Nov 30, 2013
I am deliberately open about health-related stuff, particularly my bipolar disorder. I think that it's important to show that I, and others, can live a (mostly) normal life despite the hand that genetics/etc. has dealt us, and that by publicly saying, "Hey, I have this diagnosis, but I'm not crazy/scary/violent/etc. or fit any of those other stereotypes," I might help fight some of the stigma against mental illness, and maybe even help others seek help when they're hesitant.
Despite all that, I'm finding myself VERY hesitant about opening up about surgery. I've mentioned it to my coworkers, since I'll be out for a few weeks and I've already had to deal with CPAP stuff and such in the past. I work in a healthcare-related field, and the workplace is very wellness-oriented, so I'm not concerned at all. But for some reason, Facebook is a whole different jungle, even though everyone on there is always friendly and supportive.
What on earth am I afraid of? It's not as though I'm doing this for vanity's sake; I'm absolutely doing this because I want to get healthy and because it's my best chance at doing so. I know that nobody I'm friends with would judge me for that. So what else? Is it fear? Shame? Embarrassment? I've gotten over that with my mental health, but I guess I'm still working through it with my weight.
I'm ashamed that I can't just accept my body as it is. Does not embracing my fat make me a bad feminist? I know that's not the case because I actually have a pretty good body image; the only exception is when I see photos of myself, and if anything, that's because I'm embarrassed about ruining other people's pictures with my appearance (like family photos for my brother's wedding this summer). I'm not doing this for vanity, I'm doing this for health, but the shame is still there, though it's sort of silly.
I'm embarrassed that I couldn't do this the "old fashioned way." I've certainly tried, and I wouldn't be doing this unless I felt that there wasn't any other long-term option. But could I have tried harder? Will people judge me for that?
I feel awful that I've gotten to a state where I NEED to have this surgery. Yeah, I don't eat as well as I should and I could stand to get a LOT more exercise, trust me. But the big factor, oddly enough, is my bipolar. Psych meds are notorious for weight gain, and every time I switch pills-- starting from the first time I started medication at 17-- I gain weight. Sometimes a little, other times as much as 50lb. And when I stop taking one pill, the weight doesn't go anywhere, fight as I may. For a long time, I told myself (and my doctors agreed) "sane first, skinny later." But that can only last for so long when the weight affects other parts of my health.
In the end, I'm having this surgery because I want to take care of myself, and statistically speaking, it's the best way to lose weight, keep it off, and handle these long-term health issues. It's my body, my choice, and if anybody else has a problem with it, that's too damn bad. And maybe sharing a quick update on FB will come down to that, since I'll probably mention something about surgery or recovery offhand while I'm healing up.
"So just in case I post something about crazy medical issues this month, I'm going to be in the hospital for bariatric surgery next week. It's been a big decision with a lot of research and careful thought, and I think it's going to be a good thing for my health in the long run. I'm very hopeful, a little nervous, and secretly a teeny bit embarrassed (but working on it). Good thoughts appreciated!"
Yeah, I think that will work.