anxiety

All posts in the anxiety category

Living Large

Published May 12, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well you can take the fatty out of the blog but you can’t take the blog out of the fatty!  I still don’t have full internet access, waiting on it to be connected by my Telco, but I can’t stay away.  I’ve got stuff burbling around in my head and I need to share it!

As you probably know, I moved house a week ago.  I’ve moved to a lovely seaside suburb, mere metres from the bay.  Every morning when I wake up, the first sounds I hear are seagulls and other water birds.  At night, other than the occasional passing car, all I hear are the sounds of ocean breezes and lapping water, punctuated occasionally by the chime of the town clock.  It is so peaceful here, and so beautiful.  It was a hard wrench to move from the place that had been my home for almost 15 years (in fact, I only did it because I had to), but now that it’s done, I am so glad I have.

I mean, look at this place:

This is the first time I’ve had a major lifestyle change that I haven’t attached the goal of losing weight to.  In the past, every time I had a major life change, I would convince myself that this time, it would be the thing I needed to help me get thin.  That new job with the higher pay, meant that I could afford more weight loss programmes and gyms.  Moving away from the country meant that I would have access to more options to help me lose weight, and I could find more diet foods in the supermarkets.  Every time I changed my life somehow, I would desperately cling to the notion that it would be the change that would make me thin.

Of course, I know now, that it just doesn’t work that way.  My body is a fat body, and no matter what I do to it in an attempt to lose weight, there is a 95% chance that it will fail to actually make me thin.  I would say a 100% chance for me – after all, I’ve spent over 25 years trying to make my body thin – and no matter how extreme or whatever I did, nothing made me thin.  This is my body, and it is a fat body.  I am very comfortable in my body, more comfortable than I have ever been in my life.

But it’s funny, but after a week, I can already feel changes in my body.  For the first few days I think my body was desperately trying to shake off all the negativity, and toxicity, that I was carrying around before.  A few lungfuls of clean ocean air and my body seemed to go “Right, let’s shake all this shit out.”  My skin broke out in patches, and got terribly dry in other patches.  I seemed to produce copious quantities of snot and ear-wax.  My fingernails got all brittle.  And I was SO DAMN TIRED.  Some of that can be attributed to the exhaustion and stress of moving, but I really do feel like I was getting something out of my system.

A few days ago, I came good.  My energy levels came back.  My skin is starting to settle down.  I’m sleeping really well at night, but am not feeling tired during the day.  I’m off work at the moment so I am getting a lot of rest, but I think it’s about more than just time off work.  I think I’ve cast off the stresses of living in my old place, plus the new place doesn’t have carpets that I believe hold a lot of dust and stuff either.  Not to mention that I’m getting those lungfuls of fresh sea air.

There are other changes afoot too.  When I go back to work on Monday, I have a slightly longer trip, and now on a train instead of the bus.  That will give me 40 minutes each way that I can sit and read (I can’t read on the bus, it makes me pukey), which I think will be really significant on the trip home each day, in helping me let go of work for the day.  I have access to a really large supermarket which has much more choice than my old options, and is very close by.  Not to mention a lot of other small shops that I had no access to before.  Besides, groceries are significantly cheaper up here than they are closer to the city.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the big supermarkets don’t vary their prices by neighbourhood!  But most of all, I have daily access to this:

A beautiful foreshore where people walk, cycle, rollerskate, scoot, get dragged along by their dogs!  I have a beautiful bicycle – you’ve all seen my bicycle Iris haven’t you?  Here is an old photo of us together:

I now can go for a ride in my favourite place, every single day, without having to worry about being mowed down by traffic (I was always terrified to ride in most areas around my old place).  Not only is it my favourite way to move my body, but it’s also incredibly relaxing.  I always sleep so well after a bike ride.

But most of all, I feel relaxed an happy here.  My anxiety and depression is feeling lessened already.  It’s amazing what being somewhere you love and letting go of stress can do.

