Monday, August 20, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: The Not So Great Unfriending and Empathy Deficits

I recently unfriended someone that I had been online friends with for 12 years. I encountered him through blogging and a mutual love of the horror genre. He was the coolest guy until his life became all about weight loss. Then the cracks started to show.
I tried to give him a break, even though I found him becoming more and more confrontational. He wasn't friendly anymore, but I hoped maybe the characteristics that made me like him in the first place would resurface.
 I never could be his weight loss cheerleader, and he seemed to resent that. He was always posting pictures of himself next to a pair of his old trousers, announcing how much weight he'd lost, and want people to stroke his ego. 
The only comment I ever made on one of his weight loss pictures was that I thought he was a cool guy regardless of what size he was. He went off on a tangent about how much better he felt and looked and so on. I tried to be sympathetic because I knew he'd gone this route because he'd been bullied, and I didn't blame him.
The straw that broke the camel's back was actually not about weight loss. I was doing my thing, trying to raise awareness and end stigma where suicide is concerned. He wrote this long comment about how he didn't feel sympathy for people who committed suicide, he felt sympathy for the people they left behind. He felt that people who commit suicide are weak and cowardly, and then he went on a tangent about how he had been bullied and molested but he forgave his abuser and he never committed suicide, so why could these people not do the same and realize that whatever higher power they believe in has put them here for a purpose.
And then he went on about how he has lost 368 pounds and his health is sooo much better (except it really isn't, he still has the same underlying issues, he's just thinner so he doesn't get the same ration of shit from the doctor anymore.) I had to hold back from saying "ah yes, your weight loss. Great. What do you want, a cookie? Oh, I'm sorry, that's probably not on your diet. So, I'll eat it for you."
I said that I was sorry that he had endured such a hard life and it was good that he was able to overcome his adversities, but everyone is not wired the same and I was distressed that he seemed so unable to muster any sort of sympathy for people who were unable to go on. I said that I did not feel that my cousin was a weak person for committing suicide after many years of fighting severe depression with no relief. I said that some people are better able to withstand adversity than others, for a variety of reasons. I then said that maybe he was somehow superior because he had come through adversity without attempting suicide, but that doesn't mean that people who aren't able to do so are lesser.
Initially, I didn't unfriend him, but then I realized that I always dreaded interacting with him since he began his "weight loss journey." After about an hour of deliberating (okay, wrestling with myself) I made the decision to cut ties with him. I told him that I felt no animosity towards him but I couldn't be friends with someone who could not muster the least bit of sympathy for people whose despair led them to a desperate act. 
I opened up about a gruesome suicide scene which was burned in my mind and gave me years of PTSD. I said I never hated the person who caused this memory. He was autistic, had brain damage from an incident where he was so severely beaten by his bullies that he nearly died, and had other serious mental health issues, including severe depression. This guy fought on as long and as hard as he could, but eventually, he couldn't anymore. I was angry at him for a time, yes. But I never for even a minute thought that he was weak or selfish or cowardly.
I've lost several people to suicide. I'm willing to realize that people are ignorant about this issue and to educate them, but when you express that much vehemence towards a person who was obviously in a great deal of psychological pain, there is too much of an empathy deficit, and I can't maintain a friendship with people who hold such beliefs.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: Suicide Victims are Not Weak, Selfish, or Cowards

I just made something of a difficult decision to unfriend someone who has been an online friend for about 12 years. I didn't block this person, I don't hate them, but I really can't be friends with someone who expresses harsh opinions of people who commit suicide and is not willing to attempt to have sympathy for those who have made this desperate decision. 

