Body love

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:48 am
dryadgrl: (Default)
Body Love: Body stuff is hard. As one of my amazing friends said yesterday: "I cringe at the users who celebrate fat loss as though it's a moral imperative, but I also understand that the culture we swim in is toxic about body image. Every person who unconsciously associates their body changes to being a 'better' person, is buying into that toxicity, consciously or not."

Body love for me is being free of harm, free of judgement and free of other's looks, words and actions. It would make my life easier if I didn't have to pretend to be ok with what people say about my body or their body.

It would make food easier if I could really eat what I want without inter or external judgement.

Food is hard.
Body stuff is hard.

Just please stop being asshats about weight and conflating weight and health or weight and being a good person.
dryadgrl: (Default)
I got a message from Fatlandia today with a list of books about bodies. Some of these I need to read, so I'm keeping them here. Funny that these went into the welfare stuff. Love it!

Dawn Atkins edited book called Looking Queer;
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's Staring: How we look; Lois Keith edited collection "What happened to you?": Writing by Disabled women;
bell hooks' Black looks: Race & representation;
Joshua Gamson's Freaks Talk Back;
a bunch of the essays in the Brownworth & Raffo edited Restricted Access: Lesbians on disability (and you'll recognize a bunch of the authors in there, for sure);
Julia Serano's Whipping Girl;
Dorothy Allison's Trash;
the two This Bridge books;
Anzaldua's Making face making soul: Haciendo caras;
most of the Emi Koyama ouevre (make sure the women's studies class knows to pay her for her work); Thea Hillman's book;
some of Mattilda's anthologies;
the embodimentusa wordpress website for gorgeous photos of queers;
Bodies out of bounds;
Eli Clare's Gaping Gawping Staring essay;
the "On stareable bodies" post on fatheffalump's wordpress site;
Bill Shannon's theory and performance art on his old site and on his site;
Kevin Connolly's photo project at;
there's a post or two on the old The Rotund that explicitly address fat bodies as public property;
a lot of posts on Monica Roberts';
Vivyan Adairs' From Good Ma to Welfare Queen;
and even though it doesn't address the issue directly, I sort of think it's worth listing Theresa Funiciello's Tyranny of kindness: Dismantling the welfare system to end poverty in America.
dryadgrl: (Default)
So we're nearing a month of this experiment and on the whole it's been an amazing success.

I have a lot more energy. i can get things done.
I don't have to worry so much about food. My body is not having cravings. I'm not eating between meals, but I am hungry, what seems like appropriately (as in, like other people seem to be hungry). I know a little in advance and so I can make food for myself.

Used to be when I was working at home I'd eat a bunch of times a day. Some because it was there. Usually good stuff, but food was a huge focus of my life. What I can eat, what I can't eat, do I have food, can I cook food. But with more energy, the whole struggle is just much less. I have energy to cook food. So I cook it. I know I'm going to be hungry so I can rely on my body to let me know when to cook. Food anxiety pretty nearly gone.

I do still have to figure out how to deal with food when I'm out so that I don't fall off the wagon when I travel. But until this week I have categorically refused to consider that.

Also I was down with anemia yesterday. It happened super fast. Within abut an hour I could hardly walk and it was hard to breathe and I was freezing. Thankfully I wasn't alone and my friend C got me more meds and I took them and went to bed with a heating pad. 7 hours later I was siting up, having processed the meds and feeling actually ok. Usually I'm out for three days minimum when this happens.

It also seems that iodine might be too intense for me right now. If I take it it enhances the adrenal fatigue symptoms. Recently those have been: waking with racing thoughts in the middle of the night, energy picking up after 6pm and hard to get to sleep, mid afternoon exhaustion. To deal with the adrenal fatigue I started staking Thorne's Cortex. I'm going to check in with my doc about it this week. But it seems to be working.

I know the medication is also working because as of this week I'm down to the smallest bra that I own which is two cup sizes and one band size smaller than what I wore 6 weeks ago. Nothing else has changed in terms of clothes sizes. But the last time I worked super hard at losing weight, this is exactly the way it happened. My bust gets smaller first. Then it took months and required an hour of swimming a day. Now I'm just doing what I'm doing and worrying less.

So there it is, I guess.

Please don't congratulate me on all of this. I am not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. I mean I am excited that I am losing weight, but weight is so connected to society's values around self worth of women that I just don't want to have other people's validation of that system. You can validate that I feel healthier, but I don't want any, "Have you lost weight? You look really good!" I know I'll have to deal with it in other places, I just don't know what to say.

