[tw: physiological abuse] hellaFAT confessions: retention of stress?
I’ve been realizing lately that I have some issues symptomatic of anxiety disorder. I don’t want to offend people who are diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety disorder and at the same time I do want to be concerned with and talk about my health.
- Breathing and Not Breathing Enough
- Body Tension, Battle Readiness
Breathing and Not Breathing
After reading a guide on anxiety, particularly about worrying, breathing exercises, being constantly ready to be attacked or deal with the worst, “negative thinking”, and body tension, I started to notice that I do not breathe evenly and my body is always tense, particularly in my shoulders.
I have to actively and intentionally force myself to take even breaths 1-2-3 in, 1-2 hold, 1-2-3 out, 1-2 hold…
Once I was at the gym, just going because my mom talked me into it while I was depressed, and the fitness guy on duty there was showing me the machines. He had to keep telling me to breathe while he taught me the ins and outs of the machines.
I learned that I enjoy exercising but that my heartbeat remains relatively low and I wonder if its because of my inability to breathe correctly without forcing myself to.
These days, or for past few weeks, I have to stop and wonder if I’m breathing. I tend to breathe very lightly, a defense mechanism I took to give the illusion of stillness when I was an antelope in wilderness of grade school to avoid the attention of hungry lion-bullies.
Tension, Battle Readiness
My shoulders are always tense, and I can think of a whole host of reasons why I am now having to force my muscles to relax:
- My mom used to beat me as a child, so I was always bracing myself for the next attack. She always to used yell at me, very verbally abusive to accompany the physical abuse, and smack me a lot, so raised voices kind of freak me out.
- Being bullied in school doesn’t help. You’re always expecting to be attacked, even years later.
- Being intelligent, opinionated, poor, Black, fat, female/gender fluid, queer—well, there’s no end to the number of people who want to attack you for one or two or all of these. I always expect to be judged. I always expect to have more things taken away from me or remain ungranted if I’m too much of myself at one time.
- As much as I hate to admit it, my mother’s ex-husband raised his voice a lot, called the police on me for standing up to his bullshit, hit me, and used his body to intimidate me and my family. I was always on the ready to beat that bitch’s ass if I had to, especially after the time he slapped me and I had to punch his dumbass.
- Fat Black woman are brick houses, right? That’s why everybody is always trying to get their karate chop down on us and use our self-esteem to build theirs. In terms of the physical, fat Black children and women are incapable of being seen as children, as innocent, as humyns who hurt and feel pain because our size makes people feel like we deserve to be attacked, that we’re big enough to handle it. Our skin is bullet proof. Our fat cushions us from all injuries. We’re all loud-mouthed, confident, dismissive bitches who offend them with our very existence. We’re tough enough to stay fat, to be “that big”, so we’re tough enough to deal with their consequences—fat-hazing, psychological, physical, emotional, verbal abuse—physiological abuse.
My friend thinks I might be retaining some of my weight with my stress, also fucking up my menstrual cycle with my stress (it might also be endometriosis or an ovarian cyst but I need to pool the courage to go to the gynecologist). I was telling her how I feel my shoulders are always tense, kind of thick and bunched up, no matter what. Most of my weight is in my arms and torso, I feel.
Worrying and being prepared, anxiety, used to be the source of my vigilance, my guard against bullshit. It has a 50% chance of blocking 50% of all the negativity that comes my way. But now, I’m trying to take care of myself because I feel like no one else cares (meaning one or two people do and 1) I don’t want to burden them with my issues, 2) or I don’t think they can’t help). The anxiety is in the way.
Its kind of scary that I can’t be freer because I’m probably stockpiling stress created by my life inside my body, not just in my mind.