Trigger warning for discussion of suicide and severe trauma

 Not everyone is wired exactly the same way. Some people naturally bear up under adversity better than others. Those who can't manage to get through are not bad people.
One of the experiences which caused me PTSD for years was the sight of a young autistic and severely mentally ill man with brain damage who could no longer continue the struggle and who blew the front of his forehead off with a shotgun.
 For years not a day went by that I didn't see that image in my mind. I never hated him for it. Most people had no idea the struggles this guy went through. The day came that he couldn't do it anymore.
I had to "flatten" the image and desensitize it so I would stop thinking of it all the time. It's the same thing I had to do with the last time I saw my father. He was a shell of his former self, lying in the bed in the hospice, not breathing and not moving. I was very stoic and didn't cry. I knew I would never see him again in this life when I left the room, but I had to leave. I was a zombie. I dreamed of that image of him and I didn't want to remember him that way, so I had to flatten the image in my mind.
When a person commits suicide, it causes trauma to those left behind. It's fair to be mad at the person. It's not fair to say they were weak or selfish or a coward.
Also, not everyone responds to the "magic pills" in the same way. Some people do very well with antidepressants, but not everyone is wired the same. My son had no response to them at all. For me, they made me manic and psychotic. I had a cousin who tried many medications and didn't respond to any of them. She ended up committing suicide. She was not weak, selfish, or a coward. She was at the end of the line and couldn't go on another day. What she did does not make her a bad person.
There is this tendency to believe that people who live with mood disorders aren't "trying hard enough." In fact, few people try harder to overcome their "stinkin' thinkin'" than people with mood disorders. If it was easy to break out of depression, nobody would be depressed. Who the fuck WANTS to be depressed?
Happy people are not "better" than people who are unable to be happy. I can count on one hand the times I've truly felt happy. I've been giddy, which is not the same as being happy. There is a peace that comes with actual happiness. Giddiness is a form of mania.
My baseline is moderately depressed. Over the past few years, I've realized that doesn't make me a lesser person than someone who is always happy. It is highly unlikely that I will ever become a person who isn't always at least a bit sad. This realization has lessened the suicide ideation to a degree, but the suicide ideation will also always be there. I don't need to "heal" and become a "bright light" to be worthy of respect and good treatment. If you believe in a higher power, maybe us "dark" sorts serve a purpose just as much as the social butterflies. Introspective people have a tendency to be both observant and empathic. That's hardly a bad thing.
If I commit suicide, it probably won't be because of my mood disorder. I can't say I'm friends with my mood disorder, but we've reached an understanding. I won't continually try to eradicate it, and it will quit trying to kill me.
No, if I commit suicide it will be because I am either in an intolerable state of physical pain or because I have developed dementia. If that happens, I will not tell anyone before I do it, I will just do it. No-one will know until after the fact. 
I would never say that someone who committed suicide for this (or any other) reason is "weak," "selfish," or a "coward.
If you're a person who can continue on in spite of adversity, great. Maybe that makes you a "better person" in some ways. But it doesn't make people who can't bad people who should be treated with disdain. 
A little empathy is in order. Maybe if you can't muster any, you should be questioning why your beliefs about people who are suffering are so harsh.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: "Insatiable" is About Body Positivity, My Fat Ass

First of all, @insatiable-tv

This is a TV show which couldn’t exist without the greenlighting of scapegoating towards people who have a certain body type. They aren’t clever enough to create entertainment without making larger people the butt of jokes. When you have to be mean and cruel to bring attention to your “entertainment,” it’s a sign that you are a massive failure at entertaining.
I became bulimic at 12 and yo-yo dieted for approximately 33 years. Initially, dieting took the weight off. As I got older and my metabolism was wrecked by both frequent dieting and physical conditions, it didn’t matter how much I starved myself, I didn’t lose weight. I had to stop dieting in order to stop gaining weight. 
I didn’t have my jaw wired shut, but I did have dental surgery when I was 18 and couldn’t eat anything but pureed foods for about six weeks. I went down to 108 pounds. I had no energy, my skin was dry, my hair was brittle, but I was under the weight I should have been for my height. So, I thought I had succeeded. 
My body was not meant to be at that weight, so when I was able to eat normally again, I started gaining weight, and I hated myself. 
I tried every diet out there. None of them worked long-term.
I might not be as heavy as I am now if not for years of yo-yo dieting. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Diets still don’t work, but assholes like you can’t hurt me anymore. You’re boring.

