I should be writing an update from the psychiatrist, but it turns out that my appointment today was indeed cancelled in lieu of my recent visit which is bullshit but… I’m tired from the anticipation and grumpy from the disappointment. So I thought I’d write a little something in regards to actor/writer/wonderful man Wentworth Miller speaking out about the body shaming he faced as a meme was published by online cesspool The LAD Bible.
“First and foremost, I was suicidal.” He doesn’t mince his words as he writes about a very dark period in his life as he was ‘semi-retired’ as an actor, and comfort eating his way through depression – a coping method he had held onto since he was a child. I implore everyone to read what he has said so very candidly in his essay, and I am obligated to say that The LAD Bible have since apologised and noted that ‘mental health is no joke’. Hopefully they’ll think twice in future before being so petty in regards to a celebrity’s appearance.
So, why am I writing this? Well, physical looks are tied very closely to mental health. When you’re feeling at your best, you’re more likely to eat well, dress nicely and put an effort into your hair and make-up. But when you’re at the bottom of the deepest, darkest pit of misery, you couldn’t give a shit. You don’t remember when you last showered, you’re wearing the same hoodie two weeks in a row and your teeth have the same texture as the fluffy side of a velcro strip. Worst still, you’ll either eat everything that’s not nailed down, or forget to eat altogether.
See that picture? That’s me from early this year. I’m proud of this picture, because it’s the result of the work I’ve been doing with Slimming World since I joined last year. I’m aware that some people wouldn’t see my UK size 16 frame as progress, but compared to how I looked in 2012…
I was a bloated UK size 20, verging on 22. I was recovering from a breakdown and as I changed medication, I spent most of my time sleeping and eating. Three full bowls of sugary cereal whenever I woke up (usually around 1pm or 2pm, along with The Ex) and for dinner it would either be a huge takeaway or something calorific piled up on a plate cooked by my mom. Inbetween that, there would be countless chocolates, biscuits, snacks and full-fat cans of coke and Lucozade. I dread to think of the calorie count, but I would imagine some days I would easily reach 4,000 calories. All I did was blame the medication, of course it was the medication that was making me fat and disgusting.
WRONG. The idea that you can get fat for no reason is something that simply defies physics. Fat doesn’t just happen, and staying in denial did nothing for me. Medication can mess with your metabolism (both mirtazipine and short-release venlafaxine can do this), but it can also make you crave sugar and carbs – something that I blissfully ignored. And it was bad enough that I felt disgusting, but when The Ex was telling another girl how much he missed sex – we weren’t really intimate due to my low moods and how ugly I felt – I just stopped caring. A day where I didn’t kill myself before bedtime was a success in my eyes, and at the time that was enough for me. So I’d allow myself that bar of chocolate, or that extra slice of pizza.
When I stopped my medication, admittedly I did begin to lose weight. But that was coupled with going back to my job as well as breaking up with The Ex. Life was better for a little while though, and it was only when I woke up one morning after spending the previous night with MFP and took a proper look at my saggy, stretch-marked, scarred body that I realised the toll my mental health had taken on my physical health. I cried when I realised what MFP had seen when he saw me naked. I was disgusted, but reminded myself that I was alive.
And that was the hardest part of it all, just trying to survive the day. I’d wake up every afternoon just praying that I’d make it through until I fell asleep again. Who cares if all my jeans were too small for me? Or that my boobs had gone up from a B cup to a DD cup and were giving me horrendous backache? I had stretchmarks on my forearms and calves because I was getting so fat in such a short time, and I knew my boyfriend at the time was looking at prettier girls online, but I had to live another day. I just had to.
What was the point of going through hell if I wasn’t going to survive to tell the tale? That’s what I told myself on the good days, anyway. On the bad days… well, I had the pizza place saved in my phone.
Since then, my weight has been up and down. I’ve been back on medication again since January 2015, bloating once again when I was on antipsychotics and losing slightly when I joined the gym and tried to reduce my calories to 1200 a day. I was afraid that the calorie restriction would take me over, and I began eating crap again. I was sick of making excuses, and with that I joined Slimming World.
It’s still a slow process. I’m losing weight, but I know I’ll lose it quicker once I’m on a lower dose of venlafaxine. My mood stabilisers have no adverse weight effects, so that’s a bonus. I still love chocolate a little too much, and baked goods are the best things ever, but I have a bigger goal in mind – and that is my mental health. That will always take priority, and people need to think about that before they shame those who are clearly unhappy about their size and lacking in self esteem due to mental illness. There are more important things at stake, and being balanced will always be my number one task in life.
…fitting back into my size 16 jeans feels fucking amazing, though.