by ROSIE WATERLAND
This week, Mamamia published an article about an overweight young woman, Stella Boonshoft. She published a photo online of herself in her underwear and received a massive reaction – good and bad. She seems comfortable and happy with who she is, which I think is fabulous.
I wish I could feel the same.
I’m morbidly obese, and I hate myself for it.
Being fat is hard. Being fat is heartbreaking. Being fat is humiliating. The way I look right now fills me with unimaginable shame.
Maybe the reason I find it so hard to accept the way I look is that I haven’t always looked this way. I’ve never had a weight problem in my life. I’ve always been slim and attractive. I wouldn’t say I was completely void of body-issues, but I was confident enough in myself that when a play I was performing in called for a naked scene, I didn’t give it a second thought. My body just wasn’t a big deal for me. Until my body got big. Really big.
Things started changing about six years ago. I had a childhood filled with neglect and inconsistency, topped with an extremely traumatic bullying experience in my last three years of high school. When I was twenty, the relatives who had been taking care of me since I was fourteen told me to find somewhere else to live. I was devastated.
These were the people who looked after me when my parents couldn’t, and now they too had cast me aside. I was already dealing with PTSD from being abandoned in my younger years, and now it was happening again. Like sending a traumatised soldier back into the battlefield, I was not equipped mentally to handle a repeat situation.
So I began to eat. Or, more accurately, I began to self-medicate with food. And now, six years later, I’m 70 kilos heavier. Let me say that again: Seventy. Kilograms.
I’m providing this background purely as a context, rather than as an excuse. I take full responsibility for the obese state my body is now in. But I think it’s important for people to realise that, for some, overeating is a complex issue deeply rooted in mental health. It’s not always as simple as ‘being disciplined’.
In my case, food provided comfort when I had none, and that comfort became addictive. Without it, I might not even be here today. It doesn’t help that I also have a thyroid disease that makes it incredibly difficult for me to lose weight, but then I wouldn’t have weight to lose if I hadn’t eaten myself into this mess in the first place, would I? I get it. Trust me, I get it.
The weight creeps up slowly. First, I reached 75. I thought it was fine; that I’d just up my gym routine before summer. Then, 80. Before you know it, it’s 85. Then 90. And suddenly, coming from 95, 100 kilos doesn’t feel that bad. You conveniently forget that starting at your original 65, 100 is actually a massive leap. I really can’t say what my weight is now. It’s not that I don’t know; I just can’t write the number. But given I’ve said how much I’ve gained and where I started… Well, you do the math.
I’ve worked hard with a psychiatrist to combat the PTSD and anxiety I’ve been dealing with for most of my adult life. At 26, I feel like I’ve finally come out the other side. But now my outside doesn’t match my new and improved inside. For the first time in years, my head is clear. But every time I look in a mirror, I feel myself going to a dark place.