People can be mean spirited and cruel.
Recently I did an interview with a local television station about my eating disorder–OSFED–Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder. For me, OSFED means although I struggle with restricting food and purging I am not underweight. There have been times in my life when I was much thinner and weighed much less but I was still sick and it was a battle to stay in that lower weight range. So, as you have read in previous posts, learning to accept my body after having a baby has been a struggle. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life and that isn’t an easy thing to accept. However, I also know I cannot restrict and purge for the rest of my life or that life will be short.
Anyway, the local news channel posted a preview of the interview on their Facebook page. I decided to watch it, interested to see what they used as a teaser. After the video closed, my eyes caught the comments under the post: “aka can’t stop stuffing my face,” “just get some Jesus,” and “to stop being self-centered and help someone else out because it would make both lives better.” While these comments are not an extensive list of the negativity and ignorance of others, they do give a various display of how people reacted to the news report. My eating disordered voice immediately jumped on the opportunity to agree with the criticisms and add a few of its own. “That’s right, everyone thinks you’re fat. You are fat by medical standards. You look like you eat constantly so you need to stop eating.” For a brief time I allowed myself to indulge in the criticism and even started agreeing with it. Upon noticing I was agreeing with the eating disorder I knew I had to find my way to a wise-mind place or the comments of others could throw me back off the recovery track.
- First, I can admit some of the camera angles in the interview were not the most flattering of views, but that’s life. I cannot look, what I believe, is my best all the time.
- Second, recalling what I learned in my television, radio, and film class from undergrad, I know the camera also makes people look bigger than they are in real-life. Part of why I looked so big is because of that reality.
- Third, I had been having a good body image day and the ignorant comments of people, coupled with my eating disordered mind, did not get to ruin that positivity.
- Finally, in truth I am not small. I am not as thin as I was in some of the old photos used in the interview; while that truth cuts me to my core, it is a truth. However, it doesn’t have to be a truth that destroys my soul.
Once I reached the wise-mind place about accepting my body and the realities behind why I looked bigger on television than I do in the mirror (even though most days I think I look huge in the mirror), I could focus my mind on the comments. I admit, reading the comments was a mistake. I know people aren’t nice when they post comments, I have seen them before under completely unrelated news posts and it is typically non-supporters that comment. I often have to wonder why their parents never taught them the saying: “if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say anything at all.” But that’s neither here nor there. Some of the comments angered me, some made me shake my head, but all were ignorant. The comments that angered me initially were laced with ignorance, grammatical errors, and reeked of someone who is struggling with his/her own body-image issues. I can’t expect everyone to understand or even pretend to hear the message behind the story because they don’t know me. They don’t know my history and how I feel blessed to be alive because I look back and see where the eating disorder could have very easily killed me. It was also very obvious some people didn’t even watch the teaser or the full interview or they would know my eating disorder isn’t about “stuffing my face.” They would also realize restricting food and purging at all is not “normal” behavior around food. Or maybe they wouldn’t realize it because they are set on shooting down the reality that it isn’t normal. No matter what the comment, I wouldn’t allow myself to dignify their ignorance with a reply…on Facebook anyway. They don’t deserve an explanation or a retort from me. People like that don’t deserve my time and energy. I realize I am giving them some of my time and energy with this blog post, but I have to hold myself above reproach on Facebook. God gave me an opportunity and if I argued or rudely tried to explain my position in the heat of the moment, when I was angry, He is not receiving the glory.
That being said, the only person who I did dignify with my response was the woman who told me to “Just get some Jesus.” After taking my time to carefully craft my response, I thanked her for her concern about my soul and informed her I am a woman of faith. God is a big part of my recovery because I now realize when I am focused on food and my obsession with thinness it becomes an idol; replacing God in my life. Making food an idol makes my eating disorder a sin. While I strongly believe there are genetic factors involved in the diagnosis of an eating disorder and it is not a choice, there are times I choose it. There are times when I know what the right choice is (eating my full meal plan, not purging afterwards, etc) and even with God in mind I engage in negative behaviors. While the interview itself didn’t give me the opportunity to share how God has been an integral part of recovery, this woman’s comment certainly did. I know God is beginning to use my struggle for the greater good and that is what matters.
Anyway, this post has been long-winded but I felt the need to share my thoughts on the ignorance and negativity of others. I also believe it is important to share that I am proud of myself for taking a step back and reaching a wise-mind view on the comments. Not too long ago the comments of others would have destroyed me and sent me running into the unfortunate grasp of my eating disorder. However, because of the tools I learned in treatment I can look at their comments objectively and realize this as the main point: They don’t know me. They don’t know my story. I challenge you to keep that realization in mind next time someone says something negative about you. Ask yourself, “Does this person really know me?” Chances are, they don’t.
Own your story. Share your story. Don’t let others destroy your story.
With Body Love,