So I Got Fat: A Tale of Deception and Redemption-ish.

From what I can best tell, this was the last full length photo of myself that I was prepared to post online:

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It was about three years ago and I’d just started to put weight back on after a period of terrible anxiety where I lost kilos and kilos by being too nervous to eat anything besides two pieces of toast each morning for months. I remember taking this photo in part because I was wondering if I was too fat to wear shorts that short.

No, you goose, you were fine.

B posted this photo of me online over the weekend. He didn’t ask if it was OK to do so because he didn’t know I’d spent the last three years meticulously making sure I only posted photos from the shoulder up and heavily filtered at that.

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When I saw it, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. There were things I didn’t love about it, I don’t know what I’m doing with my face, for example, and my shorts could definitely use a good hoist but it didn’t make me cringe enough that I wanted it taken down.

I thought about who I was hiding my weight from. People who knew me three years ago, but who hadn’t seen me since, seemed to be the answer. I thought about these people and why we hadn’t seen each other since and mostly it fell into two categories: they were people I drifted from, which is fine and happens all the time and is it no way related to what either party brought to the scale, or they were people who just weren’t good for me or me for them.

So why did I care if they saw a photo and realised I gained weight? Why didn’t I care about the thoughts of the people I’ve met face-to-face in the last two years since my thyroid destroyed itself and I started eating all of the things, plus dessert?

It’s because I’ve spent years imagining what people would think if they hadn’t seen me since 2012. Those ghost voices have been echoing in my head this whole time and all of them were taunting me. All of them thought I was a bad person who deserved to be fat and mocked for it.

The people who’ve met me since only know me like this and those who’ve become friends don’t seem to care what I weigh and those who might have certainly never said anything.

So I’m only hiding from people online, who probably don’t give a shit anyway.

I’ve started to lose some of the thyroid weight. Not huge amounts, four kilos so far in total and again, some of it through stress. I’ve made peace with weighing whatever I end up weighing when we get married because it’ll take me more than a year to get to where I need to be and there’s nothing I can do about that now.

One thing that has disappeared for the most part though, is the anxiety I used to have every day about tomorrow being the day I’d start to eat healthy or exercise. That anxiety lived with me for almost a decade and spoke to me hundreds of times a day. I started and it faded and it’s stayed that way, even when I don’t have perfect days and that’s worth so much more to me than curating photos of myself so when I’m old and grey(er) I can pretend I never got fat.

So yeah. All that’s left is a funny photo of me and Delilah on the red carpet and I’m OK with that.

Spinning Wheels.

The last few days I’ve had two conversations with different women about how to deal with feeling bad when life is good.

Life is good, particularly this year, but it’s made it easier to ignore a few warning signs.

The first is that last year I smoked my first cigarette in eight years. It was a once off, I thought, in a gutter with a colleague, as a way of escaping what was a drunken conversation I wished I hadn’t initiated.

If it had stopped there, I wouldn’t even mention it, but it didn’t. A few months later I ended up buying a packet so I could stop feeling bad about smoking other people’s and since then, it’s been pretty much a daily habit.

Again, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s a vice, right? I don’t drink often, I don’t indulge in The Drugs, it’s a socially reprehensible, but accepted vice.

Except that I know why I do it. I do it because I was, until recently, taking the highest dose of the particular brand of anti-anxiety medication I am prescribed. And I know it was the highest dose, because I went to my doctor and asked for it to be increased and it couldn’t be.

I do it because it’s cheaper than proper mental health care. When I can’t afford mental health care, because I should be able to, I tick a lot of boxes as far privilege goes, it indicates both how expensive and out of reach it can be.

So I smoke. And I have to stop, because I also tick a lot of boxes that flag a lot of high-risk health issues.

So that’s one, the other is that I’m spinning my wheels and it’s easy to hide, because I have a full-time job. I pay my rent. I am studying at uni and doing well.

But I also get out of bed at the last possible moment possible every morning. I can’t get my shit together to pack my lunch. I’ve stopped reading books and spend a lot of time watching my phone refresh.

At the beginning of the year I couldn’t get out of bed on my days off, I put a TV next to my bed and watched seasons and seasons of television and justified it as having free time for the first time in years.

