It is a bizarre fact of life that, if you click on a documentary on YouTube and let it autoplay through for long enough, it will eventually try to serve up a television program about a fat person. I have no idea why this is, other than "because internet". It's not exactly my favorite sort of reality TV pap -- I watch lurid true crime shows, myself -- but I do occasionally let it run through out of sheer curiosity.

I categorically refuse to get into any fat acceptance/Health At Any Size discussions here, except to comment that, while I am absolutely positive that fat people are people and should be treated as such, I am getting less and less sure about reality TV producers. The two most common thoughts I have while watching these things are, "Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to put this on the air?" and "Is it possible to reach backwards through space and time to punch the insensitive jackass presenting this program?"

The third thing I think, assuming I ever manage to get past the first two, is, "There are people who feel better when they eat? That is un-fucking-fair."

It is unfair in the same way that being immune to the analgesic effects of opioids is unfair. The way being immune to THC is unfair. The same way it's unfair that drinking away a panic attack doesn't work. That α- and β-blockers are too dangerous to use for calming down. That stimulants are so teeth-grindingly unpleasant. That plowing along until I end up hurting myself only hurts, and 'runner's high' or 'endorphine rushes' might as well be the Babylonian sirrush for all the evidence I have ever found of their existence. That fucking bubble baths, supposedly the epitome of selfish relaxation, just make me miserably overheated. It's unfair in one of those terrible ways that is not, and cannot be, anyone's fault, but produces consequences which I have to deal with anyway, day in and day out.

The fact is, people hold onto all of these "sinful", "self-indulgent" vices even -- or perhaps especially -- when it's terrible for their bodies because whatever thing they've hit on made them feel, however briefly, right. Sarah Hepola, for one, describes discovering alcohol in her memoirs as a transcendental experience, one that for a few short hours made her feel like she thought she should have felt all the time: Confident, charming, free of worry, able to move without fighting herself. Anorexics and bulimics turn to restriction or binging/purging because it gives them a feeling of control and accomplishment, a small triumph in what they otherwise perceive as the unforgiving chaos of their lives.

Nothing has ever made me feel that way. Nothing. Ever. Not just chemicals; I also say that about things like having spiritual experiences as part of a church group, or being swept up in the emotional tsunami of a rally (or a riot). I've never experienced it.

I know I say things like "this stuff is fucking brilliant" about drugs like alprazolam, but what I mean by that isn't, "this substance makes me feel as if I am the best possible me when it is swirling around in my bloodstream". I mean, "this substance takes a patently unlivable situation and converts it into a series of slightly smaller problems, which I can schedule, work around, or simply brute-force ignore." The effects of whatever drug I'm taking aren't better than 'normal'. They're better than 'non-functional'. A metric fuckton of things are better than 'non-functional', and I've tried a fuckton-factorial of things in an effort to sift out the ones that aren't completely useless.

I sometimes envy people who 'eat their feelings'. One presumes they do this because it works, at least for a little while. I'd love it if I could fix myself temporarily with, for instance, cake. It might not be great to do that constantly, but just a few hours of normal function can make a big difference. A few minutes, sometimes. The sequelae may make you unhappy later, I suppose. But I don't even get to make that choice -- I can't trade 'super good right now' for 'way less good later', because I have honestly never found anything that can bring me up from 'not good right now' to anything better than 'still not good but now in more predictable and therefore manageable ways'.


  1. You have an inherent and persistent state of knurd. Or, in less Pratchetty language, your whole neural system, from the subconscious right on up, is too connected to reality to allow chemical euphoria.

  2. "Eating one's feelings" is extremely useful. Nothing bothers you, nothing distracts you, you can push through whatever it is and get the work done.

    The downside is that you start to forget how to relate to other people after a while, because eating one's feeling means eating all of one's feelings, not just the unpleasant ones.

    1. Such is the danger of any exogenous method of altering mood. I like to think I'd stand a good chance of not overdoing it, probably for the same reason I don't overdo things with diazepines, which is that it would interfere in something I like even better than not freaking out if I do. In the case of sedatives, it's thinking. In the case of cake, it'd be the ability to stretch properly. I already run into issues where getting things through their full range of motion involves putting parts of me through other parts of me. Can't imagine how much worse that would get if there were twice as much of me as there currently is.


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