Published October 9, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

I was feeling like crud.  Stomping my way in to work this morning, really fighting with the black dog of depression, feeling like dirt.  And there she was.  An angel in a floral skirt and cream top.  The young woman I had been standing beside at the lights about 10 minutes before – I had been staring at the print of her skirt trying to grasp the one thing that was nice in my brain at just that moment – a pretty pink floral.  I was walking back towards my office having stopped off in the markets to pick up some breakfast, when  she stopped me on the street and told me that she really loved my blog, and that even though I hadn’t posted in a while she still hoped I would.  She complimented my taste in clothes, mentioned that we had the same dress (the hot pink one from Autograph) and that she loved my fatshion reviews.  I was a bit flabbergasted and I forgot to ask her name, which I always do, because it always takes me by surprise.  She made me smile, she thanked me and touch my arm, and we parted.

Five minutes later I was sobbing in the ladies room at work, finally able to feel something.  That’s what depression does to you, it robs your ability to feel.   You might walk around talking and even smiling and laughing, but you don’t really feel it, instead you’re kind of just going through the motions, performing as yourself instead of being yourself.  At least that’s what it does to me.  I wasn’t crying because something had upset me, I was crying because I’d finally felt something (surprise, pleasure, even a glimmer of joy) and that caused the floodgates of all the feelings I haven’t been able to feel for weeks to open and let them all out.  The crying was a good thing.  Embarrassing and uncomfortable, but ultimately good for me.

The past months have been hellish for me with my depression creeping up stronger than it has for some time.  It isn’t just the usual chemical stuff either, usually brought on by hormones and stress, I began to recognise it a few weeks ago.  It was emotional burnout.  It had all got too much for me.  My job is a bigger workload than it has ever been (it’s that way for everyone at my work these days) and I feel like Sisyphus, having to roll the same boulder up the hill every day only to have it roll down again.  (If only it was like Loki, burdened with glorious purpose.)

Add to that the fact that I’d been doing fat activism for over four years, 95% of it for free, out of my own time, pocket, talent and energy only to be constantly bombarded both by general hate as a random fat person on this earth, and deeply targeted hate from really fucked up people out there who cannot bear the thought of an unapologetic and even proud fat woman existing on the planet.  Even still, even though I haven’t posted in months, there are days when I get over 4000 hits via a Reddit hate forum alone, filled with people who spend hours and hours of their lives hating on me and other visible fat people for a hobby.  They dig up old posts, they steal the photos from this blog (and my Tumblr or Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook), they spend hours and hours and hours discussing my life in minutiae… as a hobby.

One nutter even keeps a dossier on every food post I ever make online and keeps tabs on what I eat (or at least the bits I post online) and then crops up on old articles about me, or anything I comment on online to try to “discredit” me by “proving” that I’m a “liar” because of how “unhealthy” I am using the posts about food as “evidence”.  They send me long, rambling emails detailing how many calories are in every item of food I post, and how each morsel is hardening my arteries and sending me to my grave.   Who has time in their life to do this shit?

As much as I block, spam and filter all of that hate, it still gets through.  I still see bits of it.  I still see the referring links on my dashboard of my blog posts, all coming from a Reddit fat hate forum.  I still see old blog posts targeted by thousands and thousands of people in one day.  I still see the hate comments that I have to delete, block as spam, report as abuse.  As much as I rationally know that their hate is not about me, it’s no reflection of me and my worth, it’s still toxic.  I’m still being bathed in this venom all the time.  Some of it has got to sink through my skin.  I am a human being, I do have feelings and I’m not made of steel.  People can hurt me.  This shit eventually does hurt me.  There is no shame in my being human, and vulnerable.

However, that wasn’t the worst of it.  The worst of it was that all that hate and harassment robbed me of the one thing that is most precious to me – my ability to write.  It did EXACTLY what they wanted it to do, it silenced me.  I was so battle scarred by all of that shit that the minute I started to write anything, instinctively I shut down, as a protection mode.  My brain would simply block any flow of thought, any language out of sheer self-protection against the rightly anticipated onslaught of hate and harassment.  I had the worst case of writers block I have ever had, because it wasn’t just fatigue or lack of creativity, it was like a great big door slamming shut in my brain and locking all the good stuff in to where I could not reach it, and to further the torture, I knew it was still in there but it was out of my grasp.  This is what caused me to spiral further and further into depression.  The more I couldn’t write, the more depressed I got, and the more I felt like I had abandoned my activism, and the more it made me depressed, which then blocked me from writing… and so on.

