What’s Keeping Me Up at 3 a.m.

1. Debt. How is that one can have more debt than ever and simultaneously the best credit they have ever had? The system that’s what.

2. Even plus sized models are airbrushed. I recently got to meet one of my faves in person, and although stunningly beautiful (like I’m jealous), she is clearly photoshopped quite a bit. This helps because I have been having a bad body image week, and seeing plus women with all flat tummies has not been helpful.

3. But then I just saw a “curvy” untouched model who says she is normal and is half my size with no stretch marks. Feeling a little terrible again.

4. My relationship with food is a nightmare, especially now with health concerns. I worry about everything I put in mouth, I feel out of control often even if I’m cutting something into thirds or fourths, and I make a lot of nutritious choices, but also a lot not so much. I envy people with no sweet tooth or wine craving. I should not be up worrying about meals ate yesterday and all the people with more self control than me. I am a therapist, I know this unhealthy. And yet, here we are.

5. Speaking of food and health conditions, I’m so afraid I’m going to die or become really sick young. And yet, making a lifestyle change is harder now than ever before.

6. For one, I’m tired of dieting. I’ve done it all my life. And now, I need that control more than ever.

7. I haven’t worked out in two weeks. Sure, I have walked miles most days, I can climb stairs with minimum effort now, but that seems to do little for my waistline or arms. I feel kinda huge compared to everyone. It’s not enough.

8. I’m ready for the snow today. That will help make it feel like the holidays.

9. Can’t believe NC got snow before I did!

10. I hope the mouse in my apartment is dead. Haven’t seen him since the super put out the poison. Living in the city is weird.

11. Will I ever find love? Am I even cut out for a relationship?

12. Plane flights. Coming back from NC after the holidays has not been planned yet. They are expensive right now. Ok, not awful, but the return flights were cheaper 6 weeks ago when I bought my outbound flight. Wasn’t ready to commit though.

13. Why am I always warm? I could use a little a/c and it is 30°F outside and my fan is on. Something might be wrong with me.

14. I think writing this all out helped clear my mind.

Back to sleep I go.

I’m Going Through A Growing Pain and It Hurts Like Hell

You haven’t heard much from me lately, but that’s what anxiety does (and perhaps a sprinkling of depressive symptoms) – it makes you feel very apprehensive and approach avoidant about sharing. And every time someone says to me, “you’re so honest,” I try to decode if that means I’m pitiful and burdensome or truly courageous and inspiring; and lately I’m not so sure.

You see, I’m going through a transformative period, a growing pain, if you will, and I’m only so sure about this because I’ve been here before and know that you go through hard things to get better, stronger, and more resilient. Or so, I have been made to believe. I think it is true, but it hurts. And it’s hard. And I’m tired.

One of my growing pains stems from my career. For a couple years now, I have felt I have been searching for meaning and growth in my professional journey. I left a job I loved because it was time to spread my wings, and honestly, I’ve had my wings clipped more than once since then. I also know that it is easy to look back on those days with wistful nostalgia, but during that time, especially towards the end, the growth began there too, and it was also painful.  You see, for me, my career is beyond simply a job or something I do. It is my calling, my only love for now, the yearning for my soul, and my purpose. This is a lot to put into a job. But it is more than a job to me, and for a single, sometimes, failing at other parts of adulting, gal, this calling is the love of my life. To serve others, to speak for the voiceless, to bring about real change with the work I do, even if I’m one piece of the puzzle, is so important. And not to mention, success and competence at work, growing in my career – these things give me great personal satisfaction and fuels my worth. Maybe this isn’t healthy, maybe it is selfish (the last part), but it is me. There are many reasons why this so that I have explored with a therapist in the past, but it’s still me nonetheless.

And so, here I am in this career crisis. Nowhere near a beginner, but not quite sure if I’m a mid level professional, and feeling like a fish out of water lately. Feeling both plagued with incompetence and competence, a little too young, a little too old, and a lot lonely, I ask myself lots of questions here. And I’m sure these questions are beyond just my career. What is next? Where do I go? How do I go? Am I doing the right things? Do I make an impact? Do I do enough? Am I enough?

Am I enough?

AM I?