So you can see, I have a lot of changes in my life lately, and those changes are going to play out on my body and my health.  I hope the choice I have made to move here will mean they are positive changes, that I will feel more relaxed and stronger.  I hope that the exhaustion I suffered regularly before will be a thing of the past, now that I’m not living in such a stressful environment, am able to relax and put my head away from work, and can get out into fresh air, moving my body in a way that I enjoy, in a place that I love.

But for the first time in my life, I’m not pinning my hopes on these things making me thin.  Because to me, while being thin has cultural privileges, I now know that it is not a worthy goal to work towards.

And that is an incredibly liberating feeling.

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How Does Dieting Benefit Our Health?

Published September 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

**Trigger warning, topic is about weight loss diets and disordered eating.**

I got a fantastic question on my Tumblr yesterday, that got me thinking a bit about diet culture and the constant calls for fat people to go on diets “for their health” and “take care of yourself”.

I was thinking about my own life of dieting, and how I felt all those times, and what my own health was like in those years.

When people say fat people should go on diets “for their health”, they’re not factoring in a) how dieting  affects the body and b) the mental health of the fat person.  Even if they are genuinely concerned for someone’s health and not just using concern trolling to police fat bodies because of their appearance, how much thought do they give to what dieting turns people into?

Now let’s just establish here that we know that fat people aren’t lazy gluttons and that we’re not all stuffing our faces 24 x 7 and that “dieting” doesn’t equal “just eating healthy”.  I know that’s the rhetoric that is spouted at us all the time, that we just have to “Put down the donut/cheeseburger/whatever.”  Let’s make it nice and clear that I’m talking about food restriction or replacement, rather than the mythical “just eat healthy” that the anti-fat seem to think we are not doing already.  When people say “Just eat healthy.” they don’t actually mean that, they mean diet, because hey, there’s no possible way a fat person can already be “just eating healthy”.  I’m talking about weight loss diets.  Calorie counting, no carb, no fat, no sugar, cabbage soup, replacement shakes, Atkins, South Beach, Pritikin, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, grapefruit, high protein, high fibre, high cardboard… whatever the fuck diet we were on at the time.  And this includes any of the disordered eating habits too – bingeing, purging, starvation, laxative abuse, diet pills, exercise bingeing, and even weight loss surgery.  Anything that is designed to restrict, reduce or purge for the supposed purpose of making us thin.

Can I ask… have any of you ever known a person, fat or thin or somewhere in between, who has been on a weight loss diet/programme, who is/was actually HAPPY while they are doing so?

*crickets chirping*

I know I was never happy.  I always felt like shit.  Having to measure every bit of food, count points, calories or grams, having to think about what I was going to eat every minute of the day.  I couldn’t just relax and spend time with friends, because I’d have to think about what foods met my diet.  Organising lunches for work was a headache and I was always on my guard for people questioning my eating habits (or lack of them).  Grocery shopping was even more nightmarish than I find it now (and I hate it now, thank God for online grocery shopping!) because almost everything was “forbidden” on whatever diet I was on at the time.  I was always hungry.  When I did get to eat, it was shitty.  Either it was really bad food (cabbage soup?) or it wasn’t even food at all, it was some powdery substitute or rubbery/cardboard diet version.  I never wanted the things I was “allowed” to eat, and yet I was so unbelievably hungry all the time that I had to eat them when I could.

Physically, my body fought me all the way.  I was constantly sick with every cold and virus that came around.  My skin was bad.  My teeth were terrible.  I constantly had to fight bad breath and diarrhea.  I had constant hayfever and headaches.  I never had any energy and never slept properly.

Emotionally, I was depressed, anxious and obsessive.  Depressed because I hated being hungry all the time and having to eat things that tasted like cardboard or rubber, depressed because no matter what I did, I could never lose weight and keep it off.  Anxious because I never knew where I could get “suitable” food, and I hated anyone knowing I was on a diet.  Anxious because my blood sugar was always low and I was shaky and couldn’t concentrate.  Obsessive because food might actually GET me, if I let down my guard.

Yet all of this was supposed to benefit my health?  How?

