I wasn’t going to post this but I think it raised so many questions inside that I just had to share in hope I will find the answer somehow. Last weekend it was just a normal Sunday afternoon walking home from the Supermarket. I stopped at the pedestrian crossing to cross the road with a stranger walking beside me.
Then the stranger spoke to me.
Stranger: “Excuse me, can I ask you a question? I don’t mean to be rude but do you have an eating disorder?”
Me: “That is a funny question to ask someone (nervous laugh)”
Stranger: “I’m sorry it’s just you look like you have an eating disorder and I just didn’t want you to suffer in silence.”
Me: “I’m fine but thanks.”
Stranger: “I’m a support worker you see and I help people plan meals and nutrition so I know about these things.”
Me: (Nervous laugh again thinking about the irony of it all) “I am doing OK thanks. Would you stop and tell someone who was overweight and ask them if they were obese and if they needed help?”
Stranger: “No I’m sorry I probably would have got a slap if I did. I’m not trying to chat you up or anything, I have a girlfriend. I shouldn’t have asked. I’m sorry.
Me: “No its OK honest, I don’t mind, I mean it actually feels good that you noticed something and asked me which is part of the problem I guess although I think I just look normal anyway…”
Stranger: “So you do have an eating disorder”
Me: “I have done in the past but I am actually doing OK now.”
Stranger: “That’s good. I just wanted to say something in case you were suffering in silence and didn’t have any one to talk to you know. I struggle with alcohol myself and know it can be hard to open up.”
Me: “I get that. Thanks for asking. Everyone has their way of coping with the bad stuff in life. ”
The conversation continued until we went our separate ways and the stranger told me about his parents splitting up and why he drinks now. I said goodbye and asked his name although he wouldn’t give it me because he said he would be scared if I put it on Facebook! I don’t use Facebook but I have made a blog post about it, hah.
So why is it OK to ask someone if they are underweight and not overweight?
Why can’t strangers talk to you without you looking like you need help? Why are we not more open and talk to people we share our paths with? Mental health is most often invisible but wouldn’t this change this so much if we just spoke to one another.
Also, I am now questioning my own state of mental health – I mean, am I OK now?
I feel “OK” but then is that the problem? I have been quite stable for a while but why has this suddenly been brought to my attention by a stranger?
I didn’t want this blog to become a focus of my past and eating disorder as I don’t want that to define who I am but these questions keep going around my head like a whirlwind trying to figure out where to go from here.
Thanks for reading and comment below if you have the answers!
Sarah Richelle X
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