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There Is A Unique Sadness That Comes From Not Being Believed, Time And Time Again.


If somebody reaches out for help with weight management, it is often one of many repeated attempts to ask for help and support.

When listening to people's history and past experiences, I've realized how often they feel they need to edit what they are saying due to the fear of being judged and not believed. Clients will tell me they now refuse to write in food diaries at gyms and other weight loss programs, because in the past they have been shamed for not making the "proper food choice" or, being shamed for having a piece of chocolate, so they either edit what they write by omission or make things up to placate the journal reader.

They have been told they must be secretly eating, they must not really be exercising otherwise they wouldn't need help.

If genuine support, help and guidance are asked for, it should never be delivered with a side of shame, guilt and blame.

Recently I have had a handful of people talk with me about the extraordinary relief some of the weight loss medications have given them. The words they use are "silence" "no more unrelenting noise in their heads", an amazing respite from obsessive thinking about food 24 hours a day. Prior to this medication these are the very uncomfortable feelings people have been living with day after day, year after year, while being judged for not having will power or self-control. I hear similar responses to the relief people feel after weight loss surgery.

It has got me thinking about the cruelty of how living with excess weight has become a moral debate.

Finally when a person says they have some inner peace, some quiet from the incessant noise in their heads about food and eating from the medication or surgery, and they are faced with an onslaught of judgment from outsiders or loved ones saying it's a cop out. That they are just taking the easy way out. They should be able to lose weight naturally.

I hear the same judgment being made when clients might tell people who they are close to that they have gone on anti anxiety medication or antidepressants to manage difficult mental health symptoms and they are met with responses like surely you don't need that. Just be in nature, sunshine, eat healthily, exercise and meditate. Or for women who are requesting HRT /MRT to help with menopausal symptoms that are absolutely debilitating and when seeking help are being dismissed and told it's a natural stage of life, and to just deal with it and people living with severe chronic pain being told its all in their head. It minimizes the individual's experience of what they are living with and is so invalidating.

I have nothing against sunshine, nature, and fresh food and exercise but sometimes people need more help, and we need to be able to hear their needs, assess their needs and support their decisions to keep them well and safe.

We need to believe them because as soon as we don't believe them it forces them underground and makes them anxious and reluctant to reach out for help again.

Ginette Lenham© June 2023 

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