Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Food for Thought

Hello you lovely lot!

So I know I have been incredibly quiet for almost a year now.
I have already shared with those of you who follow my page on twitter that I had been unwell again. I’m mostly restored back to myself now and have been for a few months, but it has taken a lot to build up the courage to actually write this blog and share my story. I’ve had several attempts to try and write something and given up halfway through so even as I write this I don’t know as it will be published or not. But here goes...

Not a Food Fan

So what you should know is that I’ve always been a fussy eater and funny about my food. That’s just part of the quirks of me being me. I have a phobia of cheese which is just easier to joke about and laugh it off. I don’t eat normal things like tomatoes, onions etc etc. God bless my mum for finding things I do eat!

The worst and, to me, the most personal question anyone could ever ask me (which I get ALL the time as I’m so fussy) is ‘What do you like to eat?’. Because quite frankly…I don’t. I eat to live that is all. I wish I could enjoy eating but I just don’t.

I’ve also always felt uncomfortable about eating in front of people that aren’t my immediate family. I would always be there covering my mouth as I’m chewing or trying to take bites when people aren’t looking. I also pick like a pigeon, not a clue why, something in my brain just says one piece of chicken is fine to eat, the other bit just isn’t. I still don’t know why that is and I can't explain it.

You also need to know that I am naturally very thin. Always have been. I can eat junk food everyday and nothing else and I wouldn’t put on a single bit of weight. When I was in primary school I was called anorexic, I was told I needed to eat something…but it was just something I couldn’t help. Yes, people call me lucky and sure, it’s great that I don’t have to worry about putting on weight, but it can also make things very dangerous as I was about to find out.

Moving to London 

Despite the food situation, I’ve always eaten 3 meals a day. Never questioned that, ever.
Then I moved out of home back in March and moved in to a shared house in London. Suddenly, I was having to make my own meals and pay for my own food and nobody was observing what I was eating. Things started off fine, I’ve always been an awful cook but I made things work. I would continue to eat three meals a day. Then I got about a month down the line and I got paid for the first time in my new job. I only just had enough to pay my rent with only about £50 left over to live on for the month for travel, food, and anything else.Now, my parents are always very supportive. If I say I’m struggling financially my mum will help me out. I know I will never be all alone and struggling and my parents will always stick by my side and I am so incredibly lucky to have that constant support system.
However…the point of me moving out was to be independent…to live off of my own money and not go running back to mummy when things went wrong. So I started trying to cheat. I figured if I could live off two meals a day rather than three, it would save a lot of money.
It worked for a while then it became obsessive. I was convincing myself I was saving money and learning to ‘live in London’...that it was just part of the experience...but I was actually spiralling into a very dangerous habit.

Discovering the Scales

Then I discovered some scales in the bathroom in the shared house I live in…and just out of curiosity stepped on them one day. Then that curiosity turned into another obsession. Without going into too much detail, the scales became my best friend and the link between weight and what I could eat was huge. Weirdly, none of this was ever about losing weight. I know I’m thin and probably always will be. I’m happy with that and for some stupid reason it never crossed my mind that I would lose weight so noticeably. Though it wasn’t just the losing weight that became obvious to people. My skin was awful, I looked horribly pale…I even had unexplained bruises all over my body which was quite scary. All of my clothes were completely hanging off me…my mum took me clothes shopping and I can’t even imagine how she felt when she saw size 6 clothes hanging off me. I didn’t look good at all.


