Saturday, 1 September 2012

On having an eating disorder and having a disability:

Trigger warnings for fat shaming, eating disorder descriptions and abuse descriptions:

"You need to lose weight, your weight is causing your disability"

"You're fat"

Two throwaway sentences said to me by doctors who had never even read my file or considered that they were facing a patient who had recovered from an undiagnosed eating disorder thanks to their disability. I've never told anyone before that I had an eating disorder and recovered, I'm telling now because I think it's important that people know you can get better and that you can have them without people knowing.

When I was 15 I weighed 5 stone nothing. I was a size 6, size eight clothes hung on my body like balloons off of a clothes horse. None of my doctors thought this alarming just like they didn't consider the fact that a 15 year old was in so much pain that she couldn't bear the touch of fabric on her legs was alarming.

This was due to a combination of an abusive parent starving me and because I was already in the grip of Anorexia. I was listless unless exercising, I was depressed, and I had no idea how I looked. I thought I was fat, all I could see was my "disgusting wobbly thighs" and the tiny portion of my belly that was supposed to stick out, I treated it like it was a pot belly a mile wide. I hid behind clothing as baggy as I could find. If I wore anything other than baggy clothes people made negative comments about me, either saying I was a whore (I was first called a whore while wearing shorts as an eleven year old) or saying I was fat out of jealousy.

I was in pain due to my undiagnosed EDS, but people thought I was healthy just because I was skinny. Anorexia took a grip on my life, My meals were so few and far between that I lost the ability to recognise hunger, I exercised despite the pain because everyone was saying:

"It's growing pains" (I was way too fucking old for growing pains)

"It'll go away in time".

Eventually I collapsed, the stress I was under combined with the increasing levels of pain from my still not diagnosed ehlers-danlos syndrome finally took me down, and the weight followed.

I am now overweight, and doctors blame my disabilities on it. My disabilities saved my life in a very real way. I was killing myself because of the belief that skinny is healthy. My disabilities actually stopped me from exercising and starving myself to death.

Everytime a doctor tells me I'm fat like it's some kind of crime? I want to drop kick him. Fact is my body now looks like I thought it looked when I was dangerously underweight, and I'm happier with my body now than I was when I was a skinny starving anorexic. I might have "looked good" because I was skinny, but in reality I was dying.

I can lose weight and in fact am working to lose the weight healthily and realistically, if it wasn't for my disabilities though, I wouldn't have that chance because anorexia would have killed me.

My weight didn't make me disabled, my disabilities made me overweight and in doing so, they saved my life.

If you're a doctor and you feel the need to comment or make assumptions about a patient's health based on their weight? Don't. Same goes for everyone else.

1. If we're overweight, we know it. You saying so is not some massive relevation.

2. Weight does not cause disability, it's typically the other way around or they may have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

3. People do recover from eating disorders and go on to gain weight. You have no idea if the "fat" person was starving themselves to death a decade ago, so before you open your mouth consider the harm you could do if they are prone to EDs and keep said mouth shut.

4. Skinny =/= healthy. Skinny people can be disabled or ill just as easily as anyone else can be.

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