So maybe it just takes a 4469.4 mile plane visit to feel like you really could be recovering from an eating disorder – and a pretty amazing sibling.
So ‘Blue Monday’ has already been and gone. The day that supposedly is the most depressing day of each year, ironically falling only a mere couple of weeks after all the promising happy New Year exclamations and marking a cutting end to those bundles of optimism and motivation we all had for the year ahead. More divorces happen on this day, more suicides happen on this day and there was me thinking that I was experiencing what I thought to be a terrible Blue Monday because I got my feet a little wet from my own self-induced need to run at 06:30 in the morning. Probably only a little better than last year’s Blue Monday where I was reminded by TimeHop that I’d gone to the gym in non-matching trainers. Perhaps I’m doomed to a life of ever befitting Blue Monday’s!
Unfortunately for both me and anyone caring to read this, you’re probably about to embark on some miserable, glass half-empty depiction of the last few weeks since my last update. So get your coffee ready because you’ll need some serious alertness before continuing to read on to my dulcet drones. Men reading this? I do apologise but I touch on the topic of ‘The time of the month’ so grab the super, jumbo tampons now because I mention the word period – just the one time I promise.
January has so far seen nothing but cold and rain which has coincided perfectly to make a shit tonne of pathetic fallacy for how I’ve thus been feeling. I’ve wanted to spend 90% of my time, curled up in a comfortable ball with my onesie and have Ed Sheeran sing to me that he’s in love with the shape of me with the other 10% still curled up in a ball just with no Ed Sheeran. Furthering that, maybe not even Ed Sheeran, more so someone just speaking those words to me and a someone that’s managed to notice I’m not just a fat ball of polkadot material, though perhaps he would be quite useful for reassuring my tan that there is still some left remaining on my skin from my Christmas holiday.
Persistent exercise and loss of weight gives women the ultimate combination for being amenorrheic – absent from periods. There, done, the word of red mess has passed. Where I was once clinging on to staying this way because it sometimes feels like the only thing I have left from anorexia, I’m now past the stage of my body ill-functioning because the hormones are becoming a bitch and I’m quite frankly fed up of being some irritable and miserable being – let’s just hope it actually is only the hormones and I’m not actually bound this way forever! My happy pills are long gone, so yes, for now I am living in hope that it is just hormones and it’s going to pass soon when my female parts burst its banks.
I have so far just not been able to shake the feelings of feeling so incredibly huge, ugly and unworthy. I hate that my mind is leading me to believe that I’m failing every day because I now have such a huge diversity of food in my once broccoli dominated diet. So the combination of feeling so repulsive and feeling like that of a failure, has just morphed me into such negativity over the past few weeks, that I just don’t seem to have the enthusiasm for anything at the moment – even including the daily 06:30, 0 degree runs, that seemed to have me jumping out of bed only a couple of months ago. Now it just feels like an almighty slog, as I wake up half the street with the sound of my now colossal body weight pounding the path, with me enduring the overwhelming effort that seems to come with lifting one hippo leg after the other.
So Ed, wherever you are, please just come and reassure me that my mirror is maybe playing tricks on me and maybe I can learn to like my shape – warts* and all.
*This is completely a figure of speech. I do not in fact have warts. What a fine way that would be to add to my negative body image if I did, eh?
Stepping into the lives of just one member of the Brown family and you’ll soon realise that everything is done at close to 100 mph. 105 mph if you’re my Dad because still being as competitive as ever, he will always ensure he has the edge over each and every one of us. Perhaps more like 85 mph now for my Mum (no offence), though she’d definitely still attempt just as quick given that her hips allowed it. 160 km/h if you’re my sister living half way across the world and then me, probably there struggling to reach 130 mph because I’d most likely just be thinking about the bloody extra calories I could be burning going that little bit faster. So generally speaking you get the picture that the four Brown’s in my immediate family, live life fast, or not at all.
There are heaps of advantages to living life in the fast lane: such being actually getting shit done on or ahead of time, being more or less on a permanent adrenaline rush that makes for a great calorie burner or the more unfortunate facade of looking like you’ve just dabbed the last of the white stuff, and another advantage being that days off or time spent on holiday doing absolutely sod all are actually appreciated and well worth waiting for.
