Monday, 27 July 2015

Living With An Eating Disorder - Part 1

I think in this modern age, the struggle with what we look like is a battle for more of us than society realises. There is an ever increasing responsibility and pressure put onto us to maintain whatever is fashionably deemed a healthy body image, and more focus in popular culture given to healthy lifestyle, food and diet and of course, looking good, than ever before. For some people, scientifically known as 'jammy gits', it's not an issue at all, and they instinctively know how to maintain a weight, size and lifestyle that's comfortable for them. For others, like myself, it's a constant worry. Whether too thin or too fat, I am just unable to maintain a comfortable physical existence without forever consciously being aware of how I live my life.

Okay, so crack the violins out I hear you cry. We all have to watch what we eat to make sure we don't balloon up or die of starvation. And I understand that there are more pressing things going on in the world at large - but, it's when these worries about body image, food and control becomes no longer a healthy consideration of lifestyle, but a routine and life dominating compulsion, that it becomes a problem, leading to ocd and issues regarding control, depression and anxiety and anorexia or overeating.

This is exactly what happened to me. At my heaviest I was 24 stone. I'm now weighing in at 11 and a half stone (or around there). My desire to lose weight and maintain a slimmer physique became a guilt inducing addiction. Skipping meals, calory counting, constantly worrying about every single thing that passed my lips; becoming increasingly irate with friends and family, frantically pacing around the streets in an effort to burn those few extra calories, eating identical and scrupulously measured meals day in and day out, feeling a real sense of guilt and self loathing for sneaking in an extra piece of fruit during the day... Sounds ridiculous, and whilst I knew in my own mind at the time what I was doing to myself and how illogical my attitude towards my diet was, I just couldn't shake these compulsions. Guilt at consuming anything I enjoyed caused me to feel physically sick moments later, and the incessant worrying meant I was always mentally as well as physically drained. I'm currently working my way back into full time employment after having some time off, and whilst things are definitely improving, I still constantly have a guilt and worry and consideration to all things meal time related. And it's exhausting.

Whilst that all sounds doom and gloom, I know for definite that things are improving. I feel healthier, look healthier, and have made a real effort to battle against some of the underlying causes of my ocd and eating issues. This is in no small part down to the amazing people at work and home that have helped me through these difficult times. My parents and family have really been there both financially, emotionally and by giving up many hours of their time to answer irrational phone calls when I've been feeling at my worst, or ferrying me to and from a multitude of varying appointments with GPs, psychologists and dieticians.

It is still a struggle, though not anywhere near as bad as it was at my worst. I'm learning, if not to be completely carefree and unbound from my new habbits, to work around my compulsions in such a way so that they're not longer dominating my existence. My weight seems to have levelled out now within my healthy recommended BMI range, and my mood has elevated from a time where most days were spent with a real sense of self loathing, failure and worthlessness throughout, to feeling positive about life more than half of the time.

This morning I had what felt like an especially helpful doctors appointment, where I talked to a doctor I hadn't seen before. It was refreshing to talk to a new face in person, and, whilst my previous doctors have done their utmost to be as helpful as possible, it just felt like this new doctor had more wisdom and insight into the issues I've been working against. We discussed my progress and how to continue in this upward direction, and the plan is to continue taking my current dose of anti-depressants, continue working through an online 'Cognitive Behavior Therapy' course set by Birmingham Healthy Minds, and keep seeing my psychologist, seeing how things are in about a month.

With my improved mood and new found direction, has come with it the inspiration to share my experiences via this blog. I hope it will ultimately help both myself and others to understand how someone as apparently happy and content as I was, can be affected by something as simple as the food they eat.

In the next few entries, I'll be detailing both my rise and fall in an effort to help myself understand what was going on in my head, and to maybe help other's that may be dealing with similar situations. If there's anything I've learned from my experiences, it's that everyone has their shit, and we shouldn't be afraid to share our experiences, or to ask for and offer help.

So first, the beginning...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

East Midlands Chilli, Artisan and Beer Festival

We only visited the East Midlands chilli, artisan and beer festival on the second day of the mini festival weekend. It very much felt like the second day - the weather was a little moist and the general crowd seemed to very much be recovering from the night's previous antics. But we'd attended the festival not for the music really, but for the chillies. And on that front I was not disappointed! 

There was a massive variety of stalls selling plants, sauces, chutneys, food, booze, nibbles etc, which was great for me. I invested in a large quantity of sauces, all of which were available for tasting before purchase. And though I didn't partake in any of the food on offer, there was a great variety for meat lovers - grilled meats, paella, chilli themed dishes, ice cream, but my veggie sister only found a vegetable pie to tempt her tastebuds

So, I got what I went for - a pleasant day out with the big sis, lots of chilli sauce and some chilli plants. It would've been nice to have more music on for the time we were there, maybe more smaller acoustic stages instead of one big music tent. I also think they could've made more of the craft element of the festival, as while chilli, food and plant stands were frequent, the few craft stalls that were there felt a little out of place. 

In all, I'd recommend this kind of event for any chilli lovers, but if you're after a bit of a party, make sure to go for the first day and maybe sleep over.

Popular Posts