Firstly, I want to say thank you to those of you who took the time to read the previous mental health post; I am moved by those of you who reached out and spoke to me about it. The main aim of this is, first and foremost, about helping others and I certainly seem to be doing that.
Mental Health- Weight and Depression
I’m what society would deem fat. The doctors tell me I’m morbidly obese. I have been for as long as I can remember. Few of you may remember the skeleton girl of nursery and primary school. I’ll let you into a secret; that girl didn’t eat. Literally. Mum would buy me sweets and I would play with them.
What changed? Our doctors. After years of being a very sickly child we were told on our first visit I had something wrong with my ears and I needed an operation. Everything changed. I wasn’t so sick any more. I ate more, and more, and more. I blew up like a balloon. There are very few pictures of me at that time.
By high school I’d resided myself to being fat. I didn’t enjoy it. I could see my mother’s disappointment. I earned the name ‘double boobs’ by the boys. Those of you who’ve seen Total Recall are now thinking “they meant it as a compliment, right?” No, no they did not. You see, they were commenting on the roll of fat that was so massive, it came out to the same extent of my ample size breasts.
It’s not like I didn’t try. I ditched my lunch every day in school and headed straight for the library when I could. I said I tried; I didn’t say it was sensible. No prizes for knowing that this didn’t work. Not only that, I now know this was having a detrimental impact upon my physical and mental wellbeing. My body was going into starvation mode at a key developmental stage of my life.
When I started to make my own lunches, the starvation stopped a little but my diet was loaded with bad carbs; pasta, bread, cake. Takeaways were none existent which was something.
Now I need to introduce you to someone I love dearly and someone who is no longer with us to defend herself. This is not meant to be slander. I only have my version of events and my truth. I don’t know her motivations but I’m certain her actions were meant with love.
My mother. I’ve seen pictures of her at 19. On her wedding day, she had a tiny waist and long, long legs. I never had it confirmed but I always had the impression my mum wanted a girl to dress up and look pretty. To me, my weight was a disappointment to her.
I think I was 14 when my mum bought me my first pack of appetite suppressant tablets from Home and Bargain (back when it had an ‘and’). In truth, when the same number of sweet treats and crisps were brought into the house, it wasn’t what I needed. I needed a lesson in self-control. When those didn’t work, mum bought me the cans of Slim Fast. God, they were horrible.
The one thing I love to do is walk. With a purpose. I never go out and wander; unless I’m going with someone and there’s the reward of a pub at the end. I got a job as soon as my National Insurance number came through and I walked there and back every weekend. A little weight came off. I was happy, but I don’t think my mum was. My nan commented on my loss one visit, only for my mum to take it back once we’d left. I truly love my mum, but that hurt me more than I can ever truly explain.
When it came to 6th form, there was one life altering event that caused more damage than anything else. I would argue that this was when my eating ‘habits’ became an eating ‘disorder.’ One I overcame myself.
As all teenagers do, I had a crush on a teacher. He happened to be on the trip to New York when I went with the school. This embarrassing point is crucial to the point of this ‘chapter’, for want of a better word.
I loved Levi jeans. Why? I have no idea. I had the opportunity to buy a couple of pairs. Now, people misjudge my size all the time so the woman in the store sent me in to the changing room with the wrong size. I was very quickly running out of time so I assumed I needed the next size up, paid, and off I went.
Oh, how wrong I was. They didn’t fit and the teacher in question knew I was late because of this purchase. I made the mistake of telling him they didn’t fit. He found it hilarious and asked what I would do seeing as I couldn’t take them back.
“I’m going to get into them.” I told him defiantly, he scoffed.
When I returned home I asked my mum to buy me Slim Fast. Not the pre-mixed ones, but the tubs of powder. She brimmed with pride. Little did she know how dark this part of my life would get. (Mix yourself? Just as nasty FYI.) Add to this the daily question from the teacher “do they fit yet?”, and I was adamant that I wouldn’t give up.
Except I did. I gave up eating. It was easy; A Slim Fast bar for breakfast stowed in my bag so I didn’t eat breakfast at home and I’d bin my lunch time meal replacement – my parents would often be in work of an evening, so I just didn’t eat. I couldn’t really get away with it at the weekend and I’d often pig out. Dangerous looking back.