Yet today, a living angel pops into my life and reminds me just why I became a fat activist.  Who reminded me that what I do matters to more than just me.   Who jolted me out of the bleak headspace and reminded me that by letting all the shit that the haters heap on me STAY on me, they don’t win – nobody with that much hate in themselves actually wins anything, but WE lose.  We lose community, we lose our voice, we lose visibility and we lose strength.   This is how they wear us down, by attacking and attacking individually until we individually can’t bear it any more, which breaks our collective strength.  They can’t break us as a collective, so they work on breaking each us one by one.  You are my strength, my fellow fat community.  You folk are why I stand up and say “I’m not taking this shit any more.”

Individually, it’s really hard being strong in the face of all that hatred spewing in our direction.  But collectively, I believe we are unstoppable.  I believe we are all heroes for each other, even if it is only in tiny ways.  A friendly smile, a kind word, a gesture of support.

By giving a spontaneous moment of kindness, this lovely woman jolted me back from a dark, painful place.  It let me get out all the anger and hurt and frustration.  It’s like her kindness broke the crust of hate that had formed from all of the abuse I’d received over the years.  Which means I sit here in my morning tea break (and again in my lunch break) with all of this stuff pouring out of me at last, onto the page, finally able to write again. I can’t say I’m back to my old standards, but I have taken that first step, and it feels like a huge one.

So thank you to the lovely young woman on George Street (do leave a comment and identify yourself, I won’t publish it if you don’t want me to!) in the floral skirt and cream top – you can’t know just how important you are right now!


55 comments on “Broken…

  • Just stopping by to say that I’m proud of you – for posting this, for everything you do, for being so open about the Black Dog, a spectre I know all too well. You’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know, and I’m always ready to return the favour however I can. xoxo

  • I am so happy that you found the silver lining in your cloud or she found you. I don’t get the Redditors, what sad unhappy people they must be. Perhaps because they are such jealous losers they want everyone to feel the way they do? As they say living well is the best revenge. I hope the depression lifts so that you can live well and bring your special brand of joy.

    Great post too.

    • Thank you Mindy. Your support and friendship is really special to me.

      I don’t know why they do it. I’ve actually stopped trying to work out why they do it – because I don’t care what their pathetic reasons are. It is just shitty, pathetic behaviour that unfortunately, is excused in our society. Personally I hope they suffer as much as they make us suffer.

  • I love your blog. Really, I love it. Partly because it’s such a no-bullshit zone. We live in a fake world of everyone being sweet so they don’t rock the boat and get thumbs down on Facebook or whatever so it’s nice to see someone cut through the crap.

    As for the hatred. Well, how could you not be affected by that. I’m sure people have already told you this, but I’ll say it again because it’s worth hearing – the sheer volume of hate is an indication of how much something has struck home with these losers.

    And they ARE losers. Seriously, who goes round spending their life chasing down some woman, who probably lives in a different country, for the sole purpose of mocking her and cataloguing what she EATS? That’s serious loserdom right there.

    Mind you, we can only guess at who these people are. You wanna know why? ‘Cos the media doesn’t find them interesting enough to do big spreads on them. Unlike your good self.

    Keep on keeping on – and please, please keep posting!!

  • I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this hell Kath. Thank you for sharing. You are, and always will be, an inspiration to me. I hope you continue to recover from this bout of depression. You are not alone.

  • I was first diagnosed with depression at 30. It is a battle – every day. Your blog lifts me. Your blog showed me links to other fat fabulous women. Fat feminist fantastica that I had no idea existed. I thought I was alone.

    • You are not alone M Fraser. And I know what it’s like to get that late diagnosis, I was 32 before I ever got to name what I was going through. It sucks. But you are NOT alone.

  • What a lovely thing that lady said! I wish I could picture how pretty her skirt must have been! Its good to have you back Kath, we missed you. You are such a strong and amazing woman, I know you’ve heard it a million times before (and heck I know you think it and write it as well), but those venomous comments mean nothing. You are sexy, funny, smart, witty, clever and inspiring. And I missed reading your posts! xxx

  • I’m so happy to see you posting again! I was only thinking the other day about your blog and how much I have benefitted from it personally, by learning to see the beauty in all our bodies I could finally see that little bit of beauty in my own ….I am so glad you met your angel and may your spirits start to soar again!!!

