Monday, May 18, 2015

What Am I Waiting For? (Or: The Time Michelle Obama Crashed My NEDAwareness Week)

Hello everyone and welcome to another infrequent post on this blog. Once again I’m sorry this one isn’t very active but I find myself thinking less and less about recovery stuff as time goes on. (If you really miss me that much you can check out my tumblr. I go there to make arguably silly and/or stupid posts. And some important ones not related to recovery. I come here to make arguably less silly and/or stupid posts. The frequency of each should tell you that I am an arguably silly and stupid person.)

Something happened to my TV in February. During (or the day before, not 100% sure of the date) NEDAwareness week, actually, if we want to get the complete picture of how messed up the situation was. 

Michelle Obama appeared on the screen and started telling me to get off my butt and change the way I eat, as part of fit February. (Or some such thing. I’ve learned by necessity of my own survival to tune these kind of things out when I start to hear them.)

For the purposes of this post I’ve looked up the original video. I am not going to link it because that would be counterproductive. It was “Fit Kids February.” I even watched the damn thing twice to make sure I got it right, so no one can say I only ever do things I want to do.)

Anyway, she then asked me, “What are you waiting for?” to which I provide this answer (strap in, it’s long):

(And “you” is now a general “you,” as I would like to address the general population and not just the First Lady.)

What am I waiting for? I am waiting for the pain of years of overexercise and malnutrition to leave my body. I am waiting for my body to be whole again. You think my pain is brought on by not being active enough, no. It is the opposite.

What am I waiting for? I am waiting for a genetic sequence that doesn’t make exercise and starving myself both 1) correlated, and 2) addictive. You ask why I don’t exercise (because obviously if I don’t then I am not healthy), well here is your answer: I can’t stop myself. You think my lack of exercise is a lack of willpower, no. It takes everything in me not to do it, you know why? Because when I do it I honestly do get addicted. And you can’t question the validity or healthiness of my actions unless you’ve been in this place. If you think you can guilt me into diet and exercise then you can sit your ass down, because no one does that better than my eating disorder, and I’ve come this far and I’m sure as hell not going to let you knock me back to square one. If I exercise, I will get out of control, and I will start starving myself in addition. It is not a choice, nor is it my fault. It is the love child of my genetics and the society I live in.

What am I waiting for? I am waiting for you to acknowledge that my mental health is more important than what you want me to look and act like.

I am waiting for you to acknowledge my genetics. That they exist. That I exist.

I’ve given a lot of thought to eating disorder prevention. Sure, you learn about them in school. I learned about them in school, hell I even wrote a freaking paper about how to prevent them in 10th grade. (I am trying so hard not to curse in this post, I really am.) Guess what I suggested? Targeting childhood obesity. So I get it, it makes sense, if they don’t have to go on diets they’ll never get addicted to them. (I repeat, it is an addiction.) But the problem is that it does not stop there. It never stops. Never. Big or small, man or woman, there will always be pressure to go on a diet.

And for all that education about how eating disorders are horrible and you should always be careful never to get one, I still got one. So you see, words and facts are really no match for my genetics.

We are not talking about a logical illness here. We are not talking about something that is “caught” and “cured.” We are talking about something that potentially damages you for the rest of your life, so why aren’t we taking it more seriously?

The answer is what I see every day. Diet foods, diet ads, people talking about their diets, people going on diets, people complaining about their diets, people complaining about falling off their diets, people refusing a gift of food because they are on a fucking diet, dammit, did you not hear the tenth and eleventh and twelfth time?

And I look at it, and I think, surely I’m not the only one who sees this. This obsession with diets is something I saw as “normal” and “healthy” when I was at my sickest, and now it is something that I cannot take part in if I want to live, and therefore my only logical conclusion is that it is, on some level, disordered. And no doubt the rising percentages of restrictive eating disorders contribute to my perception.

