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How can I figure this all out?
October 12, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

My self esteem is at an all time low. I have a huge case of impostor syndrome. I feel like I half ass everything, this has got to stop, it's making my life miserable.

I have been trying to lose weight for ... 5 years now. It's not a lot of weight - it's like 20lbs. I was able to lose 10lbs once, by only eating 1200 Calories for 30 days. I gained it all back.

This past year I started getting active. I started working out and have been working out consistently. I actually enjoy working out. I now weigh more than I did when I first started working out and I don't look any better. Yes, sure, I have more muscle mass, but I also BARELY FIT INTO MY CLOTHES. And there's a lot of fat left. There's 20lbs to lose still. Trust me.

This battle with my weight, the yo-yo dieting, the binge eating, all of it, is making me super fucking sad. I think about food all day long. I worry about my weight all the time. ALL THE TIME. All day long I think about food and my weight and the fact that I look fat. It's making me insane. I feel like people won't want to be friends with me because of my weight. Granted I am only 20lbs overweight, and when I meet someone who has more to lose and they have a ton of friends I find it weird - that's where my head is at. It's messing with my life, this weight. It's messing with my head. I will not allow people to take photos of me. Ever. I'm 20lbs overweight, and will not allow people to take photos of me until that weight is gone.

I don't know a life where I'm not constantly thinking about food. I don't know a life where I'm not stressing out about my weight, and what I am eating 24/7. This is DRIVING. ME. INSANE. I am SO, so sick of it.

Next, I'd like to dress nice. I'd like to feel and look good. I want men to notice me and go out and feel attractive. I feel like an alien. I don't have nice hair, I don't have a pretty face, I don't have a pretty body.
Even if I did dress nice, well, the problem is that I can't go to a store and just understand what to buy to make a wardrobe, I have a horrible sense of fashion. And clothes look SO weird on me, nothing ever fits me right. I've been following fashion blogs for years and yet I still don't understand the basics of putting together a nice outfit. I don't dress very girly. I don't feel girly. I feel like an alien, and I want to feel and look like a woman. Not like some tom boy, or some chick who doesn't care. I want people to look at me and think "wow, she's girly, her outfit is great".

I had to wear a dress to an event recently and I didn't look girly. How can a woman in a dress not look girly? I don't understand. I sometimes do the make up thing, but with my horrible sense of fashion I have a hard time understanding how to make it look good. I'm not a creative person, I'm very practical.

Everything I do is half assed. My job is half assed. My hobbies are half assed. I talk about my hobbies all day long but at the end of the day I suck at them. I don't put enough time and effort into them to get to where I want to be in my hobbies. Because I'm scared. I'm not sure what I'm scared of, but every time I make a bit of progress in anything (hobbies, dieting, losing weight) I do something to bring me back to where I started. If I start losing a few pounds I start binge eating and eating all the foods that trigger bad things.
If I start to do my hobby a lot and get better I stop and make up excuses for why I can't do it, and it brings me back to square 1. If I start to make friends and there are events going on I'll make up excuses for why I can't attend, and the friendship don't really develop.

I think that all of these topics are related to my weight. My low self esteem is making me miserable. I keep telling myself "when I'm skinny I'll be able to do this, I'll be able to dress nice, I'll be able to be good at my hobby, men will find me attractive". But if this goes on more years (since it's been going on for about 5 now), it'll never happen. I will never lose this weight, cause, well, I haven't really achieved anything in my life. So why this? But it's got to stop. I want to be the person that I see myself as.

