The Weight Of The World

I was always the skinny girl. Rail thin. No curves. Barely there. And I still felt fat.

Then I was the anorexic. Scary thin. Thin enough to make my friends cry. Everything hurt. And I still felt fat.

I evened out. Gained enough weight to be healthy. I did nothing out of the ordinary to do this. And I still felt fat.

Now I’m on psych meds. And I’m fat.

I wonder sometimes if it’s a punishment for all those years I took my weight for granted, for every time I looked at my emaciated body in the mirror and thought “just five more pounds”. Am I being punished? Or is this just science, cruel, logical science that is packing on actual weight, substantial weight, weight that has filled out my face and swollen my belly and there are days I don’t recognize myself in the mirror.

And I realize that it could be worse. That there are millions of people who are far heavier than I am, and I should be grateful for the medicines that keep me somewhat sane and out of the hospital (except for when they don’t) and shut up, for god’s sake, how fucking vain and self-centered can you get, girl. God, you’re sickening.

But in my brain, in my fucked up broken brain I see a monster in the mirror. But then again, I always have.

Body dysmorphic disorder. That’s what it’s called, according to the textbooks. The pervasive thoughts that I look freakish, inhuman, horrific. It’s always been like that. The only time I was somewhat satisfied with how I looked (and even then I was at the gym every day, frantically working out for hours) I was under 100 pounds. I’m 5’7.

To me, everyone else, EVERYONE else looks…right. The way they’re supposed to. Whatever weight they are. Perfectly normal and fine. Everyone but the image in the mirror. That one’s a freak.

I don’t take my picture anymore.

The depression from the way I look kills the motivation to do anything but get up, go to group, run errands and go home. To me, that’s a huge day’s work. I don’t blame you if you’re rolling your eyes right now. Could I BE more self-absorbed? But I’ve got to get this out of me or I’m going to scream.

I used to go to the gym every day. Walk miles and miles around Manhattan. In two years of living in NYC, I walked through three pairs of sneakers. Right through the soles. I still saw the monster in the mirror, but at least other people considered me slim. And that was paramount. So I ate one Powerbar, cut into thirds, a day. And I walked until my feet went through the soles of my shoes.

I’m paying for my vanity.

It’s a huge reason why I have so much social anxiety. I can’t stand being in public knowing what I look like. The constant chatter in my head calling me lazy and stupid for not just getting off my fat ass and exercising, why are you eating that you don’t need that, Do ANY of your pants fit Jesus, get some fucking self control. JUST FIX IT. And instead I write. And cry.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have two of my very best friends here to hold my hand as I cried through something I can’t talk about yet. Those friends love me. They love me no matter what my weight is, in fact, it couldn’t matter less to them what I looked like. They love ME. And there are other people, inside and outside of my beloved computer, who love me blindly. I should be grateful for them. Hell, I should be on my knees thanking the universe for them every day.

Instead I concentrate on the monster in the mirror.

I hate that about myself. I hate MYSELF for feeling that way. And I hate that for 33 years, I have never, ever not seen the monster. But now the monster is real. Really real. And I took all those years for granted. And it’s too late now.

Everyone I know looks perfect just the way they are. I love so many, SO many people for being exactly who they are. No one else has to change a damn thing about themselves. I love you just the way you are.

But I can’t love the monster in the mirror.


The Weight Of The World — 14 Comments

  1. At least don’t beat yourself up about being self-absorbed — BDD is a form of OCD which means you are, by definition, obsessed. It comes with the package.

    Nothing I say here can magically pull you out, but I will say think about your friends from the weekend, and try to see their friend like they do. Be kind to their friend, because she needs it right now.


  2. Oh, Ms. Banshee. Stop beating yourself up. It’s probably a side effect of the medication. Now me, I’ve always had a weight problem. It does bother me. I know that it’s part genetics/part self-protection after child abuse/part love of ice cream. For years, I tried to exercise it off, to no avail. I’ve also tried to starve it off only to gain it back. If even Oprah can’t keep the weight off, it must be difficult!

    Still, there have been nice benefits. If I hadn’t been fighting the pounds, would I have taken up running, then hiking? Would I have dared climb a mountain if I was skinny? Would I have run a marathon? Not a chance. I’m still not thin, but I’m very fit. So there!

    With today’s standards, it’s difficult not to fall into the I’m weak and and I’m a sloth claptrap. Obviously that’s not true. Look for medical advise. Get your thyroid levels checked and get out and exercise…for the fun of it. You need the endorphins.

    I admire that you let your private thoughts out in the world. It takes great courage. Let us pay you back by telling you when you are falling into wrong thinking.

