Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lipoedema and me

Finding out you have lipoedema can stir up all kinds of emotions. Some people find it extremely upsetting, like a life sentence, because it means there's sod all they can do about their weight. They feel as if they've been doomed to the life of a fatty, instead of clinging on to the false hope of Being Slim Again One Day, as offered by organisations like Weight Watchers and Slimming World.

Others see things differently.

I just found it incredibly liberating.

Now I don't have to go around beating myself up (mentally) for not doing as much as I can to lose weight all day every day, or worry about why I'm not losing weight, or putting my life on hold "until I've lost some weight", or putting up with people using phrases like "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips" or "no I can't possibly have that cookie, it goes straight to my thighs".

Knowing that I have lipoedema, and that THAT'S the cause of my shape and weight from childhood, I just feel like okay, well, now I don't have to angst about my weight so much. Instead I can focus on working on making it strong and healthy. Not to lose weight, although that's a welcome side effect, but in order to feel good about myself and get more energy.

I'm stuck in this body for the rest of this life, so I may as well try to enjoy it instead of wishing it was something else which it never was and is never going to be. Of course the pain is still there, that's not going away (sadly), and the difficulty in finding clothes that fit and so on, but still.

If someone was to call me a fatty now in a derogatory way, instead of being mortified and go home and cry about it, now I feel like if that was to happen, I'd tell the person in question to shove off, I have a medical condition which is at least in part genetic and fuck all I can do anything about, and whether I happen to enjoy an ice cream in the sweltering heat or not isn't going to change things, so STFU.

When I was growing up I was about 10 kg overweight, and that meant I was basically "the fat one" in my class, and my parents were concerned because they had "a fat kid". If I had been diagnosed with lipoedema at the time, how different would my outlook on life have been? (Putting aside the fact that I could've got treatment options to prevent it from progressing past stage one ...) As in, looking back on it, at the time I wasn't actually 10 kg overweight - I was a pretty normal child/teenager weight-wise but who had LIPOEDEMA, which caused that extra weight. Weight that, just like now, was around my thighs and upper arms.

Nowadays, sure, I've gained weight so that I'm now more like 50 kg heavier than I "should" be, and all that can't be blamed on lipoedema. I acknowledge that, and accept that I'm at least partially responsible for my current weight, but instead of focusing on "OMG when I THOUGHT I was fat, I weighed 40 kg less than I do now! o.O" I can focus on taking care of my body, and instead of seeing my body as a constant enemy and reminder of my failures as a person, my body can be an ally and a friend, because we're in this together.

Realising I have lipoedema has probably helped my self-confidence more than seeing a therapist did. Seeing a therapist was good because it helped getting my anxiety in check, but he wasn't necessarily the best when it came to understanding what being fat feels like, because he's never had to worry about whether a chair is going to break if you sit on it, or never had to deal with feeling judged because you happen to be eating (and eating something other than a fruit or a salad) in public, or that you might be more qualified than someone else for a job but be rejected because they don't like your fat body.

But yeah, finding out about lipoedema has been great. It answered so many questions, like "why are my upper arms so fricken pain sensitive?!" which is not something I would go to the doctors with, because c'mon, it's not a medical emergency, and neither is "my legs tend to hurt at night, which I've had for as long as I can remember" (and which was previously dismissed as "growing pains"), and the need to pee when I've been lying down for a few minutes, and so on. Now it would just be nice to have a doctor write down the diagnosis on a piece of paper as well. Shame that it's a condition most of them are unaware of, despite it affecting around 11% of the female population.