I've been told that weight issues are just a manifestation of what's hindering you inside (or words to that effect) - and I'm actually not surprised. My weightgain this year has been a combination of that sheer exhaustion, the spiral of negativity that comes with still not being comfortable in my own skin, the rejection of putting myself "out there", and the self-sabotage and 'well why do I even bother!'.... OH and that's not to mention the intense emotional backflipping binging that goes hand-in-hand with all the other torments, and then the body totally shutting down in self-protection mode because the rest of the inmates in the joint are running amok!
What fun and joy!!! Whilst I've been stuffing M&Ms into my mouth with one hand, and dabbing my droopy mascara-stained eyes with the other, my weight has slowly crept up. No surprise. Every time I'd walk past the scales, the pangs of hideous shame would hit (to the point where I put them away just so I wouldn't have an anxiety attack every time) - while at the same time I rebelliously loathed and dismissed the damn things because they were damaging my already fragile inner psyche (scales don't measure your true success, and they sure as hell don't measure your overall worth.... my realist inside would say!).
When I had more muffin hanging over the top of my jeans than I was eating, I knew I'd lost my control entirely. All those lovely smaller clothes I had in my wardrobe didn't fit anymore. It went hand in hand with my - now hugely evolving - reclusive state, my shut-down from my networks, hiding away and shunning myself away from successful people because I no longer deserved to be in the same category. I wasn't training because my body hurt so much to move - my joints hurt despite doing very little, my body and brain were completely messed up.
I even went so far as to be fully blood-tested for chronic fatigue a couple of months ago - I was so sure there was something physically wrong with me because I was exhausted beyond belief... but when my bloods all came back even BETTER than post-infection earlier this year, it just jolted me back to reality. My entire body and mind were in turmoil - and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it.
It's taken me MONTHS to get back to this point of writing - acknowledging - and being able to start being proactive in producing changes again. My eating is still verging on 'WHOAAAA don't eat the whole horse!' My exercise is sporadic, and completely dependent on my joints and mobility. My brain-spasms are a little less intense, but I'm still heart-hurting on a daily basis. I've taken a few positive steps in making headway to change these things, and I'll be taking more - but at the moment, I'm just focusing on being able to BREATHE.
I don't know a great deal about anxiety and depression - or their linkages - but I've heard it said before that untreated anxiety can lead into depression. Given my history, and my predisposition to depressiony-symptoms, it's little wonder that I've spiraled backwards the way I have. My anxiety post-surgery was INTENSE - huge - scary - freaking frustrating!!! I thought I had it nipped in the bud when I was able to start exercising again / go shopping without passing out because my chest felt like it'd cave in under the pressure of 'freaking out' about it... but I was SO very wrong.
This entire year has been about trying to deal with the surgical misfire - of having a body that was far less than 'perfect' than the bullshit spiels I'd been lead to believe it would create for me. My pain just festered and grew every time I was rejected (having put myself out there - I want to be loved too!!) - and my self-doubt went off like New Years Eve fire crackers. I just wanted to be able to be ME and be accepted, and it just didn't seem to happen. But the trouble is - and I fully acknowledge this - until I can learn to self-accept, I'm going to fight the same battle every damned time...
My growing self-loathing and the doubt kicked well into overdrive during winter - my SADs were going off. I knew what was happening, but trying to fight through seemed almost futile - it just knocked me like nothing else this year. More so than the last few. I just hurt. Every damned inch of me just hurt. I just wanted to crawl into a bawl and stay there, indefinitely. ... and even now, some days I still do.
...but I'm trying to fight through. When Spring hit, I was ecstatic - surely that meant the end of the winter blues - and I was pretty certain things would just start snapping back into place and I'd hit the ground running, at some point, again. ... but I underestimated the damage. The kilos gained I can live with - I take full responsibility for that. Hell, I even ENJOYED being able to eat whatever I wanted, and holy shit, did I... !!!! I KNEW there'd come a time when I was going to pull myself up on that behaviour (again) and even now that things are more under control, I don't doubt I'll fall back into the food-trap just because THAT is not the issue I'm fighting here. It's just a sidetrack!
What's hurting me is the lack of self acceptance - the hatred of the external - the misfired and misinterpreted worth. I've let myself disbelieve that I'm worth the effort - and I've let myself fall into the trap of drowning my sorrows with food and hiding away into solitude.
At one point I found myself talking nasty smack staring at myself at the mirror - not a word escaped my lips, but the inner monologue was on fire. Hateful, vengeful, nasty, bullshit - that for 99% of it I don't even believe!!! ... So WHY was I doing that?! I'd NEVER do or say those things to someone else... why why why did I think it was ok to talk to myself like that?! Why do I STILL do that... ?
I was back to loathing my own reflection - and it really had NOTHING to do with the weight gain! That was the easiest excuse in the book!!
I went on a secret mission a couple of months ago, with a couple of my friends - thinking sticking myself back on a program would be the catalyst for changing it up again. BEEP, WRONG! I know better... but I was desperate, and WAY too exhausted... !! Absolutely ZERO weightloss - down a couple - back up a couple (rinse and repeat!!) - but it started putting a little structure back into play. Note: a LITTLE. I'm rebelling against this like a mofo!!!
I've been working with other outlets to help turn things around - including new counseling sessions (and if you know me, you know this is not something I've done easily... ). It's still very new, and I don't know how I feel about it yet - I still put on my 'happy face' when I go in, but it's making me think, and whilst my notorious over-thinking has caused so much issue in the past, this 'thinking' is strategic and a little different.
