Sorry you’re reading this on a public forum and not privately, which I would rather do because it’s weird for other people to peek into conversations, ANYWAY!
Hey, my name is Lucy, I’m from Australia and I’m nearly my mid-30s. We’ve never met. I lived on the west coast of Canada for two years and you’re Canadian, and I think that and being female is the most surface-level similarities we have. I was never a model and am definitely not cool.
But after that terrible introduction, and I’m not the best with words so I hope this all comes out how I intend it to, butI wanted to say I get it. I’ve never had Coolsculpting or anything like that, but I get what you’re feeling; the hiding, the anxiety, the embarrassment at someone seeing you.
For most of my late-teen/young adult life, I was one of two numbers: 57 and 62kg. I didn’t care about it, didn’t look much, was very happy with my 5’2″, 57-62kg frame. I was never self conscious as I believed I was a good weight for my height and frame. As long as I could wear the clothes I liked, nothing else mattered. I never had to care about the things my sister or some of my friends had to but was always making sure I told them how darn great they looked, because they did!
Then around 2014 I was starting to do acting, yay! I always wanted to do acting and start going into possibly working on short films. I was in local theatre shows and was going to workshops (even landed an agent!), my mental health as a result was getting more manageable.
But I was also putting on weight. It was just a little bit, nothing to be concerned of at first, but then none of my clothes fit. I didn’t understand, I was physically active; I was working on a musical, working on a web series and doing workshops, this was the most active I’d been in a long time!
I was also getting in front of camera and.. I looked different. I was getting frazzled and close to the tired I had when I first got chronic fatigue as a teen. Within seven months I had gained 10kg and that had never happened before.
Soon after, I was diagnosed with my sister and mum with hypothyroidism, the endocrine disorder of an underactive thyroid. Okay, no problem, I’m good with taking orders, let’s get it in check. So my sister and mum’s thyroids were becoming managed, and on paper mine was “within current normal levels”, but I was swelling. I wasn’t a sponge, I was like a radioactive marshmallow.
After the workshops and plays ended I focused more on writing and getting things ready for when I could feel better, but mostly look better, AKA Back To Normal.
It didn’t come.
I kept gaining weight. 2015, 2016, 2017.
I stopped appearing behind the camera.
I stopped posting selfies or any photos post 2014 with me in it.
I stopped taking photos of myself, period.
I kept gaining weight, until I was almost double my weight. I had never been self-conscious, but I felt a wrecking ball of it slammed me about every single day. Walking was and is exhausting, not because you have extra weight specifically, but the jiggly bits keep moving your clothes so you’re constantly readjusting because godforbid someone sees a bit of skin over your pants or some of your tum and thinks your a fat slob.
Also, CHAFING? IN AUSTRALIAN HEAT? Get outta here with that shit…
I didn’t recognise my face, my chin had a double chin, and no matter what angle I saw myself I was shocked at what I looked like.
I’m a massive introvert with a whole lotta anxiety and undiagnosed neurodivergence, so I get not wanting to be in public with people, but now I was a recluse, fearing I would see someone I know – or more accurately, they would see me. I was so ready to cut my double chin off, to cut my arms in half and my gut finally gone, and I’m certain if I had the money, not even my normal rigorous research would have stopped be getting some sort of procedure…
Between the end of last year and the start of this year I was able to get not one, but two diagnoses. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, and endometriosis. A real fun combo! It explained not only the weight gain but also other symptoms I’ve been feeling over the years. I’ve been put on some medication and slowly, so painfully slowly and with so much hard effort, I have lost 10kg. Not anywhere close to I want to be, but like my specialist said, “with PCOS, you have to work four times more than others”, and I’m going in the right direction so it’s something!
I still haven’t taken photos or videos and put them online unless they’re old photos. I still am not ready to see old friends or meet new ones. I know my body is different now even when I’m at a better weight for me again; I’m sure I’ll have skin that won’t shrink down to what it was. I’m still exhausted and undiagnosed in other ways. I’m not cured, in a way I never will be, I still have a long way to go and a lot of the time I’m wondering if I’m “too old” by societal standards to do what I want to do. I’m on a disability trying to get mentally and physically better, how long is that going to go on for?
But, yanno, I saw your post, and I had this instant feeling. My heart went out to you because I understood. Like I said, our stories aren’t the same; I’m not well-known, I didn’t have a procedure that gave me adverse effects, but I tell you, every word you said, I bloody got. No one I had talked to in my personal life understood the whole picture (some understood bits n’ pieces from their own life and struggle), but no one got the suddeness of what happened and the aftermath because of it. I just wanted to lunge into the screen and grab your shoulders and tell you “IT’S OKAY! I GET IT, LIND? Sorry do you like to be called “Lind?” Yeah sorry I just came out of your screen, don’t worry it happens all the time..”
I can’t imagine the constant pressure of the whole world looking at me, the very cruel things people can say or think, sometimes wondering if when people say you look great – even a “fine!” – if they really mean it or are just saying it. And when they go over the top with the “you are the most beautiful woman ever in the sea and sky”? Like honestly stop piling it on, you aren’t fooling anyone. That paranoia.
I haven’t seen any recent photos of you, I know there’s unsolicited/paparazzi ones floating around, but they’re not for us to see. I understand when you feel ready, you’ll be 100% ready to show the world what you look like, but at your own time and on your own terms. I’m certain you don’t look anywhere as “deformed” as you think you do, I am certain of that in my heart, but I’m also not going to invalidate how you currently feel because as much as people say “you’re beautiful” and the like, sometimes you just really don’t see it, you feel like their lying or blind. “They’re ridiculous!”
I just want to say that your feelings are allowed to be felt; your feelings of betrayal, embarrassment, even shame, or something else. But feelings aren’t the whole story, hell sometimes they’re not even the partial truth, and you’re more than what you think you are on your worst day.
I guess in a very long way I want to say your Instagram post helped very much, not just me, but thousands of others. I think you’re amazing, I think you’re not alone in any sense. I think you’re so awesome, and wonderful, and I’m rooting for you, and when you want to talk to us more I’ll be there and reading and when you feel confident and ready to share more with us I’ll be somewhere out there cheering for you and so happy for you. So thank you, Linda, thank you, and I hope this letter from this corner of the internet gives you some peace. And maybe laughs, but I’m not a comedian, I’m not even a ‘dian’.
Anyway I’ll shut up now,