(Hello, you, if you think you’re immune it’s really just a genetic crapshoot. If you think your children are immune it’s really just a genetic crapshoot. If you think obsessing over diets when your kids are growing up and telling them this food is bad and go exercise won’t harm them, it’s really just a genetic crapshoot. I have a theory that kids are the only ones anymore who are actually in tune with what their bodies need, because your body is very efficient at communicating with you—even on a subconscious level—until you start tuning it out. See “eating whatever you want,” below.)

So, although of course awareness is important, I don’t propose teaching the evil of eating disorders. I propose not teaching young kids and teenagers to care so much about what they eat and whether or not they exercise.

(As always, I will tell you to Google “set point theory” and, as always, I will tell you it’s a scientific, proven thing.)

As a kid I was told that being free with food is bad, and I was told that eating disorders are bad. And now I am still told that being free with food is wrong and eating disorders are wrong, and somehow I am wrong for getting an eating disorder despite my education telling me not to, and I am also wrong for trying to keep myself free of that disorder by being free with ALL food.

A funny thing happens when you eat whatever you want: You don’t eat everything. Nobody told me this. They told me I have to be careful or I will eat everything.

I call bullshit, because I have lived enough bullshit and I think I know what bullshit is.

And, if I am wrong for not living “correctly”—then I am wrong for living at all.

I don’t know what is wrong, but I know it’s not me.

I am waiting for society to make up its damn mind.

And if the majority of you want to keep indulging your non-fatal obsessions at the expense of the increasing number of us, then I can’t change your mind. And in however many generations, congratulations, you will have eradicated us, as Darwin dictated—the “weak” shall not survive—with no regard for the fact that my genetic “weakness” is the reason humans survived famines during the hunter-gatherer times. When you were all feeling shit because you didn’t get your food, it made me more alert and energetic, and I found food and I fed you. And then, when I had done my genetic duty and you were satisfied, you fed me. Had you not fed me we wouldn’t be here. Can you not feed me again?

And while we’re on the subject, I would like to point out the logical conclusion (don’t you love logic?) that can also be drawn from Darwin, which is that future generations should develop a defense mechanism against chronic underfeeding (I’m talking about diets again), and so what you see as an “epidemic” (I’m talking about “obesity” now) might actually be better classified as something called “evolution.”


Something else happened to my TV last night. The BBMAs were on. I make no secret of the fact that I don’t consider myself a “fan” of very many female artists. Probably like two, and the less I know about them the better.

(Except Mary Lambert is awesome, just saying.)

So you can go on and say that makes me a horrible “woman” or whatever you want, but I have never felt represented by them or their music. They are makeup and short dresses and thinner than average—everything I am not. And this is what you’re feeding me, that I am not attractive or successful unless I am something that I cannot be if I want to survive.

I also have this radical idea that to exist—no, to live—is more important than to need a man (oh, of course it has to be a man, god forbid it should be a woman because to be loved and to be in love is such a horrible thing unless it’s a man) to tell me I’m pretty or hot or fit or what the hell ever because of how I look and act and what I wear. Because not only is that pretty sexually exclusive (again, Mary Lambert is awesome), it’s also a pretty narrow view of what a woman is.

So look me in the eye, and tell me all these things, and then tell me that we need to do more to treat and prevent eating disorders. Yes, we do. That’s what I’m asking. I can’t do it alone—and I have, I have forgone doctors because they have invariably told me to eat less and get my ass on a damn machine that makes me walk but takes me nowhere, even knowing my medical history. I need you to see what I see. I need you to see that you’re not helping me. I need you to see that I could be your kids or your grandkids or your husband or your wife or your brother or your sister. I need you to see what is happening, because once it starts no amount of education or logic will stop it.

Do you not see it?

And so, to (finally, right!?) conclude:

I am waiting for you to stop trying to kill me while asking me why I can’t get better.

And since my attempt to keep the language PG failed, I feel totally fine saying this: I don’t care what anyone says, if you read this far you’re fucking awesome.