A thought that has never been absent in a growing period. A thought that haunts me all the time. A thought that can be both empowering and crippling. How does one ever measure up to enough? How do measure up to enough? And then comes another question that I have grappled with day in and out – am I too much? Are my flaws, my quirks, my voice, my being – too much? Is it me?

A long,soft sigh usually escapes my mouth at that point. These are the sharp pangs of a transformative experience. Other things include questioning your purpose, redefining and questioning relationships with friends and family, feeling hopeless at times, feeling joyous others, a roller coaster really, and really not wanting anyone to know or burden anyone. It means your quiet, but ever presents traumas, get louder to remind you that they too, are part of the process. Transformation means sometimes burrowing yourself into the cocoon of exploration, until you blossom into the butterfly of manifestation. It’s quite a beautiful, and yet, sobering process.

But with every growing pain, comes growth. And I have to remind myself constantly of what growth means, the benefits to be reaped. Increased self-confidence, opportunity, renewed energy, love, hope, and wisdom. You gain insight and will. You also often gain weight, but everything comes at a price. 🙂

I have no idea where this transformation will lead me, what brilliant colors will be displayed on my wings as battle scars, or what I will become. However, I’m comforted by an old saying, “just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly and flew.”

A Magical Holiday in NYC Bucket List – 2017 Edition

Anyone who knows me, knows about my slight (in the most gigantic of terms) obsession with the holidays. I have already started binge watching Hallmark Christmas love movies this year enough so that I’m seeing reruns and it’s not even Turkey day yet. I’ve been known to call myself an elf, and argue with people who try to tell me Santa isn’t real. The change of the weather to brisk, cold nights, fills my heart with joy and warmth. My home is usually decked out by 8 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving with Christmas joy and love.

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But this year, instead of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”, all I can hear in my head is “what do the lonely do at Christmas (the most depressing and hated Christmas song in my repository)?” I’m seriously missing living closer to my friends and family. Even though I’ve been away from home for 5 years now in other states, this is the first time I’m not surrounded by my framily (friends that are like family, that it is not a typo), to bestow my Christmas joy on before traveling to NC closer to Christmas day. And I’m kind of tired of missing all the celebrations.  I’ve considered not making myself a Thanksgiving meal or even putting up a tree this year, and for me, that is blasphemy. I want to, but holidays aren’t the same when there’s no one to share your Christmas joy with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a little lonely lately.

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However, this is my FAVORITE time of year and I just can’t turn scrooge. And NYC, in all of its grandeur and magic, becomes even more magical in the winter and holiday months, so I can’t waste this season. No bah-humbug here folks, nope!

So, I’ve come with a 2017 NYC Holiday Bucket list. I was inspired by one of my beloved Hallmark movies where this woman goes to a small town and creates a bucket list for her and her asshole boyfriend. Of course she falls in love with her childhood prom date or something and they kissed in the snow. I can’t predict that part, but I totally can the other things!! So I’ve created my own list and I am excited to share my journey with you all in this blog! So here goes in no particular order…

Holiday Bucket List

  • Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller
  • Ice Skating
  • Going to all major department stores and looking at window displays
  • Ugly sweater cookie decorating
  • Create a holiday cocktail
  • Try a new cookie recipe
  • Do something kind to help a family/person with the holidays
  • Gift something to a stranger
  • Dress up in holiday cheer
  • Make a Gingerbread House with a new friend

I am really, really excited and feel this will make my Christmas heart grow 10 times its size, so watch out Grinch!!!

I want to invite you all to try a couple, all or make up your own list. And share in the comments. I love talking to you all, but you don’t talk to me!! Let’s all have some holiday cheer.

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I am Not My Hair or My Edges

I love being Black. I love being Woman. The two together make me feel strong and powerful AF, and I feel great joy and pride to think about my ancestors and who they may be and what they fought for. I feel a strong sense of connection to other Black people, giving a nod, or smile as if I belong to a secret society of magical melanin. I  love all people, but I love my people in a unique way. We are a people of triumph. And black women, well, we come in shades, sizes, and shapes of wonder. We have learned to celebrate our beauty.

Well, kind of.

