Not by any stretch of the imagination, but I did something today that I believe is the first step towards getting better. I’m on the right path now.
A full eight hours of sleep helped massively with my state of mind (I love my husband). But I have also been getting to the point where I am so full of self loathing that something had to be done.
We Brits are renowned for whinging and with good cause. We are a nation of moaning Minnies. If it’s not the weather it will be the awful traffic on the M4 by Chipping Sodbury (I am sure you can get to Chipping Sodbury from the M4 somehow), or the coffee is too cold or these new shoes are pinching too much or the buses are late or there are leaves on the line. It could be perfection, such as a train running to schedule, and we would still find something to complain about.
I’m no different. I had a draft post called Fat where I bemoaned how trapped I was in my body. Reading it now, it was a pity fest of epic proportions and I am glad I didn’t put it out there for the rest of the world to see. I am a rolling tub of lard and no longer can blame it on my thyroid, pregnancy or post pregnancy. My thyroid is ticking along nicely and a year down the line, that post pregnancy thing just doesn’t wash. I am out of reasons for doing fuck all apart from eat Nutella with a spoon.
By the way, I am no Katie Hopkins about food and fat. DH has a huge problem around his weight and eating which is for him to deal with (and he is trying) – a combination of learned very bad habits and psychological comfort eating. But I love him for him and size doesn’t come into it for me. I don’t judge anyone else as I see it as irrelevant. I hate how hung up on bodies we are as a society and am frightened for my daughter in this regard.
Where it does matter to me is the connection between diet and physical and mental health. It’s all part of the same package – one affects the other.
Now, with mental health to contend with, I am aware I have huge issues with body image and food. So it’s not just my inbuilt cultural instinct to bitch on about my size that’s the problem. In a manic phase I become anorexic. I stop eating for months at a time. Two pieces of Nutella on toast a day or less is my sum total. I don’t need food. I binge drink, that’s for sure. But food becomes a poison to me. Then, when it flips, I can’t stop eating. Anything that comes into my path I devour mindlessly. I crave carbs and nothing makes that go away. I put all the weight back on and more.
So in amidst this mix of random food chaos was, in the past, my check and balance. And that was exercise. I have exercised regularly for as long as I can remember. I used to train long hours at swimming as a child and then as a teen walked a good two hours a day just to and from school (who does that these days? Such good exercise!). As a student I hit the gym to battle the bulge and managed to get to a good weight. Then in my early 20s I started running.
My mother has been a runner for many decades now and still runs half marathons in her sixties. I didn’t run because I wanted to be me not her. But then I decided that was silly and put on a pair of trainers and off I went. I think that running, above all else, has helped with the stability over the years before my diagnosis, more so than anything.
I have gone from regularly doing half marathons to barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs. I wanted to try out fell running it looked so cool. Now I am scared of going somewhere unfamiliar, let alone up and down Mount Snowdon for a race.
Then I got really sick around five years ago and moved here. I picked it up again and then ran in lunch breaks and before or after work. Sure, lithium makes it harder but not impossible to lose weight. I didn’t get any larger because I started medication. Then I got pregnant. And then we moved. So always an excuse.
I tried to run in Scotland. But in the grip of such severe postnatal depression I felt every agonising minute I was away from my baby for. I also pushed myself too much – I wasn’t even three months postpartum when I was out trying to lose weight. My body was still wrecked from pregnancy and a very difficult labour. Looking back now I realise how ill I was and how dangerous things were. But when you are in the grip of it – and hey exercise is good for you right so it can’t be a sign of something bad? – it’s impossible to see and get out of.
Then the crash came and I was so ill. We left and came back to The Netherlands. Life became a misery of putting one foot in front of the other, just to get through the day. It had been this way for a good few months until something in me snapped yesterday. I decided enough was enough.
I tidied up all our stuff so our room was lovely and neat, blogged a bit about what I wanted to achieve yesterday which I did 🙂 and that really helped. Some good sleep also bought clarity. Oh blessed sleep!
But really for me this is it. No more excuses. I am tired of being this shadow of a person, this half-being that operates in the background. I don’t want to feel like an observer in my daughter’s life, unable to participate and letting others make decisions for her I should be making. I need to shake this sense of detachment, that I am just watching whilst everything happens around me. It’s my choice. It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. But I am prepared to try.
It’s not just because I’m whingy and British – it is genuinely harder to get exercise regularly when you struggle with your brain. Also ladies don’t rush back into your size 10 jeans straight after labour – give it time. Enjoy your baby. You’ll know when it feels right to work out again.
Twenty minutes today is all it took. And I felt glorious. I was knackered after a combination of walk-run but I have still this lovely feeling of having done something positive. I’ll never be a Roger Bannister or Paula but that doesn’t matter.
I plug myself into my music, plonk shades on and off I go in my own world. It gives me a break. I think through so much. And when I finish I have a sense of achievement.
I looked absurd today as these trainers are stupidly expensive but look horrible. I had DH’s shorts and shirt on as all my stuff is in storage. My norks are enormous as I couldn’t breastfeed and haven’t really shrunk since pregnancy and I had to stuff them into a substandard sports bra (DH is being despatched to storage later today to get my stuff). Gawd make sure you have a good sports bra! I managed but you know…..
There’s a pic of two essential parts of my therapy. One is far cuter than the other, and I’m looking forward to taking him to the beach to do long runs again like we used to. I’m cautiously excited about the future again. That can only be a good thing 🙂