  • This is beautiful! And I thank God for that angel that he set in your path. Kath, thank you for all that you do for the fat community. What you do means so much, and I hate that you are a target for so much weight bigot hate for it. Please know that, because of you, there are people (myself included) who’s lives are better. Thank you!

  • I love that you are back. I have missed your posts. I believe this angel was brought to you to help you realize there are a great deal more people who have missed you than those trolls. Please keep writing. I really look forward to your posts as I am sure many others do. Hugs to a wonderful woman!

  • We love you and miss you and hold you up. You are a champion. I hope I project half of your strength as I move in the world. I’m sorry all the hate got you down. It is very understandable. I’m thrilled that you are breaking back out. Love, love.

  • I would like to say thank you to your angel, too. I would like to thank her for kindness and gentle touch that helped break down that wall. I am glad that she was there and that she spoke to you. You are an important cog in the wheel of fat activism, and I cannot imagine how it must feel dealing with that amount of hate being spewed at you. It’s hard not to let even a small portion invade when it’s that prevalent. But I am glad that this one person reminded you of how much you mean to so many. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! ***HUGE SQUISHY HUGS OF SUPPORT***

  • Dearest Kath,
    Please, please don’t let those asshats get to you. It boggles my mind why people get so bent out of shape about how other people live their lives. I admire fearless women like you. Whenever I need a boost, I channel my inner Dawn French (another amazingly gorgeous fearless female).
    You will come out of the other side of depression – I can totally relate.

  • This is kinda how I’ve been feeling (as far a the depression/ mental health stuff goes). I give you mad props for doing what you do. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your posts on tumblr. I like to think that those haters must really hate themselves a lot deep down inside and they like to take it out on all you activists because it must really piss them off that you don’t have the same hate for yourself. Always remember that you are a stronger and much better person than they are (some days it’s hard to remember those things).

  • Something I’ve noticed about the internet is that people usually only post when they have something negative to say and people are very rarely motivated to say anything nice. This post was a good reminder to speak up. I love you. I’m just a blog reader from across the pond who’s never met you, but the light in me recognizes the light in you. I love you. I love what you have to say. I admire you. I’m sorry that there are assholes out there that hurt you.

  • For what it’s worth, I like you. I admire you. I think you have an awesome outlook and a very interesting blog. The people out there who hate on you are the trolls who comment with the most horrific things imaginable on news sites and feeds. They have no lives, so they abuse those who do. Keep going, keep fighting that black dog. Love yourself because you are COOL!!!!!

  • KATH!!!!!!!!

    Oh how I have missed you! (squishes and smooches you like a squishy,smoochy thing) I was thinking of you just yesterday and sending good thoughts your way.

    That kind of depression is an ugly place to be, but you are far from the only one who’s wound up taking an unscheduled vacation there. I recognize the symptoms. It’s a shitty headspace to inhabit, and I’m glad you’re breaking free of it.

    Isn’t it amazing how powerful a tiny gesture can be? There have been one or two that have quite literally saved my sanity, if not my life, over the years.

    Thank you lovely lady in the floral skirt and cream top! You have no idea how many people are going to be grateful for you today.

    Stay with us, Kath. We love you.

  • Kath – so glad to see you back! I have missed you – your advice, your sassiness and courage. This post was awesome and I enjoyed it so very much. I am sorry that you have suffered from so much hate just for being who you are and standing up for so many more of us. And who you are is, indeed, awesome. If only “they” would stop their hateful diatribe and see who you are and what you’re about. It’s a shame they can’t do that. They are missing out on something really awesome. Hope you continue to heal and that you feel encouragement from all of us out here who love you!!!

  • I had something similar happen to me almost a year ago now. A family member discovered my identity and exposed it to my whole family and tried to convince the person I’m living with now to kick me out of the house. She told all sorts of lies and distortions, attacked my political beliefs on fat and all the other topics I write about, and was especially angry because I talked about my personal experiences with oppression and family dysfunction. She tried to convince everyone I was a sociopath and had a severe mental illness and used every troll-favored derailing tactic in the book-you’re playing victim, there are worse problems, etc. Anyway, this resulted in my going off the grid for a year, meaning no commenting on blogs, no blog posts on my blog, no nothing because I couldn’t take the harassing comments (under MY username, btw) and text messages anymore. I stood up for myself a little bit, but I mostly cowered, tried to reassure her, apologize for the way I did things, etc because I wanted it to stop and was afraid it would get worse. Now I wish I had told her to fuck off and given her what she really deserved. So I have a taste of what you are going through and I know countless fat activists have been targets of this kind of harassment. Some of them never came back and I’m so glad that you are on your way back.

