**TW: If you have issues with weight and/or body image or eating disorders there may be content in this article that you find distressing.**
Sorry I’ve been a little inconsistent with my blogging that past week or so, as you have may have seen on Twitter, I have a lot going on in my head at the moment, and I needed to take a brief step back for my Mental Health.
When I first started this blog, I had always intended for it to be purely lifestyle and beauty- but as time progressed I realised that in order to be authentic with my readership I couldn’t avoid talking about Mental Health. It’s something that affects so many of us, me included, and I have always been passionate and vocal about spreading awareness. My only downfall in this regard, has been my own pride. I have always been very supportive and try to be as nonjudgemental as possible of others when they come to me with Mental Health issues, but I’ve always struggled with taking my own advice. Since I’ve been particularly struggling this month, I thought I’d share with you what’s been going on.
Besides my decision to drop out of my MA, looking for jobs, considering a house move, and my husband being on nights, one of the biggest contributing factors I’ve always struggled with surrounding Mental Health is Body Image.
I have always been, and probably always will be, a massive foodie. I love food, I love cooking, and I love the satisfaction that comes with making something great. I’m not throwing blame at all, but I wasn’t exactly brought up in a family full of healthy eating/active living role models. My Mum, a pescatarian (or as I like to call it, shitatarian) has neglected her own nutrition to make sacrifices for her kids for years. While she always cooked balanced meals, she definitely raised me with the “waste not want not” mentality, and sometimes I still feel guilty to leave food. My dad can easily eat enough to sate four men in one sitting, and when I moved in with my Grandparents, I learned to cook mostly because had I not I feel like we would have lived off M&S food that could just be thrown in a microwave or straight in the oven- Grandma is not fond of cooking!
When I was in Primary school I was bullied mercilessly until I had to change schools. I was the tallest in class, always seemed to have a coldsore on picture day, chubby, bespectacled and Mum waited far too long to introduce me to hair removal methods (I am still haunted by prepubescent photos that exhibit a rather glorious monobrow, lol)! Besides the bullying, I have very early memories of hearing the terms “big-boned” and “puppy fat” being thrown around.
Fortunately, as I reached high school and grew ever taller, eventually stopping at 5’10, I somewhat “grew into” my weight, (though unfortunately much before all the boys so I still stuck out like a sore thumb)! Also unfortunately, I also hit puberty early too. This meant that I went from being bullied to being one of the first girls to get breasts. Enter the dreaded male gaze. At around 13 I went from a B to DD in the space of two weeks. From then on they just never seemed to stop, and by the time I was 15 my body settled on a 30HH. This meant that while the measurements of my waist at the time suggested I should wear a size 8, my bust meant that I was a size 16. Looking back, I was a beautiful hourglass, but I always felt bigger than my friends. From ages 14-16 I remember skipping lunch at school, and refusing to eat breakfast, hoping that I could lose weight by only eating the one meal that Mum made at dinner time.
It worked somewhat, but at 16, with prom fast approaching, I started experiencing what I now recognise to be the first signs of anxiety. If I ever got particularly nervous or excited, I would feel nauseous and sometimes have to rush to the toilet to vomit. It was then that I started to experiment with purging. I was determined to lose weight, and mum wouldn’t let me live on those god awful SlimFast shakes. That was, until my Grandma heard me purging. My family finally accepted that I wanted to do this, and agreed. What I didn’t realise was how unhealthy this would make me. Recovering from Meningitis and on regular Codeine, I was feeling faint and lightheaded more than often. After all, I wasn’t eating proper meals. Not only this, but I have a (now very mild) intolerance to lactose, and also prone to tonsillitis, so I was living with an almost constant throat infection from the level of milk I was ingesting.
Fast forward to college, I was feeling a little more sure of myself and who I was. That was when things started escalating the other way. I remember eating my emotions each time a boy cheated on me, stress eating my way through all my exams/revision phases. I remember the look of shame and pity on my grandmas face when she caught me elbow deep in a bag of Doritios. “Ill lose weight when I’ve finished my exams”. Of course, there was always another exam. At least then, I was moderately active and had horse riding to look forward to.
This went on right into uni. On top of that I was going out clubbing and drinking at least 3-6 nights a week. I was awful in my first year, and really abused my body. My only exercise was making a fool of myself in clubs. I’d fill my body with crap and liquor. In second year it only got worse, when I had my first more “serious” wave of depression. Not only was I depressed, but in hindsight I was also agoraphobic. I hated myself so deeply I didn’t want others to see me. At one point this got so bad that I would hide in my room until I was sure my flatmates had gone to bed, and order takeaway food just so that I wouldn’t risk seeing anyone in the kitchen. I felt like I was eating to survive at this point, and my body didn’t matter. In final year I was better, refreshed and feeling right again. I signed up for Joe Wicks (the body coach) and lost 20lbs in a month, following a strict macro diet plan and HIIT exercise. Then, however, I met my now husband (who unfortunately is American with a lot of bad eating habits of his own, but rudely with the metabolism of Usain Bolt), and then was faced by my dissertation.
Now, I find myself having put all that weight back on, plus a stone for good luck- I am bigger than I have ever been.
While I have always been an advocate for plus women and body positivity, I have struggled so hard with accepting my new reality. People treat me differently, I feel less likely to get jobs, afraid to do things where I’d “take up too much space”. I either obsess over or avoid mirrors at all costs, I never buy new clothes because I feel like everything looks awful, I can feel agoraphobia seeping in again, I feel like everyone is judging me, my family is ashamed of me and I haven’t felt “sexy” in about a year. I’ve always wanted a breast reduction because of my back pain, but they advise you not to get one until you’re “happy” with your weight, since if you gain or loose too much either way the shape will change. When I dream, I don’t appear the way I do in real life. I don’t even recognise who I am in the mirror, and honestly, I really don’t think I want to.
On top of the shallow reasons I have always wanted to lose weight, I am also now consumed with new symptoms and concerns about my health. I know if I don’t change my life soon I am going to eat myself to death. I’ve always had back pain due to the size of my bust, but now I can’t even stand for long enough to do the dishes without sitting down to avoid tears. I hadn’t realised how bad it had gotten until last year for our mini-honeymoon, merely walking around London I found myself clinging onto A’s arm with tears in my eyes because my back pain was so severe. Not only this, my resting heart rate is insanely high, I’m constantly fatigued and I’m beginning to see more and more symptoms of pre-diabetes, and it is making me insanely paranoid.
Honestly, I want to lose weight so that I can do the things I enjoy again. So I can feel confident in myself and wear the clothes I long to wear. So I can feel sexy and healthy and enjoy being active and going on adventures with my husband. I want to feel like myself again.
My plans for the future are to take effect immediately. No more “I’ll start Monday”, or I’ll try harder next week. I need to make this commitment to myself and to the people who love me so that I don’t eat myself into an early grave. I miss doing the sports I loved so much but 4 years ago. I miss waking up and not worrying about being in pain every day. The worst part is, I know about nutrition and exercise, I just don’t do it, and while my mental health often causes my lack of desire, it’s often also the other way around. I need to force myself through the pain and the hard times to reach the size 10 jeans at the end of the tunnel.
I thought I would write this to let you all know, since you might be noticing some changes with my Instagram and other social media feeds. Of course I will still be doing beauty, but I’d love to start sharing my journey with you all, because I feel like through blogging I’ve found a space on the internet full of loving, supportive souls. Besides, there might even be a few recipes in it for you!