We all know that diets fail on the long term in 95% of cases, with weight regain plus more, but we never talk about how bloody miserable dieting is.  How nobody is actually happy while they are dieting, and because 95% of them find diets fail, they’re not happy in the long term either.  The whole diet culture just sets people, particularly women, up to be miserable all the time, both during dieting and then when it inevitably fails.

And this is supposed to be for our health?  This is supposed to be “taking care of ourselves”.

I call bullshit.

Instead, we can put all that crap behind us, re-learn to eat to nourish us, let go of exercising as some kind of penance and learn to find activity that we enjoy and live our lives to the fullest no matter what our weight.

I know which sounds like taking care of myself to me.

The Lazy Diagnosis

Published April 21, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk about death threats against fat people today.  Not literal ones, like “I’m going to kill you!”, which we do receive sometimes, particularly if we commit the “crime” of being publicly and unashamedly fat.  But the more subtle ones.  Brian over at Red No. 3 wrote about them a while back, in his post “A Culture of Death Threats“.

It’s the kind of message that fat people hear every day.  The message that boils down to “You’re going to die, fatty!!”  All those times you hear “But don’t you know being fat is unhealthy??” and “You’re going to get diabetes/high cholesterol/heart disease/bowel cancer/etc.” right through to the ridiculousness of “Your fat is crushing your bones!  Your organs are going to liquify into fat!  Obesity destroys your immune system!”

We, fat people, hear those messages every day.  From sources near and far – friends and family, the diet industry, mainstream media, the government, strangers on the street, and indeed, from many health care professionals.

As Brian says in his post, this is a method of control, trying to get us to do as we are told.  We must diet, punish ourselves, be invisible, feel shame, loathe our fat bodies.  Be a good fatty and do whatever we can to stop being fat.

However, something else happens too.  Even if we opt out of the societal norm of loathing and shame for fat bodies, something happens to us that even the most deeply entrenched fat activist can be susceptible to.  We begin to fear our fat bodies.   We stop listening to them as part of ourselves, and see them as the enemy, something to be feared and fought, other than/outside ourselves.

It happened to me this week.

I’ve mentioned plenty of times before that I suffer from anxiety.  Some of it is genetic (most of my family on both sides have some form of anxiety issues) and some of it is a result of PTSD.  Of course, my anxiety has been blamed on my fatness too, but I have thin relatives who also suffer it, and that never gets acknowledged.

Most of the time, it’s well managed these days.  I recognise many of the triggers, I see the warning signs, and I have learned the skills to mitigate most bouts.  But sometimes it blindsides me, and then it’s very difficult to work through it, even with the recognition and skills I have learned.

So I got a cold a couple of weeks ago.  It swept through my office like a brush fire, and as I had a nice open tattoo wound at the time, I could hardly avoid it.  My doctor (who is awesome and I am very lucky to have found) and I have noticed this phenomena of me getting a cold every time I have a fresh tattoo – otherwise I hardly get the bugs that go around.  I had a pretty full on cough, got a rather interesting husky voice for a couple of weeks, felt a bit run down and tired, but wasn’t that bad so I didn’t have any time off work though many of my colleagues who got the same lurgy did.

However this week, I noticed a pain in the left side my chest.*

And every voice that ever told me that I was going to die because I’m a disgusting fatty, fat, fat came flooding back to me.  Every concern troll, every narrowminded bigot, every doctor who didn’t bother to examine me and just looked at my fat body and made a diagnosis, every arsehole on the street who told me I would die because of my fatness was suddenly back in my head, telling me that my fatness was going to give me a heart attack and I would die.  I was hearing those old recordings in my mind, and I was afraid.

It was stupid.  But it happens, even now.  Because the relentlessness of those messages, that are literally inescapable, means that even though I’m consciously rejecting them, they still get through from time to time, when I’m not feeling at my strongest.

This is what we’re up against in our culture.  Relentless messages that tell us, regardless of any actual facts about our personal situations, that we’re going to die, and it will be all the fault of our fatness.  People who are not fat, or who can pass as not fat, don’t have to constantly brace themselves against that avalanche of negativity every day.  But those of us who have unhideable bodies, bodies that can never pass as “not fat”, are subjected to it, everywhere.  Dozens and dozens of variations of that same basic message, “Fear your fat body.”