I'm female and in my twenties.. I'm sick of feeling this way. I have tried to find a therapist but it's so goddamn hard. They're all not taking new clients in this city. Advice?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Really glad you're trying to find a therapist. I think that will help you a lot.
2. You may want to talk to your doctor about your obessive thoughts (about food and your weight) and unhappiness and negative self image.
3. Stop weighing yourself. Get rid of your scale. Seriously, a number on a scale doesn't really matter and isn't the only measure of success. Why not focus more on being FIT and set a fitness goal instead of a weight goal. You say you like working out, so you're already ahead of the game. Maybe work with a trainer to assess your current level of fitness and then set a realistic (KEY POINT THAT IT NEEDS TO BE REALISTIC) goal and then work towards that. Maybe it is running a certain distance in a certain amount of time. Maybe it is being able to lift a certain amount of weight. Maybe it is finishing a half marathon. Basically, find something else other than the scale to measure your success on.
4. Clothes are hard for everyone. Do you have a fashionable friend that can help you go shopping?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:31 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that all of these topics are related to my weight. My low self esteem is making me miserable. I keep telling myself "when I'm skinny I'll be able to do this, I'll be able to dress nice, I'll be able to be good at my hobby, men will find me attractive". But if this goes on more years (since it's been going on for about 5 now), it'll never happen. I will never lose this weight, cause, well, I haven't really achieved anything in my life. So why this? But it's got to stop. I want to be the person that I see myself as.

They aren't related to your weight, and it has nothing to do with how long it takes. Even if you magically lose all the weight in the next month, the feelings won't go anywhere. Geneen Roth writes about many of these issues--you might try her books.
posted by liketitanic at 7:32 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Fantasy of Being Thin

This is not about your weight. Being 20 pounds heavier isn't causing your problems, and being 20 pounds lighter won't solve them. To me (and I'm not a professional), you sound depressed and anxious. Those are medical problems unconnected with your weight. I realize that it's ridiculously hard, but you need to find a medical professional to help you deal with your feelings, because your body isn't the problem.

If you need someone to talk to, feel free to MeMail me any time.
posted by decathecting at 7:33 AM on October 12, 2012 [23 favorites]


Everything I do is half assed...make up excuses for why I can't do it...I have tried to find a therapist but it's so goddamn hard...They're all not taking new clients in this city

If you can follow through on one thing without making excuses for why you can't, without giving it a half effort. That one thing should be getting into therapy.

You have an illness. The way you are hating on yourself is not a personality trait, it's not part of your disposition. It is a disease.

Tell a family member or a friend that you need help, you need to talk to a professional, have that person help you or at the very least hold you accountable. Give yourself one week to find a therapist that will let you make an appointment.

Also 20lbs doesn't make anyone feel the way you are feeling.
posted by French Fry at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


I will let others address the weight and self-esteem issues; I just wanted to recommend trying a personal shopper or stylist for help putting together outfits that suit you. Many major department stores offer this, and even some online stores do as well. If you feel self-conscious about asking someone in person for help, I love fashion and helping girlfriends with clothing; feel free to MeMail me for anonymous, non-judgmental advice. I really wish you well and am rooting for you!
posted by ladybird at 7:51 AM on October 12, 2012


Decathecting's link is exactly what I wanted to say, better said, but I'll still share this: I have spent, and have watched female friends and relatives spend years thinking, "I'll be worthy, I'll be good enough, I'll deserve to have love/fun/happiness... when I'm thin." It's an extremely hard mental habit to break, especially when combined with depression and/or anxiety.

It's also a lie, and a moving target. You're already worthy, and if you don't believe you're worthy, you'll find that you're never thin enough--or that there's some other "flaw" making you unworthy. Please keep looking for a therapist (have you tried the Psychology Today therapist finder?). Exercise is great, but losing weight won't help you figure out how to be happy and believe in your own worth.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:55 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh boy do I feel you! Having spent my whole adult life 50-100 pounds overweight, I, too, thought my low self-esteem, my refusal to wear makeup or dress nicely - those were the problems! I couldn't get a date because I was fat!

