gemsybobsy: (barrowmaaan)
[personal profile] gemsybobsy
I've always been active. By that I don't mean, 'I might walk to the pub every now and then', I mean I am an actual blue-arsed fly. As a kid I played netball tournaments for my junior school team, and I was either doing 5 types of dance or swimming & lifesaving depending on the night of the week. I'm asthmatic so I always hated cross-country running and other outdoor winter things like hockey (that was also the reason I quit netball after junior school), but I loved trampolining, gym and I was ace at high jump. I was awesome at basketball, too, if I do say so myself, until that time I somehow ended up shooting at the wrong hoop - in front of all the boys, too! On top of that I did a paper-round every morning, either on my bike or walking, I made my own way to school every day and on a typical Saturday or Sunday I'd be hanging out in the parks with my friends, walking/cycling around Hythe or we'd go off walking neighbours' dogs in the New Forest for hours.

I also love my food. I have never been a salad dodger, although like most kids I didn't love green veg (or swede, or parsnips...) I ate most of them anyway because my mum made me. I still eat very healthily as a grown-up; my diet is very plant-based. A typical day is a whole-grain cereal with fruit, big salad for lunch, and a cooked veggie dinner. If I eat out I might have meat if it's not processed and shite, and sometimes I'll go to the chippy or a drive-through or something. Sometimes I fancy 'kid's meals' and will get some fish fingers, waffles and baked beans on the go. I've never been a fussy person or much of a 'foodie'; I love healthy food, but I love cake too. And chocolate, sweets, ice-cream, doughnuts, bread... Oh man, I would move into a Gregg's if I could. I've always been able to indulge myself with whatever food I fancied, and moderation wasn't really a problem.

I never once had to think about what I was eating, it was just something that never crossed my mind, as a child or a teenager. The only time I felt a little perturbed about my size was when we weighed each other for a data collecting project in Maths in Year 9 (in hindsight probably not a good thing for teenagers to be finding out about each other), and myself and another girl were equally the heaviest in the class - we were both 60kg, and completely different heights and shapes. That was the first time I'd heard the 'muscle weighs more than fat' thing, from my teacher, and I was really fit and active, so I put it out of my mind. I think we all have chinks in our armour when we're teenagers, and I had plenty, but my size was never one of them.

15-year-old self

When I started college, and stress and depression first came into my life (incidentally this was also when I quit dancing!) I got a little chubby. I only know this now from looking at the photos - and, we did eat a lot of junk food and did a lot of smoking... wink wink. I don't think the binge monster had made himself known by that point in my life. I was a vegetarian who mostly ate crisps. I had unhealthy meals, like crisp sandwiches, but that's all they were - single meals, nothing too out of control. Then in my office job years I was at my most sedentary; sitting down at work all day, I'd quit all my activities by then and didn't have a dog to walk, I was boozing a lot at weekends... yet I still maintained my natural weight and didn't worry about it in the slightest (again, only know this because of photos!) By then though, I'd started doing exclusion diets to see if I could fix my tummy pains. I got really good at excluding things, and really annoyed when nothing helped, but that was as close as I got to 'food issues'. I think people started to notice when they ate with me, that I was always avoiding something. Grrr.

Bermuda self, 2006

So then it was 2006 and I got disillusioned with my job, then I started my own business. The Real Life stress was on. The depression and anxiety I was feeling was similar to what I'd felt at college, but this was more intense... panic attacks, the works. This was scary, I was all on my own, I'd told everyone I could manage this... I was taking care of other people's precious dogs... I started to eat. The binge monster woke up in me, and I didn't even realise at first. I was either out walking a dog or sitting around fretting about the fact that I wasn't walking a dog, and while I was doing that I was eating. 'Oh cool, I walked two dogs today, I can have a nice lunch.' (Rewarding). 'Oh man I didn't have any customers today, I'm so upset and stressed I could cry... quick, stuff a doughnut into my face.' (Pacifying). And thus the cycle was born. Daily.

