I’m No Twink: On Weight, Mental Illness, and Self-Love

In a world where gay men are constantly seeking validation online from other gay men to feel desired, loved, and affirmed—one can find themselves drowning in shame.

Within the last 48 hours, I’ve been told that I’m not skinny enough. The thicker version of my body is not as desired as my former body was. Somehow having thighs that touch, a stomach that isn’t flat, pecks made up of fat instead of muscle, and a bigger rear end makes me insignificant.

I weigh 170 pounds. Now before someone says, “that’s not a lot Mark.” I will say that weighing 170 pounds is a lot for me. As a person who has a lower back injury, cerebral palsy, and joint and knee problems, weight gain isn’t just harmful to my self-esteem, it takes a toll on my physical body. Here’s something that not everyone may be aware of—my weight gain isn’t just a byproduct of my emotional eating or stress.

In July I made the decision to start taking anti-depressants in my effort to improve my overall wellness. Since starting medication, my weight has been on its own roller coaster, going up and down, and it is frustrating. For the last few weeks I’ve been avoiding taking my medication. I figure if I stop taking the medication, then I’ll be able to get my weight under control. Except I don’t do well off of the medication and I have come to realize that depression is here to stay.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that has been my life for the past year. To focus on work and ignore everything else but at night, all that’s keeping me company are the thoughts running through my mind. If being bigger is the price to pay for being in a better head space, I have to accept it. Loving myself is far more important than vanity or ego. Embracing myself means embracing the fact that my body will continue to change. That I will never go back to being that 120 pound twink.

To anyone out there who is struggling with body image, mental health, and/or loving yourself, I hope you know that you aren’t alone. You are more significant than any number on a scale or anyone who tries to shame you because you are not as thin. You are allowed to better yourself and you are allowed to find joy in who you are in this moment.

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