This week I’m posting something positive everyday for operation well-I’m-beautiful-why-do-I-give-a-fuck? Because this week I’m exposing my upper arms in public (!!) and I need all the positivity I can get. The following post starts off negative but it gets happier, I promise.
This takes a lot to admit: I’ve gained 4 stone in the past year. Probably more, as I weighed myself months ago, but that weigh-in was followed by a binge, my last proper binge, and I’ve got too many social events planned to weigh myself again. By this I mean if I weigh more than I did a couple of months ago, I’ll be a hermit for at least a week.
I am ashamed at my weight gain, but it’s not surprising. I gained weight in my last year at Uni, my bingeing becoming more frequent, so did my overeating. I walked everywhere in Plymouth and it became more difficult, I stopped having the energy to walk places unless I was on a sugar high.
When I came home from Uni, having dealt with increasing Depression I stopped walking everywhere. Bristol is a much bigger city and buses and cars are necessary. Not only was I depressed about my weight, but I was disappointed in myself because the CBT I received and body image therapy hadn’t been enough, and in my eyes, this was my failure. I was going back to the place where all my issues with food started, where I didn’t have a job, and with the knowledge that I’d just been through Uni, supposedly the best years of my life, feeling like the frumpy oddball in the corner.
Basically, I had failed at life.
Depression increased as my activity levels headed in the opposite direction and bingeing and overeating became an everyday thing. I didn’t have a focus to take my mind off things, I couldn’t get a job and had no money plus huge student loans to pay off, and I was getting like, 18 views a day on my blog.
So I stopped going out, blaming myself for everything and wallowing in self-pity, with bouts of hoping for magic weight loss. Then, before I knew it, it was September andGraduation. I look back on Graduation as the worst weekend of my life. It was excruciating. My Dad filmed me walking on stage and shaking some woman’s hand as my name is called, and I walk down the steps and round the hall with my head down, avoiding eye contact. My parents said the sadness was written all over my face, that I looked as if I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
The night of Graduation I did not want to leave my hotel room, yet I knew I would regret it if I didn’t, and also get a lot of flak for missing the last night out.
A group of us went out to the student union and attempted to get drunk. It was freshers week, and for all of you students or ex-students, you’ll know freshers week is crazy busy full of first years getting ‘off their tits’.
I was stood at the bar in front of a group of lads, probably first years, 18 year olds wanting to get pissed and sleep with some equally drunken girl. One of the drunken guys at the bar got his drinks and started to turn back and sidle through the crowd to his mates. He held the drinks high enough to avoid bumping into someone, which happened to be above my head. I tried to shy away, some beer spilt on me. A bit went in my hair but most of it sloshed down my dress, the first dress I bought from a plus size shop for a night out. My Graduation night. Which I already felt was a complete disaster because at this point, I was 2 stone heavier than when I left Uni.
He didn’t apologise, but walked off, and one of his mates said “she looks better that way” or “It’s an improvement”. It wasn’t possible for me to be more embarrassed.
I was about to leave after that. If I was slimmer, my initial reaction would have been to turn around and make some comment which contained the words ‘fuck’ and ‘off’ but I couldn’t be feisty, because they had verbalised what I’d been feeling. In my mind they were completely right. They hadn’t even said anything about my weight, but any comment at that moment was enough. My only option was to go to the bathroom, sit in shock (whilst having a wee, I’d had a couple of drinks by then, you can’t blame me) and leave without telling anybody. I could go back to my hotel room and have a major cry, the cry that had been building up in me since I’d woken up that morning and realised that I’d had 4 months to lose weight and I hadn’t done it. Again.
As I was waiting for the acceptable time to walk away from the bar so that the guys didn’t know they’d gotten to me, I stopped myself.
At the time I didn’t think too much about it.
Fuck it, it’s my graduation night, I’m not going to let some piece of shit first year’s comment make me leave the SU. I’ve been getting pissed in this place before he was even born! Ok, that was an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.
I hadn’t seen my friends for months, so I got my drinks and left, and I did something I would never have done before – I told my friend what the guy had said. She was sympathetic, and then we went and sat down.
And that moment, my friends, is exactly how I know that I’m going to make it.
My Graduation, a day where I was supposed to feel proud of my achievements, was full of self-hate. The evening, which was meant to be a special night of celebrations, was full of self-hate. But I stayed. I stuck it out. Self-hatred and all.
And that’s the point.
Every fibre in my being didn’t want to go to Graduation. I lied about being excited about it, I smiled falsely at every opportunity. I let people take pictures of me, knowing very well that my double chin would make an appearance despite the turtle neck thing I do to hide it. But I still did it.
At the time I didn’t think I had a choice. If I didn’t go to graduation I would get so much shit from friends and family, so I thought I had no choice. But I did – I could have said I wasn’t well. Or that I was on holiday or something. It would have saved money, and I know that my immediate family would have understood. I had the choice, and I went. I faced my fears head on. Yes I suffered for it, I felt awful for weeks. I cried to my mum a lot and I didn’t leave the house for a while. But I wasn’t the girl who cried and ran out in embarrassment. I was the girl who feigned disinterest and got drunk.
I’ve started to realise (I know, 22 years and I’m only realising I have a choice in stuff?) that I do have a choice.
I’ve noticed an old friend who’s a bit of a dick has lost weight and gotten a girlfriend. Everytime I saw something new on facebook I felt terrible. He’d lost weight (something I’ve failed at) and despite being a dick, he’d got himself a girlfriend?!
So I deleted him.
I don’t need that shit. I don’t need to feel bad about myself because someone I used to be friends with is outwardly doing better than me.
Bam! Deleted. I’ve taken control of my life, one less negative on my list.
My friend’s getting married this week and I’m bridesmaid. I’m terrified of showing my arms and being in front of so many people and having to go out for a hen night when I’m accustomed to staying at home all day every day. I could have made an excuse before we got fitted for our dresses, or even dropped out later. I could have accepted that my friend would think less of me for not making an effort for her big day. I could have chosen to drop out, but I didn’t. Her friendship means more to me than continuing to let people down last minute because my anxiety gets the better of me.
I chose to push through the issues for her wedding day, and to be as good a bridesmaid as I can possibly be under the circumstances. I am not perfect, but I’ll be there.
Bam! Decision made. I will not continue to run from situations that scare the shit out of me.
A couple of weeks ago me and my Mum signed up for Race For Life (which was postponed by the way due to the weather. Everything you’ve heard about England and weather is true). I wanted to do Race For Life to raise money for cancer research, but also to have a reason to be proud of myself. I struggle with low self-esteem, but walking 5km is undeniably a good thing, as is raising money for a disease that affects so many.
Bam! I signed up to do it, and I’m keeping to my word… whenever it’s rescheduled for.
I’m not an angel, none of these decisions were easy – it took me months to delete the old friend, i’ve asked to wear a bolero for the majority of my friend’s wedding day, and it took me weeks to build up the courage to sign up for sign up for Race For Life.
The point I’m making is now I know I have a choice. If I’m asked for a night out but don’t feel comfortable doing this, I have a choice whether I want to push myself and go out with the possibility that it might be good or it might be bad, or I can choose to stay in my comfort zone.
This is my choice.
And that’s why personalised recovery (what ‘recovery means to me might not be what ‘recovery’ means to you) is possible. I am making choices which will determine my future, only I can stay with my disorder and only I can kick its ass.