Sincere Advice From A Girl Whose Life is A Mess | 1 question | Kolleen Carney

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Dearest Friends,

It’s been so long! Like, months!! I have missed you. In my time away from you, I have gotten married to the love of my life, and my son moved to California permanently, and rearranged all the furniture in my house. I also saw IT in theaters twice, so things have been very hectic. Some days, it feels like I can barely breathe!  I could go on and on about so much, but you know—why? I don’t want to blather on about my silly life. Let’s just get back into the swing of things. I’m glad to be here again.

Remember that, if you have a question, you can email me any time:

Q: A few years ago I had some life saving surgery. It was, without question, 100% necessary. The problem is, since I had the surgery I have put on about 100lbs. After having a long conversation about it and knowing my specific issues due to my condition my specialist recommended I have weight loss surgery and wrote me a referral to the weight management program at the hospital. I have been in the program for a few years, spoken to dieticians, psychologists and the surgeon. I’ve had group sessions, talked it over with my loved ones and done my research. I have thought long and hard about this. This is a radical thing that is going to change my life, I believe for the better. I already have an extremely difficult relationship with food. I have suffered from disordered overeating since I was a child but before I had my serious health issue I was able to manage my weight.

Yesterday I opened the mail and discovered that I now have a confirmed surgery date. It’s next month. What I want to know is: should I be open with people about having weight loss surgery or should I keep it to myself? The reason I ask is because I know there are a lot of mixed opinions out there about weight loss surgery. I have known people who have had it and told me that they’d had negative comments from people that were hurtful. Things like “having weight loss surgery is the easy way out” or “if you’d just exercise more and easy less junk you’d lose weight”. When the truth is, this type of surgery is far from the easy way out AND a lot of people who have it have other conditions which mean they can’t exercise. I want the support of my wider network of friends and I feel like I should be open and honest with my colleagues (I’m going to have to take at least three weeks off of work) but weight loss surgery is such a divisive issue. I don’t want to have to go through the physical pain, do all psychological work on myself regarding my relationship to my body and food AND have to do a lot of emotional labor for others by trying to educate them and defend my choice – a choice that is about protecting my long term health. What do you think?

A: Honestly, you do not owe anyone any explanation as to why you are getting any surgery. Taking time off work to have a medical procedure is your business, and your employer and coworkers only need to know that you are having a medical procedure done and will be out for a bit. People are so goddamned nosy, and there are bound to be questions, but if it were me, I would respond with a polite but firm “I had a medical procedure” and keep the rest under the “it’s personal and none of your business” umbrella. 

Really, it’s all about how comfortable YOU feel with sharing the information. People are exhausting, and feel entitled to information that has nothing to do with them, and it is so taxing on your emotional labor capacities. Really, you must consider what is less strain on your mental health: telling them and having them judge (or be supportive! You never know!) or keeping it private and dodging questions. But really, when you think about it, everything we ever do is judged by others, so after a while it’s easy not to let it bring you down.

I am glad you are doing what you and your medical team think is best for you. I want you to be happy and healthy, in whatever capacity fits your personal needs.