When I look back on my story, the first Lyme disease symptom, along with extreme fatigue, that was most evident was weight gain. To be clear, not everyone with Lyme gains weight. Although rare, some people don’t experience any weight fluctuations and/or some people lose weight, like a lot of weight. To the point where they look severely malnourished and anorexic. They can’t keep weight on no matter how hard they try. Now, I am aware that this is just as traumatic as gaining weight, but if I had the choice of gaining vs. losing, I will always choose losing. Perhaps it’s my own vanity, but I’d rather look like an emaciated model than the latter.
I could go on about how traumatizing this weight gain was. How I knew people thought I had “let myself go”, or perhaps this is why my marriage failed, or all the things people likely thought about me during this time, but I won’t. None of those were true and I refuse to give any sort of power to those ignorant assumptions. Did it suck to gain 60+ pounds right before my wedding? You bet. Was it difficult to get it off, at this age, with exercise limitations? Abso-f&*#-ing-lutey! But do I think it happened for a reason? As much as I protest this, yes, I believe that it did.
What infuriated me the most was somehow that weight gain, combined with my illness, put me in a position that I’d never been in, nor did I think I’d ever be in during my life. I call it the Fat Suit, much like the movie Shallow Hal, but from the viewpoint of Rosemary, GP’s character in the film. In the Fat Suit, I was shown a very ugly side of humanity. While I will never disclose names, because that’s not my style, the true colors of many were shown to me during this time. I often said: ‘there are a lot of women out there who hate me, or hated me”. It almost became comical, as this happened over and over again, mainly from women, but from men, too. I cannot believe the amount of disrespect I was given during this time. A time, when I should have been shown care, love, concern and empathy. Not ridiculed, judged, or looked down upon. The truth is, some people enjoyed seeing me like that. Sounds harsh, but I call it like it is, and they did. They enjoyed seeing me sick. They enjoyed seeing me in the Fat Suit. It likely made them feel superior and whatever jealousies, envies and/or hang ups they’d had with me glared at me smack dab in the face. To those people, shame on you, but know I also forgive you. That’s what empathy is, which is something I have always been, whether I’m thin and fit (thank you God, I got this back), or in the Fat Suit. I’m proud to be that person and will always remain kind, empathetic and compassionate. I will not allow the cruelty of this world turn me into a cold, bitter person. But with that said, I’m kind to myself first, so most of those people are either no longer in my life by (my) choice, or if they are its limited with serious boundaries.
Survival of the fittest is such an antiquated concept. We live in a world where people are sick, very sick and sadly, unless things start to change, our population is just going to get sicker. That being said, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Megan Hopkins and I am someone who worked damn hard to achieve success and professional accolades. It took years of hard work to earn that title, so please explain to me how something like weight gain and/or illness diminishes that? I’m not speaking just for myself either. I’ve had this discussion with several other extremely successful individuals, both men and women, whom have also experienced this exact same thing after getting diagnosed with an illness. It legitimately baffles my mind that this stuff happens and until you go through it, you will likely not be able to understand what I’m referring to. This is why, with every fiber of my being, I am committed to trying to change how we treat those with illness and/or disabilities.
The future is Stigma Free. This is a big social media campaign right now. If you haven’t noticed it, now you will. This is largely what I love so much about social media and its power. Its provided us with a platform to unite globally with likeminded people in a way that’s never been done before. That power is beautiful. Quit judging. When you judge you are revealing a side of yourself that needs to be healed. It’s that simple, and so, so true. Heal yourself, love yourself and love your neighbor. It costs nothing to be kind. Absolutely nothing.