Jen from Knitting Interrupted and I have been having some Facebook and email conversations about food centered around food allergies and the other day she posted a link to a nutritionist whose blog she’s been following. It’s called The Fat Nutritionist and her subheadline is “Eating normally is the new black.”
I can’t tell you how lovely it is to read a blog full of sensible, straightforward dietary advice that promotes body acceptance, exercise, self-forgiveness for slip-ups and the occasional junk-food consumption, and is written by someone who also is drop dead gorgeous and self-identifies as “fat.” To see someone out there who’s so vehement and yet loving about body size issues is just– lovely and delightful, among other emotions.
On my own, I’ve been reading Caroline Knapp’s Appetites (a second edition seems to be forthcoming) about the author’s own battles with anorexia– but it’s also a holistic view about womens’ battles with all of their appetites, career, sex, money, food, all the things that feed desire/pleasure/self and oh. It is wonderful (as is all of her writing, that and her friend’s, Gail Caldwell‘s), so wonderful that it pushes too many buttons sometimes and I have to set it down for a while and think before I can come back to it.
My own “feels fat inside a borderline anorexic, not that I mean to” body issues continue. I’m currently really thin and still losing, down to 140 lbs., and at age 37 and almost 5’7″, girl’s lookin’ haggard in the cheekbones and my new size 10 pants are falling off my bony ass. The promotion has me out on the floor all day, moving lots of stock around, and finding out what my calorie consumption level should be when I don’t feel hunger, don’t have time to eat, and don’t have the interest in half the food that I eat, since most of it tastes like wax with the way the mood stabilizer affects my appetite/taste perceptions…. it’s impossible right now for me to keep up with food v. time v. interest and it’s just. Exhausting. And I am exhausted. And yet, when I eat, and force myself to keep eating (even though I AM NOT HUNGRY and I AM STUFFED ALREADY *GAG* I DO NOT WANT ANY MORE, I feel better, more human, more happy (as a relative term) than I did in the hour before when I was more tired, more moody, more confused, but my stomach did not rumble, my mouth did not water, my head did not ache. I tell myself– it’s not rage, it’s blood sugar– but it’s hard to remember to eat all the same.
I shouldn’t feel like crying over the decision about what to eat, what to cook for myself, and to have to stare into the fridge at the end of the day when I’m exhausted and know I can’t skip a meal because if I do I’ll wake up having lost even more weight, I’m that borderline. (And God love them, but my dad and my husband try(ied) to help but having to tell them what to cook me is/was just added work. Why aren’t people psychic, hah?)
And yet. Yet. I haven’t had a major MAJOR mood episode (i.e., a complete shut down of the stop-going-to-work and be catatonic kind– even strong suicidal ideations in my book don’t count, hah, since those have always come and gone no matter what med I’ve taken) since I started taking this particular med (topamax). I’ve just the “regular” ups and downs I would expect to have. And this med, unlike others, has let me have more insight so that I can at least say, earlier on in the mood cycle– “Hunh. I’m pretty depressed. I need to get out more/use my mood light/talk to some one,” or say “Hunh. I really am ragey today, I need to take an anti-anxiety pill and calm the hell down.” So. I feel guilty for feeling so fucked up about complaining about being skinny when I had the opposite problem so long and so many people still do and that’s a much bigger problem in society in general– and I feel even more guilty and stupid when people who don’t have any idea tell me how fantastic I look and it sets me into a spin all over again.
I don’t feel like I look fantastic at all. I have no idea how I look. None whatsoever. Some days I see a gaunt scarecrow in the mirror, others a gawky heron, others the fat woman I was before all of this started. I very rarely look in the mirror and see whatever it is someone else says looks “great.” (And the whole husband/separation/desirability as a woman thing is another layer entire, years’ worth of that. I need to get back inside my body somehow, and my friends joke that I need to get laid, but– but– but. Oy.)
I feel ashamed when my fellow managers have to find me after five hours to remind me to take a break to eat something, as if I am a child who can’t remember something so rudimentary. I am so stressed in general right now I don’t remember some days to bring food that won’t make me ill, so then I end up eating (sugary, bad for my bipolar, gluten-containing) red-velvet cheesecake (but so delicious…) and soup with some kind of pasta because all the soup has some kind of pasta from the cafe for lunch because I don’t have time to walk to the nearest restaurant in only a half hour and in any event, I haven’t got any money. (And this is how my brain spins, half-panicked, thoughts like fractals. Punctuation is at a premium inside my head.) At least when I was 225 lbs., I had someplace to hide and my body cushioned me. Now, I bruise at nothing, and I feel every pothole whenever I drive. When I was fat, I could always hike up a mountain, climb up stairs, move stock around, even if I did break a reddening sweat. I was always in enough shape to do the things that I needed to do, and I took pleasure in food, even if sometimes it was my only pleasure.
Now, everything, even food, is just work. I want to find pleasure again.