Monday, April 18, 2016

To the Person Who Envies my Illness Because It Made Me Thin:

I am sorry we live in a world that makes you want to be sick, just so you can be thin.  I am sorry you are made to apologize for your health and appetite, to wish such a gift away.  I've lost count of how many people (mostly women, but a couple of men too) have said: I wish I had what you have.  I wish I had Gastroparesis upon noticing my significant weight loss. All I can say is don't wish for this, don't even think it even though you don't believe me.  You don't want to be in pain every day.  You don't want the persistent nausea, the vomiting, the bloating and distention and fear of what will happen when you eat something. You don't want to hear about the limited and uncomfortable treatments available: about botox shots in the stomach, about gastric pacemakers and J-tubes.  You don't want to take medicine that puts you at risk for permanent neurological damage just to make your stomach work.

What you don't understand is that my Gastroparesis is likely due to my malfunctioning immune system.  I have Lupus and Hashimoto's and Inflammatory Polyarthritis.  There are days (and weeks, and months) when I cannot walk.  I get synovitis that locks my joints.  I get stress fractures. There are days I am so fatigued I can barely hold myself upright. This same disease that led to a nearly 50 pound weight loss is just as likely to cause me to gain it all back, and maybe more.  A year ago, I was overweight, borderline obese.  Months of immobility and steroid treatments caused me to gain weight. My face swelled up until I was nearly unrecognizable as the person I had come to know in the mirror.  This isn't something I can control, living in an unruly body.

I know your intentions are good.  I know you mean it as a compliment.  Try to understand why it isn't flattering to be told that sickness looks great on you.  Try to understand why it makes me overwhelmingly sad to hear that you want to be sick, too.  Our culture is sick.  It's sick to make people hate their healthy functioning bodies because we privilege thinness above all else.  Know that maybe you are a size 10 or a 14 or whatever and that you are gorgeous in your strength and your vigor.  Know that what you have is far more enviable than illness.   Know that I am not angry with you, merely sad that you cannot see the entire narrative, that your view is obscured by what you don't understand.


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