I don't know when I realised I was fat. I can't remember; I never paid much attention to it, and it's all a bit of a blur. I must've needed bigger trousers at some point, and had a sulk, and then got some cake to make myself feel better, and on, and on, until I was suddenly 3 sizes bigger. 2.5 extra stone, I think. I'd realise my biggest-sized jeans were too tight, and then refuse to buy any bigger ones; I'd constantly squeeze myself into jogging bottoms at my 'real' (i.e. usual, smaller) size.

Biggar Gemgems, 2007

It was around this time I'd started talking about it in my journal. 'It seems I've got fat, fml fml, I predict a diet', and so on. I knew intellectually that over-eating consistently is what makes a person gain weight, but for some reason I couldn't accept that I'd achieve weight loss only by under-eating consistently. I'd try a diet for just a couple of weeks and that'd be it, 'I'm fat, might as well accept it.' Looking back though, there was no emotion involved. Just me going, 'lol whatever' because I was depressed about everything else anyway, what was the point in feeling upset or guilty; 'You always knew you were a fuck-up anyway, so... *shrug*. Go and get some chocolate and shut up.' I kept getting voice problems and had a scope down my throat. It showed I had some reflux irritation, but I was just relieved it wasn't a serious problem and carried on nomming the world. And then I got into a relationship, and that involved a lot of eating. It was fun. I loved it, I was happy for a while. Then that was over, and boom, I realised none of that fun had fixed the depression itself. And then there was more stress about my ability to be in relationships. Wanted to do music, but didn't have the confidence. I was still such a moody emo. Maybe that's why your relationship didn't work out. You're such a failure. Etc, etc, etc. We were now into the era of the selfie, too.

Self, 2009.

BUT THEN, I rediscovered an old hobby. I found a friend on Facebook who got me back into ballet, and that seemed to be the kick I needed to get out of the binge monster's grip. I had something to do with all the spare time instead of sitting and worrying about my income. I started the cleaning part of my business as well, and found myself going back to my old healthy daily eating habits. The weight came off, and I was seeing my dancer figure coming back as those old muscles started working again!

Dem legs, 2009

Then I gradually got more on the ball, through 2011. No idea what I did, diet-wise; I remember using MyFitnessPal for a while but I think I just got into a routine. I do know that I was very, very happy. 2011 was an amazing year, full of gigs and awesome times in America, I turned 30 and had another wicked holiday in Spain. And Dreams Divide started gigging too. I was finally making enough money with my business, had two lovely doggies, great adventures with amazing friends, a hobby that I loved so much and that kept me fit, and I was finally IN A BAND that people were LOVING.

AND THEN I decided I needed my own house. Oh lord. Such stress. At first my house in Salisbury was perfect; I cooked for myself and could really start to experiment with my diet again and try to sort out the IBS. I shopped at the local market, walked for miles round the city with Didz... but eventually it was evident that I wasn't earning enough to be able to afford to stay there, and I was working every single job I could, which unfortunately meant spending every day in Southampton. There's only 20 miles between Salisbury and Southampton, but the one road between them, if you hit it at the wrong time, is hellish. I started to get tired and resentful. And then some numpty wrote my car off. And then I started getting migraines from hell. Stress! Anxiety! Depression! STRESS! PAIN! STRESS!!! The medication I ended up on for my migraines made me feel sleepy, and I'd get home from work and go straight to bed.

Because of this, I started buying food before I left Southampton, and I'd stuff my face on the drive home. I still ate healthy in general - I started every day with healthy breakfast and packed lunch and even packed tea, but the drive home would ruin it. Chips, chocolate & coke. Or just a sandwich... and crisps, chocolate, ooh cake, ooh cookies. This time I was aware of the weight gain, but I switched off my emotions. I kept dancing but wore really baggy clothes and hid at the back. Yes I'm fat, so what. I'm useless anyway so who cares. I think I had some kind of depressiony-apathy thing going on. I kept buying big packs of chocolate bars to ration through the week, trying to train my brain to learn to moderate my intake, but that wasn't the issue with me. I knew how to be healthy, I just didn't care. I'd eat all 6 as soon as I got home, usually after a healthy dinner. It was a monster problem, not a weight problem. I know how to be healthy, but my mind is being a troll. It's making me fuck up so I can prove I'm useless. I went to the doctor who said, 'You're an intelligent young lady, you know how to be healthy.' She was right. But I was so angry with her for not helping me shut my brain up.

