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Archive for July, 2011

When I went to Uni, I realised that not everyone plays a game which I like to call Spot the Body Shape. Any woman I see, I analyse her body shape to a ridiculous amount. I’ve actually gotten really good at it; I search for the amount of fat on her body,
how much I think she weighs, what clothes would suit her and whether I think she’s bothered by her body. Back in the day I, for some reason, thought this was normal. Apparently, it’s not.

I was watching this American reality TV show with my housemate, you know, one of those shows you absolutely detest but when you’re hung-over can’t stop watching. These beautiful women filed onto my TV screen in bikinis and one of the girls in particular annoyed me. Not because she looked like she’d dunked her head in a vat of botox, or because she was ridiculously
skinny, but because before this moment I could not fathom her body shape. I can’t remember what exactly had irritated me, whether she had broad shoulders and a broad waist but no hips, or whether she had fuller hips but skinny legs, I don’t know. I’m not bitchy towards the actual person I’m analysing; I merely compare myself to her in every single way and in turn make myself feel bad. It’s an obsession that I hope fades as I my body image improves.

Anyway, I finally found out her body shape and I was relieved. I turned to my housemate and said:

“Ooh I understand now, yeah… she has got a small waist but her hips are very narrow as well so it sort of looks like she’s top heavy, you know? I’ve been trying to work that out for ages.”

She gave me a look that told me I should shush, because she couldn’t care less if she had three tits. I sort of realised then that not everybody analyses other people’s body shapes, even though I personally do it all the time. I thought everybody would be judging me, thinking that I was a slob, that I needed to lose weight and I should stop eating straight away. I’m sure some people do this, but not everyone.

I’m trying to get out of the habit of doing this, by reminding myself that people aren’t analysing my body shape, they’re probably thinking of what they look like, or what they’re going to have for tea, or whether they are going to be made redundant because of budget cuts.

Emma

🙂

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You know you’re a yo-yo dieter when you can tell the month and year of a photograph not by the actual date, but by what size you are.

Unfortunately I just saw a photograph of myself three stone ago. That’s how I normally refer to time, by stones, or pounds.

“Was that last Christmas or the Christmas before?”

“Um… judging by the circumference of my thighs, Christmas 2009.”

Unfortunately I’ve been yo-yo dieting most of my life, but the huge changes came when I started Lighterlife. Lighterlife consists of having four meals in the form of soups or shakes and drinking however many litres of
water you can possibly manage.  It’s VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) which pretty much translates as being super extreme. On
average you are expected to lose a stone a month, which is perfectly manageable, however you need to get your blood pressure and pulse checked every month as well. I don’t quite know why.

The first time I lost two and a half stone, and keep in mind this was before I knew I had any eating problems. After being on the diet for many months I felt amazing, but my binge-ing was about to hit an all time high. Or low… you know what I mean. I came off the diet and had one of the worst binges I’ve had to date. I don’t make myself sick after my binges, in fact, I hate being sick. I know no one likes it, but I would rather sit, feeling sick for hours rather than be sick and have it over within five minutes.

I have all my binges in secret, as most people with a tendency to do this will, and unluckily for me I had the house to myself for a week. I bought a huge bag of Doritos and dip, one slab of milk chocolate, and another with milk chocolate mixed with crunchy caramel. I ate it all, alternating between sweet and sour, drinking pepsi and feeling like everything was finally right. I don’t know about you but when I’m on a binge, it’s as if it feels completely right, like I am meant to eat this much; I’m finally giving in to what I’ve been wanting for so long. During the binge and a couple of hours after, it’s great, but then as I went to bed that night, I knew I was going to be ill.

I vomited several times, and stayed in the bathroom until morning, just in case. Not only did I feel physically ill, I felt like my world had ended. The guilt set in, and not only because I’d eaten a lot more than normal, but I was supposed to be on a shake diet. My stomach must have shrunk considerably, and to load so much crap into it wasn’t healthy, but also wasn’t great for my mental health. I think that might have been my first binge, or at least a binge that I can remember vividly, now that I know I have a problem.

I stopped Lighterlife soon after, went to Uni after finally losing weight and having the confidence. However I started Lighterlife again a year later and lost three stone. That was when I finally realised something was not right, and I visited the Uni counseller.