    Going back to your post, you have the right to feel vulnerable and you have no control over it anyway. Screw anyone that tries to tell you that you are being overly sensitive because I would like to see them put up with the stuff you put up with. Like you said, you are still trying to be an activist and be fat all over the place and to me, that means you are winning. You said near the end that we are your strength. Well, you’re my strength too. Your writing this helped me come out publicly about what happened to me and want to come out into the blogging world again. This is the first comment I’ve made on any fat blog in almost a year and I think it might be time.:) Thank you so much.

    As for those people on Reddit, they need to get a life. I almost (emphasis on almost) feel sorry for people that spend that much time digging up old shit to harass someone. It also makes me glad that I’m not part of Reddit, nor do I comment there. It attracts the lowest of the low.

    Another thing I want to point out to the general fat community…this is EXACTLY why we need safe spaces and why we need to stop welcoming with open arms everyone that doesn’t get it, whether they are openly fat-hating trolls or people that try to debate us on health, diet, exercise, etc. They are part of the spectrum of fat hatred, no matter how reasonable they might seem, because it’s the health aspect that gives people an “excuse” to abuse us. Constantly engaging these people takes our time away from activism and it makes us look unsure of our convictions. I’ve had to leave blogs I used to love because of this constant need to air the “other side of the story.” We hear the other side of the story constantly with varying levels of abusiveness. It’s virtually all our culture ever hears. Fat acceptance does not need to air fat hatred or healthism. Fat acceptance needs to air fat acceptance and make no compromises. Sorry this was long-winded but I haven’t been on fat accepting spaces for a while and had a lot to say. I hope I didn’t derail too much.

  • Just saying, good to read you again – I was NOT the young woman – I live in Germany, you would be a little hard to find and just congratulate you on your tastes and thoughts in person. But let me do this from OLD EUROPE .. Hug you for not giving up – and since fall is now seriously setting in, I start my winter depresson right now … only a mild one or a medium one but never the less – yes, it can silence you, it can make you draw back from the people and things you love – and I am proud of you that you manage to cope despite having to battle this illness.

  • Your awesome. I love reading your articles ( though I just started recently). don’t let these idiotic haters , who are most likely doing their trolling from the mom & dads basement, keep you from doing what you love. I’m a musician & been playing in bands for years & I still get fat hate mail, all the same cookie cutter fat comments & telling me I should quit. etc. it gets to you, but you have to keep going , don’t give them what they want. Continue to be awesome. *hugs*

  • I was harrassed this morning, on the bus, by teenage boys. I asked myself: where does all this hate come from?
    I am glad you wrote again. I think it’s very courageous to write openly about depression.
    I wonder whether calling the people who cause you pain “nutter” makes it any better. That’s a term used to dismiss people suffering from depression, too. Haters are what they are. Haters. And by far not every mentally ill person is a hater. They, too, are the target. Like fat women.
    Really, where does all that hate come from? How can anybody gain pleasure from it?

  • Thank you lovely floral skirted lady! Kind words shared with others really does make a difference. It may be naive but I truly believe that sometimes that kindness can make huge impacts in the lives of others. We don’t know the burdens others carry and there is more than enough hate out there.

  • FH – welcome back! I wish I’d known you were going thru it so bad, I would’ve posted (my bad!) Thank God for your ‘angel’! I’m sorry you had to go thru so much hell due to those arse-holes (may they get the payback they so richly deserve!), but you have to wonder about ppl who’ve got nothing better to do than spend hours upon hours digging up reams of info on everything you’ve ever said, done, eaten or thought in your whole life up to now. As if what’s next? They stake out your house, go thru your trash, hire a detective to follow you around to keep tabs on what you eat…print in their online rag mag (‘OMG! She’s EATING SOMETHING!’) Like, getalife, people! It would almost be funny, exc. BULLYING is NOT FUNNY!! Here in the states, we have this big media push to ‘stop bullying!’ for kids, but it’s rather hypocritical to worry only about kids (though they really need it) and boohoo about it, but hey! It’s ok to do it to fat ppl cuz they need it! It’s gotta be stopped all the way. Hopefully, this blog will help u see how dumb those guys are. Nobody has the right to harass you just for living. I hope this blog helps you to have a good laugh, to get good and mad again (even if it’s just at me, lol – ‘Dizzyd, you dope!’) In the end, you’re better than they are. : )

  • Please don’t let weird people who need to mind their own business get you down. There’s something really wrong with them. Every time they write to you, know that YOU got to them… A bunch of pathetic losers with nothing better to do than act like jerks. You have a wonderful blog. Keep on being YOU.

