Body Shaming When You’re Chronically Ill

Hey pals,

 

I’ve been hearing a lot about fatshaming in the medical industry and also general body shaming and certain standards people are expected to meet online recently. I have a long, complex history with my body and other people’s relationship to my body so these topics have brought up a lot for me I wanted to discuss.

 

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I don’t talk about my weight online, not in specific numbers anyway, because everyone changes their opinion of me once they hear the number. It doesn’t matter if its the weight on my scale or my BMI, people make a judgement they didn’t initially have. My BMI is currently in the ‘overweight’ category leaning close to ‘obese’, and I’m not trying to be up myself here but how am I nearly obese? I am an average mid-size person, but the NHS BMI calculator is saying I need to lose 26.5lbs (12kg/almost 2 stone) to be in the healthy weight range (not mid-healthy i mean barely in the range).

About 6 years ago I was two stone heavier and I received enough fat shaming from my NHS health team to make me want to die. I had to be weighed for my contraceptive pill and I had purposefully been avoiding the scale and said, “as long as you don’t tell me.” and stood on it. I did really well not to succumb to the temptation of looking all for my doctor to just outright tell me anyway! Of course as soon as I hopped in the car I googled the number into ones I understood. I always worked in lbs. And that night I wanted to die.

Before I had gotten to this weight, I was probably roughly the weight I am now maybe 10lbs lighter, and I’d finally decided to go ask for professional health with my disordered eating. I’d told him all the things I had done and been doing and how I was trying to stop doing them, and even though my behaviours fit best with Bulimia, he told me I had Binge Eating Disorder (BED) ignoring all of the self destructive things I was doing from starving myself to purging, I barely even binged, my binged were minute compared to other bulimics I’d met or other binge eaters. I was astonished. Part of his advice is what lead me to gaining so much weight so quickly and sending me even deeper into depression and triggering me more. All of the note books he gave me were for binge eating, not starving or purging or any of the other things I did. All because I was ‘overweight’ by BMI standards.

I’m disabled. I suffer with a lot of chronic pain. I have been told countless times to lose weight because that ‘will make it better’, without thinking about anything else going on with me. I suffer with so much fatigue I barely function 90% of the time. Exercise wipes me out for DAYS. But we should all exercise for 30 minutes a day and if you don’t YOU’RE LAZY.

 

At this point in my life, I am dealing with a very unstable IBD. As I write this, I feel nauseous and cannot eat my dinner and had a couple of bad episodes on the toilet because I accidentally ate something triggering to my stomach yesterday and now just have to suffer. I have barely moved from bed today. I also have an abscess in a VERY uncomfortable place which means I can’t do most of the exercises I’ve been recommended and felt able to do: walking sometimes aggravates it, I can’t sit on a bike seat so can’t get on my exercise bike for 15 minutes, I can’t really leave the house to go to the gym or a yoga class coz I might suddenly be in so much pain I can’t participate and may not be able to drive myself home. But I’m lazy for being overweight. I’ve fiddled with my diet constantly, partially coz I’ve had to cut out foods that trigger my IBD flares, but also trying to get the right nutrients into my body without fucking starving.

I’m bad at feeding myself, coz either I’ll forget and suddenly be so starving I feel sick, or all I do is EAT. I’ve been put on steroids that make you want to eat. At one point, I couldn’t stop eating even though I was so full I wanted to be sick. With an IBD, weight loss is BAD. Either your gut isn’t getting enough nourishment from your food or you’re shitting so much of it out so quick there’s no time for your body to absorb it. So, I guess at least they worry if I’m looking more trim lol.

 

“Just go for a walk,” they say, “anything to raise your pulse,” they say… but anything I like doing I’m not ‘allowed’ because of my disability so OF COURSE I’m not consistent with exercise you tell me I can’t do stuff I enjoy. One doctor even told me I only enjoy those things because I am good at them, because of my disability… is that a crime? Am I not allowed to enjoy things I can do? Ballet and yoga don’t hurt me as much a circuits or zumba (which gave me shin splints btw). I also found out recently I can’t even swim anymore because of muscle problems in my right arm, it’s too painful to actually swim… the number one recommended activity (which I also don’t really like but now I can’t even do)

 

