the right choice for you, you do not deserve to be judged for that, and it is a valid choice. It is also a valid choice for others to accept their bodies however they are, or decide to eat differently without the goal of losing weight, or really to do whatever they wish with their bodies. If those that choose diet and weight loss truly respect those that choose otherwise, we can show them the same courtesy. As long as our spaces are not taken over with diet talk, as long as we are not judged for our size, as long as our boundaries are respected, I hope we will make body-positive spaces safe for as many people as possible.