Pictures of My Sadness

Pictures make me feel an overwhelming, unbearable sadness. I can’t look directly at them. I know that’s dramatic. But it’s true. After any outing where a picture of me ends up on social media, I have this heavy regret for every moment of my life leading up to that picture. Guilt and shame. Anxiety. Then a true onset of depression. This heaviness washes over me. A heaviness distinct from my own physical heaviness. 

On one hand, I am SO THANKFUL I am able to be in my own skin, and exist relatively unaware of the “in pictures” me. I don’t notice how I look or what I weigh when I’m doing things I must do or am proud of. If I’m at work, doing house or yard work, driving, reading, writing, even watching TV, I exist as me. Independent of this shame. The inner soul of who I am is all that I am in these moments. And, actually, the first time I gained weight, I existed blissfully in this world, even in pictures. I was either unaware of how heavy I was, and was never sad or ashamed. I was just ME. 

On the other hand, when I look in the mirror, I see how heavy I am now. But it’s not shameful. It’s a factual awareness. I see myself naked and realize I need to lose weight. But I also see my eyes, and know what I’ve struggled though. Food allergies, fatigue, deficiencies, burnout. Or I see my legs and how strong they are. Or on a good hair day, I admire my hair. I put on clothes and think they fit well, and are flattering. 

The camera, however, undoes all of this. And there has been no way to escape it with social media, people obsessed with selfies, etc. 

Even thinking directly about pictures of me over the past three years makes me start to tear up. And I want to push those moments away, hoping no one else remembers them, either. I took a “mood” supplement befor writing this post because I didn’t want to push myself to “that place.” The place where I avoid people so they don’t invite me somewhere there might be a camera. The place where I’d just rather lay in bed napping and watching tv.  The place where, yes, I’d rather eat because what’s the point? 

And the truth is, I don’t really eat that much. I love pizza. But can pass on dessert. I love cheese dip and many Mexican foods, but I don’t eat three servings. I eat less than many of my friends, and on par with others who weigh far less. And, yes, less than people who  judge fat people. 

My depression comes from the shame of others noticing me being fat. The shame of thinking others assume I don’t try. I don’t even know why I care what others think. Most of the judgmental people, I don’t want to be like. I don’t want their lives. I know they are unhappy people. I’ve lived most of my life outside of the normal boundaries of society’s expectations. I liked to run before it was a fad, and lost interest when it got popular. I liked weight lifting before anyone I knew lifted. I put my career before dating. In actuality. Not just as something I tell myself. I’m not married. And I have no children. I know you’d say it’s because I’m fat, but trust me, I had some good, attractive years. (Not that attraction alone gets you married, but I passed up dates to move the direction I wanted to move.) I DID eat healthier. And I’ve had years where I ate far worse. I’m in the middle now. I eat out plenty. But I also have taught myself to like vegetables, and enjoy sweating during a workout, and muscle pain the day or two after working out. I’ve learned to enjoy being outdoors. How to meditate and appreciate yoga. How to own a house and take care of it on my own. How to not be afraid. And to appreciate silence. To let it rejuvenate me. To realize the single person hardly gets the spotlight, or attention, and that’s a good place to be. Life isn’t about me. But I’ve never sacrificed my place in this world to be who society wants me to be…. Except for I feel shame for being fat.

Even just seeing one picture on Facebook for about ten seconds before I hit “hide” and switched the whole thing off, my chest feels the anxiety creeping up. My eyes and head feel heavy. And I am angry at past me for not doing better. But what’s better? 

I’ve been intermittent fasting. Eating two meals a day most days. Some days even just one meal. Working out. I listen to people who claim to be focused on wellness using it as a cover to shame people for being overweight, shaming their children, shaming themselves, then eating it anyway. 

I want to be thin. I also want my house to be paid off. And to have a soul mate. I’ve accepted the latter two. But feel like I can control the former, so it’s my fault for not.

This event, the one with the late-posted pic of today, is what motivated me to start another full on fast yesterday afternoon. Today this picture fuels me. I’m aiming for thirty days, if I can manage it. When I want to eat, I think of this feeling, of those pictures. I know it isn’t healthy. But neither is random onset depression and anxiety. Neither is being overweight. Neither is being controlled by something I might be able to fix. 

I want to be a “normal” weight. One where I can look at my face in a picture. A damn inanimate object. One where I can enjoy celebrations without feeling dread. One where I feel anything but what I feel right now. 

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