Like any group of people on this planet, we have adopted some oppressive beauty standards and use those to ostracize others, and promote unrealistic and unhealthy ideals of beauty. Two of these include hair and ass. Both of which I personally struggle with.

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This is an extremely difficult meme, as funny as it may be to some, because honestly, these both are hard for me, and one time, this may have made me feel depressed for days.

Today, I will discuss hair, in particular, edges.. Edges seem to be the holy grail of beauty in our community or the foundation of endless humiliation. For those of you not familiar with this seemingly very important issue, it is when you don’t have much hair or have some loss of fullness around your temple, sometimes even a little further back, often due to tight braids or hairstyles (especially when young), but also due to, and often complicated by, nutritional issues, genetics, medications, and stress. This can result in alopecia, specifically traction alopecia, but also often in combination with other types, if any of the factors are involved. You scalp may easily scar and this can kill the follicle, making it difficult for hair to regrow. Some women can do whatever they want to their hair and never experience hair loss, and some may have one hair style, med, or accident, that causes this to happen. Many times, it isn’t our fault, or we didn’t know better, or a well meaning hair stylist, over relaxed, too tightly braided, or over-styled our hair. And we all know how hard it is to sometimes correct a hair stylist, especially if you’re shy like me (I tend to just go home and cry when I hate my hair lol).

It’s not a fun thing to have. Trust me, I know. I have some hair loss in my temples. Additionally, if my hair does not remain braided or put up, I begin to lose hair in the middle of my head. I have been ashamed since day 1, when it started happening around ages 10-12. I wore styles to hide it (making it worse over time), I used sprays to make my edges look fuller, I cried every time I thought about it. Every blog, every joke, every rant about edges made me feel like a personal failure. Like I should have known better, prevented it, etc. I wouldn’t (still won’t) go to new hair stylists for fear of being judged (I had a wonderful stylist once in Charlotte who was so kind and actually helped stop future hair loss and now designs wigs for me). I would be scared to show my friends my hair. I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror. And even though I realized there was treatment for this, I did not seek treatment until 4 months ago, because of the intense amount of shame I carried about my temples.

Why was I so ashamed? Well, men (who are going bald, which is baffling to me) would make jokes and comments on the web. Stylists put things about hair loss and who they won’t serve on their website. Websites talk about how Black women are losing their hair and edges because of their vanity. Everyone has a topical solution or a vitamin that will restore your hair, and every time it fails, you feel like you fail. And well, a quick Google search  shows the feelings about hair loss in our community, as we joke about anyone struggling with this.

 

These seem funny… I have laughed to hide my pain when these are posted or people joke, and I’ve learned to not take them so seriously, but they are emotionally damaging to many people.

One thing that really gets to me is the way other Black women talk about one another in this situation. We tear each other down about it. We humiliate one another. We act like this is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a person. It also seems that Black women are made to feel that this is wholly our own doing and we are failures because of it. What’s interesting, is when other women of different races have hair loss, there is a different take on hair loss. It seems to me that it is looked at as more of a medical issue; something to get treatment for, embarrassing, maybe, but not a telltale sign of your worth. I am guessing this stems from the complicated relationship Black women with have hair, which I believe pre-dates me and results from historical racial trauma and many years of internalized oppression. We have come to see our worth in physical terms and beauty as very one dimensional. Along with hair, comes the natural versus relaxed, weave versus non weave, the right way to be natural versus the not right way to be natural. I’ve been judged by all of these things – not natural enough, wearing wigs, too kinky of hair, all while dealing with this shame – it is difficult to be a woman.

As I mentioned, 4 months ago, I ventured for the first time to see a dermatologist after trying every remedy ever; a beautiful, smart black woman doctor, who had excellent reviews. And I muttered those words that I have been scared to tell anyone, “I have hair loss.” She took a look and I wasn’t sure what I thought she’d say, but prepared myself for a lecture as I’d received from so many other women. Instead she was the most reassuring human being I had ever met about this. She was compassionate, she didn’t blame me, and she didn’t make it seem like a big deal.  I was so ashamed I didn’t even once consider this as a medical condition, that would be covered by insurance. She assured me that it was, and that this was as real of a medical condition as any condition. She made me believe I deserved treatment. I didn’t realize that up until then, I truly believed I didn’t deserve treatment for my hair loss. It was another thing that I used to validate the idea that I wasn’t worthy or good enough. And so, I began injections, the standard treatment for alopecia of all sorts. The rest of my hair is luckily a big full kinky afro (mainly because I keep it braided – like I said, I lose my hair in the center of my hair easily), but I know that is just luck. It’s early, but the prognosis of my hair recovery is good, but slow, and I can see a little improvement. Had I not let my shame stop me, I might could have had better results faster.