    Recite after me: “I am brilliant and funny. I am a survivor. I am beautiful.” Repeat that every time you start with the wrong thinking again. My birthday is tomorrow,. As a gift to me, please repeat the good mantra for at least one day.



  3. Miss Banshee, the woman I see in your words is so, so beautiful. Can I come over and smash your mirror, because it’s a g-d-dammed liar.

  4. Balance, moderation and tolerance. You offer those to others, but not yourself. You have been physically beautiful and can be again, but it is your spirit and gift for expressing yourself that is truly beautiful. Roll with this, too. Share with your outpt group. And make sure you have some Chuck D’s with tread, it’s warming up.

  5. I had no idea this was part of your history. I have only known what you look like know – the glimpses you have shared on the internet – and have always thought you were beautiful, stylish. I hear what you are saying. I was never anorexic but I grew up in a world where image was everything and it took years to not physically evaluate every single person I saw every day and not measure myself against them and beat myself up about my physical form. But you can work on it and find ways to refocus and I hope for you that you will find that point that you find – miraculously – it is not a contstant tape in your brain. Keep working on it. Keep seeking help from friends and others.

  6. Ah, MissB, I so empathize with you. I, too, used to be thin & pretty. I was not a fitness freak, but I did walk Everywhere, danced often & was a happy social butterfly.

    About 15 years ago I began to get sick. It started with a bad heart right around the time my brother died. After that terrible loss I suffered several other tragedies in quick succession & began my now chronic severe depression. I’m now living with Fibromyalgia, RA, IBS, severe migraines & quite a number of other ailments, all of which either cause weight gain themselves or require meds that do. Just walking to the mailbox causes a great deal of pain, so I kinda have stay home. Not only am I twice the size I used to be, I have lost all of my “friends” because of my health (or lack thereof) & have become something of a hermit.

    I no longer recognize my mirror image either. But I have somehow managed to avoid blaming myself for it. We both know that it’s not our fault we are where we’re at right now. We are here for a purpose, even if that current purpose is just to love our furbabies & appreciate our parents & the few people who bother to check on us. Or to get through group so we can our lives back. (God how I hated group!)

    You at least have the assurance that your words touch a huge multitude & encourage us to be thankful for our small daily victories. You know that many of us love you at your core. Because YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! I’ve come to realize that everything else is just window dressing. I hope you can reach that understanding as well. Perhaps you can find other meds in the future & get back to your healthy looks at that point. But you are gorgeous NOW. Know that!

  7. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. That you’ve been going through this for 33 years. I just want you to know that I can really relate to everything you said above. You have to know that the mean voice in your head is WRONG. It’s always wrong and if I could strangle that mean voice for you I so would. I know we don’t know eachother and I only rarely comment, but I want you to know that you are an amazing & strong person. I want you to know that I find you lovely and real and brave. That’s why I check your website everyday for an update. (Well, and for the cute cat pictures!) And it sounds like you have some really kick-ass friends. To me, that says something about a person too. You don’t have kick-ass friends if you aren’t also a kick-ass person. You can get through this! You will get through this!

    Hugs from the stranger inside the computer.

  8. Yep. I hear it. I live it. My iPad is resting on mah belly right now.

    I did love littlefluffycat’s pic of “you.” Perfect!

  9. I know how you feel. I avoid my reflection in any surface. lithium is my savior and my enemy. 60lbs in 6 weeks another 40 when they adjusted it. In four years I have lost 30 lbs. I too thought I was fat when i was 145lbs. I’m 5’4″.
    Biggest problem: that is how my minds eye sees me and then I catch a glimpse in the mirror……..

    I have followed your blog,seen your photos and you are a treasure inside and out. You are beautiful and I love your sense of style. Inside and out your are a true lady

  10. Danielle, I’ve been reading for a while and I think this is the first time I’m commenting, but I have to say- the monster in the mirror is STILL NOT REAL. You were your harshest critic before and still are now, and the monster only exists in your head. No one else can see it- those who know and love you see a beautiful person, inside AND out, and strangers just see… a human being, like any other, like themselves. All the cliches are cliche for a reason- they have truth in them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You are not as fat as you think you are. Please try to love yourself a little, for an internet stranger who loves you a lot and thinks you are gorgeous in so many many ways.

  11. I am a first time reader but I was so struck by your words, I feel the need to comment. Regardless of what your brain tells you about your body, you are making an impact in the world. I also have struggled with my body image/body perception and it helped me to know that I am not the only one out there. So if I think everyone is okay except for me and you think everyone is okay except for you, that must mean we are both actually ok, right?

    Even if you can’t believe this to be true, you need to figure out a way to live despite the way you think you look. I know that is what I am trying to do.

  12. Pingback: I only Judge Myself, I am not judging you | Welcome to my life

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