But it will also make you happy, maybe, with the right dosage, for some people, did I mention it might also cause a worsening of symptoms, might increase suicidal feelings? The list of side effects goes on, it’s especially long when you’re taking up to seven different psychiatric medications. Oh and the “modest” gain worked out to be about 30lbs, and I already had body image issues. I was never satisfied with my size, with anything. I hated myself and when I gained those additional 30lbs I got more than just the Weight, I got stretchmarks. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. Weight
21 years old, terribly depressed and now stretchmarks. It was as if my body wanted me to hate it even more. The pills weren’t worth the gain, I got worse. When I started an inpatient program the doctor told me I’d have these stretchmarks for life, they might fade but they’d always be there. I couldn’t stop myself from crying, but she shared with me a profound insight that wouldn’t sink in for a year. For a year I obsessed, slathered my stretchmarks in vitamin e, bio-oil and any other product that claimed to work – though none of them did. I decided to abandon the medical route; I don’t know if I could put the experience of withdrawal into words. Pure and simple it was hell and in that time I was in too much pain to care about anything. I couldn’t get out of bed so what the fuck did it matter if I could fit into my skinny jeans? Weight
I got to thinking about the doctor’s words; she said don’t think of them as stretchmarks, they’re battlescars from your war with depression. And I started to think, this is what happens when you fight depression and depression fights back, when the meds increase the volume of everything else except happiness. But this… this right here, this light lifted look of triumph?… well this is what happens on the days that I win. And even when I’m winning, the scars are there, some still an angry shade of purplish red, protesting the remaining symptoms. Others are tired and faded, weary of the battle. But together they cluster, surrounding the jewel at the centre of my bellybutton, hoping for some radiance, yearning for love. And not love from another, no I had that and it wasn’t enough, they needed self-love, something I always had trouble giving my body. I, who was always self-deprecating, self-hating, self-loathing, had to learn how to love these scars.
I kept equating them with everything I hated about my body, when really they represent what I should love about myself; they represent the strength I’ve had all along, in overcoming my darkest moments, in making it to stand before you here today. So now I caress them gently and whisper my apologies. Apologizing to myself, for hating and loathing, apologizing to my stretchmarks, but NEVER apologizing to the world for not being a size smaller.
I’ve come to accept my body, my battlescars. I’ve come to love them. My body is a map of my experiences, it tells a story that is harrowing yet inspirational, my body is beautiful and it comes with a story, I’ll bet yours does too.
- On March 11-13 2010, the Women’s Centre presented Radical Bodies: A Collection of Monologues, a short series of monologues affirming all bodies, especially the ones that our society shames or dismisses as “less than” (fat bodies, hairy bodies, trans bodies, disabled bodies, intersexed bodies, bodies of colour…), and embodied experiences. Blueprint has published several of these monologues here, along with art from the Radical Bodies Art Exhibit.