For whatever reason, my dip into the depression pool this spring is deeper and longer-lasting than in previous years. It doesn't help that my endometriosis symptoms have flared up and I'm still dealing with daily pain in my hips and feet. Managing pain on a daily basis is exhausting. Since I know myself well and know where the edge at the bank of the hellish black pit is, I'm not sitting back and doing nothing while waiting for my mood to improve this time. Sometimes riding out the downs on this rollercoaster is a reasonable choice; other times, it's not. It takes a lot for me to reach out, but I have, stubbornness be damned, for now. No, there's nothing anyone outside of the medical community can do. Depression is depression. I know how to keep myself relatively safe. I've been dealing with it since I was a child. Some months are just more challenging than others. Not turning to disordered eating during times like this is challenging, but I'm doing well in not swinging to any extremes.
When it comes to helping others, I often wonder what's most beneficial to those who are struggling with an eating disorder and want to get well. I don't believe there's one right answer. There are many groups that go about helping by simply sharing stories. I never found this approach helpful in terms of actual recovery, but it can be for some. It can also help people feel less alone, which is a step in the right direction. Oddly, when I joined a recovery group in college, I felt it kept me stuck in the disorder. The ladies in the group were so focused on their symptoms and stuck in their stories that nothing else was ever presented. Week after week, the same people would tell the same stories and go into the gory details, almost more to shock others than to offer any assistance. I find that a dialog is more beneficial, but everyone has his or her preference.
The longer I'm in recovery, the more I realize that if people are going to be more compassionate and accepting, it's society that needs to change. We live in a world that doesn't allow people to stray from the norm without being severely punished. This is especially true for women. We can't be too big, but we are also condemned if we swing too far in the opposite direction. At either end, we are called weak, failures, self-indulgent, or any number of other derogatory terms. Women have to walk an incredibly narrow path in order to be accepted, and we're all so obsessively aware of these fixed rules. Women mock themselves and others for having an appetite or being on a diet. People think it's acceptable, funny even, to suggest that all women feel fat, hate their bodies, or want to be thin. It's not. If you participate in this kind of rhetoric, you are so much a part of the problem.
It's unfortunate that we can't see the deeper issues behind being too big or too small and what "too" really means in each case. Who defines that point that goes beyond health, physical, emotional, and mental? How is the stereotype of "normal" identified? Who sets the parameters of how a body, someone else's body, should be? One out of many problems with the way our culture affects women's decisions around aesthetics is that those who fall even slightly outside of what's acceptable to the majority are pushed to the side more than those who walk the narrow line when both should matter and should be heard equally. The voice of someone who's considered too fat or too thin by an arbitrary and quite often absurd cultural standard still needs to be acknowledged, maybe even more so than those who fall in line and accept the status quo.
At my age, I never thought I would be dealing with anyone making unkind comments to me. Though it's not the same situation and unrelated to my weight, this kind of occurrence puts me right back into being the fat little girl who was relentlessly teased and bullied. I don't want anyone to ever have to experience the kind of torment I did or other people do for whatever reason. My childhood experiences left me afraid of confrontation, awkward around people, and uncomfortable in my own skin, no matter what my weight. As a society, we really, really need to stop focusing so intently on what others look like and appreciate more who they are and what they do.
Success really isn't a number on a scale, and you don't have to be a superhero to be successful. Another problem with society is the way it views achievements. The fear of mediocrity can keep anyone stuck or backsliding. What's so wrong with admiring people who participate in the daily grind, who get up day after day, go to work, keep their shit together and are generally decent people? The public is very greedy, needy, and self-centered. It's no wonder there are so many people who turn to eating disorders and addictions to cope. I wish I knew how to heal our very broken society.