B asked me to remove the TV from our room and I did and it made a difference.

I started writing in a paper journal and every day was the same: I need structure, I need habits. I need a timetable for my life, because if I don’t have one, days and days can go by without me doing anything but feel guilty about doing nothing.

I need good habits because all of the things I do that made me feel bad are habits lingering from years of feeling completely on edge at work, in my personal life, with my family.

All of those factors have gotten better, are pretty much exactly how I would chose them to be now, but the habits I created to deal with life when it wasn’t so great are still there, I’m still doing them despite not needing to and it’s throwing everything out of whack.

About two weeks ago, I decided to taper down my meds. I know enough that I bought a pill cutter and tapered very slowly, down to half, where I’m going to sit for a while now to make sure it wasn’t a mistake and to make sure that I have a safety net for when I stop smoking, when I stop avoiding things like I’m doing now. If that goes well, I’ll keep going until I’m off them.

It was a good first step, it was easy, so far I feel fine.

I have a week and a half off work now, time enough to look at a few other things, decide how I want to change those, including smoking, and have enough days in my pocket to see how it makes me feel when I do.

There’s no point in spinning my wheels until this all sorts itself out.

December to December.

This is a category I rarely write in. Anything tagged ‘Weighty Issues’ doesn’t get published on the front page of my blog and I’m not going to push these posts to social media, so those of you who have me in readers are the lucky bunnies who will get to see them.

I’ve been angry for a few weeks, at a level of depression I described to B as ‘the head cold of depression’ rather than the crippling flus of depression I’ve had before.

It’s been for a lot of reasons: opening up old wounds because some people make me furious, staying up late because I can’t sleep, twice running out of different meds and taking a long time to realign afterwards. It’s a very logical state of depression, which makes it easier to deal with.

Some of it also has to do with being overweight. A lot of it has to do with being overweight.

Outwardly, I’m not sure anyone would know it bothers me. Being so busy with work gave me all the excuses I needed not leave the house on weekends. I’m generally pretty happy, I like to laugh and joke and I found it really easy to make friends in my new job.

Inside, it’s like a flock of self-loathing lorikeets from sun up, to sun down.

I make lists of why it’ll only get worse: I hate cooking, I don’t know how to cook healthy meals, I don’t know what healthy is, I don’t want to count calories, the gym is too far away, creepy people might hang out in the park across the road.

On the weekend I finally read The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, which isn’t a dieting book, but a memoir of a woman who worked really fucking hard to get her life back on track (and lose literally half her body weight).

I can’t do a bunch of stuff Shauna did, I’m not a Weight Watchers type, numbers and figures and scales make my brain foggy.

But I am notoriously stubborn and reading Shauna’s story made me realise that’s what I have going for me. I’m probably never going to replace corn chips with celery, I’ve never not known a time I had a sweet tooth and at 32, I don’t think that’s changing.

So I have to be stubborn with myself. I’ll eat what I know is sensible and I’ll exercise because I know I need to.

I’m keeping it simple. This is what I looked like in December 2014 and I’m not going to look like that in December 2015.

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I just found this photo online of me and my gloriously goofy and and amazing friend Mush.

We took the photo on the office bathrooms after showing up to work in accidentally matching outfits.

It was taken two years ago this week.

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If you had asked me, I would’ve told you I was ridiculously overweight at this point in my life.

I had actually just lost a large amount of weight, which I have since gained back and more.

It is so stupid what we can’t see at the time.

No Snack Month!

One thing I am good at is snacking. I can snack ’til the cows come home and then snack while they sleep and then still be snacking when they’re finished sleeping.

I love all kinds of snacks. Biscuit snacks, chip snacks, chocolate snacks! Name a snack, I have had a love affair with it.

I’ve decided that it between this pay day and next, I am not going to snack. I will have breakfast, a healthy morning tea as advised by my dietician, lunch, healthy arvo tea and dinner. No more snackfasts, snackunches or sninners.

I’m using the ol’ Seinfeld ‘Don’t Break The Chain‘ method:

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Every day I don’t snack gets highlighted, the aim being to not break the chain of highlighted days if I can help it.

