Imagine you struggle with drugs. You can't stop thinking about them, obsessing over them, and you have a terrible addiction. It's bad. After spiraling into a downward depression, you finally decide to seek help. It takes all the courage you can muster to talk to a woman in your church about your ongoing problem.
But after your tear-filled confession imagine your surprise as she tells you not to worry, that you must be mistaken. Of course you don't struggle with drugs! Of all the things to say! She pats you on the head and comments on how cute your baby is while you try frantically to explain that yes, you do have a problem and its eating away at your life and please, please you need help.
Her brow furrows. She repeats again that nothing is wrong, you are fine.
The conversation ends. You feel alone. You feel isolated. No one sees you. No one will help you.
This sounds crazy, right? No one would really do that.
But they do it to me every day.
Only my problem isn't drugs. My problem is my postpartum body. I am really really struggling. Yet when I tell people in person all I hear is "You are beautiful! You look great! Don't worry!" or "Look at how amazing your baby is! Wasn't it worth it? Don't worry about it, because you have a beautiful, healthy child."
First of all, if I tell you I am struggling with depression and anxiety daily over my 30 pound weight gain, and that I am having trouble functioning and getting out of bed sometimes---you tell me to get over it? You tell me that I am beautiful? So you just ignore my problem and instead try to tell me it's all in my head?
This leaves me not only confused, but not trusting my own feelings. You are telling me that the things I am dealing with are not real and are not of any value. I feel isolated, and alone. I came to you because I need help, not a pat on the back and a trite saying. I know I'm beautiful. I still want to lose 30 pounds. I don't feel ugly. I feel fat. And telling me I look great is not helping because I can feel the difference and see the difference in my own skin and my clothes and it makes me want to hide.
It's like you are trying to ignore the elephant in the room. No matter how many nice words you throw at it, it's kinda hard to mask. I mean, it's an elephant. My mom just last week commented on how much weight I'd gained and told me that even with it I still look awesome. This helped. She recognized my issue and then complimented me. We talked about it, and she offered tips to help as well as prayer. It was refreshing to hear someone agree with me for once. I gained weight. It's okay. She saw and addressed the elephant instead of trying to cover it up with nice sounding words.
The second thing I hear is even worse. A few people have instead told me how beautiful Reuben is and that I should not worry about my weight because at least he is healthy. And I am so glad Reuben is healthy. I make sure all his needs are met, and I love him to pieces. But this is not about him. This is about me. I don't blame Reuben for my weight. However, the answer is not to throw all my life into him. If I stare at my baby for hours and make him my world I'll still be 30 pounds (or more!) at the end of the day and back right where I started in terms of depression.
People who just tell me I look beautiful and I am fine make me want to eat a whole pizza.
Clearly this is still a uphill battle for me.
And yes I know people mean well when they tell me that I am still beautiful and not to worry. But it still hurts and makes me feel like a child being reprimanded for daring to mention that I am totally struggling with body image. Thank you for the lady in yesterday's post who told me to mourn. I felt that I finally found the word for what I am feeling.
And yes I know I am totally guilty of this too. I know I've told people who are struggling with body image "not to worry, they look great". I regret every single time!