Many women, especially Black women, probably know how hard it is to write a post this vulnerable and transparent about hair. I’m putting myself at huge risk of being ostracized and criticized. Maybe my future boyfriend will read this and decide to not be my future boyfriend. But I want others to know that those seemingly harmless and “funny to you” jokes might be hurting someone. It may be reminding them that they are not worthy for yet another reason. It may be reinforcing stereotypes of beauty. Also, really, is losing your hair the worst thing that can happen to you? I mean why is that even a thing? Men get to go bald and look debonair or distinguished (I admit to loving me a bald man). Wigs and extensions exist for a reason (for both fun and functional reasons – which I use them for both and probably always will, I don’t care what you think about me). For heaven’s sake it is JUST HAIR.

There is an amazing online website for women with hair loss. I don’t ever comment (yet, anyway), but listening to women – both in treatment and others just accepting it and rocking their hair bald or with extensions and wigs – has been eye opening for me. I remember one woman saying, after many failed treatments, said something like “fuck it, it’s not that serious, I’m just going to rock my fabulous wigs, because I am still beautiful. Life goes on. This isn’t the most important thing in life.”

Her stance is what I’m coming to adopt and accept in my life.  Do you think my courageous ancestors that walk with me are concerned about my edges as part of my life purpose? Do you think Harriet Tubman worried about her edges while trying to free slaves? I think not. She had a purpose to fulfill, a great life to live, people to help. And no one ever doubted her impact on the world. People write about her heart, her bravery, her convictions, but never her hair. And I’m sure men and women fell in love with her soul. And I’d rather have a full soul, than full edges. And maybe I can have both. And if not, that’s ok too.

So please, stop shaming other women about a medical condition. We’re all beautiful. Edges or not.

 

 

Sometimes, I Get Lonely: Tales of a Often Displaced, Quirky, Afrocentric, and Highly Sensitive Black Girl

“You know,” I was telling a friend one day, “I love that my life is full of adventure, I’m full of passion, and am trying to dedicate my life to serving others, but sometimes, it gets lonely.”

And it does. Not everyday or even most days, and then there are times that it stretches for weeks, and then for months, you’re fulfilled and content.

I have moved to three different cities in the past 5 years. I’m chasing my dreams. I’m doing my best to make my life about service to others. I work in a field that although emotionally taxing, is also so incredibly emotionally rewarding. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a flat out “boss” yet, but I’m certainly a boss in training. I’m capable of hard things, and have done hard things. But this journey is often lonely for so many reasons. I’m going to attempt to explain how an often physically displaced, very quirky, somewhat Afrocentric, and most definitely Highly Sensitive (HSP), Black girl, feels loneliness on the worst days.

9 a.m. You come into your mostly white, but progressive office, everyday, smile on your face, colorful outfit, and feeling perky, despite or in spite of reading about another brown or black person killed, ridiculed, shamed, scared, or written off, and ready to joke and connect (#blackjoy). You live alone. You get in your head a lot. You are an introvert, most of the time, but an outgoing one, and you crave genuine, authentic connection. People seem to laugh, but you also get the feeling that they are somewhat tolerating you. They have work to do, and you’re a bit over the top. It’s probably nothing, and most certainly nothing to take personally, but you have known connection even at the worst jobs, and so your spirits are a little crushed.

