This entire pandemic shutdown has affected us all, regardless if you or someone you know has had the illness itself. We have all been forced to sort of slow down and do things differently. Something I have seen come up so much in all of the fat facebook groups I’m in is this deep seated shame about a lessening in mobility. A feeling of failure around being forced to be more sedentary over the last fifteen months. I’m here to tell you that for one, it ain’t just fat folks feeling all of this, we’ve all been affected by it. Fat folks seem to have a more immediate self blame/shame reaction to it, but it’s not just us, I promise!
I have previously talked about thriving in those first few months of the pandemic shutdown, and that’s true. Once my gallbladder started failing me I was forced very suddenly to simply stop everything. Extreme pain takes over every aspect of your life. Even after the initial ER visit, my situation was a mystery and the pain attacks were intermittent, which really sucked any morale I had left outta me. After three months of the pain attacks I was miserably depressed. So when the pain finally went away I still wasn’t really wanting or able to get back to my previous movement habits.
Now as I’m back at the office everyday I’m finding everything more difficult. I don’t have energy, what I do have runs out quickly. Standing still for any stretch fucks up my right knee. I have stiffness and soreness seemingly all of the time, but it gets better before it gets worse. I have my gallbladder surgery tomorrow, so I know it will take awhile for me to recover, but the mobility I have lost in the last year is very much apparent to me now. I was struggling internally about this until I started to see post after shame-filled post about the exact same issues. That’s when I realized that this is so much bigger than just me or just you. We’re all in this together so let’s throw that shame and blame game out the damned window!
One of the best things you can do right now, without even leaving your seat, is deciding and committing to yourself to be kind and patient with yourself. That really is the best first step you can take. I have seen a lot of folks worrying about not being able to walk down their block without needing a break or sitting down, so I will share some tips others have shared. First, if going out feels unsafe or you’re uncertain of your needs in such a public place, try using your home or yard to start moving more, incrementally. One rad fatty used their long hallway, walking the length and placing a chair at each end. This way you can take your time, rest when you need to (please honor your body’s cues on this) and not worry about harassment or unsteadiness outdoors. Doing any kind of stretching will also help so much! Did you know that Joyn is free now?! They have plus size instructors and all levels of classes you can try out. Check it out if that format is more your style. There’s lots on YouTube as well, but I urge you to ignore the comment sections and maybe even do some digging before searching for a class type as I have found many to appear fat positive but then they hit you with some nonsense mid-instruction that I just can’t hang with. If your knees are your main focus, I would highly recommend Cinder Ernst’s book on the subject! Cinder also has a facebook group for this, as well as youtube videos. I’ve met and known Cinder for some years now and she is absolutely a joy and a pleasure to work with.
If, like me, you found yourself in an increasingly icky depression nest, please consider (if you are able) hiring and/or asking for help. It was very difficult for me internally to do this but I ended up hiring someone to help me clean my kitchen. It was only a hundred bucks for three hours of work, and the person the agency sent (I used an app called Diem) was absolutely lovely! They understood my situation without judgement and prioritized the cleaning tasks based on my actual day to day needs. I never could have cleaned that kitchen on my own without wrecking my back and knees. The weight lifted by having a clean kitchen was just what I needed to tackle my living room and bathroom on my own. Now I come home and I don’t feel all of the shame and guilt over having a messy/gross home. I know I deserve to feel good about coming home, and kept meaning to prioritize this, but that shame and guilt combo is fucking HARD to shake off. Maybe you have people in your life that want to help but you are afraid to ask or keep telling them no. I kept telling myself that I would do it all on my own, such is my way in most things, but I was finally faced with not having the mobility or time to accomplish this before my surgery. Sometimes we have to confront ourselves over this stuff. I am glad that I did.
There was a recent study that came out that discovered that those who spend a little money to get a little time back for themselves actually had higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress over all. It specifically mentioned things like household chores, which has always been my struggle (thanks to my childhood). The people who clean for a living will not judge you, they will understand and will treat your home with respect. I know for me this was such a huge internal battle that I had with myself. It sent me down so many self-hating spirals I can’t even count! I even let the cleaning folks know that I was incredibly anxious and that this was my first time hiring someone for this work. I let them know that I would have to remain in my apartment (this was before my office was reopened), and I kept myself and my puggo in my bedroom while they worked. It wasn’t easy for me mentally, but again it was so very worth it! Your situation may be different, and your experiences will certainly vary, but I hope you can do something that will take some of the stress and shame off your mind and heart.
We put so much on our own shoulders before we even get out of bed each day. We all must find a way to be kind, patient, and to honor what our bodies need. It sounds so simple, but it takes a lot of effort and reframing, I have found. Please know that you are worth every ounce of effort in the world! I think after my surgery I will be seeking physical therapy of some kind to aid my recovery efforts as well as hopefully regaining my overall mobility. If you are working from home I urge you to carefully consider your ergonomic setup and reassess based on what your body is actually telling you. There’s lots of easy guides online you can look at for this (I’m an office manager so it’s part of what I do).
I say and share all of this because I honestly do care, maybe too much. I see no point in participating in my own suffering. I do not want to see others struggling with the same if I can help it, ya know? The shame and blame isn’t useful, let’s banish it from our minds and hearts for good! Remind yourself, as I do each day when there is pain, this isn’t your fault in any way, you’re human and doing what you can with what you have at any given moment. Honor that shit! You don’t have to love your body, I know that hard af and some of us will simply never get there or want to, but we can all find a place of neutrality with our bodies so that we can live our best lives. I hope you find what works for you and unburden you from the intrusive negativity.
I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.
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