I’m feeling a slight hint of regret as I write this because it’s been months since my last post. I love writing for this blog, getting my thoughts out there, and I’m annoyed at myself for letting something that I love go by the wayside. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I think as a species, we’re often too used to putting others first that we really do neglect what’s best for us. It’s engrained within us to do what’s best for others, to be selfless and self-sacrificing. To do the right thing. But when does the right thing ever become about “me”? When is it going to be acceptable to look after number one for the greater good of our loved ones?
I strongly believe that we cannot pour from an empty cup, so to speak, and that self-care should be our priority. I’m apologising to myself for putting my needs at the back, behind the needs of everyone on the damn planet! Over the past couple of years, I’ve began to appreciate the need for all things self: self-love, self-care, self-empowerment, self-acceptance… But it’s only recently, say the past six months, that I’ve actually put into practise those ideas which I’ve been studying.
Mental health and I
Twelve months ago, my anxiety and mental health took a real beating. I was having regular panic attacks and had convinced myself that I was going to die. I genuinely told myself that I wasn’t going to live to see Christmas 2018. Quite frankly, I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me. I know I’m prone to being over-dramatic, but this was something else. It wasn’t the mild anxiety or depression that I had felt before. It was a constant fear that I lived with and thought about all the time. I didn’t sleep for looking on Google to see what the twinge in my arm meant. I would have panic attacks so bad that only a freezing cold shower could help with.
I went to see my GP to tell her that I thought I had been having heart attacks. I wasn’t, of course. Nor did I develop cancer, or ME, or blood clots, or anything else I self-diagnosed myself with. I did give myself a good case of IBS, probably with the stress of my anxiety and depression. I think I just needed some help to sort my mind out a bit. I’m an advocator for treating mental health the way you would a physical condition, and I’m honest about my mental health issues, which I’ve dealt with since I was 16. With the help of medical professionals, supportive family and good friends, I’ve managed to start to get a hold of the anxiety, and I’m not feeling the waves of depression quite so often. I’m not “fixed”, I don’t think there is such a thing. Anxiety and depression are just part of my genetic make-up, I think. I just can’t be bothered to pretend like I’m part of a perfect life anymore. It’s a good life, but full of ups and downs.
The curse of the yo-yo dieter
The more I worried about dying, the more I made myself feel better with food, so I also put on a lot of weight (Hello, emotional eating!). I ate whatever I wanted, and drank way too much, way too often. A lot of the drinking started when I was terrified of dying, as a way to temporarily make me feel alive. Looking back, I cringe at my stupidity and wonder how my husband put up with it.
Then I told myself I needed to sort out my mental health before I tried to lose the weight, and to some degree I think that this was the right thing to do. I did need to be in a better frame of mind before I tried to lose weight, but I needed to stop procrastinating and just get it done!
Ironically, it was an undisputable health concern that pushed me to do something about the 5 stone (70lbs) that I had gained in a fairly short period- from March 2017 to November 2018. Routine blood tests confirmed that I was perfectly healthy apart from the matter of being classed as pre-diabetic, which put me massively at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Oh. Shit! I instantly berated myself for being so careless with my health. It was the missing piece of the jigsaw and I finally realised that no matter how much I read about self-care and practised having “me time”, it was all useless if I didn’t stop abusing my body in the way that I had become accustomed to. My GP referred me to Slimming World, and I didn’t even try to talk my way out of going. For all I had imagined the heart attacks, the cancer and any other fatal conditions, I had, in reality, been increasing my chances of these becoming likely.
I like living
Actually, I love being alive! I love so much about my life that I made the decision to sort it out. I went to my first Slimming World group two weeks before Christmas, and I was gutted with how much I weighed. I was the heaviest I have ever been, and I definitely felt it. In the past when I’ve been bigger, I’ve still been fit. But not this time. I could barely walk up to my classroom at work without breaking into a sweat. Not cool!
Old me would’ve waited and started Slimming World in the New Year. New me couldn’t do that. I lost some and gained some over Christmas, but I was much more mindful of my diet so I think I had definitely been on Crimbo Damage Limitation. I had an amazing family Christmas, and decided that, when I returned to group in January, I had to bring my A-Game.
Progress So Far
I’m so pleased that I started Karen’s Monday night group at The Minto Centre. I’m starting to feel less self-conscious about going on my own, and I stay to group every week. In January I lost 14.5lbs, of the 6 stones (84lbs) that I want to lose for good. I know I won’t lose a stone a month, but it’s nice to think that this time next year, I’ll be at a much healthier weight.
The plan is working for me. I’ve changed my terrible eating habits and have swapped the booze for tea and coffee. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again- because I will- but it’s definitely made me see how much I want to cut down. I’ve not touched a drop for a month and I feel a lot better for it. I’ll drink to be merry and when I’m in a positive mood for it, not to drown out the bad days.
My new outlook isn’t restricted to my dietary patterns; I’m reading more, I’m enjoying cooking again (still can’t seem to bake- Mary Berry I am not!) and I have begun to introduce exercise back into my life in the guise of Yoga, walking and the FIIT app! I’ve also managed almost two months without the use of Propranolol to treat my palpitations and panic attacks, because I’ve not had any major episodes. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to reduce my use of Sertraline too at some point this year, but I’m taking that one day at a time.
Now, I’m not about to become one of these “skinny is better” idiots, because one person’s healthy might be another person’s danger zone. I’m all for body positivity and empowerment to be who you want. What I will say is that you’ve got to do what makes you happy and healthy, and nothing else matters. I know that the weight I want to return to, the weight that I know my body works best at (because I’ve been there before), is still probably someone else’s nightmare weight. I just don’t care about that!
For the first time in a long time, my head is clear and I have the drive and determination to get to where I want to be. There’s too much at stake to carry on abusing my body and mind the way I have done. I love being alive too much to jeopardise it any longer!