The day I got into the jeans, I wore them to school and the teacher wasn’t in. Next day, I wore the other pair. He didn’t seem impressed. That was deflating. At least I had my mum ecstatic, wanting to take me shopping for new clothes. I even bought a dress I’m sure. Do you know when the teacher said well done? The following week when he saw me eating a sandwich at lunch. Well damn?! Looking back now, perhaps I didn’t get away with my starvation as easily as I thought.
Now, the problem with starvation is that the moment you return to a normal diet, the weight starts to creep back on. It did, but at least it was slowly and I was relatively happy with my weight when heading into uni. Up until the final year, I remained at a steady 14-16 and I even got down to 10 stone once I’d sorted out my contraceptive pill and rationed cheese.
Then Ben happened.
Relationships. There’s something comfortable about them and people gain weight. I quickly lost the weight when we split; again, through starvation and I was close to a size 12 when I started working for a cinema and drinking after work became a thing.
By the time I started my first teaching job in Leeds, I was rather squishy around the middle again. My lunch was free, but spaghetti Bolognese came with a side of potatoes and I hate waste. As my waistline increased, my mental health decreased. Living alone often resulted in takeaways and microwave meals and two years in I was tipping the scale at 13 St 6. This was not okay. My mum would be screwing (angry).
I tried another meal replacement drink. If I thought Slim Fast was bad, this was… well this was death. After about 3 days, the £60 investment went into the bin. Slimming World was suggested to me. I had nothing else to lose. I was sort of seeing someone at the time and I felt he wanted us to keep it secret because I was fat. Slimming World was brilliant and in about 9 months I’d lost just over 2 stone.
Then a careless comment drove me ‘down the rabbit hole’. I was at prom, wearing my favourite dress and a member of staff complimented me. Or so they thought. ‘You look prettier the more you’re losing weight.’ I’d told myself being thin was all it was to be pretty, but I’d also logically told myself that it was my inner voice and people didn’t really believe that. Except, now I couldn’t say that anymore. Here was a real-life person validating my negative voice I was fighting to minimalise.
I stopped going and by 2014 the weight had creeped back on and I was over 14 stone, miserable and single. Again, I had a heart-breaking crush on someone I worked with and I couldn’t tell him. We had so much in common and I really enjoyed his company. I cared so much about him that I gave up the chance of a promotion so he could get it, then covered for him whenever I could. I genuinely thought he liked me too. I thought it was the shame of me being a big girl that meant he’d not step past flirting.
So, in February 2016 I re-joined slimming world and I was fucking acing it. I was steady and consistent with my loss. I was ‘happy’ with myself (in actual fact I was miserable, just starting my anti-depressants and a course of Valium for my panic attacks that would be brought on by my simply walking into work) and I was on target to look stunning for prom.
That I did. I looked amazing. But it felt like it was for nothing. I felt hollow. Mainly because I could no longer say that my size was why he didn’t want me. I felt like a failure. I felt broken. I didn’t let it hold me back. I kept going throughout the summer. In fact, I was going all the way until I met Sam in October. 9 months later, I’m 14 stone again (no, no, no… not baby weight), miserable and single.
I keep getting told I seem desperate to have a boyfriend; I’m really not. If I’m desperate for anything, it’s to be thin. Not healthy; I can write a post convincing you all that’s what I want. But the way my brains wired, the healthy part is the bonus of getting rid of the fat that weighs me down. You might call this semantics, but it’s important I’m clear on how my brain works.
I want the fat gone. I have a pain on my left side from what I can only assume is the weight that I carry; it’s there most days. I have skin irritation between the fold of fat where my stomach is so heavy it heads downwards. I don’t want to go the gym. People will see my fat wobble and my negative voice tells me everyone will be laughing.
You know when I will go the gym? When I’ve lost a bit of this weight. I did it last time and boy, I was good. I enjoyed the gym. I got my health up and I was even running for the bus. Only, my immune system had other ideas and kept me in a perpetual state of illness (vitamin D deficiency- another post). The getting healthy and being active, for me comes after the diet has done its job.
I know what I need to do, I know how to do it. I just need to be doing it for my own wellbeing and not for a man. Especially ones who don’t care. I want a man who will see through the shell and love me for the broken, fucked up, kind hearted person I am. Right now, though, I’m so very happy being single.