I’d never talked about my weight problems with anyone but my mum before. My family are really close, and yet no one else knew quite how depressed it made me. I finally confessed my real issues to the counsellor, after having another binge whilst on Lighterlife. She referred me to an Eating Disorder clinic where I was assessed. They said I straddled the line between having an eating disorder, and disordered eating. However, after diagnosing me with an EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Yet Specified) I was offered one on one CBT, and I cried with relief that I finally realised that this might be why I had suffered for so long.

Emma

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Unfortunately for me, my trip to the Doctors didn’t go so well. There’s a six month waiting list for CBT at an NHS clinic, and although my Doctors happy to refer me, she isn’t sure if they’ll take me on due to the fact that I’ve had CBT before. I’m not an urgent case in their eyes. I’ve been offered Antidepressants, but… I’m not sure if I want to take them.

So, having been left to my own devices, I have come up with a plan to look over all my old CBT stuff and Body Image therapy shizz. I’m really going to push myself to make a change, as the Doctor has given me a couple of weeks to think about the Anti-D situation.

Even though the news of the lack of CBT should have put me in a bad mood, (I mean, I did cry the moment I walked into her office), I felt uplifted. I had a sad film all set up and ready at home, because I found when I was going to therapy and I had a particularly teary session, I always liked to go home, get a mug of tea or hot chocolate and watch a film. I’m not going to lie, most of these times I’d have a binge as well. My favourite films to watch when I’m feeling like no one else in the world can feel as bad as me, or when I want to see someone have to deal with crap and then pull through it, are as follows:

28 Days (2000)

I want to start by saying that 28 Days is not the zombie film. (Although 28 Days Later is by my favourite director, Danny Boyle) 28 Days stars Sandra Bullock as an alcohol/drug addict. She manages to crash her car whilst under the influence and lands herself in a rehabilitation centre for 28 days. It’s a really moving story, and there’s a real insight to alcohol/drug addiction that I find oddly easy to relate to. I mean, not with drugs and alcohol but with food, and the tendency to get the quick fix you know you’re going to pay for later. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, Sandra Bullock brings a real sense of humour to her lead role, and the characters are well thought-out and all manage to have distinctive personalities. It’s a really funny film, which may make you cry, but will definitely make you laugh as well.

 

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

This film is based on real life events of the main character, Susanna. I’ve read the book as well; it’s shorter than I expected but gives such insight to mental health from a bewildered young girls’ perspective. The film has been fictionalised to give it more of a storyline which makes it entertaining rather than informative. This is more of an odd film, and whenever I’m feeling particularly low and desperate, I like to watch this to realise how lucky I am; I’ve never been institutionalised and I doubt I ever will be. It makes me realise I don’t want to wile away my life with my depression and eating difficulties: I want to get over this. Girl, Interrupted is haunting and for some reason it makes me feel better after a difficult day.

 

I also watch Disney films, TV series… pretty much anything to let me escape into a different world for a couple of hours until I feel
better. Despite the fact that I love reading, I’ve been reading for my course for so long that the only books I know help me relax are the Harry Potter books, which aren’t remotely linked to mental health. Escapism will be mentioned a lot in this blog because … I do it a lot. As I’m sure do a lot of you.

If you have any films you like to distract you then don’t hesitate to comment… I like to make sure I’m not the only one who does this.

Emma

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This morning I had one of those moments where you do the routine that you always do, but you suddenly see yourself, or the situation, in a completely different way. This morning I was putting on my make-up, when I pulled back to make sure my foundation hadn’t left an orange ring round my face. I suddenly saw my face for the first time in what felt like months.

At therapy, the counsellors had been trying to drum into me that weight didn’t matter; that being fat didn’t make you disgusting and ugly, and worthless as a person. They tried to convince us that putting so much emphasise on your appearance – for instance, thinking when you’re fat that you shouldn’t be allowed out in public – was unhealthy, and that whilst most people have hang-ups about their bodies, most people don’t let it ruin their lives.