On the other, more negative hand, though we may be living our own lives at such a speed, you forget that everything else is happening at a lot less slower, more humanly average speed. As a result, there is the ever impatience of why things can’t happen any faster and at the speed we want them to happen. Almost similar to that feeling of driving in a rush and the roads only seem to bear the old, stubborn hoarders of their ancient paper license who drive close enough to the screen to be able to have their face cleaned by the window wipers, or driving through the postal code that is due for their dustbin collection that day. You’re only ever slowed down when you’re in a rush!
For the past year I wanted to get better. More specifically speaking: completely flip my mental attitude, feel comfortable about eating again, be able to exercise less and not feel guilty about it, leave university with the least upheaval and disruption possible, reduce my anxiety, be sociable again, feel happier and not dependent on ‘happy pills’, have a career prospect, actually have a career, feel confident enough to date, be discharged from hospital, gain weight and the list goes on. So when this extensive list wasn’t materialising to be promptly successful in the first few weeks and months of trying, I’d just flump back into a negative sense of failure and resume life in the comfort zone of things remaining the exact same.
Realistically, this wasn’t going to happen at the 100 mph speed I would’ve wanted and expected because looking at the grand scheme of things, that was some mountaneous list of goals that gear 5 wasn’t going to get me up and over. I just probably should have realised that sooner. So instead I decided to take my foot off the pedal and approach each goal individually and at the same speed at which it takes a sloth to realise the hilarious punchline of a joke – you need only watch Zootropolis and you’ll understand.
Focusing on just one goal with patience and time, lead to the success of another, then another and another until I’ve now been left smugly perched on top of the rolling snowball, thoroughly enjoying the rate at which things are now starting to take off.
Facing a yogurt, lead to facing eggs which lead to pancakes which lead to omelettes, which lead to cheese (in very small doses) which lead to sourdough bread. Before I knew it, I’d reached the ends of 2016 and the beginnings of 2017 following step-by-step guides from Clean Eating Alice’s cookbook, trying and testing new recipes and ingredients that would have been completely overlooked by me and my shopping trolley only a few months ago.
It has been so exhilarating and so exciting to see my goals achieved, metaphorically become a huge snowball and I can’t wait to start living the original life I know with the other Brown’s in the fast lane now that I’ve accomplished almost all of these original goals.
Especially now with the dawning of 2017 and the resolutions kicking in and no doubt failing already (we’re only human here), just remember certain goals will require a lot more time and patience and won’t always be accomplished on 2nd January!
‘Tis the season and the time of the year where we will undoubtedly start seeing 101 of our social media friends reel off the fruits of their labour that came with 2016. “I met some amazing people”, “Saw some incredible places”, when we really all know that half of these are just clutching at straws for likes and comments, and they actually just took a trip to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and stumbled across one of Made in Chelsea’s’ finest celebrities along the way.
I expect no less than 30 “New Year, New Me” endeavours from different people, with 99% of these not showing those actual written words in the boxes of their Facebook status, instead showing what these people feel is a unique take on what is practically the same motive; “Turning over a new leaf” being one of my personal favourites because we know full well that leaf isn’t going to be any greener on the other side and they’ll remain the same person they’ve always been. You can’t blame people for trying though eh?
Maybe you’re wondering why I am so okay about downgrading and insulting these past-loving, future-changing, epiphany-encountering people…?
…Because believe me, I once was one of those and only did TimeHop just remind me of being one only three years ago. What was a boastful status about how amazing my 2013 was, accompanied with bullet points listing everything that was great about it, was enough of a cringey reminder of how YOLO I thought my life was. So all offence aside, I’m really just insulting myself!
As for marking a new year and overturning the brown tinge that’s made its way over one side of your leaf, change happens and should happen at all times of the year, and not just at the turning of some other wretched year towards our death bed. Now how’s that for a happy New Year.
