27 October 2010

Thoughts on fat-shaming and mental health

[TW for discussion about mental health, mention of abuse]

Today on
Shakesville, Liss posted two discussion threads about fat hatred, one for sharing stories about you fat-shaming someone and one for stories about people fat-shaming you.

And I'm sure I have many stories about both, but what's coming to mind is my grandmother talking to me about my mother.

Specifically, sharing with me, whenever my mother had lost a bunch of weight, that she was happy.

Thing is, aside from the part where she shouldn't be policing her daughter's weight, what she doesn't understand is that (almost always) my mother losing a great deal of weight is a sign of a manic period of her bipolar disorder. This "good thing", this "reason to celebrate" is in fact evidence that my mother's mental health is not the greatest, a fact which my grandmother refuses to recognize, just as she refuses to recognize that my mother has been abusive.

And I don't feel like I can share this with the Shakesville community at large, for one because it's not about me, it's about my mom, but mostly because it's hard to concisely articulate all the issues surrounding the story.

In trying to be an ally against ableism*, I feel it's part of my duty** to respect people's choices regarding their mental health. Seeking treatment, taking meds, all of that is the decision of each person, and it's not up to me to police their decisions.

That said, I am the daughter of someone who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder for more than a decade, and who, after diagnosis, has not adhered to the treatment plan set out for her by her doctors. I firmly believe that my mother having bipolar disorder is not an excuse for her totally crap parenting of me and my siblings.

I don't know whether or not her abusive and neglectful behaviours were caused (entirely) by the disorder. I don't know if it's possible to know that. I do know that when you have children, it's your responsibility to care for them. Perhaps especially when you go out of your way to have children, through adoption.

As her daughter, I can't help but wonder if she had gotten diagnosed right away and followed the treatment plan if my life wouldn't have been so fucked up, if my sister's life wouldn't have been so fucked up, if my brothers would grow up to be better men than I fear they're going to grow up to be.

But I feel that I can't talk about this in a space that has been designated as an ableism-free space. So I don't really know what to say.

* An ally at this point, because I'm still on the fence about deciding if I identify as a disabled person or not.
** Duty in a good sense -- not something others put on me, but things I have decided that I want to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment