Actually I want to broaden this to include people with chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental illness etc. All of us who are not normal.
Many of us have lots of problems. I'll use myself as an example.
I have been a chronic lifelong insomniac.
When I say chronic and lifelong understand that my sleep problems began in childhood and have been with me since.
Now, in these long (let's be generous) 30 years, when I say that I'm tired a lot of things happen. Perfectly nice people who believe that their own experience of not being able to sleep every now and then is analogous to my experience want to fix me and make me okay or as normal as they are.
One of the things that comes up over and over again is people telling me how much more exercise I need.
At one point I took that advice whole heartedly. I did what we'll call Soul Killing Exercise (which led to a problem I'll discuss another time) and what a lot of people could equate to things like that Insanity work out.
I did it religiously.
At one point as I was trying to unfuck my insomnia I was working out about 4 hours a day.
Add in that when I started I was fat and of course lost some weight people gave me lots of pats on the back. Despite numerous doctor visits and my own concern, no one told me to lay off.
And then shit happened. My insomnia got so bad I was hospitalized at one point. Someone on the street took me to an emergency room because I was wandering around not knowing where I was and hallucinating.
After I got out of the hospital and talked to my regular doctor, she was no help.
What I learned then and am experiencing to a degree now is that exercise after a certain point ramps up my insomnia to ridiculous levels. Beyond the other physical problems that were exacerbated, that was the worst. It got the point I was barely able to function.
When I tell people that, rather than backing off or giving me space to deal with myself they say, well did you try yoga/running/biking/hiking/waking up extra early to exercise etc.
Therein is the problem.
If in your eagerness to fix someone you don't take five seconds to shut your mouth and listen to them, you are being a jerk.
It's the same if someone tells you they are on medication for depression and you tell them to exercise/pray/drink unicorn pee because it totally cured you when you were down in the dumps, you are being a jerk.
Illnesses whether they are chronic, disabilities, mental etc are not the same for everyone. And if you felt shitty for a day, that is not the same as debilitating depression. If your back hurt for a while after you moved a couch, that is not the same as someone who has severe back problems.
Not all things are equal.
Not all bodies experience the same things the same way.
And most importantly, if someone has been dealing with something for a long time such as my insomnia, there is probably nothing you can say that we haven't already heard or tried.
Stop doing that.
Don't do that when it come to weight and health because frankly, like with any other issue with the body you don't know the whole story even if you shared a womb with someone.
This is a problem that cuts across everything.
People who want to believe that they are better equipped to live in my body than I am.
It doesn't matter if I'm talking about fat, racism, my insomnia, my other health problems.
I feel like it again comes around to this.
If after someone declines your advice, says that X thing does nothing for them and you stop what you're doing and listen to them you are on the right track.
If you keep insisting YOU HAVE THE MAGIC SOLUTION, you need to examine your motivations.
What I've found in my life is that deep down at the root of all of these things is a single problem.
If I am too different from you (the big you here, collectively) than it somehow makes your life less or my life less.
If someone can be fat and okay it must be a delusion if you can't be fat and okay.
If someone can't sleep and you can sleep, it must be trickery.
If someone is too depressed to rely on exercise for relief than, they are just weird and abnormal right?
Here's the thing.
Diversity doesn't make your life and experience anything less or more.
You can live in your body and maybe learn that you don't have to ascribe to common ideas like fat is awful. You can live in your body and if you can't sleep do some yoga, drink some tea and be okay. That's okay.
It's okay and perfectly natural that not all of our bodies are well oiled machines that function perfectly with a certain diet or way of living.
Much as it would pain the diet industry and every other money grubbing so called "health" guru, there is no one magic answer to anything.
Especially when it comes to our health there are so many things that factor into it, no two people are ever going experience the same things. Stuff that can intersect with our health:
- Economic situation
- Work schedule
- Have you had babies out of your body?
- Random crazyness that the human body can engage in without rhyme or reason.
- Comfort levels
- Food preferences
etc etc etc.
If people are serious about the health of other people, they need to understand that the whole story of another human beings health is not written on their flesh.
Think about all the storied super healthy people who do things like die. They too can get cancer, they too can have health problems run in their families. Some of them will outlive all the rest of us because a lot of them have what many of us don't, money.
Think about the impact of things (and per usual I'm not doing your research for you) like simple basic health care.
I'm not talking about specialties etc. Just basic health care. For those with vaginas and/or breasts things like mammograms and papsmears.
What if, it was more shocking and more news worthy that doctors will refuse certain patients care regardless of what insurance they have, than it is that some people show up in emergency rooms with stage 4 cancer.
Why do we absolve the health care industry of responsibility about that? Why do we put the onus and blame on the person who can't afford or doesn't have access to the kind of care that might catch cancer before it becomes deadly?
Why do so many people just want to rail about all of us evil terrible fat people without thinking about the larger problems in our lives?
Why is it when people "confront" me about my fatness, they never ask me shit about my actual health? As I've pointed out before, no stranger ever walks up to me and asks me if I'm pooping regularly. No one walks up to me and asks if I've had a pap smear lately. No one ever asks me the intimate details about my period and yet they are comfortable telling me U GONNA DIE FATASS.
How is it that in spite of the numerous times I have asked openly and honestly for someone to explain this to me rationally without using ad hominem attacks or assume I'm about to drop dead of any number of obesity correlated illnesses, no one has EVER in the history of my blog taken me up on it?
If you are among the many who focuses all your "concern" at fat people, why can't you answer these questions rationally?
Here at the end, this is the ass end of the behavior I discussed above. Granted, when people are genuinely expressing care and concern to me it is easier to forgive their clumsy way of doing it.
If you do in fact care, learn to listen. Understand that maybe all the help the person you want to fix needs is some commiseration, a hug, a "shit that sounds awful is there anything I can do to help?"
It's really that easy.
So again I put it to you internet experts.
Tell me again, in rational terms why you don't seem to care about any other aspect of my personal health than my weight?