There’s a lot to be said about my 2016 and although it progressively got better, I by no means feel regretful bypassing all that was good about the year and saying that I can’t bloody wait to see the back of it. Thinking about the year ahead, I am so excited to make it a New Year because it will by all means actually be a completely New Year and not just some empty New Year, New Me garbage. I am fortunate enough to be starting in a brand new London-based job (shit, is this me boasting now?) officially starting on the 3rd, finally being able to dust away the dark cobwebs of a previous job, university study and select people, that only remind me of a darker time suffering with anorexia and distorted eating. My yearly gym membership has also passed its expiration date so the dawn of 2017 in a brand new gym will no longer remind me of the treadmills and other equipment where I’d spend an endless, miserable amount of time, relentlessly exercising on tired, skinny limbs. I hope that a new gym won’t scream all the past energy depletion I once felt and gives me a fresh new way to fuel my love for fitness – but I will miss Orange Theory desperately.
I have no desire to make any more changes now that 2017 is around the corner. I bloody well conquered and endured some of the worst months of an eating disorder, changed enough throughout the year to make it out the other side in what I feel as a now relatively normal human being. Okay maybe I’m boasting a little about my years’ achievements now, but screw hypocrisy because I had a blinder defeating anorexia and I’ve been boasting enough about it throughout the year on this blog anyway and not just now that it’s the end of the year.
Having said all that, I’ve decided a resolution should still be in order for my own personal reasons, which is where I now get back to the title of this post. No, I unfortunately am not giving up alcohol, though I’d still feel completely compelled to sponsor anyone else taking on the challenge because Dry January is certainly for a very good cause. I like alcohol, I love a cocktail and I kinda gave up far too much food and drink over the past few years anyway and just ended up starving myself to illness so there’ll be no more of that for me. Hardly one of my best decisions to date that was.
So instead of giving up something either edible, of monetary value or looking for a decent bloke that can handle me (something that seems to take care of itself) I’ve decided to go cold turkey with social media and deprive all access to Instagram for at least as long as January.
Though I’d love to state it be for a valued reason such as “appreciating life without pretty pictures” or “being less anti-social”, I’m unfortunately not on such a high moral, selfless plane as that. For weeks, months and years, I’ve found myself divulging into the filtered lives of what Instagram makes a person. Why I’ve felt the need to know that healthygal101 had turmeric porridge for breakfast in the skimpiest bowl only small flies could ever eat out of and needing to know that slimjim28’s weight loss journey saw them losing 2lb last week, which we probably all actually lost after our bowel movements yesterday anyway, I’ve decided that I achieve nothing but negative comparison in seeing the world behind these people that Instagram seems to shove in my face.
My goals are not the same as anyone else’s and everyone else’s goals won’t be the same as mine. I shouldn’t be spending so much energy and emotion scanning images of what I could look like, what I could be doing, what I should look like and what I should be doing because I am just not those people. I won’t be that thin, because I’m genetically not built that way and I actually quite like food now. I won’t be that ripped because I don’t think I’d have any femininity left about me if I was and I’m still pretty afraid of weights heavier than my handbag. And I won’t be that perfect in a picture because I don’t have the time and the patience to decide the optimum angle, background and shade of Valencia in order to look so.
Though I’ll probably never stop comparing the hatred I have of my body to the desire of other people’s, I can at least help minimise the problem by eliminating what is a potential causation of many of my underlining body image issues.
So it’s a Lo-Five from me now Instagram. Though I may Sierra you soon, I think it’s only Mayfair for my own self-esteem that we take a short break.
(You can tell I’m secretly an XX-pro on Instagram filters – that was the last one, I promise)
Technically speaking, I’d like to think it’s actually closer to 103 things, but for simplifying matters, let’s keep it that so far this week I have learnt three things: hard work has its way of paying off; I am certainly at my most creative whilst running and I have no real need for a sports bra – the latter two having ironically been realised instantaneously.
Not that they need too much more of an explanation but I’ll start with those last two things because let’s face it, we surely all want to hear about my imaginative brain busting ideas and my two not-so-rounded A-grade spectacles bouncing liberally underneath my running top.