9:30 a.m. You read about another incident. You wonder why no one cares to comment on the offenses of black and brown bodies, particularly women bodies. You wonder why no one asks if you are ok, how are you seeing this, do you ever get scared? You know that isn’t normal, so you share. It is your personal duty you feel to share and bring others to awareness. You’re disappointed in lackluster responses. But you know that it matters, and you have to make it matter, because you need to feel as though you  matter. You cry a little on the inside, but pour yourself into some work, framing your work in a way that can help make them matter. And you’re reminded painfully, like all good work likely, it isn’t done all altruistically, it is done to prove that you deserve to be here. You bring value. And others can see that. You’re not sure if you’re achieving any of these goals. You wish you could process with someone. You’re not sure if you can any time soon. You feel a little more alone, as you do what you have always done, been the brown/black body that shares injustices against other brown/black bodies.

12 p.m. Lunch! If you didn’t bring your lunch, maybe you can go with someone else. It’s lighthearted, it’s fun; you’re that weird girl who enjoys eating lunch with others at work and gabbing. Once you know them of course. Otherwise, it is awkward and you evade it. But once you’re over the fear everyone will hate you and your own awkwardness, you really enjoy it. If not, you realize that most people in this big lonely city, eat lunch on weekdays alone or at their desk.

2 p.m. You are sent the funniest meme about black culture, or something very upsetting about oppression. You want to share with others and they laugh or cry too. Wait, they won’t get it. You keep it to yourself. Or you share and are met with blank stares and little giggles.

2:15 Someone shares a meme or joke or song  or actor that you literally have never heard of. Everyone laughs or gets excited. You feel very out of the loop and a bit ostracized, as everyone stares at you like, “You’ve NEVER heard of that? Like how? Where have you been living???” “Well, in African American neighborhoods and in low income areas for most of my child hood, with parents who primarily exposed me to Black culture, and now in Harlem, where I can go into a bar and they only play Black music, sooooo…” is what you want to say. But you don’t, so others feels comfortable. Sometimes you say, “well, I’m Black” and people nervously laugh. Which you hate making people uncomfortable as you also feel uncomfortable, so you try to save that for when you passionately debating why we don’t know enough for marginalized communities. You also don’t want to make a joke of a very sacred identity of yours with people who may not fully appreciate it.

5:00 pm: Time to go home. You love the safety of those exposed brick walls and laminate wooden floors. And then those are those days, when you wish you were going home to a human. Someone who can talk to you and rub your feet. Go out to dinner or have dinner with. Have minor fights over who did the dishes. Laugh. Try online dating they say. And you do, and it fails. Or you do other things to date. And people tell you to keep trying, but does everyone ever think about how dating is profoundly different for the Black woman? Especially the Black womanist or feminist. Darling. It is. You decide between going out to dinner and happy hour or going home. Going out means conversation in this big, lonely island and chatting with bartenders, drunk girls at the bars, cute guys, or married men and women, having a tiny break before heading into their family role. It also represents the transient and temporary moments of false connections. You could go home and watch tv, read and escape, cook a great meal, and then go to bed super early, because who could you talk to? Meet ups are also an option. Exhausting but sometimes worth it for those moments of laughter.

7:00 p.m. Ignore all phone calls from friends and family. You have zero energy to be ok and supportive for everyone else. You’re tired, emotionally. Everyone seems to want a piece of the “you” pie. That pie has been eaten up or gone bad. Feel incredibly guilty and awful for doing it. Do it anyway.

9:30 Bedtime. You reflect, maybe ruminate on each moment that day. You read about more hurt and pain the world. You feel calm for a moment. You reflect on what you are grateful for. You swipe and pin. You fall asleep and if you’re lucky, dream of fantastic days ahead; if you’re not so lucky your nightmares of health scares, rejection, exes, trauma, and failure creep in.

This is what it sometimes feels like to be displaced – a wanderer, adventure seeker, always wanting more and looking for meaning with a willingness to follow it wherever it is, in any city or land (almost), quirky – a little offbeat, generally positive, and zesty, Afrocentric – caring deeply about my people, wanting justice and equity for all, feeling a sense of deep connection to those around the world, highly sensitive – taking on the emotions of others, unable to sometimes filter my feelings from others, taking things personally, and hypersensitive to those around me. Don’t pity me. Trust me, this isn’t my every day state of being. My posts can be dark at times, but overall, I love my life and am happy. But this is the vulnerable part of me, reaching out to my sisters and brothers who have ever felt that it is a tough job to balance these roles.