Thing is, you can hurt a lot of vulnerable girls who are just like I used to be. Which is why I will fight you and your fucking bullshit every step of the way.
~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: The Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin
March 25, 1942 - August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin passed away today from pancreatic cancer. She was an amazing performer, and the radio station I listen to damn well better play some tunes from the Queen of Soul today while I’m working.
That should be all I have to say, full stop. Unfortunately, with the world we live in, I need to talk about some unnecessary fucking bullshit.
Aretha Franklin’s weight is none of your fucking business.
Nobody’s weight is any of your fucking business.
People of all sizes die. Every god damn day.
I don’t want to see “Aretha Franklin Weight” in my search results when I’m looking for a picture of the lady.
If a magazine is talking about people’s weight, or “best and worst beach bodies”, or any of that crap, that magazine is trash, and you shouldn’t pay money for it. People have the right to go to the fucking beach without assholes trying to micromanage their bodies.
People do not need to be deemed “fuckable” to have the right not to be bombarded with shitty messages every day of their lives. I don’t want to fuck anybody. I’d be a pretty awful asshole if I treated everyone I don’t want to fuck like shit.
“BUT THEIR HEALTH!!11!!!1!!!”
Their “health” is none of your fucking business. It’s never about “health” anyway, face it. People do terrible things in attempts to keep their body looking a certain way--things that are incredibly unhealthy. The dreadful “Biggest Loser,” or, as I like to call it, The Biggest Dickweed, was not about health. It was a weight loss contest. They pushed people until they were puking and had to be hospitalized. That is not healthy. Google Kai Hibbard. This former “Biggest Loser” contestant has your truth serum.
Extreme weight fluctuations are very damaging to the body. Ashton Kutcher ended up hospitalized for pancreatitis after pushing his body to lose weight for his role in Jobs. Christian Bale did permanent damage to his body when losing extreme amounts of weight for a role. Tom Hanks feels that his developing Type 2 diabetes was triggered by extreme fluctuations in weight for roles, although, in fairness, one has to have the gene for diabetes in order to develop diabetes.
In other words, dieting is bad for the body. Only about 5 percent of people who diet have long-term success. These are very bad odds. The more one diets, the more damaged one’s metabolism becomes. I dieted for close to 35 years, and every time I stopped severely restricting my food intake (eating normally), the weight came back with friends. I had to stop dieting so I wouldn’t get heavier. It doesn’t help that my metabolism is a mess in the first place.
I suggest and for more about the science of dieting and forced weight loss and stomach amputation and all that other awful crap that larger people have pushed on them every god damn day of their lives.
Aretha Franklin should have been able to live her amazing life at whatever size she was without being bombarded by body-shaming bullshit. Her weight is none of anyone’s goddamn business. No-one’s weight is any of anyone else’s goddamn business. Not even when they get to (insert arbitrary weight here.) 
Of course, only fat people die. No one who is thin dies, not ever. Certainly, no-one who is thin would ever get pancreatic cancer.
Oh, wait.

People of all sizes die. All the time. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop a condition that will kill you. Even if you have a so-called perfect body. Even if you exercise regularly and eat the “right” foods. Even then you may end up dead at an unexpectedly young age, like a nursing supervisor whom I worked with. This woman ate all the right foods, exercised, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, attended church regularly, and still ended up dead from sudden cardiac arrest when she was 65 years old.
People’s worth is defined by their actions and intent, not by their physical appearance.
Aretha Franklin was an amazing person. Full stop.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: Hamplanets at TGI Friday's

This was a response to a post at We Hunted The Mammoth

Wherein blog author David Futrelle shared (and mocked) the words of an epic jackwagon from the Red Pill sector of Reddit, who stated:

"I watched hamplanets glitter in the dark near the TGIFridays."