Running has so far accounted to nearly all my ideas for Christmas presents this year where I’ve so far lacked so much imagination with gift incentives that I was debating whether just to run off to Hong Kong a few days early and forget about Christmas all together this year. Turns out, all I really needed to do was traipse out into the dreary dullness of December’s early mornings and late evenings, run 7 or 8 miles and voila, a book full of toilet trivia for my work Secret Santa becomes the next best thing since sliced bread for a present. And to think I didn’t think of that before…
Perhaps the reason for my sincere lack of creativity can be partly due to the extreme tiredness of me attempting to work 7-day weeks to both gain some Monday-Friday invaluable unpaid work experience while also earning essential dollar on the weekends to actually get me to Hong Kong in the first place. The extreme tiredness became more than apparent when I learnt number 3 in my list, and noticing 3 miles into a run that I’d completely forgotten to support my boobs with a sports bra – a mile number far too high to justify having anything protruding from my chest at all because it took me that long to realise. It’s a good job my way of celebrating a decent mile pace doesn’t involve lifting my shirt up over my face like the footballers do.
Those two things covered, I get to my main point to this blog about hard work paying off – both with my eating disorder and life in general. Forcing yourself to eat normally again may not seem like much hard work to some, but believe me, it’s no easy feat for someone who is still too afraid to take just one of the miniature heroes offered to you at work. Also forcing yourself to admit defeat that your energy levels are just far too low to attempt exercise for that day has also required an awful amount of hard work too, something of which people dream towards each week knowing they can finally have a rest day that day.
All the hard work of breaking routine, launching out of my comfort zone and working what feels like more unpaid hours of work this year than paid, has all paid off. For the reason I’ll be able to explain in the New Year… This is my way of keeping you hooked until my next post where I can properly explain.
What a curveball cliffhanger!
Waltzing into my 06:30 gym session and stepping onto my daily weekday 09:06 train to work, did I find myself completely astounded that I wasn’t enveloped in a shower of party poppers with every person in talking distance singing their many happy returns to me. Why didn’t everyone know it’s my birthday? Everyone should know it’s my birthday, surely!
When you’re as big a birthday keeno as me, you’ll certainly appreciate the immensely irksome 364-day wait to next year’s special day and the complete blown up excitement (though some might call it over exaggerating) that comes with each turn of a new age. Though not overly enthused at the idea of being an inconvenient prime number for a whole other year, a pain at which I haven’t had to endure since 19 (use your maths skills), I have much to be excited about adopting another unit this year compared to previous years.
My mother would be proud as I sit here boasting some Bingo knowledge where the two little ducks that make up being the age of 22, followed me around all last year. They quacked in my ear to constantly lose weight and echoed one another with incentives that I wouldn’t feel accomplished unless the scales continued to drop and each told me that I was just too fat.
Though one two still carries on waddling behind me (because I am still in my 20’s!) the other number two has slowly started to morph into something that could become an integral character in the ugly duckling. Now that I’ve attempted to stifle his quack’s with one or two oat cakes, he is failing to voice his incentives that I should be skinny.
I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m sure as hell going to make my mind-set of a 23 year old be such that 22 will be an age that feels like years behind me.
23 is going to be the age at which I overcome even more eating habits, get back my periods (sorry) and continue to stuff oat cakes in anorexia’s face. You could say, I’m going to make 23 a year of being in my prime – how I’m going to do that is still undecided, but the incentive is still there, okay!
You’d have thought after a few weeks that the novelty of the London commute would’ve worn off by now and it’s only upon reflection do I question why it hasn’t yet. Apart from the people that insist waiting an extra minute for the next Victoria line train is far too long, so decide to squeeze in to the already rammed carriage and ignore all warning of the closing doors, or the passengers that lack a serious concept of urgency (or general lack of fitness), that can’t move any faster for people like me that insist I WILL make it to the overground with 3 seconds to spare, I really actually don’t mind the commute. So much so, that I was still planning to have my birthday on an actual tube… except it’s not really a tube, it’s called Cahoots and it’s a restaurant and it’s just designed like a tube.
Embarking on the commute comes with having started a new internship in recent weeks. Commute aside, I’ve had to take on several other new challenges: the hardest being to try and overcome the anxiety that has aroused when eating lunch around new people followed by the awkward explanation to the mass of confused expressions of why I’m not indulging in the mouth-watering pizza that everyone else is eating in the office. I’m fooling no one when I say that my banana is more appetizing.
Food aside, I’ve also faced the almighty challenge that has come with deciding what outfit to wear each morning. Though I could undoubtedly rock up in just a pair of jeans and a baggy sweatshirt due to the nature of my office, if I’m going to blend in with the general persona of Knightsbridge, you bet I’m going to strut my stuff in Primark’s latest office wear collection.