I totally agree with this. I know that I shouldn’t feel like less of a person because I have an eating disorder that helps me to be fat, but I still feel like I am. For the months of therapy that I had, it cannot change the years of that voice in my head that tells me because I don’t starve myself, I have failed in losing weight, and therefore have failed in life. I’m not anorexic, that’s not my disease. My therapist told me, when I cried that with all my obsessions about my weight why didn’t I have some disorder where at least I was slim, that anorexia was about almost being too in control. Compulsive overeating and binge eating is about being out of control, and I assume bulimia is somewhere in the middle. For me, being so out of control of my eating and my distorted body image is what causes me to give in to the impulses to eat. Sometimes I fight the anxiety that ensues and win, but most of the time I feel it’s too powerful for me.

Next week I have a Doctors meeting in which I will ask for more therapy. The service I used before was a charity in another part of the country, and I don’t know if the NHS will be able to help me out, but I’m hoping they will. Because today, when I looked at my face, all I could see was fat.

During therapy they told me that realising my issues and confronting them was all about trying to create a voice in my head that told me that it was ok that I ate when I was hungry, that it was ok that I wasn’t a size 8, that is was ok that I was trying, even if I couldn’t see the results straight away. I never knew what they meant until I suddenly realised that I had gained this tiny voice, a whisper of my own, that finally told me maybe, just maybe it wasn’t completely my fault.

For a little while that voice became stronger, almost as loud as the voice telling me that no one was ever going to love me, that I’d never have another boyfriend. It tells me no one is going to want to move in with me, or marry me, or touch me and therefore have sex with me, which means no kids in the future. That voice keeps telling me I’m going to be an elderly spinster, living with a seventeen cats and scaring the neighbourhood kids. This voice tends to get a bit carried away, considering that I’m only 21. Although I do like cats. This is Indy, my kitten 🙂

1 down, 16 to go.

 

Now, however, the voice is pretty much gone. So along with trying not to focus on weight loss, and trying to exercise, I now have to try and find the voice again, because I cannot keep looking at myself and seeing only fat. It’s not fair, and it’s only going to make me feel shitter than before. Fuck, this eating disorder stuff sucks.

Emma

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OK, so my master plan failed. Well, I kind of failed at my master plan of focusing on writing rather than weight loss, because although it was a GENIUS plan… I’m pretty depressed right now. Therefore my focus cannot be shifted.

As you can see, I’m late with my blog. I’ve spent the last week avoiding going outside because I don’t want anyone to see what I look like, and staying inside is my coping strategy. However, it reduces my exercise, increases my boredom, and I feel incredibly lazy when I don’t go out for a day or two. I’ve set my sights on a treadmill, because then I can walk and jog and my face can have an uncanny resemblance to a tomato and no one will see except my family. Who will point and laugh. This idea requires money though, and as an unemployed graduate, that is not something I have right now.

I planned to write the story of my most embarrassing adventure in the gym. It’s funny, incredible embarrassing for me, and I will always think back to it and close my eyes half-cringe…

However, it always makes me laugh at the same time; because after this incident, I went back to the gym, over and over again 🙂
Before therapy, I would never have been able to exercise in public. I used to do workout DVDs in my living room, but what I really wanted to do was join the gym. I’m a bit of a fitness freak, although you definitely wouldn’t think it looking at me. I like the type of cardio that you can really feel; walking doesn’t cut it for me, I need to jog. And before counselling, I wouldn’t have gone to the gym if you’d have paid me, even though I desperately wanted to go.

Half way through my one to one therapy sessions, I found myself walking into my local gym and signing up (with a really hot trainer) and I went at least three times a week. At that stage, things were really picking up for me, and when I recount this story, I always feel a sense of pride that I faced my greatest fear of people seeing me the size that I am, and trying to do something about it. I always felt if people saw me exercising, they’d see the fat and lazy and ugly me, and they wouldn’t think ‘Good for you, doing something about your weight!’ but ‘Fuck, how did you get that size?!’

I was constantly batteling the of shame of getting the size I was, and am still now, but also trying to convince myself that sometimes you have to have the embarrassment, the tough times, to get to where you want to go.

