Disclaimer: I am in school to become a social worker. I am not a licensed (read: professional) social worker YET. However, as a clinician in training, I do have the knowledge and understand the background of mental illnesses. In the end, if you feel you have some kind of issues – depression, anxiety, whatever, please seek professional help.
I stopped watching The Biggest Loser years ago (though I did watch on/off last season) because to be real, it triggers something in me. [For which I am going to therapy for - yes, I am the therapist with a therapist]. I have always struggled with my weight – I remember being in the second grade and being in ballet and being to suck in my tummy (uh it’s called baby fat). My mom was always on a diet – I remember the cans of SlimFast in our house.
I was shy growing up. And food was celebrated the way it is now – eat when you’re happy, eat when you’re sad, eat whenever because this is America and there is food EVERYWHERE. Food was a reward in itself. Passed a test? Here’s some candy.
So I got fat. I am not going to shy around it. I was morbidly obese at my highest weight at 237. I was probably around 170 in high school. I am only 5’5”. I remember wearing a size 12 then. College was worse with its endless buffet of greasy food and tons of carby deliciousness. I always steered clear of the salad buffet. And I put on more weight. And it was a vicious cycle – I hated my body, so I ate my emotions which then made me gain more weight and then more sad, so I ate more, and it was just on, and on, and on.
When I met my husband – then boyfriend in 2007, we put on the relationship weight together. Heaven forbid I be that girl who ordered a salad when her boyfriend was eating a burger for shame of what he thought. And in 2010, with my weight being at an all time high, I decided to get fit, get healthy. For me.
When shows like The Biggest Loser came on, I was fascinated by them. Losing 15lbs in a week? That’s crazy! And people were lauded for losing so much weight, week after week. But with all the nutritionists and doctors and personal trainers/fitness gurus there, there was not a single mental health clinician – not a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker, nothing. But even still, focus on that show was and is on the physical. Not the internal. So many times weight gain has an emotional tie to it and it’s never discussed. I say it now all the time. After I lost the weight, I thought I’d lose all the emotional baggage. But nope. It is still there.
So Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel.
Rachel at 260.
Rachel at 105.
And with last night’s finale, with everyone up in arms about the winner’s thin frame – again, I didn’t watch the show this year, so I didn’t see the gradual loss over time – I wonder if this woman has a reverse opposite eating disorder. She could have had binge eating disorder (classified under the DSM 4 as EDNOS, eating disorder, not otherwise specified though the current DSM, DSM 5, does recognized Binge Eating Disorder aka BED as its own disorder) which then turned to anorexia or bulimia with some ties of body dysmorphic disorder.
I do not know Rachel personally as a client, so I cannot speak to what in fact mental illness she may or may not have.
The looks on Bob and Jillian’s faces were faces of concern. The other contestant behind them also looked disturbed.
Clearly there is more going on. I get everyone’s concern. She’s very thin. She lost 60% of her body weight. But if she is in fact suffering from an eating disorder, lets discuss that. Let’s not shame her for being so thin. And let’s not shame her – or anyone else for that matter for being overweight. I would encourage her or anyone to find a therapist. Figure out why you are overweight and what the issues behind it all are. [I understand that there are plenty of women who are her age (or more or less) that weigh the same and they’re OK.] It pains me that later she cancelled an appearance on Kelly & Michael. The media backlash cannot and will not be good on her.
But I hope that no matter what, she gets the necessary help she needs. But lets also talk more about the emotional ties that come with weight and food – whether its too much food or not enough or being obese or being anorexic. These are all diseases that need to be addressed. And so many people forget mental conditions are in fact diseases. And that there is more to them and not someone just trying to be thin.
Disclaimer: I am in school to become a social worker. I am not a licensed (read: professional) social worker YET. However, as a clinician in training, I do have the knowledge and understand the background of mental illnesses. In the end, if you feel you have some kind of issues – depression, anxiety, whatever, please…