The worst was leaving Asda one evening with a bag of those 5 big cookies the supermarkets do, and I ate them all, pushing my trolley along, before I got back to the car. The whole lot.

Weight + daily bloating caused by IBS

And this is where I am to date, this unhealthy binge cycle has gone on through my move back to Southampton in 2013. Any excuse to indulge. 'Oh there's gigs this weekend so there's no point buying proper food, I'll just get sandwiches all week.' The Tesco Express Meal Deal diet. It got worse when I realised I was moving opposite one. It felt like my IBS pain was relieved by starchy, sugary stodge (it probably was - satisfying a addiction!) And... I still didn't want to face up to it. I got back on to MyFitnessPal, but every night I'd blow it completely and not bother to start again till the following Monday. I think I tried to channel my anger and desire to fix things into sorting out the health problems that were still plaguing me, every damn day... I kept getting blood tests for feeling tired and sluggish all the time, I finally got my belly investigated and was told it was all down to anxiety (I didn't tell them I was eating a whole Gregg's for dinner every day), then I got the voice problem back, and it stuck around... it's been bringing me down for the past 3 years now. And still, I couldn't stop bingeing, even when faced with the possibility of never getting my voice back! That's how deep this stupid monster lurks.

About 2 years ago, I hit a depression low and went crying back to the doctor. She referred me for therapy, which was useless at first, and I had to go on a ridiculous Stress Control course where the material was all written in Comic Sans. But the therapy lady I spoke to once a month or so was absolutely lovely and she helped me a lot - she made me see reason, gave me some real talk; that I'm not perfect, that I'm doing my best and that's all I can do. That I'm not a perfect human, but nobody else is either. That it's up to me how I react to things. That I worry too much about letting people down, although I rarely actually do. How to think in an evidence-based way, like I do with everything that isn't anything to do with my brain and my own thoughts, rather than jumping to irrational conclusions. To be kind to myself, treat myself how I'd treat a friend. I went to the library, got about 12 books on anxiety and binge eating, and worked through them myself; lots of note taking and keeping diaries. I only filled out about 10 pages of my notebook and felt like I'd already won. I've slipped up and given into the occasional binge, just last night I accidentally'd all the Rainbow Drops. I won't be buying them again, lol. Tonight was the first time in forever that I've not planned dessert(s), and I'm not panicking about it. I'm back on my healthy daily diet. I can't trust myself to have certain things in the house, like sugary cereal, multiple chocolate bars, crisps, ice-cream and sweets. I am craving sweet things right now - if I really need it I'll get some 'nana ice-cream in a minute but right now I'm good. I'm back to not thinking about weight, and calories, and numbers. Only fitness/dance goals, and eating plants. I've trapped the binge monster in a cage... for now.


So yeah, this is why I've lost weight - trapping the monster. I haven't 'changed my lifestyle' or 'become more active' or 'turned fat into muscle' or any of those weight loss clich├ęs people always say. I've just stopped the monster from telling me to eat Tesco's on Toast every night. I HAVE started running and that's given me more incentive to fuel my body properly, but the weight loss itself is nowt to do with the running - I'm only on the 6th week of c25k, burning only about 100 cals per session! But we're not worrying about numbers ;)

Now I think there needs to be more help out there for people stuck with a monster like mine. I know there are helplines and charities like b-eat, but when I go to my doctor and tell her, 'I can't stop eating, I eat until I feel like I'm going to throw up every single night', her answer shouldn't be, 'But as long as you don't actually throw up it's not really going to cause you too many problems.' Binge eating and sugar addiction like mine should be treated like cases of substance abuse, which means referral to therapy and counselling would be the best solution. I'm lucky I could work through my food issues by reading a lot of books, but a lot of people don't have the ability or motivation to do it like I did.

Date: 2015-11-07 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was really interesting. I agree, something does need to be done about other forms of eating disorders!


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