This is not a self-pity story and it is definitely not an excuse. All I am doing is offering awareness so that other people will see the hurt that they can cause and why they shouldn't quickly jump to conclusions.
First of all, I am genetically more likely to be overweight. I hate to use the cliché, but I am big boned. I am built so that I gain weight easily and am made to be sturdy. I am not ugly, and I am not disgusting either. I am thick, that is all. Now that I got that out of the way, here is why I am actually overweight.
I'm a medical disaster. When I was in third grade my thumb started to hurt. A lot. We didn't think much about it until the pain spread from my fingers, to my elbows, to my knees, and then to all my joints. That year, I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3 (EDS). This is not a fatal disorder, but it has made a huge impact on my life. EDS is a connective tissue disorder that affects about one in 5,000 people. With my type, I dealt with hyperextending joints, frequent dislocations, and joint pain. I've dislocated my shoulder more times than I can count, sprained my wrist by only holding a jug of orange juice, and dislocated my hip when I was in third grade. It was awful. At the age of 8, I was taken out of sports, forced to sit out of gym class, and even put in a wheelchair for a week when the pain got worse.
I was forced to wear weird rings on my fingers to keep them from bending backwards. I had to wear leg braces for a while that looked really strange. I had to use a devise just to write with a pencil. I was bullied constantly. The problem with EDS is that you cannot see what is wrong with me. My peers thought that I was faking it or just did not understand the problem. I was suddenly in a wheelchair even though I hadn't broken my legs. I was a freak.
And I couldn't do sports. I was commonly bullied because I "skipped out" on gym class every day. I had no choice. Not only that, but I was forced to sit on the stage in the gym and watch the other people exercise as I slowly lost muscle definition and quickly gained weight. I was forced to join swim team in order to get some form of exercise, but I learned to hate the sport, simply because I had no choice but to be in it.
I gained a lot of weight because of this sudden spout of medical problems. I wasn't allowed to be in gym or do sports until I was in middle school. I have always appreciated gym class much more than my fellow students because I see it as a privilege instead of a punishment. By the time I was in middle school, I was clinically obese. My disorder did not get better until the doctor's flipped their tactics. They put me back in sports, encouraged me to strengthen my joints, and stopped babying my disorder. That philosophy was new then and is now in constant practice. I believe that I am part of the reason why doctors now approach my disorder differently, or at least I affected the doctor's office that I went to. I am now used as an example with newly diagnosed EDS patients, and I am glad that I can indirectly help other people through my success in overcoming my disorder. I no longer feel affected by my disorder. I am stronger because I was weak.
In middle school, I joined soccer and volleyball. It was the best thing I ever did for my health. By freshman year, I lost 15 pounds and got my weight under control. That was the most confident I have been about my body in my entire life. I felt good about myself.
Get ready for medical disaster number 2...
I got a concussion. This wasn't just a small bump on the head that lasted a week. I was in severe pain for three months and was not allowed to move, read, go to school, or watch TV for two months. I still do not remember exactly how I got my concussion. All I know is that I was playing soccer and collided with someone. I assume that I hit the back of my head on the ground. I am not sure. During the months that I was out, I gained a significant amount of weight. I literally watched my muscle tone disappear. I watched my muscle turn to fat and it killed me. All my hard work was wasted over head trauma.
After I healed, I jumped back into sports. I did not have time for soccer anymore, so it was even harder to lose weight, but I did, little by little.
Medical disaster number 3.
I was playing basketball in gym class when my shoe caught the floor while I was sprinting after the ball. For a brief second, I was literally standing on my ankle. It was the loudest popping noise I have heard in my life, and the doctors originally thought I had broken my foot. It turned out to be a sprain, which I quickly learned from the doctors was much worse than it would have been to have broken it. It took months to heal and I could not use crutches because of my EDS. Because of that incident, I went back to being obese. I did not lose that weight until this year in college when I decided to tackle my problem head on. I am already ten pounds down and am losing weight every day. It is not noticeable yet, but that does not matter to me. I am making progress.
No matter how tempting it is to judge someone by their weight, don't. You don't know their story and you don't know how hard they have worked to get to the point they are at today. Those of you who are overweight and struggling, do not worry. You are not alone. If you need to talk to someone, contact me and we can talk!
What have been your struggles with losing weight? Have you had any experiences with bullying because of your weight?