Yes, the weather change has made a big impact already - the sunshine plays a HUGE factor in my moods! HUUUUUGE! This year has been testament to that. Sunshiney one day = ok! Rainy the next = look away, look away, look awayyyyy!!! .. but I'm seeing patterns now, being self-aware, understanding what THIS BODY needs, how it operates, what it works with.
I think that's a win... ! It hasn't always felt like it - but I've never really been this size - I don't know what this body needs or wants?!! I'm learning.. !
In an attempt to help me overcome my mirror demons - and perhaps shoot the self-hatred of my current size in the foot - a friend of mine took some photos for me. Given my penchant this year to avoid the camera (like times of old where I avoided cameras like the plague!) - this one became a sticking zone. I didn't 'want' photos of me right now - not in "this state" - not out of my control! Hell, I can take a gazzillion selfies and delete nearly a gazzillion shit ones before I'll broadcast the 'acceptable' Amy version... but give someone ELSE that control?! Are you serious?!!
.. but I had to let this go. I had to stand up and fight back. Stop the self-destructive hatred that's been tormenting me for months - isolating me - ruining me! I had to stop believing I was so physically unattractive that noone wants me (cuz that's what rejection seems to teach me?!) - and actually break free of what's happened to my body!
Incidentally, let me just jump on a slight tangent right here. Despite the gain (which makes my clothes tight and my skin uncomfortable) - my surgery malfunction isn't the end of the world. I know that! Some days I'll just stand there looking in the mirror at my lumpy leftover belly and be ok - some days I get really sad - some days I'm really proud of that scar that runs from deep one side of my hips to the other. Some days I loathe what I did - some days I take a deep breath and just accept it as a decision. Nothing more, nothing less. My counsellor is trying to help me break away from the self-destructive "you caused your own issues - you did this - it's all your fault Amy!" thinking - and some days I can accept it for just what it is. Just a tummy, just my body. Those are GOOD days, but they're rare.
ANYWAY!! Back to my story... My friend wanted to take some photos for her portfolio - and I offered my face up to the challenge. I was quietly shitting myself - I didn't really feel photos would do me any favours at the moment... !! But I wanted to help her out - she's been such a light for me this year when things have been so rough, and I just wanted to repay her kindness a little. Uncomfortable in my own skin or not! Double bonus was if I had a nice photo or two in the process - something I could hang onto that helped rebuild a little of my self esteem.
... but she did more than that. We had fun! I turned "professional" and switched into a mode that even let me get changed in the middle of a carpark (all my wobbly bits hanging out for the world to see!). I am NOT a public body poser by any means - my skin stays WELL HIDDEN - but I'd switched on and that was that.
We shot at the back of a shopping centre - we shot down at the park - we shot near a road. I could feel people watching - and I felt like a dick and wanted to hide - but this was my opportunity to stand up and do something about my negativity and hatred - and really, I didn't want to let her down.
As fun as the shoot was - I had a mental implosion thereafter. I sat on my floor and gorged myself with unspeakable things like an entire tub of ice cream (!!) and panicked that I was just totally fooling myself that I was 'ok' in this skin. I wasn't the girl I was 12 months ago before the surgery (super fit, healthy, determined, knew her shit and knew what she wanted!). Just a totally broken girl with a bruised soul who got lost somewhere... So I ate my emotions away, cried my hundred cries, wiped the wad of smudged mascara off my face, and hid my pain away, just like the professional pain-hiderer I am!!
And then I saw the photos...
Not only is she a talented photographer - that goes without saying - but what I saw in those shots was something more than just a photo. When I reluctantly posted a couple of the initial ones in one of my support groups as a "I stood up and took action today" thing, the reactions were really positive. It wasn't all about the 'fluff' of how I looked - but what meant more to me was the commentary about how expressive my eyes are, how they tell a story.
That's what's meaningful for me. My eyes DO tell a story - bulk of it is hidden inside and yearns to have someone here to tell it to. I hurt every day, but part of me fights to free myself from that every day too. Where I believe there's fear, I could actually see strength. Where I believed my physical appearance was laughing at my lack of control and resilience - I could actually see change and adaptation. It wasn't my body on show here - it was my heart and soul. Portraiture that made me seen somewhat 'unreal' - perhaps even a little glorified?! Egotistical - not at all. I could still read my pain on my face - I could empathise with her, but it wasn't painful sympathy at play here. It was a 'you've got this girl - just be brave, just believe'.
I don't know if I can really explain it. I've sat on these images for a week mulling it over. The one below is my absolute favourite - it doesn't "look like me" (and yet it is) - but there's something incredibly magic about it. I don't know if it's because I WANT to be that girl - though I am her - or that's what I aspire to shine every day (when there's days I just feel black and weak). I just know that I connected with 'her' and she's helping me heal right now.
Completely out of my control and comfort zone again - getting uncomfortable because I know there's no point staying here where I hurt so much. I deserve better than that - and my babysteps are starting to pay off...
Mantra: it's got NOTHING to do with how I look, and EVERYTHING to do with WHO. I. AM.
THIS is who I am...
Dear brain: as much as I know you're there to help me reflect and keep me on my toes - please let my body be released from the shackles we're wearing, and let me start believing... I know we'll all be ok if we just start working together. <3 Me.