My unconventional psychological complication of losing weight.
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
Losing weight is usually always perceived as being a very good thing in general society, and many times it is depending on the person and their individual situation; however, for someone like me who struggles with the comorbid affliction of body dysmorphia in tandem with severe social anxiety disorder, something normally regarded as a major accomplishment like losing weight can actually turn out to be a daunting psychological challenge that I have to learn to overcome and adapt to. I'll explain.
I have been overweight, big, obese, thick, plus size, fat nearly all my life. I was never well liked because of my large size, but I accepted it as a "it is what it is" type situation and went on about my life learning how to love myself from the inside out and instill the idea that my worth doesn't depend on the size of my body. That all changed in 2006 when my doctor at the time prescribed me a medication to help ease my chronic symptoms due to ADHD/OCD disorders that ultimately caused me to lose over 97lbs over the course of about a year; dropping my clothing size from a plus size 24, to an average size 6 (remember I am only 5'0" so yes a 6 is average for someone of my height) completely changing my outward image and appearance and thus, drastically changing how people treated me on a daily basis.
At first, I thought the same as everyone else. I was so incredibly proud because I thought this was going to be a cure all for my body image mental problems, but just as I was optimistically anticipating all the positives that were supposed to come with my new look on life, a very unexpected psychological conflict hit me instead.
The sudden realization of how much better people were treating me solely based off my new smaller size---this realization didn't make me excited---it broke my heart and nearly killed my faith in humanity.
Over time, this social conflict sent me into a downward spiral and I began to lose part of my love for humanity, as well as, my "my body size doesn't dictate my worth" mentality. And it wasn't just straight men that treated me differently....it was EVERYONE. I went from being somewhat invisible to day in and day out to getting so much random attention that I would become overwhelmed and began to self-isolate. Before, I was at a kind of odd contentment with accepting the three or so people in my life that never changed towards me regardless of my looks. Those few gifts that I never had to question or doubt their affections or motives of wanting to be around me. As a newly "thin" person, I did because the change was that significant. Worst part? I had no one to turn to.
This was a conflict I never expected to endure. In all honesty, this was not a common problem people think of happening when you lose weight, but for me, it was. I never expected to feel depressed because of something that is typically perceived as being a very good thing. The problem for me was that being treated in a more positive manner after losing the weight led me to start believing that I was only worthy of kindness and attention as long as I was a size that was aesthetically appealing and acceptable to the masses. This thought process left me to become suspicious of new people I would meet and bitter towards those who had known me before this major physical change since they too, would treat me differently.
I ultimately ended up sacrificing my thinner image in 2008 when I became pregnant with my daughter, and gained back all 97lbs of the weight I had previously lost when I was taken off that medication, but like before, it was easy for me to accept and adapt back to being somewhat "invisible" because I wasn't conflicted about people's motives. If they were kind to me, it was because I knew they were a kind person in general. My big size had no part in it, but when I was thinner, I was constantly asking myself, "would this person even be talking to me if I were fat?", "would that guy had given me his phone number if I was the 220 pound girl I used to be?", and these were the kind of questions I silently imposed onto everyone that passed my way regardless of gender, race ,religion, culture or creed.
Now you might be asking why is that experience from 10 years ago relevant to today?
Well, I've begun to take those same steps as before, only now, it's for a different reason, but naturally, I am concerned that I will fall victim to the same bitterness towards the social change like I did before. Obsessing over people's motives of wanting to be around me and such and beating my head with suspicious questions of, "Don't people realize that regardless of the physical size of my body, I am still the same person?' "Am I actually deemed more worthy of a person on a social basis because of how my body looks?"..... Ahhhh!!!! --I don't want to go through all that again so what do I do? How do I prevent myself from hating people for liking me more as a thinner girl verses when I am fat? I don't feel this is a question that is common with people at all. I may actually have to look into getting with a therapist in order to help me transition from one identity to the other. This is why body dysmorphia is a psychological disorder, but I know in my heart, there is hope, no matter how strong fear may seem right now, I am damn determined to overcome that fear, and be a better person because of it.
Today was my first day back on the medication, and to be honest, these were the very first thoughts to pop in my head. Right now, I feel blessed to have people in my life that love me unconditionally, big belly and all, and I pray even with them, that they don't treat me any differently as my physical body begins to change. I know I need this medication in order to keep my life in balance in terms of my work and my home life, but I'm still nervous of the social changes. Luckily, being the optimist that I naturally am, I do have hope that what I have learned over the last 10 years and how I have grown as an individual will help to prevent and protect me from having the same unfortunate psychological conflict towards society as I did the last time.