There are hamplanets glittering by the TGI Friday's? Wow! Cool! I'll have to drive by the TGI Friday's and see if there are any hamplanets there. I've heard of these hamplanets, but I've never seen one. If they're glittery, that must be extra special.
I developed an eating disorder when I was 12 years old because I was so paranoid about getting fat. It wasn't because I thought that fat people were bad, it was seeing how fat people were treated. I didn't want to be treated like that. I spent 33 years trying to yo-yo diet myself into a size that my body didn't want to be. Given that my endocrine system is a dumpster fire, it's highly unlikely that I'd ever become thin unless I became critically ill, and maybe not even then. So, I learned to accept my body as it is. 
Unfortunately, our awful medical system doesn't want to allow me to just be as I am, they want to force more diets (which didn't work for 33 years, so I don't know how they're supposed to work now) or stomach amputation on me. This makes for uncomfortable and enraging doctor's appointments, not compassionate medical care. I would never go to a doctor if it weren't for this dumpster fire of an endocrine system.
That being said, I don't have a problem with my weight. For some reason, other people take it upon themselves to have a problem with my weight.
The only way I'd ever be truly ashamed of myself again is if I let one of these douchebros into my pants. And at that point, the shame wouldn't be because of my weight, it would be because I had been incredibly disrespectful of myself and should certainly know better.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: More from the Dumpster Fire that is Insatiable

Trigger warning for diet talk, eating disorders. 
This is my take and my story, in response to this post.
This dumpster fire manages to be offensive to pretty much everybody who isn't a conventionally attractive, white, Hollywood-thin starlet. Of course, there is the repugnant fat suit on the thin, conventionally attractive a-hole wearing it. Then there is the fact that it's "funny" that a fat girl gets punched and has to have her jaw wired shut. High-larious! What humor! Much original! So comedy!
The "show" apparently treats homosexuality as something to be laughed at and ridicules people from the South. I'm hardly surprised that it also thinks that mental illness is a big ole barrel of laffs.
I'm sick of talking about it, but I'll talk about it until it goes the hell away. For all of me, I hope that the careers of every person involved with this mess in any major way swirl straight down the crapper. I, for one, will consciously avoid anything created by or starring any of these people again, including Lauren Guissis, Alyssa Milano, and the face of the whole mess, Debby Ryan.
In the interest of disclosure, I am a person who developed an eating disorder when I was twelve. I spent the next thirty-three years of my life yo-yo dieting and berating myself whenever my diets "failed." As happens with most people who diet, the weight I lost came back with friends. I had to stop dieting so I wouldn't end up heavier.  It certainly didn't help that I have a zombie endocrine system: dead thyroid, cystic ovaries, screwy pituitary. I wasn't at all surprised when diabetes joined the crowd. After all, the rest of my damn endocrine system is dead or mutated, why not my pancreas too?
It doesn't help that whenever I go to the damn doctor, these so-called "smart" people somehow can't catch on to the fact that with an endocrine system like mine, I'm highly unlikely to be thin. But do they focus on my underlying health problems, the reason I'm coming to see them? Oh hell no! They focus on the number on the damn scale. They suggest stomach amputation (weight loss surgery). They do not listen when I tell them that I do not want to discuss my weight, no, I am not "indulging in treats," I am FOOD INSECURE, you damn nincompoops. I wouldn't see you at all if it wasn't for the fact that I need medication to, oh, I don't know, survive. Every time I see one of these jerks, I end up in an E.D. spiral for a week or more, starving myself, even though by now I know full well that doesn't work and, with diabetes, I certainly shouldn't be doing it.
Also, my body does not come off like a costume with some thin, conventionally attractive princess stepping out. Newp, it's all me. I've learned to live with it, learned to accept it, only to have jerks with "M.D." after their name tell me I shouldn't accept it.
Then a crap show like this comes along.
Oh, by the way, I also have type 2 bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and OCD. I can't tolerate most psych medications, they make me manic and psychotic. I take a low dose of lithium. Everything else is supplements like 5-HTP. I've learned to cope with the condition, mostly without help from anyone because, like most doctors, most counselors are crap. Thing is, I don't have to see them to resolve a physical condition that will kill me within a month if I don't inject insulin, so I don't see them. 
The medical profession pretty much sucks, if you ask me. People like me have to fight to get what we need, and we can't even get a little respect, basic human treatment.
So, when "Insatiable" comes along and ridicules the problems I've had to learn to live with? Somehow, I don't think it's one bit funny, and I am going to do whatever I can to take it down.
I hope there is no season 2. I hope this ship sinks like a stone and takes all the fools involved down with it.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: The Racist, Classist, and Sexist Roots of Weight Loss Culture

