Now that world mental health day has passed it only seems right to begin to share my own daily battles with my mind. Now, my general mood is not the issue. I generally have a positive mind set and enjoy each day as best as I can. Of course it isn’t all smiles and rainbows but I have it good and I am more than aware. What my persistent problem is, is the battle with body confidence and most of all – my weight. A battle that I face daily and struggle to get on top of. Some days, it seems I never will.
I don’t know exactly when my weight became such a dramatic issue or when it began to consume my thoughts. It started off with daily weigh ins and cutting back on food, which very soon increased to hopping on the scales almost every hour. I rapidly became. So obsessed with my weight and losing weight that I didn’t realise what I was doing to my body or mind.
I have always battled with body image and believed that I was too fat, too ugly, not good enough for anyone – the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. I only wish that I realised this sooner. It may have stopped negative thoughts from taking over my mind had I only just learnt to love myself as I was and appreciate all that I had.
My real battle began when I would look through photographs of a night out with my friends and for some reason, I was always the fat friend. The friend who didn’t quite add up. This started what was to become a complex and soon, I would hide away from any photographs. I didn’t want to look at any ugly pictures of myself any more. My friends were all so stylish and slim. I wanted this for myself. I wanted to be the skinny one. I decided to begin to do something about it. To try to contend with every other skinny girl. I began to lose weight.
I would start to walk a lot. Not one for the gym or anything crazy, I thought that I could get up off my lazy ass and walk. I took advantage of the fact that I had a dog. We began to walk miles a day. Getting faster and faster with each walk. Before and after a meal or what I deemed a proper meal, I would walk with my dog desperate to burn calories and drop any weight I may have just put on. I’d do light exercise in my bedroom morning and night. At the later stages, I’d walk and walk until at times I felt I was about to pass out and all I wanted to do was to lay. Making it home from a walk on those days was a challenge. I was exhausted.
During the stage where my battle became almost too much there was many times I felt like I would pass out from exhaustion, so much so that I started to keep little snacks on my pocket. Usually nuts and Raisins, the odd biscuit. Anything for a little boost and to stop my bleary eyes from giving up on me.
I frequented the scales up to ten times a day. After every time I would eat, or after a period of skipping foods. I had to know what my weight was, I had to see the scales drop. It made me feel good. I felt as though I was achieving something and making progress. Little did I know that I was well on my way to achieving an eating disorder, something which may always haunt me.
At the worst time of my struggles I was 22 years old, 39kgs and had little energy. I battled with mood swings and was abnormally tired for a young woman in her prime. I had the body and temperament of a child. I was surviving on porridge oats, reduced fat milk and yogurt, fruit, cereal and biscuits. I would replace snacks with coffee and drank up to twelve cups of instant coffee per day. Two heaped scoops per cup. No sugar. I consumed this right up until I would go to bed. Amazingly, I could sleep like a dream.
With poor habits and bad diet I became very bloated and started to frequent the doctor. I wanted to get medication to take the bloating away. The bloating only made me eat less as I hated to see anything other than a flat stomach and this only became worse. I used a gluten intolerance as an excuse, if I claimed to be intolerant to foods, I’d not have to eat carbohydrates and wheat, I could cut this completely. The bloating was due to no intolerance and I knew fine well. My body was malnourished and the bloating was the knock on effect. As well as bloating, my legs would swell at the end of each day. Unable to keep up with my pace. A pace I even struggled to keep up with at times.
My period disappeared around two years ago, still yet to return. People began to make comments and pass judgement only this time, it wasn’t to call me fat it was to question wether I was eating enough. This made me feel embarrassed and fragile. I didn’t like that people were making comments and I wanted to hide away from this.
When I fell pregnant at the end of 2016, I had no indication as I was not having a regular period. Will this return post pregnancy? I don’t yet know. I hope for it to return, as awful as they are, it’s a healthy part of a woman’s adult life and monthly cycle. It regulates the body and without it, I am all over the place with my ever changing moods. I am embarrassed to say that my eating habits have not yet changed greatly. My mindset is still suffering and I still weigh around the same as a thirteen year old. 44.5 kg – yes, I checked this morning. I am back to under my pre baby weight.