Where I’ve been so used to wearing a uniform that is as unflattering as ever, having worked in a leisure centre before this internship, I’ve long forgotten what it’s like to have to ensure you’re looking at your clothing best every day. This hit me at its worse last week, where the eating disorder desire to constantly hit perfection and not have a shred of evidence that I have any fat anywhere on my body and I was late for work.
Though I blamed it on train delays – which if you’re travelling on the London Overground, it pretty much guarantees you aren’t lying anyway – I was in fact rushing around the nearest clothing retailer looking for clothes. I felt so fat and so hideous in what I’d chosen to wear that day, that I’d almost considered turning around and going home after almost breaking down in tears on the train.
Perhaps I looked fine in what I was wearing, perhaps there wasn’t really that much excess back fat hanging over the side of my bra and perhaps my arms didn’t look like someone had attached a hammock to my tricep and was swinging merrily in the wind.
The point being that an eating disorder can still creep up on you at times where you still just don’t expect it. When I thought my confidence was on an up-turn, you’re taken 100 steps back because anorexia says you’ve gotten too fat. Sod you!
As much as we’d still love to see a gentleman on the 1st, 4th and 29th date, rush to hold open the door for us, we first must at least appreciate the changing of the times. This isn’t suggesting we’re providing an easy escape route to all things gentlemanly, but given the progression from the push and pull door to the automatic and revolving door, chivalry might not always be possible. Though even if this could be done, we’ve seen from Bridget Jones’ Baby that helping a lady through a revolving door isn’t as smooth and gentlemanly as we might have expected. However, it’s very unlikely that we would refuse the invitation to be carried over the threshold anyway, as unorthodox as it may materialise to be.
Only recently had a date pulled out my chair for me, was I so taken aback, that I almost fell off the chair from a lack of judgement. Manners aside, it sadly didn’t work out, but the thought certainly didn’t go unnoticed. However should I have been that surprised by his act of chivalry? Or should I have adamantly remained standing, hovering above my seat, emitting a subtle cough, until he rushed to my legs’ aid to pull out my chair?
For years, women have fought for equal rights and to be on an equal level playing field as men. Yet not long ago did Tweets spark out of control, when the TV show First Dates aired a woman who was left appalled by her date who didn’t honour the entire bill in what was their fine-dining London experience – with all the bubbly trimmings F.Y.I.
As a society, we generally opt to decide when we would like things to remain in line with the current times, or when we would like things to revert back to the “old days”. We can angrily pull on our yellow marigolds as we scrub through the pile of washing up because our ancestors have taught us so, yet presumptuously still expect the male on the same occasion to fork out for the caviar and lobster you’ve just ordered. Marigolds may have gone as far as adopting pink, furry ruffles along the rim of the glove, which for the record, doesn’t make such a chore of the dishes any more appealing for the lady, but where should we actually draw the line on gender roles? Do we start making extra-large blue gloves with action man print taped to the side, in a bid to encourage role reversal?
We’ve seen from different walks of the animal kingdom, that a lot of a male’s life involves impressing their prospective female mate and we hope that still hasn’t changed for the male human. Even just the offer of contributing to 100% of the bill or the gesture of trying to halt the automatic, revolving door using mind trickery is impressive, and will go a long way with a lot of females, but I simply propose that it works like a two-way street, or a two-way swinging door for that matter. I can’t say that I will persist to insist on splitting the bill down the middle, but given I’d just ordered the fresh cut of sirloin steak and 3 large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, I’d by every means encourage that I sufficiently contribute, which I feel should always be the case. Had you been invited on the date, then we’d probably face a different discussion, but there should by no means be any expectation that men should be forced to pay for the entire bill.
Whether it’s the pink, blue or yellow marigolds that make an appearance after a home-cooked meal, given it’s the party who didn’t load the dishes with food that’s wearing the gloves, you’re probably doing a good job in maintaining an equal partnership. I cook, you clean and vice versa.
Though a surprise bunch of flowers will never become too old-fashioned and should remain as sweet a gesture as it did in the “old days”, let’s just make an effort to return their act of chivalry with a 6 pack of beers. Or a blue pair of marigolds…!