Imagine you came across two people in a public place. One is neatly dressed while the other is smelly and dishevelled. Next to whom would you sit? Most of you would say the neat one because it is a human tendency to choose what looks good. But would you ever care to think why the other person is in such a condition? While looking for a seat, would you pause and look at the untidy person and wonder what went inside their mind and lives? Maybe not. Because we all are too busy to look into the struggles that other people face.
You might be wondering why I put you in such a situation. But, in my defence, I would say that the situation was necessary to explain what I am going to share with you. I am struggling with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It started when I used to freak out for just getting a cold and it was diagnosed when I was on the edge of losing myself. I started my medications in 2021 and each month since then has been worse. On one side, the number of tablets was increasing and on the other side, my body weight. I gained 20 kilos in just a year. While I was still trying to find a day without anxiety, suicide attempts and emptiness, fat-shaming came like a blow to my face.
Mental health and weight gain: Why Can’t People Look Beyond My Body?
You look like a buffalo, you are bulging like ginger, you look ugly, you look like pregnant aunty – such comments were thrown on my face as I started gaining weight. My friends and my family together fat-shamed me. I didn’t care about the fat-shaming as much as I did about the fact that they blamed my laziness for the weight gain. They shamed me for being a lazy person who just doesn’t want to do anything that is tough or requires hard work. Many times, I tried to explain to people that the reason behind my weight gain was not my laziness but my medicines and my illness. But the lack of understanding about mental health issues and the taboo around it either sewed my lips or blacked out the minds of others.
Why isn’t anyone able to see the struggle that I am facing inside? Why isn’t anyone appreciating me for trying to survive my illness that has taken the lives of many people? All my focus currently is on the fact that I don’t give in to my illness. That I don’t let the urge of ending my life overwhelm me and make my family miserable. To be true, I don’t find a purpose to stay alive except for the fact that I can’t be unfair to my family. Moreover, I can’t be selfish enough to ignore all the hard work I did to take a stand for a career in writing. If I fail, I will put a wrong example for people in my family who want to follow their passion.
But ignoring all of this, all that people around me are concerned about is that my clothes aren’t fitting me anymore. They want me to hit the gym, lose weight and look like a girl. But how should I explain to them that it is very difficult for me to put the effort in so many directions at once? How should I explain to them that I am still finding a reason to stay alive, let alone stay healthy? Only when I manage to wake up fresh and work consistently that I will be able to focus on staying healthy and thus staying alive for a long time. I need a reason to stay healthy and I am not able to find that.
So dear people who are reading this article, please do not judge people based on their looks. Looks are deceptive. They don’t manifest the truth that is hidden deep inside the heart. Especially in the case of mental health issues, do not discourage the sufferers by pointing out their weaknesses. They are looking for a reason to love themselves and try to be that reason. Appreciate them for waking up every day because even small things about living require ample effort when you just wanna sleep eternally. Believe me, we are going through a lot. And don’t mistake it as bragging because if we don’t express ourselves, silence will be the nail in our coffin.
Views expressed by author are their own
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