 

Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash

A Message to the Vocal and Silent “Me Toos” Out There

*trigger warning. This poem is about sexual assault. Please seek out help if needed. Please contact RAINN at 800.656.HOPE (4673) if you’ve been a victim of sexual assault. If you are experiencing a crisis, you may also contact 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them on their website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/*

Dear “Me Too,”
Whether you said it out loud and proud
To show the world your survivor status and
Validate your suffering,
Like a tattoo carefully selected
As your own personal memorial of hope.
Whether it was with hesitation,
Softly wondering if your perpetrator
May be hiding behind a profile,
Much more likely than hiding behind a bush,
But your soul needed the community,
The space,
To say
To have recognized
Your “Me Too.”

Whether you wrote it angrily,
Fires burning in your fingertips.
Angry for missed opportunities,
Angry for missed connections,
Angry for violations against what was never theirs to take;
“Nos” that were laughed at,
Blood that was shed at someone else’s hands
For you to clean –
Alone.
Things stolen from you,
In the middle of a good time or night out,
In the safety of your home,
Before you wear old enough to even understand,
The value of what was stolen
Was more precious and more far-reaching than
You could ever know.
When you only knew how to trust;
And repetitive breaches of that innocent trust,
Left you full of dirty and confusing shame.

Whether you wrote it softly,
Like a dull pencil,
Lightly tracing past hurts,
Or etching them into a computer screen
A faded memory;
That you choose not to make any bolder
Than a simple “me too.”

Whether you choose not to proclaim it all –
Unsure if your pain is real,
Still trying to find the strength to justify,
That you too were a victim;
That you were innocent
And instead are carrying the weight
Of the heavy shovel,
Digging yourself out of the infinite
Pile of mud and filth
Composed your misplaced and decaying
Self-loathing and shame.
Or that perhaps you kept silent,
Because those who have transgressed against you,
Still hold some shackles
To your existence,
Shackles of
Threats,
Fear
Anxiety
Violence –
And so to boldly, quietly, softly, or for others
Say “me too” could put you further at risk,
But you feel deeply connected
Inter-webbed
Bound
And so profoundly linked
To the women who are able to say “me too,”
That you continue to browse,
To feel the “me too” radiating from others,
That you can silently claim as your own.

To all of you “me too’s”–
I say to you, “me too.”
I say to us, “thank you”
Thank you for existing,
Even when existing feels like 100 small needles
Pricking your skin,
Never ending,
Always there.

Thank you for our courage
Our cracks,
That we sometimes see as brokenness,
That really showcase
Our humanity and ability to withstand pressure,
And still be works of beautiful art
In spite of, or perhaps because of our pain;
Our vulnerability,
For every silent, loud, quiet, introspective, outward cry of
“Me Too”
Is a testament to our ability
To try one more time for
Connection
Love
Trust
Healing.
Our tired, yet persistent
Voyages to contribute to a world,
That was so cruel to us,
But believe in magic,
Even on days
When we aren’t sure “magic” and “healing” are code for anything
More than a false promise to attempt a satiety
For something that was never meant to be a hunger.

Thank you.
Thank you for being in this world.
My hand outstretches to yours,
With no promises of complete restoration,
But with a promise of connection.
“Me Too.”