 

 

Go to Sleep, Little Baby …

Yesterday I went to see Miyazaki’s film The Wind Rises, with B and my aunt Jo. I’d been feeling strange for the last week or so, a combination of stress and what I now call ‘thyroidy’, so about 45 minutes into the movie I fell asleep and woke up feeling disoriented and trippy. When I got home I went to bed and slept for about 10 hours, which has made some difference today.

My specialist was telling my sister about my thyroid last week and again described it as pretty serious, so I think I might ask her next time to explain how bad it was and what a “normal” thyroid collapse looks like, just so I have some kind of reassurance that it’s okay to still be feeling much less than 100%.

I’m also seeing a dietician, because my weight is still creeping up and it can be really difficult post-thyroid collapse to ever lose the weight again. I was pretty honest: I like bad food, I hate cooking, I don’t exercise as much as I should.

She’s given me an app to track everything I eat for the next week and then she’ll set me up with some meal plans and get my sleep looking something like normal.

I just hate dreading after-work plans because I know I don’t really have the energy to do much, and when I push myself to, I pay for it the next few days.  All I really look forward to at the moment is True Detective and reading Southern Gothic, all of which can be done horizontally.

Fat Swaggin’

I’ve struggled with my weight since about 2006, whether it’s been gaining a lot through depression or losing a lot because of anxiety or just because of the simple fact I like to eat and sometimes I like to eat a lot. I don’t have a healthy perspective on food, anymore.

I’ve always taken a perverse pride in refusing to buy into body-positive ways of thinking. I don’t want to embrace my “curves” because the “curves” you mean aren’t hips or breasts. You mean “rolls”. I hate rolls (Except bread ones, mmm).

I know deep down the psychology driving it is that embracing a body-positive way of thinking might include acceptance, and I’ve never wanted to accept that I’m never going back to the stick-thin whippet I was until my mid-20s.

The last month has been hard, what with the hypothyroidism. Besides the living hell of having absolutely no energy, I’ve also had to deal with a particularly horrible side effect that comes with your thyroid attacking itself: weight gain, fast weight gain, oh my god the weight is gaining weight on top of the weight. Kilos and kilos and kilos of weight. And no energy to exercise or cook.

It’s bummed me out, but I’ve been here before.

I had a chronically self-conscious day yesterday where my entire perspective on how I look was warped and it made me feel terrible. I could not get home fast enough.

However … tonight I was lying in bed looking at Tumblr, and saw one of my friends had reposted a really funny set of photos of a girl with her cat and I did something I rarely do, and clicked on the blog the photos came from and looked at what she had reposted and a lot of posts came from a Tumblr called Fat Swaggin’ and I opened it and I won’t lie: I felt really uncomfortable.

Here were out fat people! Here were people taking full-bodies selfies! Without shame! Without sucking anything in! Sometimes they didn’t have shirts on! There were all kinds of people!

I judged them. I judged them for showing their “imperfect” bodies. I cringed and felt weird, yet I couldn’t stop scrolling through and suddenly I realised I was enjoying these bodies and not just in a “Hey, her tummy looks like mine and people are being sweet about it!” way. I realised most of what made me uncomfortable was imagining people judging me. These bodies were actually pretty rad and I scrolled on and on and I saw a woman with a figure like mine in a tiny bikini and she looked great, yet this summer, I’ll be wearing a tent in the water.

Some of my revelations were superficial: in refusing to embrace my curves, I’ve always given up when I’m heavier, I put no effort into my appearance, I buy clothes that will hide everything that’s not a smooth line and just sink into some sometimes pretty deep self-loathing. But here were ladies all done up and looking smoking! And sharing clothes and makeup tips! It’s a whole community of banging people prepared to show all of themselves and be cool with it.

Some revelations were deeper: I judge people based on what I’m terrified of being judged on myself. I’ll stand up for people who are being fat-shamed, both online and in person, yet I assume, imagine and almost understand people saying the same kind of nasty things about me behind my back.

I finally get why I need body positivity and a community.

Here is Fat Swaggin‘ don’t check it out if you’re offended by nudity or fat people, it contains a mix of both … but maybe you should try it nonetheless, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Catch-20 Poo

I’m not going to lie: hypothyroidism is hard.