The thing is, having that kind of constant threat of death spouted at us is what makes many of us sick, not the fatness of our bodies.  Having that much negativity, shame and loathing constantly thrown at you has got to wear at times.  It’s the nocebo effect – where those messages are so deeply ingrained, that we start to believe that we are going to get sick, that we are going to die and that message is so powerful that we actually DO get sick.

But it’s still our fault.  Because we’re fat, and being fat means that you caused all bad things that have happened to you.

Of course, we are then accused of being “weak” when those messages weigh too heavily on our shoulders.  When the constant call to fear our own bodies actually filters through, and we succumb to that fear.  If we admit anxiety or stress, then it is somehow our fault, and we’re to blame for that as well.   If we go to the doctor, we’re often told that we’re hypochondriacs, or that we’re being overly dramatic, if we would just go and lose weight this wouldn’t happen.  Our anxiety and stress is dismissed as whinging or attention seeking, with no question as to what is causing such anxiety and stress.  We are tossed out the door yet again, with “lose weight” as the cure for all that ails us.

So what do so many of us do?  We ignore the REAL messages our bodies try to send us.  When we feel pain, we avoid going to the doctor, because we’ll only be told that we’re weak, that we should just lose weight and the problem will go away.  We won’t get a real diagnosis, they won’t care how we feel.  We’ll just be shamed and sent packing with instrutions to eat less and exercise more.

Is this ever factored into “studies” into mortality and health of fat people?  Is it ever acknowledged by those supposedly researching into issues around obesity that the very culture we live in is a) making fat people sick and b) preventing us from getting adequate health care when we do get sick?

It strikes me that the lazy ones aren’t those of us who are fat.  It’s those who don’t bother to actually listen, and investigate the health of individual fat people on a case by case basis.  It’s those who take one look at our fatness and diagnose every ailment we have as “obesity”, merely on sight.  It’s those who don’t ask WHY there may be evidence towards fat people having health issues and just assume that fat is always to blame.

Wouldn’t you say that’s pretty hypocritical?  I know I would.

*It’s ok, the pains in my chest turned out to be pulled muscles in my ribcage due to coughing with that damn cold.

Sorting Out My Head

Published September 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

What a funny few days it’s been.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was processing a lot from the Australian Fat Studies conference.  It’s been a real mix of emotions.  Delight at meeting several of my favourite Aussie members of the fatosphere, as well as some of the women who have really influenced me since I came to Fat Acceptance.  Intellectual exhaustion from so much really stimulating and challenging discussion and ideas that came from the conference.  Physical tiredness from a trip to Sydney and right back to work the day after I got back.

Not to mention a whole host of emotional stuff stirred up.  Sharing my own story of the lowest point in my life with everyone both at the conference and here on my blog, a story that I’d never told anyone before this time, really meant a lot of thinking about how I felt about that time in my life, and how I felt about the world knowing of just how dire things got for me at one point.

Then there was hearing so many other stories from women who had suffered humiliation, shame, self loathing, bullying, desperation and so many other hurtful emotions and experiences before they found the positive messages of Fat Acceptance.

But mostly, I had a bit of a harrowing experience of my own self esteem taking a rather massive dip there for a few days.  I found myself surrounded by so many amazing, beautiful, intelligent, funny, talented, fierce, fashionable women (and a handful of fab men) that I started to feel really inadequate.  There were moments that I found myself thinking those old thoughts that I was not worthy of being there with these people, that not only was I the fattest in the room, but I was the ugliest, the least intelligent, the most annoying, the least fashionable, the least talented and so on.  I really had some big moments where I just felt like I was worthless and that my presence at the conference was a huge inconvenience on everyone.

It’s silly really.  I know it was just one of those things that comes with intense times in your life (and boy, was that an awesomely intense weekend!) that old emotions and things are churned up, but it crept up on me so stealthily, but so strongly, that it was very overwhelming to be taken back to that place.