No, no, no, the weight is not the problem. The problem is depression and anxiety, hiding behind the idea that you can't be happy because you're overweight. But! Having been through several very productive years of therapy, I can tell you that it is GREAT to come out the other side. I have healthy relationships! One of those friends has become my personal shopping guru, and I dress better than I ever have (dresses! frequently! pretty scarves!). I wear a little makeup, usually just enough to look professional. I like myself.

And here's the thing: I'm still overweight. I work out, I work out hard, and I Love it. But working out doesn't change weight much, and I'm currently back to around 60 pounds overweight, and I'd like to change that. But it doesn't consume me anymore like it used to.

So, this is a long story to say I'm so sorry you're going through this, because I know it's Horrible. And I agree with everyone above: get thee to a good therapist. You really can have a life in which you think of much happier, sanity-making topics all the time!
posted by ldthomps at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Try to recognize that a lot of the thoughts you're having are YOUR thoughts. Have people told you that you "look like an alien"? That you're not girly or pretty? That you're not attractive? This is your low self-esteem talking. This is not reality.

Therapy is the best cure for this, but you might try watching an episode or two of "How to Look Good Naked" in the meantime. Dress for the body you have - don't wear clothes that "barely fit."

You do not need to wait to be to be happy. Please don't. You deserve better.
posted by chaiminda at 8:39 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is thin, and has been miserable with low self-esteem issues for all the years I have known her, primarily manifesting in misery about her weight and needing to lose "just twenty pounds" (which is ridiculous on the face of it, because she's crazy-thin, just not as thin as in high school, and none of us are that thin any more.)

She finally went to see a therapist (after refusing for years because of bad experiences with two in the past), they hit it off, and in the few months -- just the few months -- since she's started going regularly, she's happier, and has taken significant steps to improving her home and work life. I haven't seen her this happy, well, ever, and though things aren't perfect, she feels for the first time like they're getting better every day.

Since this upswing, there's only one thing from her old constant-complaining, constant-misery days that she hasn't mentioned, and that's her weight. Once she started fixing the real problems in her life -- and she had/has many! -- she felt like she could control her life, and no longer felt compelled to blame her misery on something she can't control (the aforementioned 20 pounds.) She just doesn't care about that any more.

In short, I wish you the best in your therapy, congratulate you on your increased muscle mass/health, and hope that, like her, you quickly come to realize that your real problems are ones that you have total control over; the rest is just distracting yourself.
posted by davejay at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


While you are trying to find a therapist, go to your physician or gynecologist and get a physical with bloodwork. You can talk to them about finding a therapist (you'd be surprised who actually is taking new clients if it's a referral), you can begin the discussions about the obsessive/anxious thoughts you're having, AND you can get the ball rolling to find out if you have a thyroid or vitamin issue that is contributing to your feelings and/or your weight loss difficulties. It would suck if you were spinning and spinning like this just because your thyroid was wacky or your vitamin D was deficient.

You can print this out to take with you to the doctor.

Your feelings about the 20 pounds is a symptom. Nobody else cares about your 20 pounds. If the 20 pounds was gone, it'd be something else. Losing 20 pounds has never radically changed anyone's life unless they are 3 feet tall.

You're going to miss those pictures you won't take and the things you won't do because of your self-loathing. Please go to a doctor and start getting help.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:42 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, I almost forgot: you know how you're telling yourself all these horrible things, and you're the only one saying these things to you? That's because nobody else believes those things, and nobody else even knows you're telling yourself these things (unless you tell them.)

So those friends saying "you look great" and "you're doing a terrific job" and such? I know you can't believe them right now -- that's what therapy will help with -- but you can trust that they're not lying to you, and act accordingly. Which means, if someone says you look great in something, wear that thing again even if you don't believe you look great. If someone says you're doing a good job at something, stay the course and keep trying, even if you think you're failing. If someone says you are a good public speaker, try to speak in public more often, and fully prepare as if you're a fantastic public speaker, even if you think you're terrible at it. You get the idea.

Fake it 'till you make it isn't just a pat phrase; it's also a good way to realize all the potential that everyone except you knows you have.
posted by davejay at 8:47 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


What everyone else said.

