Unseen Struggles: The Weight Beyond Weight

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

This is the story of Shruti and Raj (names changed). A touching journey of profound emotions woven through an array of love, loss and unyielding hope amidst a backdrop of deepset societal prejudices and biases.

As a young couple, their quest to start a family was laden with challenges. The initial elation of finally conceiving a pair of twins through IVF, was swiftly eclipsed by the cruel hand of fate. Losing one of the twins in the early months of conception left them reeling with grief. Despite the heartache, they clung onto the flickering hope for their remaining baby, channelling every bit of love and determination towards nurturing that fragile life.

In a heart-wrenching twist of destiny, just days before the expected delivery, their journey took yet another unexpected turn. They were shattered when the second baby’s heartbeat stopped in the womb and they faced loss once again. Their world was engulfed by the painful reality of losing both babies, leaving them immersed in profound grief.

The year was 2020 and amidst their ordeal, the world was overtaken by the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shruti, already battling with the weight of grief, found herself grappling with a severe bout of Covid. Once again, she was admitted for weeks in the hospital. Treatment with steroids saved her life but the side effects brought unwanted #weightgain. The pandemic restrictions further isolated her, eliminating avenues for physical activity and exacerbating her struggles emotionally as well as physically. A few months passed by.

As if her already overwhelming trials weren’t enough, one year later, she started experiencing an excruciating pain in the left hip joint. She was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip, a consequence of the steroids that she required during treatment for Covid. At a young age of 28, she faced the daunting reality of needing a hip replacement, an unforeseen challenge that added to her physical limitations and struggles. Each step became a battle and every movement a painful reminder of her body’s limitations. Coupled with her restricted mobility, it became an additional factor contributing to her weight gain.

Shruti’s struggles with her health issues weren’t merely confined to their physical toll. The most profound blow stemmed from the absence of understanding and empathy from those around her. Society’s unforgiving lens fixated solely on her outward appearance, remaining oblivious to the turmoil raging beneath the surface. Instead of offering empathy or a listening ear, they chose the path of blame—an unjust attribution of her weight gain to her actions, without acknowledging the intricate complexities she struggled with.

The understanding of #obesity needs to extend far beyond superficial judgements. Beyond the visual appearance lie many emotional and physical struggles that shape an individual’s journey with weight gain. While it’s easy to cast aspersions, true understanding requires a deeper connection, an effort to empathize with the multifaceted challenges faced by individuals. Sadly, in today’s world, obesity stands amongst the most stigmatized conditions, frequently greeted with a glaring lack of empathy. Instead of kindness, those affected often confront sneers, harsh judgments, and biased attitudes, exacerbating their already uphill battles.

Amid this tumult, Raj remains an unwavering source of support for Shruti. His love and belief in her never falter as he tirelessly advocates for her well-being and offers unwavering support.

Shruti’s yearning for a family and a life liberated from judgement remains resolute. Her dream transcends mere physical weight loss. It encompasses liberation from the confines of societal judgement and misconceptions. What she longs for is a world where her narrative finds resonance, where her trials are met not with disdain but with empathy, understanding, and heartfelt compassion.

In this world, as we all traverse our individual tests and trials the weight of these burdens tends to feel less heavy when we encounter understanding, empathy, and genuine compassion from others. Individuals dealing with obesity often face the unfortunate reality of not being truly heard or seen beyond their outward appearance. It’s important for society to listen to and truly see individuals dealing with obesity. Acknowledging their experiences and understanding the multifaceted nature of their struggles can pave the way for a more supportive and compassionate approach towards addressing this condition.