I’ve had a few days to process, and have been able to talk to my counsellor about those feelings, just so that I could set them all out in front of me and look at them before putting them in their correct place.  I know those feelings are just old recordings from the days before I started to work on actually loving myself as a person, and can move forward from that place.

But that brings me to think about how I hear so many women worry that they won’t “fit in” to Fat Acceptance because they still struggle with low self esteem, disordered eating or exercise behaviours, a longing to change their bodies and self loathing.  I think that because most of the bloggers of the fatosphere write so much about the importance of strong self esteem, positive living and fat pride, among other positive topics, there is a perception that we’re all so together, that we really just love ourselves these days and don’t struggle with self esteem issues ourselves.

Please know that this is not true.  We struggle as much as anyone else.  Only we use our blogging, and the community of the fatosphere, to help mend those disordered thoughts and behaviours.  One of the best things I have ever done for my self esteem was take up a place in the fatosphere.  Every time I find myself in that place, the place where my brain sends me off into a spiral of self loathing and feelings of inadequacy, the best way to bring myself back to reality is to read the writing, see the photographs and art, admire the fashion, follow the tweets and Facebook updates, and generally just surround myself with the people of the fatosphere.  Even better still, to talk to them.  Whether it is through social media, or through my own blog here.

It doesn’t mean everything is rosy and perfect in the fatosphere, but I believe that there are so many good people there that you can just move on from those who you do not feel comfortable about.

I have found an incredibly supportive community, with plenty of good honest advice and common sense to share, some laughs, some tears, and some passionate debate.

If you’re like me, and you struggle with your self esteem, and yet you feel hesitant to become involved in the fatosphere, give it a go.  If you write, blog.  If you like to share pictures, post pictures (Tumblr is really good for that!)  If you love fashion, share your fatshion inspiration.  Whatever is your gig.  I don’t believe you’ll regret it.

I certainly haven’t.

Discussing Depression

Published July 10, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’m suffering through a bout of the black dog at the moment.  Depression has crept up on me over the past couple of days, and I’m feeling really yuck.  I know I talk a lot about living positively and not letting shit get you down, but there are times even now that I find that creeping black cloud hovering over me, and life gets hard again.

This is usually the time I go quiet when it comes to blogging.  I figure nobody wants to hear depressed me talking, because it’s such a downer.  But this afternoon, while lolling on the sofa playing Animal Crossing for the 6th hour (catching bugs and planting flowers is so much nicer than listening to my own head when I’m like this), I had a bit of a lightbulb moment.

Everyone goes quiet when depression is biting them on the arse.  Nobody talks about how they feel, what they’re doing to try to get past it, and why it might be kicking in.  While nobody is talking about it, everyone is feeling alone in what they’re going through when it comes to depression.

I have to admit, I am one of the lucky ones.  My depression has been diagnosed for some time, and I am well supported both by friends and my health care providers.  I’m lucky enough to have had about 5 years treatment on mine, and I’ve moved out of that scary, bleak, seemingly endless phase that is untreated depression.

Thanks go excellent mental health care, I no longer let depression take it’s toll on my self esteem.  Once a bout of depression would have had me tearing down all of the mirrors, starving myself, wearing baggy, black clothes and basically believing that I was worthless and the cause of all of the worlds ills.  This is not how I suffer any more, though I do have moments that reflect on that, where I can’t bear to see myself in a mirror or I start thinking stupid negative thoughts about myself.  The difference is now that I recognise those thoughts for what they are, my depression talking.

But that is not to say that suffering a bout of depression is any less awful now than it once was.  Instead now I just feel bleak, like nothing matters and everything is grey and drab.  I usually get physical symptoms with it, like headaches and fatigue, aches and pains.  Also, I get sensitive to light and sounds, all I want is to sit somewhere silent and dark – any bright light physically hurts and I find most sounds annoying.

The worst thing is I’m unable to laugh.  I love to laugh, I do it every day and it’s the thing people know me for the most.  But when the black dog of depression has it’s teeth in my bum, the laugh just isn’t there, and it feels really horrible.