On a practical level, it is very depressing to keep beating your head against a problem that you can't solve. I think you should shelve the weight loss for now and go back to it some time in the future. I think also that if you get a copy of "The Fat Fallacy" by Dr Will Clower, it will give you some pointers to take the anxiety out of eating and help you to avoid gaining weight in the meantime. IANAD of course.

For the clothing issue, memail me and I will help you start figuring out what to wear. I'm definitely sure we can solve that one.
posted by tel3path at 8:55 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, got interrupted.

If you get the book "The Happiness Trap" it will help you not to feel so plagued by thoughts that you suck and your life isn't good enough. Because when you are a fashion icon renaissance woman and part-time triathlete, you will still probably have thoughts about how you suck and your life isn't good enough.

People just tend to have these thoughts because it's how we identify threats and force ourselves to survive each day. It is really difficult and complex to get through a day. In the last few months I've solved a number of problems that I've been struggling with for a lifetime, achieved something which should have me doing a happy dance of full-circle poetic justice, and instead I tend to beat myself up and feel like a complete failure in life because I sometimes get to the parking lot after it's filled up and I have to find another place to park. Yes, this is a problem because it makes me late and screws up my day's logistics and expenses, so it is *a* problem, but I tend to take it to mean that my life is effed and I can't do anything right. So it goes.
posted by tel3path at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can you follow up with what city you're in? You really need to be telling this to a therapist. As others have said, your post indicates that you're in need of some mental health care to get through this, and that it's not your fault.

If you can follow up with your city I'm sure there are resources to help you that we can help find.
posted by sweetkid at 9:09 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am right there with you. I am also 20 pounds overweight, and I also started working out (and being more careful about eating ninety million bagels per week) a couple years ago. I have also lost zero pounds. I feel like the world promised me weight loss if I worked hard enough, and now the world has broken its promise.

It's been really disappointing and demoralizing, and I am a very happy person. After a couple years of working out, I am trying to accept that it probably won't lead to weight loss. More importantly, I am trying to focus on all of the awesome things that my body can do now that it couldn't do two years ago. I can jog - slowly, but jog! - for two miles. This morning I carried my extremely heavy desktop computer three city blocks. My bottom half is still pretty big, but it looks a lot better. My resting heart rate is lower than it used to be. For the first time in my entire life, I can do one real push-up! And you know what? That stuff is AWESOME. Is it what I wanted when I started on this project? No, not exactly. But there's a lot to be said for being healthy - more, I think, than there is to be said for being thin.

Which is just to say: don't give up on your fitness-quest, especially since you enjoy working out. It's so good for you. And while YMMV, being healthier has totally improved my body image, because now I know that my body is capable of so many more things. (Oh also, I finally got rid of my twenty-pounds-ago clothes, and honestly, not seeing that stuff in my closet every morning has done amazing things for my self-esteem.)

All that may or may not be helpful. Do keep on searching for a good therapist - try asking your doctor for recommendations or a referral, which in my experience can make it easier to get an appointment with busy folks.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:15 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really think people do what they want. I SAY I want to lose weight, but really, truly I want to eat huge amounts of food more than I want to lose weight. There have been times when I want to lose weight more than overeat, and those are the times I end up losing weight. I may want to pursue my hobbies, but really I want to sit around and read and surf the Internet more. We often get confused between what we really want and what we think we should do. Its okay to just accept and come to peace with what we want. And what we want can change on any given day and that is okay too.
posted by gt2 at 9:52 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm much older and fatter than you. I'm carrying what's generally considered a life-threatening amount of fat, and have been for most of my fifty years. About twenty years ago I did get rid of 60kg of it over the course of two years, and my life and happiness did both improve a great deal.