We constantly see skinny people selling us health and size as if it’s easy to reach without a 6 figure paycheck, a personal chef, personal trainer and surgery tbh. And the ‘normies’ of the world who don’t have a disability or chronic illness that takes a toll on your energy and activity level like to cram it down our throats that we just aren’t doing enough. There’s 24 hours in a day, you can use 1 for exercise. But… I sleep 10 hours on average, some days more, I’m slower to do things, I have to remember to take 1500 pills morning and night, doctors appointments and how I’m going to get there and be emotionally prepared for what they are going to say, or wow I need to cook myself dinner but I can’t bring myself to stand in the kitchen nor think of a meal I could make… Check out the spoon theory if you need more explanation.

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Not everyone can walk their dog, or get to a gym, or AFFORD A MEMBERSHIP, or have you ever thought about the process of getting ready to swim and then getting ready to leave from swimming? Most changing rooms are hot and you’re sweaty and you can’t dry off and you can’t get your clothes on and now you’re dizzy and you might be sick! It really just goes on.

 

Most people, including doctors, do not think I am ‘overweight’ when they look at me. I carry my weight around my middle mostly so occasionally I jokingly call myself ‘skinny passing’.

 

Here’s a great experiment: Me, my mum, and my gran. Different heights, I’m 5’7, my mum 5’4, my gran 5’2. Carry our weight differently, mine is mostly my stomach and upper arms, my mum is mostly her bum and stomach, my gran is almost entirely her chest. Poor little woman with great old nunga-nungas. We are all very similar clothing sizes. My gran needed a size 18 to fit comfortably over her boobs. I’m roughly a 16/18 on top for broad shoulders and ribs and 14-16 on bottom for my skinny legs but wide waist. my mum is around 14-16 on bottom but she has issues with the waist being too loose or the calf area too tight. I moved into wearing more men’s clothes coz somehow a small will be tight fitting like a 14 in t-shirts but there’s not shame in wearing a men’s large or even extra large… because there’s no number. Men’s trousers are still a fucking mess if you ask me the waist size isn’t accurately in inches, I’ll tell you that for free.

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My fat friends don’t go to the doctor unless they really have to. They aren’t believed when they think something is seriously wrong, it’s all put down to weight. Skinny white women struggle to be listened to as it is in 2019. Imagine being anything else, poc, disabled, chronically ill, queer, trans, fat, no one listens to us and we have to learn to be a self advocate or bring a trusted person with us to help advocate when it’s too much. I have been spoken to like I’m a fucking idiot and been told how to wipe my own arse on more than one occasion by the same man (a surgeon btw, surgeons have zero social skills) as if I haven’t lived like this for a long time already. I am also belittled by other sick people who have had their disease longer than I have and tell me my case is mild when the last year of my life has been nothing but suffering.

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I’m just tired and angry at the able people out there making assumptions, and the doctors and nurses out there deciding they know what’s happening to my body before I finish telling them everything, and the other sick people who think they are better and more knowledgeable than me because they’ve had it longer or are older than I am. I’m angry for myself and I’m angry for my friends and I’m angry for my community.

I got enough to deal with, kindly, fuck off.

 

~ Artie.

Check out this post by Zipporah Arielle on getting comfortable talking about Crohn’s as there are many ways body shaming can sneak into your life as a disabled person.

My Journal: Messy and Half-Filled

Hey pals,

I wanted to talk about my journal today. I feel like we are brought up with one format for how diaries or journaling is supposed to work. You have to write everyday, you have to expose everything but not, you’re supposed to have juicy secrets and crazy love affairs and everything has to look perfect.

I think (especially now with instagram) that people feel like they have to make everything look perfect, even though it’s just for them. Studyblr is a huge thing now too and social media is all about the aesthetic. When I grew up with the internet, I had facebook for people I knew in real life, instagram wasn’t a thing, twitter wasn’t really something we used… I had a tumblr under a name that wasn’t me. I fabricated a person (except it wasn’t, everything I wrote was me and how I felt) so no one would find it and know it was me. Everyone in my life had a different name or I only used their first name’s initial. I blogged about all the horrible ugly things that were inside my head as a teenager because therapy was more stigmatised than it is today and even if you had therapy they weren’t very nice people most of the time. My blog was my online diary, a real one was too much pressure and tumblr had loads of posts and pictures that described how I felt more than I was able to.