These days I know what my triggers are too.  Hormones.  Stress.  Frustration at not being able to change things.  Illness. Exhaustion.

So, what do you do when depression hits?

I used to spiral worse, because I’d let myself think all of the stupid negative things, I’d hate on myself and I’d usually make myself physically sick on top of that.  Again, I’m lucky to have had some fantastic treatment for my depression, and now I know what to do when it hits.

I stop.  That’s the first thing.  At the very moment I realise that I’m depressed again, I have to stop whatever I’m doing, sit down and just acknowledge that I’m suffering a bout of depression.  That’s the first step for me and none of the other stuff can follow until I do that.

The next step is to take care of myself.  Eat well and regularly, get sleep, relax, get fresh air and sunshine if the weather isn’t too hot, have long showers and pamper myself, and generally just do all of the things that make me feel healthy and fresh.  As much as I want to crawl off into bed and starve myself, I know that this isn’t the thing to do, it only makes the problem worse.

Another crucial step is to only surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself.  The inflaters in my world.  That goes for online too – if I can’t read blogs or talk to people on social media that make me feel good about myself, then I need to steer clear of those places.  I have to keep away from triggers that upset me or stress me out.  No reading about politics, keeping away from articles, stories and blogs about the injustices of the world, only watching things on YouTube or on DVD’s (I don’t watch television or read papers any more, they are just too full of rubbish and negativity) that are positive.

And finally, give it time.  It will pass.  I know I won’t always feel this way.

So, what about you, dear readers?  What are your remedies for getting through a bout of depression?  Do you know what your triggers are?  Let’s talk about the black dog, it’s the best way to build a set of tools to help you deal with it when he comes to visit.

But I just want to leave you with something that has made me feel better tonight:

Coming Out of the Fat Acceptance Closet

Published May 8, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  The big news of course for me is that my submission for the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference has been accepted and I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the conference in Sydney in September.  Not only am I honoured to be invited, but I’m also thrilled that as far as I know, this is the first time that fat people have been asked to participate in the discussion with academia.  Normally folks talk about us, not with us, you know?

One of the things I’m having to come to terms with is coming out of the closet so to speak as a fat acceptance blogger/activist in my day to day life.  Mostly at work I don’t talk about fat acceptance or the stuff that I do as an activist in the cause.  This isn’t because I’m ashamed of it or embarrassed by it – but simply because I’m mostly too busy at, and there is an element of “this is my workplace, I can’t piss people off here”.  And I know that my passion for fat acceptance over-rides my tact sometimes, so I kind of just take that hat off at work a wee bit.

However, with my absolute beside myself excitement over the Fat Studies conference, and a few other things lately, I’ve found myself quite proudly wearing that fat acceptance hat all the time.  It’s such a fabulous hat, you know?  I don’t want to leave it at home.

In response to my talking about fat acceptance amongst friends and colleagues, a few times someone has said to me “You are so brave to put yourself out there.”  I’ve felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel brave or anything.  But then I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcasts that Marianne Kirby and Leslie Kinzel are doing at the moment, and I found myself thinking “They’re so brave.”

And they are.  So am I for that matter.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there on the subject of fat, simply because there is so much loathing, fear and hostility around it.  But I don’t do it to be brave, and while I can’t speak for Marianne and Leslie, it seems neither do they.  I think we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because we want to make a difference.  Ladies, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Something Leslie said in the first fatcast really stuck with me.  Forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it, but basically “every time a fat woman gets out of bed, gets dressed and leaves the house she’s being an activist”.  It’s bloody true!!

Fat women are supposed to be apologetic for existing.  We’re supposed to be invisible, demure, quiet, ashamed and embarrassed.  We’re supposed to dress in shapeless, dark colours, apologise for taking up space in the world, shrink down (both figuratively and literally), pay more for everything (clothes, seats on airplanes, underwear, health care, you name it), to make excuses for ourselves, to be invisible.

So when we’re not invisible, when we talk about being fat, when we accept ourselves for who we are, as we are, when we live life to the full, bold and brilliant, when we are outspoken or confident, when we choose to clothe ourselves in things that make ourselves noticeable, we’re even more of an activist than just existing.