But you know what? In order to do that, I had to make it pretty much the only thing I cared about. It did take obsessing about every little thing that went in my mouth, all day, every day, for two years. And that's why I haven't done it again, even though I'm now every bit as fat as I was when I started doing it last time - there's just too much going on in my life now to allow for that kind of extreme focus. It's just not gonna happen.

Knowing that this was so made me horribly miserable until one day I just decided that fuck it, I'm never gonna be thin again; best I can do is just get fit and stop worrying about being fat. So I bought a bicycle. And you know what? Since starting to ride that thing regularly I've gained weight - six kilos of it. But I regularly get people asking me if I've lost some, I feel a lot better physically, and my bloodwork numbers are better than they've been in years.

So I'm more convinced than ever that bathroom scales are just worthless misery machines. Kill yours with a sledgehammer (that's great exercise, by the way).

Because if you're female and in your twenties, the entire media universe is dedicated to making you feel insecure by convincing you that not only are you twenty pounds overweight, but the size number on clothes that actually fit you is so not cool as to be laughable.

In fact there's quite a good chance that your body fat percentage is actually perfectly healthy for you but you've been systematically lied to for so long and in so many ways that you simply don't believe that.

So go buy some clothes that fit comfortably, and work up a sweat every day. It's probably all you actually need to do.
posted by flabdablet at 10:17 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can you say what you mean about not being able to find a therapist in your city? Is this because you are going with a certain insurance company's list? if this is the case, please call the insurance company and have them help you find somebody who is taking new patients.

If you can't find a private therapist either through insurance or on your own, please look up therapy clinics in your area. It's quite possible they have therapists available who will see you on a sliding scale.

If you would like, please MeMail me and I will help you find a therapist in your area. (I'm a therapist in New York City but I'm sure I can do a little research for you to see what's available in your own city.)
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh jesus wept .... you are like the text book for how modern advertising has broken women. I suffer from some of these body issues too and I think I've learned to be a bit better about it. So here's my advice:

(1) everyone's going to say therapy and it really sounds like it might help you.

(2) put the show "What not to Wear" on your DVR. Following that show will teach you how to dress your body, so that will entirely eliminate one of your problems. It's also a good show for you because they frequently deal with women with negative self image. They talk about how you have to love yourself and your body and dress your body to its best advantage.

(3) "Outsourcing" my weight, my fitness, and my diet helped me a lot. I went to a trainer. He told me how to exercise and how to eat. I do what he says in moderation. Because I've given over my diet and exercise to him, I don't worry about it as much because I've put him in charge. I do cross fit and you might want to check that out. But what you really want is a trainer who will give you an exercise and eating plan and keep on you. This is expensive but worth it if you are spending so much time thinking about this crap.

(4) Try to remember that you are only on the planet for a short period of time. Decide how you want to spend that time. Do you really want to spend it making yourself miserable? Any time a negative thought comes into your head think, "I love myself and I'm going to have the best life I can"

(5) Make a list of things you want to achieve with your life (write a novel, be healthy (this is not the same as losing weigh)t, travel, get a boyfriend, get x, y, z promotion) call it your life plan. Make it pretty and put it on fancy paper. Then come up with a daily or weekly plan to achieve those goals (and you can put this on pretty paper too) For example I will go to the gym x times a week, or I will avoid sugar on Monday through Friday, or I will plan this vacation on Wednesday, or I will go on x match.com dates per month. The thing is that a goal like "lose weight" is too vague and overwhelming. Something specific like I won't eat sugar at night is much more specific and easier to achieve.

(6) It can't be all sticks. You need carrots too. Positive rewards have to be part of your plan too. Getting new books is a real treat for me. Maybe you have something else you really enjoy. So if you avoid sugar Monday through Friday you get a new book, or a spa treatment, or whatever it is that makes you happy. Give yourself a specific reward for meeting all your weekly and daily goals. And if occasionally you don't meet a goal. That's okay too. You only get one life, so you might as well enjoy it.
posted by bananafish at 12:12 PM on October 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Another person chiming is with "The weight is not your problem". From what you've written it sounds more like you've got some real anxiety about a lack of control, that you feel like you are careening about with no say in where you are going. Not being able to control your weight, not being able to control your time, no control over how others view you, no control over your own thoughts.

