The most beautiful and most terrible (almost according to Dickens) thing that happened to my body and self-awareness was the gain of twenty-three kilograms in six months. It happened when I was simultaneously diagnosed with hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis – a thyroid disorder – and started taking antidepressants. All psychiatrists were surprised at such a set, because they usually lose weight from my drug. But as soon as they found out about the thyroid gland, they said that this could explain everything. Endocrinologists, on the other hand, blamed the antidepressant more. I never found out the reason, but for five years I have been weighing eighty-six, and there is no increase or decrease more than a couple of kilograms.
When you grow out of all your clothes at the age of twenty, and your loved ones have not yet learned to be tactful, you are faced with the need to accept your body. By any means. If it doesn’t work out, then you are constantly frustrated, and this leads to depression. I went on a carbohydrate-free diet, a nutritionist-endocrinologist prescribed me drug regimens, I went in for sports. My muscles were getting tighter, my stretching was better, but the overall weight did not disappear anywhere. Then I came to body positivity and started taking my first nude self-portraits and looking at the body in the mirror more often instead of turning away from it. Gradually, it became familiar to me, and I decided that the main thing was my mental state.
The trouble came from where they did not expect. My close people began to say that weight is a problem, that I need to lose it, that I “started myself”. Mom put a photo of the period when I was the thinnest at the head of the bed and said that she wanted to see me like this again. The ex-husband, who always accepted my changes, said that he liked me much more in my previous form. Such conversations brought me to tears.
Then I formulated the most important principle: “It is better to be alive and fat than dead and thin.” Because I gained weight on medications that saved me from possible suicide and changed my quality of life along with therapy. Over time, I began to firmly defend my right to be anyone. I realized that in fact, no one needs an excuse in the form of “weight gain from the disease.” People around you, in principle, should not give a fuck about how you look and what you eat, only if they do not consider you as an affiliate. If they are considering and they stop liking you, you can leave or accept the partner’s changes. It’s simple. I understand that judgmental habits often arise from rejection of what others allow themselves. But now in this kind of conversation I am tough and straightforward. People who want to change me or anyone else go out the door. Hope to a psychotherapist.
A new perception of myself pushed me to create a variety of projects. It all started with the performance “I’m afraid” when I was just starting my treatment. It was my coming out as a person with mental disorders. It continued with the material Closer Than It Looks about people with a wide variety of diagnoses, a project about conventionally “fat” and “thin” girls who were persecuted and continues to persecute society. I realized that I want to influence the modern agenda in all possible ways. Fortunately, there are a lot of funds: I write, photograph, create actions and performances, draw a little. I opened a self-help group for people with mental disabilities, in which there are no psychologists and which is led by the participants themselves. Taking this opportunity, I want to say that if you have a spacious room for us – please write, otherwise we have grown a little out of ours.
In order to feel good, I take pills on time, keep a diary of states (there is a wonderful application “Therapy Diaries”), go to a psychotherapist, smell delicious, observe hygiene and do what I love. This is mainly photography. I also blog with honest conversations about sex, relationships, psyche and art. Now I need to take a break from my activism, but this is something I cannot help but do. It’s hard for me to be silent and not react – but lately I’ve been studying, otherwise no mental hygiene will be enough.
My mother most often gives me cosmetics – our relationship has improved in recent years, also due to the fact that I have learned to talk about my conditions. For five years she got used to my new weight, accepted my psycho-peculiarities and does not say unpleasant things about my body. And if he makes a short or half-joking remark, I answer: “Mom, it is unpleasant for me.” She stops and communicates with me more tenderly. It’s amazing, but my mother grew up with me. What I missed in my childhood and adolescence, we are catching up now – eight years after I began to live alone.
My skin is undemanding, so I only use micellar and a light baby cream. I think Lactacyd is the most important tool for intimate hygiene – I have a tendency to thrush, which this soap successfully relieves. I am sorry to spend a lot of money on cosmetics, as well as on clothes, especially since the mass market is served by female workers and workers from poor countries. But if I can buy clothes in second-hand shops, then with cosmetics it is impossible. Therefore, almost all the bubbles I have are either gifts or pharmacy cosmetics. By the way, I really love large and beautiful pharmacies! I can hang out there for long periods of time choosing moisturizing eye drops, a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and foot creams.