Diaries or journals have always been this teen girl media thing, a way to tell the story of the protagonist of a novel or film and they always looked perfect. Pretty notebooks, perfect handwriting, even a great hiding place or lock system.

They are more than what we are taught they are. Yeah, sure, it’s great to make it look pretty (especially if that part makes you excited about doing it) but this perfectionism has held people back. I’ve known people who can never ever write on the first page of a notebook in case they make a mistake, even if it was a rough notebook. It’s hard to get past that feeling, but remember you do this for you.

My journal that I’ve been writing in since my graduation was a tool for maintaining my mental health. I moved away from my therapist that I really liked and who had really helped me get to the bottom of a few things and I didn’t want to stop ‘talking’ like that entirely. Yes, I write in it everyday (if I forget or am too busy, I try to catch up) but no, it’s not pretty. The outside is nice but I fucked up the front cover because my pen smudged. My handwriting (if you’re new here) is UGLY. Especially if I have a lot to write or a limited time. I also use it to experiment with designs and drawings for when I want to experiment with bullet journaling.

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But the important part is to chronologise my life. I want something to look back on from this period of my life to see how far I’ve come. For a more immediate reason, I keep track of symptoms in my journal. I talk about my sleep, my fatigue, pain, depression or anxiety, mood swings, diet and exercise, anything I try, all of it. I’ve learned that you do need to keep track somewhere, if it ever becomes important you have it in there. I’m experimenting with all sorts of things to try and better my physical health and to see if it helps my mental health too. And if I’ve done a lot, I write down everything I did that day and feel proud of myself for managing, for succeeding. I even write if I didn’t do anything that day and how I feel. There’s no fear in this journal of not being pretty enough or perfect enough.

I mean sure, one day when I write my memoir I’ll probably quote from it but it is not a thing to be edited. It is my truth of now. Right now, I forgot to fill it in today and I don’t want to go downstairs to get it coz it’s late and I’m tired and as comfortable as I can be after an exercise class. So I’ll do it tomorrow and write about the pain I felt today and where, I’ll talk about how annoying this exercise class was and how I’m not sure I want to go back, I’ll talk about managing to write this!

Don’t be afraid of scribbling things out, don’t be afraid of your less-than-perfect handwriting, don’t be afraid of writing about those ugly feelings inside you, because this whole thing is for you to share and to verbalise things you wouldn’t normally be able to.

This is my journal and its imperfection makes it perfect for me.

~ Artie

Why I Take Magnesium Pills

Hey pals,

 

I wanted to talk through my experience of taking Magnesium supplements and why I now take them alongside multi-vitamins.

A few years ago (I say few because I have no concept of how long ago this actually was), my mother and I saw a Kinesiologist. It’s a very bizarre experience, a lot of moving my limbs and tapping. She told me I am very low in Magnesium after listing everything that was wrong and the symptoms linked. She prescribed me Magnesium, another pill and selenium drops. I didn’t really feel any benefits from this back in the day and once I ran out, I stopped.

One thing I remember her saying, “Magnesium is needed for pretty much every human function,” and that definitely stayed with me.

I have always have problems with sleep, constantly feeling fatigued, and have had bouts of really bad anxiety. Earlier this year alone I struggled to leave my uni house to do anything. That was before I started taking Magnesium again.

I’ve googled the benefits of Magnesium on-and-off since seeing the Kinesiologist and debated going back on them or even seeing her again.

I’d recently seen a YouTuber I really like (Melanie Murphy, before you ask) starting to take Magnesium along with a selection of other vitamins and minerals and she said it has really helped her anxiety and she felt so chill! So I thought, “Hey, maybe I should give it a go?”

I could always do with better sleep, more energy, less anxiety, less pain even. Magnesium helps relax muscles and has a lot of anti-inflammatory benefits. At this point, with my chronic pain, I will try anything once.

Melanie mentioned that women (lets ignore the self-misgender, because we are talking bio sex here) should be taking/consuming around 300mg of Magnesium a day. I’ve looked this up, females aged 19+ should take 310-320mg a day. So I looked at Amazon to begin, and decided I would rather buy from a company I can completely trust to give me what they are claiming to sell.