So, in an attempt to drag myself out of this depression, even just for a couple of hours, I’ll tell you the tale… of ‘Severe Bum Sweat’…

There was a time before I knew of the woes of visible bum sweat, (bum sweat being like when you’re on a bike or doing sitting down exercises and sweat gathers around the lower back area) and I’d happily wear my black tracksuit bottoms with the knowledge that, because they were black and black is slimming, I could now disguise myself as a size 8. I innocently thought I’d switch up my outfit-on-a-budget (partly because washing this one particular set of joggers after every gym session was a nightmare) and went for grey tracksuit bottoms. Oh, if only I’d known. I had been cycling for about twenty five minutes when two guys around my age came upstairs where all the cycling and rowing machines are. I will point out that the other equipment was downstairs, along with the changing rooms. They came in all non-sweaty, just about to start out, and I’m on the bike with 10minutes left, already sweaty from the cross trainer and rowing, and getting sweatier by the second. They start rowing and thankfully finish just before I do and go downstairs to the weights, then I get up, legs like jelly, and I have a sweaty bum. Now, I’ve never really noticed just how sweaty my bum can get, but when wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, I didn’t have to imagine. I then realise that my grey tracksuit bottoms show any wet spots, like if I’ve spilt something on them before it’s shown through. So I turn round a little and there are sweat patches in ROUND CIRCLES ON MY BUM CHEEKS!!

I was mortified; my jaw physically dropped and I gasped. My bum is a big bum. I carry most of my weight on the thigh and ass area. So I then tried to hike up my trousers and pull down my long top, and manage to hide most of it. I was going to do  thirty minutes on the treadmill but I thought there is no way I’m going to get away with sweat patches on my bum, so I hurry down to the changing rooms. On my way, there is THE HOT TRAINER GUY and the two guys I’d seen upstairs. Not only am I red and
sweaty and walking funny with my jelly legs, but I have VISIBLE BUM SWEAT.

I go into the changing rooms and give a sigh of relief because I wore jeans to the gym, thank God, except that when I go to open my locker, I realised I had FORGOTTEN MY KEY, and it was STILL upstairs!! I poop my pants, then think I can’t stay in here all day with my locker key upstairs. I consider blow drying my bum but I think if anyone walks in, how am I going to explain myself?! So I just hold my breath and ninja walk – this is the only way to describe it – passed the two guys, the hot trainer and go upstairs, get my keys and run back.

And there you have it. I hope I didn’t gross anyone out but we’re all human; we all bleed, we all cry, we all laugh… and we all have bum sweat. Although most of the time it’s not visible.

Emma

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I’ve finished my nutritional group, as well as University, and I am now unemployed, completely skint, and waiting for the new big
adventure. However, the ‘adventure’ that I had in mind didn’t mean watching the entire first series of The Office (UK version) in a day. I watched the second series and the Christmas specials the next day. This is how much time I have on my hands.

The temptation to eat through the boredom is insanely enticing and I have to say, I’m not putting up much of a fight. So I have chosen this blog post to be about motivation. Because I have none.

For me personally, I have just finished Uni, which means moving back home to where all my eating problems formed. I now live in Bristol, where getting anywhere remotely interesting means driving or getting the bus; I’m in a much smaller room, have absolutely no money, no job, and the other day I saw a job that over 1,600 people had applied for. As my Dad would say, bloody hells bells. And however much my family want to make me feel at home, and they really are amazing, they don’t understand why, despite my overwhelming unhappiness at my weight, I insist on asking them to buy me chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

And so, after pointlessly waiting for my problems to miraculously solve themselves, which I’m sure all of us do subconsciously on a regular basis, I have decided to kick some eating disorder ass… by trying not to focus on my lifetime goal: losing weight.

Yeah. It’s sort of unrealistic. I’m always going to focus on it, it’s always there, but I have chosen to structure the shit out of the other half of my life; the normal half. I like writing, the degree that has cost me over £20,000 in debt is in English and Creative Writing, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to use it. So, this blog and my other writing projects are going to come first. As well as job
hunting, of course, because I’m sure I don’t have to tell you: having no money sucks.

So every weekend I am going to post in this blog, and every time I post I hope whatever I write will be relatable, because as much as this is to help me try to make my eating/body image issues understandable to myself, I hope people are out there who share the same plight.

Emma

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