Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: don’t nag people about losing weight

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few words on being overweight, and having people telling you that might not be the best thing: it really doesn’t help.

Hello and a warm welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and the things that tend to affect us. It’s a weekly series of articles, and not everything we write will be of use. Heck, maybe not of it will be. But we’re going to keep going, and the idea is that something we put together will be of use to you.

This week, I’m returning to one of my biggest neuroses in life: my weight.

I’ve written about this a few times. It’s my utter Achilles heel sadly: a fairly cliched story of being overweight at school and a good chunk of my adult life, and running the range of responses from the occasional ‘witty’ comment to being outright bullied. I didn’t go swimming for years after one particular incident, which I won’t go into again. I re-mention it to reinforce the point that apparently harmless comments and incidents, if they hit your weak point, can mess your head for years. To this day, I have to fight the urge to weight myself three or four times a day. I don’t always win that battle.

But against that backdrop, I am sure of this: those of us who struggle with weight do not need to be told to lose weight. We also don’t need to be nagged about it.

We know. We live with it every day. We have made a decision, either consciously or unconsciously, to either do something about it and try and lose weight, or embrace it and go with it. Or, just as likely, swinging between both camps, often beating ourselves up about it.

I can’t speak for everyone of course, and I’ve got to a position where my height and build now hides some of the weight challenges I’ve got. That’s only been recent though, and it’s something I think about at some point every single day. I wish I didn’t, but there you are.

I’ve been told hundreds of times in my life that I need to lose weight. A few times, I’ve managed it too, but never because anyone told me to. In the end, I had to be the catalyst, and even then, I wasn’t always very good at it. But still: I had it from a young age – even from people who meant well – and it stung. Still stings. And the cumulative effect of it has been that I’m never really comfortable with my body, or happy with it.

To ice the cake, I’ve got scars and I’ve got a wonky eye too. But it’s always weight. The rest I can deal with.

I know I’m still lucky. I know others have a far more difficult hand in life than mine. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have really tough days too, and I think it’s useful to be open about stuff like that.

Thanks, as always, for reading. This column will return next week.

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