It isn’t easy.  Not only are you dealing with your own demons, a lifetime of fat hate heaped on you that you have to battle to re-claim your self esteem and confidence, but you’re scrutinised and inspected to the nth degree, just in case you make a mistake, or have an error in something you say, or are misinformed.

You’re also dealing with a whole lot of hatred in the form of the trolls you get on your blogs and anywhere else you’re active.  Some fatosphere bloggers don’t have much problem with it, but some of us get hammered every day by some douchebag who posts comments spewing their narrow minded hate.  Even when you have a good platform to deal with them, and get rid of them individually pretty quickly, there is another to take their place.  Why on earth anyone would want to waste their time on trolling blogs I’ve never understood, but one has to have a strong self esteem to deal with these morons.

But we keep going.  We keep blogging, talking about fat acceptance, feminism and body politics.  We keep doing it because it’s important to us.  A quote I love (and that I can’t work out who said it originally, sometimes the internets make it harder to find information than easier) and that sums up the whole shebang for me:

Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important than fear.

I’ll talk more about the results of my coming out of the fat acceptance closet as time goes by and I find out how more and more people in my life react to it.

Are you active about fat acceptance in your day to day life?  How do your family, colleagues, friends etc respond to your fat acceptance activisim/beliefs?

Taking Care of Emotional Health

Published April 24, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yah I know, I’ve been quiet this week.  Between buying a new computer (I got a big mo-fo of an iMac!) and working my arse off, I’ve not had a real lot of time to myself this week, and sadly that means this poor blog has to take a back seat for a bit.

Mostly at the moment I am dealing with a high stress time at work, what with trying to juggle multiple projects to be finished by the end of the financial year (June 30th in Australia) and a colleague turned food-stalker who will not leave me alone about what I am having for lunch and how delicious it looks compared to her diet shakes and Chinese herbal weight loss “remedies.”

Of course, with rising stress levels, comes higher anxiety levels, but lower self esteem.  I am lucky these days that after years of working on my self esteem, depression and anxiety issues that I can recognise them for what they almost always are – symptoms of overwork, not enough sleep and un-resolved problems.  I am far more resilient to these down times than I have ever been.

But they are still there and take some work to sort out and get back on track with my emotional health.  Where normally I have confidence in myself, during the down times I tend to second guess things, or be very harsh on myself again.

I have learned that those times are not the time to cast judgement on myself, or the world around me.  That I need to just settle back and let myself get out of that frame of mind before I make any decisions on how I feel about people and situations and myself.  There are a few things I can do that are immensely healing and are part of taking care of myself in those times.

Music really means a lot to me.  I have a folder in iTunes of music that I know makes me feel good.  I have a list of videos on YouTube that do the same thing, most of them Craig Ferguson dancing around like an idiot to some cheery tune.  It’s what Craig does best.

I know being around water helps me.  I am lucky, I live in a river city, and within 10 minutes walk of the river itself.  Or I can travel for about 45 minutes and be by the bayside.

Sleep is important too.  If I can catch up on decent sleep (more than the 4 or 5 hours per night I have been getting on average), I know it works a lot towards undoing all the negativity, anxiety and stress.

Self esteem and a positive outlook are not things that you just get and never have to worry about struggling with again for the rest of your life.  It takes a lot of work to build them up, to work through depression, bad self image and anxiety, and then you constantly have to be topping up that work, honing it, working on keeping it alive.  But that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you do slip up from time to time.  You WILL slip up from time to time.  You WILL have times that the black dog of depression gets you in his teeth, and that circumstances lead you down the path of feeling bad about yourself.  But with work and support, you become far more resilient and conscious, and able to pull yourself up or find help to do so, back into positive, confident, happy you again.

Do you struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, poor self esteem?  How do you work through it to get yourself in a better place?  Do you recognise it when it sneaks up on you?

Let’s talk about it in the comments – knowing you’re not alone is one of the best tools you can have in your good emotional health toolkit!