I know people mean well. And fuck them, actually. Either they like me at whatever size I am or not. And I don't want to deal with people's shit about body image. I have a lot to sort through. I am dealing with a lot of internal stuff about my fear around the possibility of substantial weight change. I want it because it would be healthy for me (50 lbs ago I felt super healthy which is still "morbidly obese" so I don't want others to get any funny ideas).

But first I have no idea what's going to happen. Second, it's none of your business. Yes, even though I blog about it. It's pretty painful to be dealing with and all the societal expectations just get in the way.

Anyway, it hurts. And I need to be with myself before I'm with other people about my body.Many bodies aren't political, but mine is. And I really want that to not be the case.
dryadgrl: (Default)
I've become a bit of a Brene Brown groupie. I'm currently reading her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" and I love this TED talk onthe power of vulnerability. In fact it's that last thing that I've been thinking about a lot.

She talks about shame - the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me, that if other people know or see it, that I won't be worthy of connection.

I've been willing to think about some of this recently. Just in the last few weeks. And I've written a tiny bit about this privately. I'm about to write more. To break this open and tell the truth about myself.

I struggle with body image stuff.

One the one hand, I have done my best to surround myself with people who love me, are body- and sex-positive and are supportive of diversity in body sizes. Or at lest who would never say anything intentionally negative about my body to me.

I got a fair amount of that growing up. My dad used to say things like, "You better be careful or you'll have to have clothes made by Omar the Tent Maker." My sister has called me more than once when, as an adult my dad said crappy things to her about her weight.

But even so, we in the US live in a world where we are inundated every singe day with images that tell us how to be, what to look like, what to drive and what kind of toothpaste to buy. And that if we don't we're not good enough, sexy enough, smart enough or wealthy enough. So even without nasty images and talk at home, it's a hard world for anyone that doesn't look like a super model (and I don't know that super models have it all that good either).

But that's not my truth, that's a way of saying, it's the water we swim in.

My truth is that even though I don't talk about (or haven't) I have been upset about my body. I don't talk about my body very deeply or openly except how I've been ill. I have allowed myself to let go of some body image pain into that idea - that I have no control over my body because I'm sick.

There's a lot there. I have been sick. I am more and more well every day (well, it goes in fits and starts, but it's better than it was). I hate, as in absolutely detest, the idea that I should be or can "control" my body or my weight. That idea is one created by the diet industry to keep women trapped. It's not actually possible nor is it useful to obsess about what size I am. And I need to say that I have been aspiring to be different. I want to have a traditionally beautiful body and leave my self-loathing at the door and never pick it up again.

I want to feel worthy of love and belonging, I want to be seen as beautiful not just as smart or a hard worker. I want to fit into clothes in stores that it seems like most people can shop in and I'm tired of educating people around me about sizism, able-ism and so on. I want to fit in, blend in and be normal.

Sometimes it seems like the world is a harsh place. I'm tired of carrying the messages around and pretending like they don't hurt me or I don't notice. I do notice when people don't look me in the eye even though they look at everyone else. I do notice when people flirt with everyone but me. I do notice that I don't fit in chairs or spaces and I'm tired of having to make exceptions and ask for help around my body.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I just want it to be different.


And I can finally talk about it. I'm starting to be able to say my fears out loud and acknowledge my shame and fear of disconnection. This has come on the heels of the medicine that's helping me be more grounded and in the wake of feeling much more loved these past few weeks as I step into a deeper commitment in community.

I realized that I do much better with very deeply committed relationships, that when I'm further away form people and community, I feel unworthy, not enough and lacking in support. When I have an abundance of committed relationships, I feel more supported and loved and somehow like I have greater capacity for success and more clarity about love.

I feel really ready to commit to friendships and relationships. I'm just ready. I've felt like I've been longing for connection, but have held many concerns in different forms about connecting mostly because I wasn't sure I could show up in relationship. But I am now. I am showing up in my relationships and being clear in my commitments and not overcommitting. I can be present with the sadness I have about not being able to do everything and still not take on too much.

And I've been resting quite a bit. I want to work out a really good ratio of rest to "doing things" so that I don't fall down that hill again (or as much). Rest is really important and I deserve it.

That's the final piece of this piece of healing. I feel worthy and deserving of love. I have an amazing boyfriend who's love is very visible to me this week. My coven feels like a place full of people I love, I have friends that I can count on and who clearly love me and I can call on that love. That is what gave me the courage to write about the shame above.

I am committed to love - to loving myself and being with myself through this process. And I'm doing it and so it is changing.