It's a lot easier to put every problem in your life onto one issue then it is to confront the actual problems. If you lost 20 pounds tomorrow, that wouldn't fix how your view your fashion sense. It wouldn't fix your abilities in your hobbies or work, it wouldn't magically give you control over your thoughts. It's just weight. Fat cells. It doesn't do anything beyond store energy.

I've had problems with anxiety and control and therapy has been invaluable to me. Keep looking, you WILL find someone.

I also found this book very useful, The Willpower Instinct. It lays out how beating yourself down and insulting yourself will completely undermine whatever you are trying to do ("I talk about my hobbies all day long but at the end of the day I suck at them."), as well as how trying to not think of something places it in the forefront of your mind constantly ("I think about food all day long.").

Things will get better, I promise! Change is scary, even when it's good change your mind will fight it. A therapist will hold your hand and help keep you on this path, it's worth all the struggle.
posted by Dynex at 12:43 PM on October 12, 2012


I think the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to make an appointment with a therapist. Keep calling and keep researching until you find one that is taking new patients and make an appointment asap.

I would also recommend the Ten Days to Self Esteem book. It's also a workbook. This is not a substitute for therapy. In my personal experience 99% of self-help is ineffective. It might give you a temporary boost but nothing replaces therapy, in my personal experience.

Do you have a close friend you can let loose with? It's important for you to enjoy yourself on a regular basis. Get out of your head a bit and enjoy without thinking about your weight. See a funny movie with a friend. Invite your friend to work on your hobby. Get a coffee and shop. Anything you enjoy.

Is there a shape or cut that you know looks good on you? Buy multiples of these and stick to a formula. I know v-necks look great on me. I wear them. I am not much of an accessories person but I love earrings. Jeans, cute flats or wedges, v-neck top and eye catching earrings that match or coordinate with the color of my top is my formula. Maybe you like necklaces. V-neck, necklace, jeans or pants, flats is your uniform. Examples: Henley, Jeans, necklace, natural hair and makeup. Camisole, V-neck sweater, black pants, necklace. Maybe you hate these and prefer dresses or skirts. Style blogs are fun but not everybody can be Atlantic-Pacific. Some people don't have the talent, time, or money to put together precious outfits on a regular basis. You can still have a "look" and look great with much less thinking (and buying). If you have some money to shop book and appointment with a personal shopper at Nordstrom and tell her that you need some flattering basics.
posted by Fairchild at 12:52 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What city are you in, if you don't mind sharing?
posted by prefpara at 5:24 PM on October 12, 2012


Yes, sure, I have more muscle mass, but I also BARELY FIT INTO MY CLOTHES. And there's a lot of fat left.

Like everyone else on this thread, I don't think your weight is really the issue, but it's nearly impossible to gain muscle mass and lose fat at the same time. I would talk to a personal trainer and figure out a plan that will help with fat loss - probably higher intensity cardio, but I am not a personal trainer, so don't take my word for it. You may have lost more fat than you think! The number on the scale means very little.

The 1,200 calories/day thing is very hard to sustain. Try to have a diet that will keep you full with good foods, at a bare minimum of 1,500 calories/day. But I am not a nutritionist - talk to someone more qualified than I am about this.

But . . . I don't think the weight is your problem. You need a therapist a hundred times more than a personal trainer or a nutritionist. You're giving twenty pounds too much power.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:36 PM on October 12, 2012


If I start losing a few pounds I start binge eating and eating all the foods that trigger bad things.

Nthing all of the general advice you got above but wanted to add that willpower is a finite resource. Eating 1200 calories a day is a bitch.* You start binge eating because eating 1200 calories a day sucks it.