I now buy all my supplements from Holland & Barrett, because that’s their thing. I looked at the highest dose they sell, which was only 250mg, but I decided to give that a chance. Maybe I don’t need to be taking 300+mg a day, but I definitely think I need to be taking some.

 

It’s been a bit over a month now, it’s not a miracle pill but it definitely has made a lot of my above issues easier to combat. I may not dose off at 9pm every day, but getting to sleep before midnight is and waking up between 9 and 10am is becoming a habit. That’s pretty crazy, considering my previous sleeping pattern was 2am bed and 11am wake up. I have more energy and more cognitive ability. My pain is hit-and-miss but it always is. And when it comes to my anxiety, it’s pretty non-existent at this point; I’m capable of just taking things as they come.

If you’re thinking about trying Magnesium supplements, I say go for it. I did read that it can affect medications so double check with your doctor or pharmacist. But I’ve experienced a pretty positive change in my health and hope it continues to get better the longer I take them.

 

I’d love to know about your experiences!

 

~ Artie

 

What I take: https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/holland-barrett-magnesium-tablets-250mg-60005830?skuid=005830

Financially Not Great

Hey pals,

 

I had a lot of my plans fall through recently, which was pretty distressing to begin but now I’ve just accepted that it has happened. It has given me some new life possibilities that I would have never even entertained. For example, going abroad. Whether that’s to work, an internship, or just some travelling time, doesn’t really matter. I had to do everything with someone.

I’ve always thought myself independent (except not entirely when within romantic relationships) but having to start over from my Mother’s spare bedroom has given me some thought and clarity. A new perspective, one I really didn’t think I’d ever have.

I love living in the UK. I haven’t explored enough of it for one, but I like how it works (ish), I like what I’ve got here (sort of), and I’m pretty bloody useless at learning and remembering languages (I’ve tried, and I would like to try again). I think mainly, I don’t have to pay for my health care or prescriptions, which is pretty sweet.

I’m often flooded with the realisation of how big the world is, and how I haven’t seen hardly any of it. I want to change that. I’ve been thinking of the different options that might exist. I see groups of school kids from other countries over here during summer, meeting new people but in a safe environment. Considering I’m an anxious mess when it comes to travelling (and many other things that aren’t relevant right now) I wanted to see if I could find a way to travel somewhere with or meeting a group out there with secure accomodation. I clearly can’t trust anyone to do anything with me, OR they don’t have the money, so I do want to do this by myself.

I actually had a brief moment where I thought, ‘wow, who’d have thought I’d be happy to be single?’ because, sure, I was comfortable being alone, but for this reason I was actually happy about it. I would never (and I mean never) gone abroad by myself whilst with someone, I wouldn’t have put that distance between us, that strain. And it’s very freeing to realise that.

I originally wanted to go away somewhere or like everyone does inter-railing, but with a group. Or then I thought, I’ll just go to one place and travel out on their transport to other areas nearby. Then I saw an ad on instagram.

How about

~ an internship ~

So nothing is decided right now, I’m still doing my research. Unfortunately, any of these options would cost a lot (particularly the internship, this actually blew my mind). So, I’ll apologise now, but I’m going to put below ways you can help me with funds, there’s a selection so please don’t click off just yet! And anyone who has done, or is planning to, do something similar, please let me know your experiences in the comments! I’d love to hear more!

~ Artie

 

 

Here is a selection of ways you can help me raise the funds for something like this:

  • I have a Patreon with behind the scenes type content, stuff that no one outside of Patreon would have access to seeing in a selection of levels.
  • I am a brand affiliate of Geopetric.com, they are a vegan, cruelty-free, and fair wage company in the U.S for pet products. With my affiliate code you can get 20% off, and not just once you can use it on every order you make on the website. So use our code: LAYLABARKSALOT20
  • You can make any size donation to my paypal.me link
  • I have a depop where I sell a selection of items (preferably only to U.K residents as postage is awful) find me with @amiexdelisle
  • I do tarot card readings online via email for £1 (or whatever is equal for your currency) just hit me up on any of my social media for more information.
  • and finally if there isn’t anything you can do money-wise, then sharing would do a big help. There’s one of these posts on basically every platform I use.