Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Schadenfreude revisted

In the comments to my Schadenfreude post, John wrote:-

For the record: I'm not the slimmest person in the world either, but I'm working on it. My wife has struggled with her weight all her life, although she's dropped something close to 150 lbs in the past couple of years.

In some of our efforts to lose weight, I've noticed a few things: the more extreme the diet, the more apt I was to rebel against it and secretly scarf down a Krispy Kreme or two on the way home. The more it felt like work the less I was able to put myself into it. You have to find things that fit you so you'll actually do them.

But when you're as big as this woman is, in my mind, about the only thing you can consider is something like gastric bypass surgery to give the person a fighting chance to be able to use sensible diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

If you're so big that you can't leave the house, you could shift to a low calorie, low fat diet with natural foods and whole grains, follow it faithfully, and still be so far behind that you're still pretty much going to die.

I agree whole-heartily with what you've said, John. One of the things I like about Weight Watchers is that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. I can eat whatever I want, so long as I balance it out and stay within my points limit for the day. And, from your photos, both you and DW are doing wonderfully well in your battle to beat the bulge. We're all warriors in that fight.

What I'm trying to get my head around is the vehemence of my emotional response to this woman's plight. I feel angry. And I don't understand why. Some of the anger is directed at her husband, but the rest is directed at her.

I don't feel that way when I read about the 34 stone teenager, who features in a BBC documentary. (34 stone = 476lb = 216kg) I feel pity; I feel sorry for her. Ditto the two young men who featured in last night's Real Story on the BBC (sorry no link available yet). All three have undergone gastic surgery (the two guys had gastric bands fitted in the US). If there is a common factor in their obesity, it's that they'd lost the ability to register feeling full. I don't feel angry at them or at their parents.

Nor do I feel angry at a friend who ballooned out to 35 stone (490lb/223kg) when he was stationed overseas places where life revolved around the pub/officers' mess and alcohol. In his case, I can understand the "how". I also applaud his efforts at turning it all around (he's lost over 10 stone so far - that's 140lb).

I guess the reason I'm so angry at that woman is that she's been given life-changing offers of help and either refused them or not taken advantage of them. She spent several months in a very expensive private psychiatric hospital undergoing counselling, a diet and exercise program. OK, the money ran out, but she's refused offers of the same type of care in a public psychiatric hospital. Sure the local psych hospital isn't as glamorous as The Priory, but IT'S THE SAME TYPE OF CARE. What she isn't acknowledging is that she has an eating disorder and (guess what?) eating disorders are psychiatric disorders.

I've run out of time to write any more. Now to quickly post this.

- Pam

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