I’ve also always had depression but it hasn’t been too prominent for years. It's always been overshadowed by my anxiety problems (which strangely, seemed to vanish during this period). However, I had been taking anti depressants to keep my depression and my anxiety at bay for 5 years. Of course, with the lack of food, my mood also took a downward spiral. I started getting very depressed, and seriously lack motivation.
So it was about this time that I discovered the benefit of alcohol. Instead of eating dinner, I would drink a bottle of wine. It made me feel better, it made me forget and think that I was happy. For some reason, bearing in mind this whole thing started due to lack of money, money was no longer a concept to me and I was diving into my savings in order to buy alcohol and thinking nothing of it. I w
asn’t eating anything at all at this point. Maybe a chocolate bar at some point in the day or a banana or something. But no meals. That pang and pain of hunger in my belly gave me some weird sort of sense of satisfaction.  I had no energy as I was so depressed and weak with lack of food that I couldn’t go to work. Thus making my money situation a million times worse.
Anyway, owing to the alcohol, I started doing very silly things. I would leave my house completely drunk at silly hours of the night and just walk around. Anything could have happened. One night, after a bottle of wine, I took quite a lot of ibuprofen…just to see what would happen. I didn’t want to die at all…I was just curious. Thankfully I came to my senses and made myself sick and that realisation of how utterly stupid that was was one of the key turning points for me. That and discovering several hidden empty bottles of wine under my bed that I was hiding from my housemate. A couple of people also started commenting on my weight, and I couldn't remember the last time I had eaten a meal.
Asking for help
I confided in one person that I trust. I told her everything and I was set up at a local doctors surgery pretty quick. I saw an incredible doctor, who took me very seriously. As soon as I walked in she told me I was very thin and weak looking and she knew before I said anything exactly what I was about to tell her. Of course she was very concerned when the alcohol and ibuprofen incident was mentioned and she referred me to a crisis team in a local hospital straight away. They called me that afternoon and assessed me.
The woman I spoke to on the phone was about to change everything. I don’t even remember her name…but I wish I did as she completely turned my life around. She must have got an idea of my personality very quickly, and worked out that I didn’t need someone to be nice to me, I needed someone to be blunt. She told me that what I was doing to myself was very stupid, that for someone who wanted to be an actor, I wasn’t showing the strength and resilience that I needed. She said that I sounded like a very intelligent girl and I could beat this if I get out of my head and back into my strong mind set that she knew was lying beneath the surface. She then gave me an option...I could either accept their help and have something done by them straight away (ie…a voluntary admission) OR, with their support if I needed it, I could take the responsibility upon myself, give myself a good talking to and get MYSELF out of this declining spiral. I chose to do it myself, and I am so glad I did. I know that not everyone would want to do that and it’s different for every single person, but for me, I think it helped my recovery to do it for myself.
It wasn’t easy, but with the support of my doctors and amazing friends and family, I did. The alcohol was surprisingly easy to stop. I didn’t deny myself a drink everyday, I just had one glass or one spritzer. And then gradually I got myself off of that addiction. Nowadays I still like a glass of wine but it’s not a compulsion like it used to be. Thankfully it was a very short lived addiction and I think that’s why it was easy to stop.
The eating was more difficult but I made it. I still have a couple of problems there but I’m back up to a much healthier weight. Money is obviously still an issue (think it always will be for anyone who lives in London!!) and that does occasionally mean that I cheat and skip meals but nowhere near to the extent I did. If I get hungry I eat…that’s my rule now and it works. I’m still not looking like the healthiest person in the world, but right now, it’s winter and I can cover that by wearing baggy jumpers. However, I went out twice this week and instead of finding something that would usually hide my figure and my thinness, I decided to just go for it and wear what I want. I was paranoid of looking too skinny, but I did it and once I had gotten used to it, I totally forgot all about it and didn’t care, I became very comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a while.

I also recently became anti depressant free!! I had been on them non stop for 5 years. I was prepared to be on them for a lifetime…lots of people are and why the hell not? If it makes you better it makes you better. Just like if someone lacks insulin in their body...then you give them more of it... so if you lack serotonin in your brain then we should be given more of that right? But my pills made me tired, they made me irritable and I had been on them for so long I wasn’t sure what affect they were having anymore. So recently I stopped taking them (gradually, and under doctor supervision and recommendation…please don’t just stop)…and voila! For the current moment, I’m happy without them and don’t need them as I’m in a pretty good place. I have no doubt that I will go back on them again at some point, and who cares that’s no problem that’s me. But right now I don’t need them and that makes me very happy.
So the point of me sharing my story guys is not because I want people to feel sorry for me but because I don’t want people to feel alone. It’s horribly isolating when something like this happens, but you know what? It happens. And it may be incredibly cheesy but it’s so TOTALLY true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And we need people to speak out and open up about their experiences and EDUCATE people. Mental health illnesses are very real…and I wont stop until people are aware how real and how frightening and also how COMMON it is.
Anyways, that’s all from me, over and out!  
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