Being Diagnosed with Diabetes Made Me Feel Like a Failure

My name is Lee and I have diabetes. I was diagnosed 1 day before my 30th birthday, after spending the last 6 years trying to so hard to evade, what feels like to me, a death sentence. My mom has diabetes. My dad has diabetes. Many of my aunts and uncles do. One of my grandmothers did too. There are likely undiagnosed folks in my family who never go to the doctor. The genetic marker is pretty strong and perversave in my family. And yet, getting this diagnosis left me with feelings of extreme guilt, failure, and self loathing. I was literally disgusted with myself and still struggle with these feelings, although with food, being more active, and small dosage of meds, have managed to get my numbers into normal ranges for non diabetics. And I feel the need to explain all of that to you, so you don’t think I’m a failure or disgusting too. Which disgusts me even more. I am overweight. I have been for awhile. I haven’t been in what doctors describe as normal weight ranges for my height since I was 17 or 18. I have lost weight, but losing weight is difficult for me. I am pretty active, I eat well 65-75% of the time, and so simply changing those things, without dramatic changes, makes it harder for me to tip the scale. I could definitely do better (oh shit, there goes my self loathing trying to explain to you so you don’t judge me). To lose weight, I need to dramatically change my diet, workout sooo much, and I have done this a couple times… And passed out or almost passed out a couple times. My doctor at the time, who has been my favorite doctor ever, and the first to ever tell me this, told me that maybe my body was happy at then 191 lbs (after passing out and injuring my knee, which meant less intense exercise & fighting depression/anxiety, I put on 20 lbs and was devastated, so I went to see her) and that I should learn to accept me. Maybe for once in my life not think about food or dieting. At that time, I did not have diabetes. I was pre-diabetic, 5 years earlier, but had completely turned that shit around. I was stunned at her suggestion, every doctor before her had treated me as a walking case of disease. I wasn’t sure what to do with that info and to be honest, was still completely scared of gaining weight and diabetes. Fast forward to a move to Wisconsin 1.5 years later, and I’m sitting in a doctor’s office hearing that my A1C is just barely over the marker at 6.6 and I’m diabetic. I felt the warm rush of shame over me and felt the heaviness and largeness of my belly, the jiggle of my arms, and the enormity of what I must do to overcome this. I was exhausted. The doctor was amazing. She was reassuring. And so kind. But I was just so mad at myself. Let’s stop here. Maybe you’re struggling to understand why this had such an impact on me. So I’m going to explain. “Diabetes” is a marker for the overweight woman who tries to love herself. It’s ok to love yourself, so long as you’re healthy, and also let’s not forget that weight automatically makes you unhealthy in everyone’s eyes. Doctors have spent many an appointment blaming any illness you have on weight. I also watched my mother’s struggles with weight and diabetes. How I was afraid I would lose her so many times. How she was mistreated and abused, and I vowed to never be that way whether it was consciously or not. And here I am, diabetic and a bit overweight, and with a touch of self loathing. Despite all my efforts – being strong physically and mentally, that I do workout, I walk everywhere, that I can keep my numbers under control – that all people will see is a failure who got diabetes. Similarly, how people blame people for having certain mental illnesses, I see people doing that with Diabetes, especially type 2, and I have internalized these messages. I’m not proud. But it helps me understand where these feelings come from and deal with them. Wanna know something heartbreaking? If you Google depression or shame and diabetes, you will find tons of articles and support groups about these two co-occurring diagnoses. When I first was diagnosed I searched for this support. I needed to know I was not alone. And so many people carry the shame of the diagnosis. We know when people ask “type 1 or 2” they are sizing us up to see if it was our fault or not. People live in secrecy and tell no one (one of my tactics) for fear of judgement. And then if you already struggle with body image and/or weight loss, there is an additional complexity in that relationship. The added pressure of judging every bite into your mouth adds an additional element of self deprecation. Every person who loses weight and you cannot seem to budge the scale adds another layer of shame. Every fat shamer on body positive websites who states you are promoting obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And I can see why people give up altogether on managing it; this is exhausting. I, myself, have not stepped into a gym in 2 weeks. Sure, I’m still averaging 3-4 miles of walking each day, lifting heavy things, went to a kickboxing class, running, and my blood sugar levels are doing great. Fall is here, so my running season is about to pick up. But I am feeling the shame. Everyone around me seems to be dropping pounds and everyone celebrates that. But losing weight is increasingly becoming harder for me. No one is gonna celebrate that “hey, I’ve not lost a pound, despite lots of attempts, but my blood sugar levels are normal and I’m healthy, despite being my heaviest!” Someone, somewhere will try to give me weight loss tips, further reinforcing my fear that is what is important, reminding me of failure. But perhaps, someone somewhere, will also be inspired. And begin to come to grips with that you can truly be healthy at any size. And larger bodies can run and move and play. And even if you do get a disease, it doesn’t mean it is your fault, and you may manage it wonderfully, and still have a larger body. And that’s ok. Cause that is where I hope I’m headed. And so for that reason I say, “hey, I’ve not lost a pound, despite lots of attempts, but my blood sugar levels are normal and I’m healthy, despite being my heaviest!”