Medical Community Logic

So, as I have written about a few times in the past month, I had some recent bad experience with my doctor and I've been trying to decide what to do.
I have an eating disorder. Technically EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) but it most closely resembles bulimia even though I don't physically purge at this point.
I have diabetes (along with other endocrine malfunctions) and so the guilt gets heaped on me double with my eating disorder. I have it under better control than I used to, but I'm food insecure, so sometimes when I'm having to ration food, the E.D. part of my brain starts praising me for not eating, repeating the old "hunger hurts but starvation works" mantra. Eventually, I stop feeling the physical hunger and become kind of detached from reality. When I eventually eat, it is generally not something approved by the American Diabetes Association. It might not even be in particularly large quantities, at least not for a person who doesn't have diabetes, but since I'm supposed to curb my carbs, it ends up spiking my blood sugar and elevating my A1C.
I wanted to freaking punch my doctor when my last blood test came back with slightly elevated triglycerides and she had the audacity to ask me if I had been "indulging in treats." I've told her I'm food insecure. I snapped at her that given that I'm food insecure, as I've already told her, any damn food is an "indulgence." No, I'm not sitting in front of the soap operas gorging on bonbons, which is, for whatever reason, what we fat ladies are always supposed to eat. I doubt I've ever eaten a dozen bonbons in my entire 53 (mostly fat) years on this planet.
I'm so numbed out by a lifetime of disappointment and abuse that I literally can't cry anymore. These days when something bad happens I say "well, here we go again" and I withdraw. Anger tends to be the only thing that prevents me from doing myself in. That and the fact that my son still needs me.
Honestly, I'm disappointed as fuck that with as progressive a state as Colorado is supposed to be, I have found exactly zero doctors in the Denver/Boulder area with a Health at Every Size approach. The doctor that I'm currently seeing (and I'm probably going to go back to my previous doctor) does not provide, as she claims, a "safe space" for larger people. Oh, on the first visit she acted like she's going to treat me with a semblance of humanity, but by the third visit, out came the old "my patients who have had weight loss surgery are all doing very well" hype. Yeah, providing a bench so bigger people don't have to squeeze into a small chair with arms does not make you size friendly. 
Well, Lady, after a month of stewing over this shit, I've come to the conclusion that it is not this fat broad's fault that you suck at taking a larger person's blood pressure. My old doc may have been half-assed, but his staff was top tier. Even though my current doctor is very thorough, I can't stand her attitude. I think I'm better off with the half-assed dude. He only made me want to punch him about half the time.
I feel guilty about firing this doctor because if it weren't for her, I'd never have found out that I have a uterus full of fibroids and polyps, and it needs to come out because it increases my risk of uterine cancer. I wouldn't have mentioned the post-menopausal bleeding to my old doctor, mostly because I'm not comfortable discussing that kind of crap with men. Unfortunately, the doctor who will probably be performing the hysterectomy is a man, but the procedure he uses involves less invasive methods and therefore less healing time, which is an excellent selling point.
I don't know if I should tell my current doctor why I'm not returning, or if I should just ghost. I really don't much want to talk to her again. I doubt she'll learn anything from what I have to say anyway. She could have been a great fit, if only she'd actually lived up to her promise of providing a safe space for larger people and not been a lying liar shilling for weight loss surgeons.
The pressure on women to appear youthful, thin, and pretty throughout our entire lives is based on extremely sexist ideals, and even supposedly progressive women buy into these ideals without question. We are supposed to be a certain kind of pretty to please men. 
Younger women tend to be more compliant than mature women, so women are supposed to aspire to look young, even if we were born during the Roosevelt administration. As it happens, I was born during the Johnson administration. So, expecting me to look like I'm an eighteen-year-old ingenue is unrealistic and offensive as fuck to boot. But, this leads me to my next point.
A smaller, more slender body type tends to be associated with youth and, therefore, vulnerability and compliance. Women are supposed to aspire to appear delicate and fragile rather than sturdy. As well, women tend to gain weight after giving birth. Mothers tend to give more attention to their children than to their husband. A woman who is focusing her attention on nurturing children rather than pleasing her lord and master is not to be desired. So, even if a woman has ten children (i.e. Catherine Dickens*), she is to aspire to have a maiden's body.
A larger body type has come to be associated with gluttony. Thus, a large woman is seen as focusing on feeding her own appetites rather than accommodating the desires of men.  
(*Charles Dickens, amazing writer though he may have been, was more than a  bit of a shit when it came to his wife, Catherine, whom he denigrated for having become fat in the course of their marriage, in which she gave birth to ten children. Dickens' eleventh child was the product of his affair with Ellen Ternan.)