So along with all of the other suggestions, that your real problem isn't weight and working with a therapist will help, cut yourself some slack and work with a therapist to develop small realistic goals that don't make you choose between hating your life and hating yourself. 1200 calories a day is a miserable amount of food and can only make you feel punished and deprived and needing, desperately, a treat, or all of the treats in the store.

*No doubt someone somewhere does this and loves this and is forty years old and has done this for twenty years, but my guess is that person is an edge case with an edge case metabolism or lifestyle.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:47 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Disconnect yourself from all mass media, especially television and magazines.

Shift the kind of foods you eat away from starchy and sugary towards slow metabolising and fatty. Not to lose weight, but to reduce emotional swinging.

Walk, bike, get fresh air, learn to meditate. Start identifying with your body and its natural locomotion as pleasurable. It's one of the free lunches in life.

See a therapist. CBT will likely help. You're fighting very normal, treatable forms of anxiety, depression and obsessive thinking. Forms manufactured by industrial culture to make you miserable, powerless, and an eager consumer. Don't give in.
posted by ead at 9:04 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can identify with a lot of what you wrote. There are times when it has seemed that everything in life would be ok if I just lost 20 pounds ... or got a certain job ... or reorganized my closets.

This is an illusion. Life is messy and full of struggles and unexpectedness. You can lose 20 pounds through diet and exercise, and regain it when life events cause a phase of depression. And then lose it again due to a traumatic health event - and regain half of it when you go on a new medication ... etc etc. I used to hate my body at certain weights. I've grown to be damn happy to have any body at all - not to be preachy. It's not that I've achieved 100% body acceptance, but I do know that I loathe dieting and the obsessing over calories that is necessary for me to lose weight, and I am much happier when I put that energy into meeting new people or taking a class.

Addressing your mental health will probably take enough of the pressure off to allow you relax a bit and find a way forward. You'll be ok. No one is perfect, everyone is trying to figure it all out. Therapy is good. Making new friends is good. Trying new things = good.
posted by bunderful at 5:30 PM on October 13, 2012


Hello, I feel a little like you, a few months or years in the future.

Sorry to be late to this question, but I was wary of reading it because it sounded so close to what I struggled (and still struggle) with.

Like what's been mentioned, you sound depressed and anxious and lonely. Here is a hug. Please do, do get therapy if you can. It will give you the tools to sort out the messiness and emotions and cognitive distortion you may be dealing with.

Try to let go of the weight. The idea that everything will be alright once you're skinny is an illusion. I've been there, and I can tell you that seriously - and if you're worried, like I often am, about how people probably think you're a fat lardass, unworthy of love, despicable - stop. Because most normal, nice people don't, and those who do - well, forget about it.

Related, slightly: I once lost a lot of weight, going from nearly-overweight to low end of normal. It sucked, because I was depressed and withdrawn, and until now I can't restrict my food intake too much without recalling those horrible days. Willpower is finite, don't spend it all worrying or being unduly restrictive.

What you might find helpful is just to slow down your thought processes. Be wary of catastrophising (this is why CBT has been suggested). What bunderful says about life being messy is so true. Sometimes the need for clarity, something to grab onto and blame for a situation drives us to pinpoint this one thing as the cause and without it life would be just fine. That's not true. Life is messy. No one needs you to be perfect, or to have had a life that worked out linearly. There are going to be dead ends and temporary setbacks. It's normal. You need to care for yourself.

For me, I've settled on gently eating more healthfully to combat binge eating. My eating plan of choice is relatively low-carb, but if I eat a tonne of M&Ms, it happens. I'm okay. I'm not perfect, but I'm moving on from it with the lesson that maybe I need to have someone who loves candy to share with, or maybe communicate better to my friends that candy is a binge trigger.

I hope this has been a little helpful. You're not alone, honest.
posted by undue influence at 5:47 AM on October 15, 2012


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