Love changes everything.
dryadgrl: (Default)
It's been a long time since I talked about my illness stuff in any detail.

I'm re-exploring this stuff as I'm more and more well.

The very short version is what we now think happened was I got pregnancy-onset hypothyroidism in 1997 During pregnancy with my awesome-amazing son. Hypothyroidism has a lot of possible symptoms but they include depression, anxiety, weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight, adrenal fatigue and adrenal related stuff, and exhaustion (and a whole host of other things including hormonal issues and nutrient deficiencies). There are something like 22 different kinds of thyroid things and that's compounded this issue.

I gained (a lot of) weight during pregnancy but it didn't stop when I had the baby. At first I thought it could have just been that car accident when I was pregnant and couldn't do very much for several months. But even once I could walk and so on, I had a difficult time with my weight and by then I started the slide into depression that got progressively worse for about 8 years (which, by the way, is a damn long time) and culiminated in a round of being hopsitalized for 9 days and a several year battle with very severe depression, anxiety and complusive suicidality. Now I know that this was a result of thyroid issues that deteriorated to include nutrient deficiencies as a result of absorption issues, adrenal fatigue, major (severe) depression and an anxiety disorder as well as a whole lot of metabolic issues.

Doctors were reluctant to test me for thyroid stuff instead telling me to exercise and take anti-depressants because I was "just fat" among other completely degrading crap. At one point when I was telling a neurologist about my migraines he said, "Well you're fat, what did you expect?" I said, "I"ve been fat for 10 years, I've had migraines 6 months." Needless to say I never went back and never saw another neurologist.

The more research I did, the more it was clear to me that depression was a symptom of something, not a cause. But, well, no one believed me. I mean fat people are lazy, unmotivated, stupid and deserve what they get, right?


Your thyroid control metabolism. Yes that's about weight, but it's also about nutrient absorption and that effects every single body system without exception from blood and brain function to growth to bones and muscles, etc. So no matter what I ate, my body and brain were starving which is also part of biology of depression and anxiety (the starving peice is also about cortisol and weight, this is an integrated system after all). The next system to get stressed once there is thyroid stress is adrenals and so even minor stresses would send me over the edge into very dark places. And so on. It's a very dark, difficult downward spiral into hell.

And once you get there, it's no fun either.

The hospitalization came in 2005 when my girlfriend couldn't take care of me any more. She had taken me with her for the weekend and I just couldn't cope and spent all of my time crying or sleeping or in the depths of despair. There was really nothing she could do for me. It was really the right thing and I'm very grateful for her support. She came and visited me every day and in fact it made our relationship much stronger for a time. It's actually amazing that she ever found me loveable. I was in so much pain and I couldn't imagine being lovable or loved.

Two very different things happened. One was a series of conversations with doctors in hospital who basically told me that I needed to take anti-dpressents and that I would never, ever be well. Ever. They said that my thyroid numbers were a little low, but they thought I was bi-polar and the medical records are all about my weight ("morbidly obese") and the depression and not one word about thyroid stuff or other possibilities. They told me to that I would never work again and that I should be prepared to be disabled the rest of my life.

They psychward is a terrible place. It's a lot about over-medicating people until they drool on themselves so that they don't "cause harm." It's full of people who are there to stay out of other much more terrible places or to avoid extreme fates. Yes sometimes jail/prison, but group homes and being "cared for" by terrible people and crazy abusive stories. I don't recommend it.

Though I will say it made my life look very appealing and very... sane in comparison. (Saying my life was "sane" at the time is like saying that being stretched on a rack is "uncomfortable.")

The other thing was late one night, I was sitting at the end of the hallway in the psychward, a few days in to my "stay" and a nurse came and sat down next to me. We talked for quite some time and she said that I didn't belong there. She said that a lot of these people will come back over and over but she'd be willing to bet she'd never see me again. She said that I had tons of support - people came to visit me every day (not my family, but my girlfriend and my lover and friends and my son). She also said that people really looked up to me because they knew too. And there's some truth to the idea that in the evenings we all (the inmates) started gathering to do art together which started because I just couldn't take one more evening alone crying.

But it's a bizarre thing to be the most sane person in the psychward. When I was at the lowest I thought it was possible to go, I was still not a paranoid delusional or hearing voices or afraid that people in my life were trying to kill me. One woman was convinced that the staff was trying to rape her with various things every night. But she said it was still better than the group home.

This weekend in yet another cleaning frenzy, I just let go of art the one of the women made for me and stuff that I made as well. I held on to it for 6 years. Because the crazy people mostly stick together. Mostly.

