More Women on Spark Than Men

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Everyone knows that there are many more women on Spark then there are men.
I was one of the first six people to start the largest team here on Spark. We gained members, but one by one, each of the other original six leaders left.

I did everything. I greeted new members; if anyone had questions about psyche meds, I would either get the information for them or give them a link to which site I thought provided the best answer; if they wanted to know if a particular side affect was possible, I looked that up and told them. If it wasn't published, I had them contact their doctor. And, for a lot of the members, just getting them to see a mental health professional was like pulling chicken's teeth.

It became very apparent (to me) that a huge number of the ladies problems were related to body dysmorphia (there was something about their appearance they didn't like and they were compensating in ways that ensured they would never look like they wanted (I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense to those of you who don't have wiring problems, but believe me when I tell you, it is a Very Real problem for people. Bulimia and anorexia both find their roots in Body Dysmorphia. I lost a high school friend who looked like she had everything. She was a recording star; she and her older brother were seemingly loved by everyone and their tours were all sell-outs. She died from the affects of Bulimia - you may have heard of her. Her name was Karen Carpenter.

This morning, when I signed in to put my breakfast info in and get the info that helps me keep tight control of my diabetes, I had a Spark Mail from a friend who was one of the earlier members of Dealing with Depression. She had joined the team about four years ago.

When she joined the team, at 5'6" she weighed 315#, hated herself, hated her life, hated her job, hated her apartment, hated her family. She was so full of hate and anger and so despondent that a couple of the other leaders and I felt she was close to making a decision to harm herself.

We contacted her via Spark Mail and gave her everything we had ever found about getting real help if thoughts of self harm over-came her. She shared with us what city and state she was in, and we looked up every psychiatrist and psychologist in town. We also went to the state medical boards to see if any of these people had active complaints, or if they had inactive or resolved accounts, had the medical board taken any actions and if so, what.

We eliminated two psychologists and one psychiatrist based on their complaint record and emailed her all of the other names.

She admitted she needed help, but "just couldn't make herself call for an appointment". So, we called her choice of a clinical psychologist and made an appointment for her. She had given us her telephone number, so on the day of the appointment we (one of the three of us) called her in the morning to motivate her to do all those lady things that women do that men don't, to "feel comfortable in public". OK, it wasn't me who called her.

We got her going and she called when she got to the doctor's office.

She talked to one of the other team leaders afterwards, and she felt like she had loosened up inside.

(Sidebar: Actually, all the other team leaders were women. I made that decision because I noticed when other men came to DwD, the ladies got very quiet when one of the men even brought up one of their problems. I had posted a long blog originally listing what had thrown me into the air and broke me on the way down, and the ladies seemed to trust me more - maybe that was a misperception, but that's why I chose all ladies.)

Anyway, she emailed me this morning to tell me she had reached her ultimate goal of 135#. She thanked me for "helping" (all I really did was give her encouragement and answer some questions - but she asked some questions she wanted answered from a male point of view, so I gave her those, too). She also wanted me to go to her Spark page and see her pictures, so I did.

Wow! When she first joined the team she was 25, going on 60, a Hard 60.

She now looks like a 30 year old going on 21! She has a fiance, has gone back to school to received her degree in nutrition and is now a partner in a business in her city that consists of her as Dietician/Nutritionist, another woman who is the Activities Director, and two doctors. The male doctor is an Internist and his wife
is a Psychiatrist. The business was my friends idea, and she had contacted the "Activities Director" who had been working as an instructor at another fitness center and she had contacted the Psychiatrist - who recruited her husband, the Internist. Her business has been open for 6 months and is going gangbusters.

She credits her success to her friends on Spark who forced her to seek professional help; to her psychologist who knew she needed psychiatric help in addition to the counseling; and to her Psychiatrist - who had referred her to her new business partner.

"Over four years, but I finally did it. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but my doctors (and friends) have given me the insight to use what was wrong with me as a tool to help others. You will get Spark mails from me, and I better get some from you, too - and not just because I sent you a Spark mail!"

Yes ma'am. I get a real sense of satisfaction when a depressed Milquetoast turns into an outgoing Jaguar.

Five, almost six years ago now, I had no idea I would ever receive an email like she wrote me. Actually, it almost made me cry.

I tried to think like a woman this morning, and, of course I failed. Then I tried to think like that old leader at Dealing with Depression.

In this life, you're a woman.

In your next life, come back as a bear. When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. Could you deal with that?

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid and there is no guilt attached. Could you deal with that, too?

When you're a lady bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly
cubs. From conversations that have gone on around me, some wives would call that heaven, just by itself. I'm pretty sure y'all could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone
who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. You don't even have to deal with the PC Police because someone claimed you were an ogre who beat her kids. First off, Family Services would check out the caller, and if she had any kids, they'd take temporary custody of them while they sent her for a Psych Eval. If she called the Police? I don't think there has ever been an officer of the law who was stupid enough to get between a mama bear and her cubs.

Could you deal with that?

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat. He knows if he nips at you, you'll nip back - and he will give you the respect you deserve.

So. What do y'all think? Gonna be a bear next time?

Heck, why wait until next time? Start practicing today.
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