The push for a chiseled, athletic body type in both men and women also has roots in the ideals of the Aryan Superman stereotype, such as in this image from the cover of a 1938 publication. Encouragement of an often impossibly slender and youthful kind of beauty by any means necessary is a holdover from the Nazi idea of a perfected (white) race. I am certain that weight loss surgery would be lauded by Dr. Mengele himself.

Conversely, this image of a middle-aged Jewish man with pronounced jowls and a double chin is touted as undesirable and to be eradicated.
Ageism is also inherent in the push to retain youthful slenderness throughout the entirety of one's life.
The medical community should be ashamed of themselves. Their intolerance keeps larger people from seeking care until their situation becomes catastrophic. The fact that only fat people who are sick tend to seek medical care allows the medical community to perpetuate the lie that fat = sick. Further, to treat an ill and frightened person who has come seeking help with shame and scorn is the opposite of doing no harm.
In modern times, poor people are more likely to be heavy than those in the upper class. Poor people tend to be unable to afford medical care and thus are only seen when their situation has become catastrophic, allowing doctors to argue that they have brought their misfortune upon themselves by not seeking preventative care.
The medical community likes to claim that weight loss surgery (stomach amputation) is a low-risk procedure. It is not. Here is some food for thought regarding weight loss surgery, courtesy of Big Fat Science. Few other elective procedures come with this much risk attached.
The medical community is not infallible. They also used to believe that trepanning and thalidomide were miraculous medical interventions, and look how well those turned out.

The medical community needs to embrace the Hippocratic Oath to "first do no harm," even if this means accepting that most of their patients will never be perfect. They need to treat all of their patients with compassion and respect, even the patient who is so addicted to nicotine that she can't stop herself from smoking although she has emphysema or has had part of a lung removed. (Both people I knew, as it happens.) 
Even the alcoholic who can't stop drinking although he has cirrhosis of the liver. 
Even the drug addict. 
Even the fat person who actually does eat enormous amounts of food. Most fat people do not, in fact, eat more than thin or mid-size people. I've known a few thin people who could easily eat more than I do. 
Even the diabetic who eats nothing but simple carbs. 
People's behavior is more complex than just flipping a switch. There are psychological as well as physical components. And with fat people, trying to control their weight through deprivation dieting generally leads to--you guessed it--weight regain and then some. This post on starvation syndrome is worth a look.

Diets don't work, mutilation of a healthy digestive system is unconscionable, and people are the size they are for a variety of reasons. We need to reject the sexist, racist, classist, and ageist notion that Number Twelve should look Just Like You. 

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~