Your Body or Your Life

[Trigger warning: discussion of suicide]

I am mesmerized by the human brain. The old Euell Gibbons (or was it Marlin Perkins?) Mutual of Omaha cliches about the “wonders and miracles of nature” do not even come close to describing the remarkable capabilities of what some call our sexiest organ. My attachment to my brain is increasing exponentially as I age. This is sad considering my brain seems to be reveling in finding ways to let me down and disappoint me.

Mad Libs cover, with funny cartoon facesMy memory has always been one of my greatest strengths. While I could never accept a compliment about any other asset, I had no problem owning the fact that I had an unbelievable memory, and I used it professionally and personally to benefit myself, my students, and my patients. Today? It pains me to report: I live in a world of perpetual Mad Libs®. Remember Mad Libs? It was a party game where you had to fill in blanks with verbs, adjectives, nouns and the occasional gerund without knowing the context for the words. When all of the blanks were finished, the “scribe” would then read the completed version and giggles would abound at the incongruity of the words. Of course as we got older, we made all of the words as sexy as possible and got very creative with four letter words”¦ more hysterics.

Bad Libs cover: Coming out to your friends, Gay means "fun" Today? Not so hysterical. My brain is reMINDing me daily how hard it has been working for over half a century and is now ready for a rest and would I PLEASE not burden it with superfluous questions or concerns like,

“What was the name of the guy in that movie with that other guy”¦I think they were in Texas?”

Hmmm, a proper noun”¦ here’s one, now leave me be.

Of course there are still memories that haunt my brain; embedded so deep that when accessed it is like being on “The Holodeck” and I am reliving the experience in present time. When the memories are joyful this can be great fun. But unfortunately my brain also holds memories of times that were so profoundly painful that to this day tears get activated in the blink of my eye.

Some of my most negative memories revolve around my body hate and shame as a child; a common chord among many people who were not the “perfect size” growing up. I’ve blogged quite a bit about some of these memories and ways that I found to transform my body hate into self-acceptance. But I know I am one of the lucky ones. Many people reach a point where they are so tormented by the aggression and overt disgust aimed at their bodies that they end the misery by committing suicide. For those of you, who think this may be far-fetched, trust me. If you had seen the number of adolescents who I worked with in Psychiatric Inpatient care who survived suicidal attempts only to tell me that the primary reason they wanted to die was because of how disgusting their body was you would be less skeptical.

I wish I could report that these are remnants of days gone by. After all, isn’t it ludicrous that in a world that has abundant proof that there is a connection between weight bullying and suicide, children and adults continue to take their own lives as a result of being teased and discriminated against based on their size? Ludicrous? Yes. Rare? No. One reason is the permission that our society gives people to perpetuate unapologetic hatred towards people who are, heaven forbid, fat! Read the comment sections from just about any online article or blog post about obesity, dieting, or weight management and you will inevitably see at least one comment from someone who has no compunction about sharing their belief that:

“FAT people deserve to die. They take up too much space and they are disgusting to look at.”

Ludicrous? Yes. Rare? No. Painful? Absolutely.

Some of you may remember the ten-year-old Illinois girl who took her own life last year because she felt so hopeless about being fat. She is not alone. If anyone reading this needs more evidence, last February, hlkolaya, a brilliant blogger for the website Fierce Freethinking Fatties wrote a moving post about the connection between weight stigma and suicide with links to many other tragic examples of this societal travesty. Recent studies have even shown that normal weight adolescents who feel fat are at risk for depression and feelings of suicide and hopelessness! Look, I know this is a painful and controversial topic but the timing couldn’t be more perfect to explore your thoughts and feelings on this matter.

 September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week

I am not sure who these people are who put together all of these awareness weeks, months, days, or years. Sometimes the linear, hungry for order, left side of my poor old brain would appreciate it if they would “aaawwllll” just come together and work from a master calendar. It would feel so much more “¦well”¦ linear! But I will say that it is not a big leap to make from Suicide Prevention Week (September 9th-15th) to Weight Stigma Awareness Week (September 24th-28th). We already know there is a powerful interrelationship between weight bullying and suicide and perhaps having two awareness weeks so close together will prompt us to take some action, get involved, and acknowledge the need to address this preventable waste of life whether it be in our homes, schools, workplaces and/or legislature.

For more about bullying, weight stigma, and suicide prevention please visit these links:



Association of Suicidology:

Do you have any information about this topic that you would like to share? Remember, These are Diablogues NOT diatribes.

Thanks for reading and “see” you next time.

Dr. Deah



By Dr. Deah Schwartz

Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders and Body Image. Deah is the Co Author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even worse, family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at

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