Anyway, this is all a lead up to say that I let my current healer do blood tests on me, which I haven't let anyone do in several years because I was tired of the crap and the unwillingness to do the right tests (not just TSH, but T3 and T4 please!) and not wanting to get stuck with needles in order to talk to people who see me as dumb or useless or stupid. Fuck them. I'm not putting myself into the hands of people who don't deserve my trust.

So I did it. I got the tests and I filled out a new round of assessment paperwork for my current doc and let her send it all out for analysis.

And it came back in big bold letters diagnosis: primary hypothroid.

We talked about it. We agreed on a path forward. She was impressed about the cleaning frenzy and said it was an important part of getting well and she and I both got teary-eyed about taking the next step.

She gave me new medicines.

She gave me medicine for the thyroid issue that I have been diagnosed with.

I mean we know I have thyroid issues so I've been on very low doses of iodine and some other supplements and not a lot else because I couldn't deal with the testing. But the boyfriend was a rock star and talked me through the whole thing, even the bits where I was grumpy waiting for the testing.

It's such a relief to be working with a healer who believes me, who not only listened to me say that I didn't think anti-depressants were the way to go but agreed with me and helped me treat the symptoms without pharmaceuticals. It's amazing to look back and see how different my life is because one person believed in me.

In truth she believed in me because Tia believed in me. So that's two people.

That was Saturday. I've been on the meds for 5 days and things are shifting already. I can feel eating patterns shifting - I am inclined and available to cook more. I'm HUNGRY! Several times a day! Every day! (I started getting hungry regularly in August, but this several times a day thing is so novel!) And I'm eating several times a day! When I'm hungry!

(For those that have always had a body that spoke to them about hunger, the broken part was that I was rarely hungry. I was either not interested in food or starving and nauseous and weak. There was no in between. So my blood sugar was always crashed out, my adrenals were always stressed out, my mood was always fucked, always. For years.)

That means I have more energy. Over the last few weeks I'm much more available in some way that my son is responding to. I have only been short with him twice in the last few weeks which feels really good. We have a great relationship, but it's hard on him when I'm sick or unavailable.

In retrospect there's been big change this last 7 months. Since I quit IPC, my anxiety went way down. In fact I had my first anxiety attack in months today (when I had to go see those folks in court).

I found out I am allergic to nightshades and stopped eating those and things have really shifted. Then there's the boyfriend and my capacity to be in relationship. I can do it, is the short version. I can show up for people and for myself in some kind of weirdly consistent way. I acknowledge my own boundaries and don't routinely force past them without noticing. Now at least I see them as they go rushing by. And often stop well in advance of a limit, especially a physical one.

I am no longer in every day chronic pain.

Just so that you get it: I am no longer in every day chronic pain.

I've been listening to my body more and more and just doing less. And doing less but being effective at those things and even happy. I've been pretty happy most of the time for most of a year. I have capacity for friendships and relationships in ways that I haven't in forever.

Somehow I decided that it would all be ok and have been working, but less, and not stressing about money, even though there's not much coming in. I'm just less worried... I think this is how it is for healthy people. They can still function even if money is tight and they don't spend all of their time freaking out and being sick and sleeping or staring at the ceiling about this issue or that thing.

I guess that's why they call it functional. Because they function. I think I get it now.

I haven't been this healthy in a long time. Probably since before Kiddo was born. I used to think... I thought I was a person who loved people and had lots of friends. But I could not be close to many people while I was so sick even though I deeply needed them. As I've gotten well, there are more and more amazing people in my life. I'm both grateful and sad about that. I wish I'd been able to have them all when I thought I was dying, but I'm so glad they are here now.

One thing that I've learned about healing is that it comes in waves. Some times big sweeping waves and some times small, nearly imperceptible, ones. But they all change my life. This one feels big between the house cleaning and getting back on the 'medication and treatment' horse in a new way. I can really see a path forward to consistent wellness from here.

I am so relieved to finally have a clear, concise, written diagnosis. No more screwing around about it. I have a doctor that I trust to help me and the help is happening. It's taken me 3 years to relax into the idea that this is a long-term relationship. That she will keep treating me even though I fall down and can't cope sometimes and things don't work and I don't know what to do about that sometimes. She just keeps helping me up, brushing me off, and loving me. I don't know what I would do without her.

And the idea that my body could really work well and not betray me or fall apart at every turn is amazing. I'm so excited about that.

Oh and I've started taking a belly dancing class. I haven't taken a dance class in 18 years.


dryadgrl: (Default)

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