  • Great to have you back! I’ve missed your writing. Your post really made me sad and angry. I had no idea that random strangers were causing you so much trouble. I hope you can find a way to block it out and find joy in what you do again.

  • …Welcome back. The haters really suck, but that’s how you know what you’re doing works. The truth scares the living daylights out of some folks. And it’s pure fear that drive those haters. Human depression will come and go, it’s part of being alive in this strange place. The important thing is getting back up. Glad you did. Big hugs to you and to the angel who helped you break up that bad energy~~

  • Hi Kath, Belinda here – the lady in the cream top and pink floral skirt. It was a absolute joy to meet you. I must admit I was a bit starstruck! I think you are a beautiful, inspiring person and I’m so glad you are writing again. I’m sorry things have been so tough for you. Please do your best to rise above those who hate and be your wonderful self and keep being fat all over the place. The way you write is spellbinding and I love your openness and honesty in sharing your story with us

    • Belinda!! It’s so good to have you pop up here and now I know your name, you lovely angel you!

      Thank you so much for your kindness on Wednesday morning, and again in your comment. You’re a beautiful soul lady.

      And don’t be starstruck! I’m just a cranky librarian who is sick of being hated because I happen to have a body that doesn’t meet societal standards!

    • Belinda, I’d love to send you a cake for what you did for Kath! If you’re ever on the left-hand side of the US, I’ll even deliver it by hand.

      ps: I bet you rocked the hell out of that skirt.

  • Welcome back, Kath. I am so sorry that you have had such a difficult & painful time & even sorrier that you have had to deal with the worst of what humanity has to offer. People do have to be very unhappy & hate themselves a great deal to spew this kind of crap. I have also missed your posts, there are so few people writing truly, uncompromisingly, proudly fat positive blogs, so little real support for complete & unconditional acceptance of & love for our fat bodies, & your voice is badly needed & much appreciated. Take care of yourself & know that these idiots are not worth a minute of your time or your thoughts. I hope that you will continue to feel better & to feel like posting more. Whatever happens, I wish you peace with yourself, happiness, & love.

  • I was kind of thinking and ran this by with the good folks at “Fierce Freethinking Fatties” but I happened to see on the Disney Channel a story about kids who responded to bullying in their school by posting anti-bullying messages and encouraging remarks on sticky notes around their school. It’s too bad we couldn’t do something like that on Reddit and post anti-bullying messages by the dozens all over their little hatefest. Let them know we’re still here, you can’t silence us and we’re not going away any time soon, so deal with it!

    • Dizzyd while I know you mean well, I don’t want to be part of such a project. Firstly because I don’t want to waste my time on Reddit fuckwits in any way shape or form, but mostly because one of the founders of “Fierce Freethinking Fatties” is a known bully and well documented troll who threatens other fat activists. I don’t want to be associated with that group at all.

      But thank you for the thought.

      • Kath – yeah, you’re probably right – trolls like that could get a 2 x 4 upside the head and it wouldn’t register! As they say, you can’t fix stupid. Besides, life isn’t like TV (darn!) Well, I hope it works for those kids. I didn’t know about the issues with FFF – but they did have some blowup over some argument between 2 of the bloggers. Also, the guy who runs it really lit into the lady who did ‘Junkfood Science’, and I didn’t really agree with it ‘cuz I thought she did a really good job with it. But other than that, I hadn’t noticed anything amiss. I don’t blame you for not wanting anything to do with Reddit – which seems to be Troll Central – I guess I’m just wishing there was a way we could give it back to them so THEY know how it feels to be ripped a new one for simply daring to live your life. Anyways, keep strong and positive. Love and hugs!

  • You really made my day!!! I have been feeling the same way and went into a slump for a few days!!! This got me up and running!!! It’s like an old car for me!!!

  • Kath– for every one of the anonymous “haters” that post, know that we (identified) “fat heffalump lovers” are here for you. In my 60 yrs, I have experienced my share of hate. As a classroom high school teacher for over two decades, I experienced my share of negative comments (verbal, written and unidentified). I also shared with the students that I had learned many years before not to judge a person by their appearance– that it was what they had inside that counted. Not sure how many kids understood or would act on those words, but I tried. The haters are just black inside while we are colorful. Reach out to us when you need some of that colorful beauty sent your way.

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