I’ve been dutifully talking my meds every day for almost two weeks, always refrigerated, always on an empty stomach, always half an hour before any dairy but I really don’t feel that much different.

I don’t feel so exhausted that I’m seriously worried about myself, but I don’t feel much better and I certainly don’t have much more physical energy.

The worst part besides always being tired is the weight gain and being too tired to exercise.

I know what the Tough Love Club would tell me: suck it up and just hit the gym. Sometimes I feel so tired, thinking about talking to someone makes me feel upset because I can’t imagine how I’ll have the energy to do it.

I don’t know how to get to the gym. My super bright Nikes are just sitting in a box.

Everything seems like a Catch-22: exercise would help with the weight, the tiredness and the anxiety but the exhaustion is like a huge brick wall I can’t see a way around.

Hyper/hypo

A year ago I was miserable.

I had anxiety up to my eyeballs, and had just being diagnosed with something called hyperparathyroidism, which began to be prefixed with something new every time I got a blood test back.

This year I am very happy but over the last few months I started to get really exhausted.

It wasn’t a normal amount of tiredness, instead it got to the point where I had to call in sick to work because I didn’t have the energy to turn my alarm off. Then I started to nap a lot. Then I woke up from a nap and my wrists and ankles were so stiff I could barely walk or open a door. Then my whole arm started to throb.

I had to go and pick up the results of my annual hyperparathyroid tests anyway, so I asked the GP to run some tests, and he initially suspected arthritis.

A few days later he sat me down and said, “You have hypothyroidism” and I said, “No, I have hyperparathyroidism” and he said, “Well, yes, but now you have hypothyroidism too”. We faced off, each certain the other was mispronouncing something.

Thankfully I had an appointment with my endocrinologist last week, so I took the test results to her.

“How are you?” she asked. “Good…ish?” I replied. “Well your blood tests aren’t. You have profound hypothyroidism”.

Please ma’am, may I have one new endocrine system while we’re here?

Sadly no, I could not have a new endocrine system, instead I got some shiny new meds to take for the rest of ever. I take so many things for so many things now that I’m seriously considering getting a chemist to make me up a Webster-pak just like the old people have.

The meds have strict rules: ALWAYS IN THE FRIDGE, and ALWAYS ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, and NO DAIRY FOR HALF AN HOUR AFTER TAKING, which is the strangest rule ever.

My GP called me back a few days ago with the results from an even more recent set of tests and THE RESULTS WERE WORSE. My body was stalled, it was in the pits, its tires had come off. Thankfully, the meds will change all that and I’ve been told the results should be pretty impressive.

I feel sorry for my poor body, it just ran clean out of energy. The best way to describe how I felt was the worst physical sense of depression, plus arthritis, but I was cheerful.

I’m not feeling all that much different yet, but I’m certainly not feeling any worse.

In the mean time, all of the sleeps with this kid will help:

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C25K

Enjoy is not the right word for the Couch to 5kms program. In the 30ish minutes each session takes, mostly I loathed it not because it hurt, and that surprised me, but because running for 30 minutes is boring. That said, I got a lot out of it, not just the ability to run for 5kms.

The premise is that anyone can build up to running 5kms, all you need is a program designed to build you up to it over nine weeks. The early weeks are interspersed with periods of walking, and each week is designed to have you running for longer periods, until on the last day, you run 5kms without stopping.

I used the Zen Labs app which I bought on iTunes.

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It’s handy because it tells you when to walk and when to run and has a timer which counts down how long you have left in each session.

Unfortunately none of that helped on the days when I really hated doing it and the only solution I could come up with was making a playlist of revoltingly chirpy pop songs which were at least upbeat while I sweated it out on the treadmill.

I’m going to start the C25K program again next week to coincide with the beginning of the 12WBT (what is with the names of these things?) because I thought it would be good to get back into exercise with something I know I can achieve and because the most unrealistic aspect of the 12WBT is the exercise plan, which for gym-goers, is a different designated 60 minute class six days a week, which is a) impossible with my gym’s class roster and b) a lot of exercise to suddenly start doing.

All complaints aside, I’m looking forward to it. There’s something addictive about the rhythmic nature of exercise and the inability of your mind to wander much past surviving the pain.