If I read one more person lament about being unable to gain weight because of their Crohn’s Disease, I will very likely scream out loud to the point where I will frighten my neighbors. There is most definitely a benefit to the several online support groups I visit; other patients can share information and consolation in ways most doctors just can’t, and that really helps.
In a recent thread started by a woman who wanted to know if anyone else couldn’t lose weight, despite the disease restricting her ability to eat, the comments started coming in fast and furious. As someone who deals with this same problem, I felt less alone in my struggle when I saw how many others really know the pain and frustration I feel daily. It’s not a “misery loves company” thing, really – it’s more an “I’m not the only one (a freak)” feeling that makes me feel a bit better.
What does not help is a person showing up to the thread adding their comments about how they are 5’9″ and only 115 pounds. So, basically, you’re complaining that your height and weight is similar to that of a Super Model?? And, let me see if I understand: you consider this is a freakin’ problem? Question: Does the inability to gain weight [so you can stop resembling a Super Model] also eliminate your ability to realize it is inappropriate and most certainly NOT helpful for you to share this in a thread where the rest of us are commiserating about our complete failure at losing any weight? Why not contribute to the person who commented about how utterly horrible it is to have people continually tell them, “you really need to eat more” because she DOES eat normally, but just cannot gain weight. “They just don’t understand.” There was a whole whine-fest going on over there and you’d fit right in.
Here’s the thing that really upsets me: in our society, your “underweight-ness” is completely acceptable – praised, appreciated and envied, even. Until a person literally looks like a skeleton, they are considered attractive (even then, you might find walking skeletons on runways during Fashion Week).
But for those of us who are bloated from steroids and other harsh medications, overweight from a diet that restricts fruits, vegetables & other complex carbs (Oh, my kingdom for a salad!), out of shape because this disease combined with the side-effects of all the drugs that keep us alive and out of the hospital [for now] drain us of so much of our energy that we can only do what we absolutely have to… and even that is sometimes impossible. Us? No, we’re not attractive. We’re not understood. We are quickly and thoughtlessly judged, labeled as “fat and lazy”, with an underlying implication that we are also stupid.
We may be fat, but we are not lazy, and certainly not stupid. We are at war with our bodies and at war with Crohn’s Disease just as much as much as our thin, attractive, socially acceptable counterparts, dealing with all the same horrors this disease has brought into our lives — only, we deal with more. We also live with societal stigma and the butt of even more jokes: Fat jokes are always funny, right? Just like bathroom humor.