If I am to eat out now, I have to weigh this up and big myself up for the event. It’s not as easy as going out for a nice meal. My head is forever counting calories and wondering if I go out what will this meal do to me, how will my stomach look afterwards and what can I cut during the day to ensure that I don’t over do it. This even happens if I am to buy a shop bought meal, (rare).
It’s a horrible way to think and feel, to have food consume your every day thoughts and run riot in your mind. This is sadly the daily battles that I face. The thoughts never go away. I calorie count relentlessly and have become very good at knowing how much calories is in any food or drink. I mean,I should be bloody good at it, I spent a lot of time on Google searching the calorie content of everything I was to eat. This is something that I still find myself doing.
If I want to snack I will tend to have just a bite from a biscuit before I’d put it back into the tin or into the bin, or open a pack of crisps only to find I can only eat a few, leave the rest to go stale. It took me the course of four days to eat a Yum Yum that my mum brought to me from the Baker. I was pregnant and had every excuse to indulge but I couldn’t.
Throughout pregnancy my diet consisted mainly of vitamins, fruit, Yogurt, Homous, vegetables and Bran flakes. I feel guilty that due to this and my poor diet my babies growth halted at week 36, she was born in the fifth percentile, smaller than average and this could have been my own fault through poor decisions. I allowed my mind to take over and risk the health of my unborn child.
The thing is, An eating disorder does not disappear even when a new life is taken into consideration if anything the inevitable increase of weight due to growing a life can make it worse. The mind works just as damn hard as ever to make sure that you give everything you out to your mouth a thought and riddles you with guilt if you dare step out of the comfort zone.
Pregnancy should be the perfect excuse to indulge and enjoy food, to nourish your body and the life inside. For me, my pregnancy was a struggle, filled with worry and fear of foods. Even more so than usual. Everything I was to eat could lead to excessive weight gain and a body I’d never be able to recover to its true form. Not only was I thinking of the life inside of me I was thinking about myself.
We would frequent the cinema through my pregnancy and a cinema snack was always a scoop of ice cream however to work my way up to this to allow the calorie content from the ice cream, I’d often skip a meal. I was careless and selfish during my pregnancy due to my mind set and the thoughts that consumed me. It was foolish to allow my mind to take over and hold me captive, hold my body captive and to refuse my growing baby the full nutrients that she required.
I cannot eat hot meals, I feel myself get upset of I am to have a cooked dinner. I tend to stick to Bran flakes, fruit, Yogurt, Pancakes and biscuits as my daily diet. This rarely changes. Even with breastfeeding, I know I need to consume a lot to keep my milk from drying out. I am trying.
I have increased my snacking habits and have went from reduced fat milk and Yogurt to full fat but I can’t yet bring myself to eat meat or proper meals. I can’t even bring myself to enjoy the foods I once loved. I don’t know if my mind set will ever change or if I can break away from the bad eating habits I have developed. It’s a unhealthy mindset and I know I am not consuming near enough for a grown adult woman. To be 44kg and 25 years old is of no good to anyone. I look at myself and do not like the reflection, I’m no woman. My body is in competition with a child’s and I have a gap between my thighs that makes my legs look knobbly and stupid. I have no womanly curves.
The desire to stay slim and have a flat stomach is strong yes, but my eating habits are so much more than just wanting to be slim. My mind challenges me daily and I am at a constant battle with myself.
I want to do better and want to become a healthy and normal woman again, I know that I must fight to have my period return and to fight this for my daughter. I need my child to be able to adapt a good body image and to be comfortable in herself, if she watches me eat Cereal for every meal of the day cutting out key nutrients and a healthy balance I fear that she will adapt the same habits that could have killed me. I will continue to fight this battle and try to work myself back to a healthy diet and a healthy mind.
I am six weeks post partum and back to my pre baby weight. I am now 44.5kg, this can fluctuate up to 47kg. I know that I must work not just to gain weight but to become healthy. I want to step away from the cereal box and opt for a more varied and balanced diet. To begin to cook meals once again and to introduce nutrients into my diet. To learn how to enjoy food. I aim to benefit not just myself but my body and my child. It’s no easy task and it’s certainly not as easy as just “eating a burger” though unless having been faced with a similar position you couldn’t simply understand
Hear me when I say this is a struggle and that each and every day I do struggle. I am trying to work to increase and to get better, to exceed myself for a better life and for A better me. I must be the Mother that my children can look up to.