Today I CHOOSE to eat

I’ll admit it, I’m in a bit of a funk. There is no reason. Everything is pretty good really. I have a job, a loving partner, a beautiful dog, amazing family and friends and a house. I’ve travelled, been to university, been given great opportunities in life, and I now have enough money to buy myself and people I love nice things. I want no sympathy. I’m just feeling low, and it’s all because I’m feeling fat. I’m find myself sitting here the biggest I’ve ever been and I can’t get used to it (although the blessing in disguise it that I grew boobs – not everyone can do that naturally at the age of 33!).

I’m 33. I was an Australian size 8, and am now a size 12. I am not a little girl anymore. I do realise that my metabolism is slowing down (supposedly what happens as you get older). I’m also not going hard-core at the gym anymore (for I was like a woman possessed – which in itself wasn’t healthy – and my muscles have now been given time to ‘relax’ – eek!)

I am also eating.

‘Eating’ you say. ‘Everyone eats!’ Well, everyone should eat. But from early in life I habitually denied myself food. To put it bluntly, I starved myself.

The earliest memory I have of this is from primary school. I used to throw my school lunches away because I was being teased for being fat. This progressed into my teens, where I was skipping meals to have a flat stomach as it was ‘more attractive’ and I was fat. In my late teens I started working out at the gym and eating properly – but my obsession then gravitated to over-exercising and going out on the town binge-drinking. That stopped when I had to give up the gym and move into a place of my own. That is when full-on depression set in, as did agoraphobia. I hated myself. I didn’t like my body. I didn’t want to eat, and I didn’t want to live. I just wanted to sleep. Of course, I knew I needed to eat, and I did – I just didn’t eat properly. I don’t believe toast passes as a sustainable and nutrition filled diet.

I was stuck in a vicious circle – in order to eat I needed to go to the shops to buy food, but when I finally got over the fear of going to the shops where there were people, I would find myself on the brink of tears, wandering the aisles distressed, dizzy, and so confused that I didn’t know what to eat.

This settled down as I entered my first relationship at the age of 23. It became harder to skip meals when I moved in with my boyfriend, but it didn’t stop me from trying. And with my erratic blood sugar levels, I was susceptible to fainting and mood swings. I wasn’t a pleasure to live with. Eventually he realised that if my moods changed, he had to feed me. So, he started cooking for me. And I started eating.

At this stage I had started anti-depressants, was sleeping way to much, and had put on weight (on viewing the photographic evidence of me at this time – I wasn’t fat). I just didn’t feel good – I believed that I was the ugliest thing that existed. The fact that I had a boyfriend who adored me didn’t matter.

And then I went overseas for 9 1/2 months, travelled, worked, ate, explored, socialised, lost weight and felt truly happy for the first time that I could remember.

On coming home, initially I was on a natural high. I started seeing someone who was a lot of fun, and completely different. Unbeknownst to him, I had actually slipped back into my old pattern of skipping meals, and I was also drinking way too much. I had also started taking laxatives to give me that flat stomach look, and because I was having sever stomach cramps (I now know that I have IBS).

Predictably, my depression came back with a vengeance, and I slipped into the good old not-eating mood cycle again.

Hot Chocolate

Lucky for me the guy stuck by me – he realised what was going on. To this day he tells me off (nicely) when my mood starts to change, questioning if I have eaten or if I need to eat. He has also helped me to realise I am attractive, beautiful, sexy, and a woman (it only took me 33 years).

And for the record, I’m not fat – I never was. But who cares! More than anything, shouldn’t we be happy and healthy, as what is life without it?

So today I choose to eat.


Note to readers: I have only touched on child-hood bullying in this post, with no intention to trivialise the issue. There is just so much to write on that subject, and I will do that in future posts.


The Beauty that is Music

Music is one of the most beautiful things.

I was brought up surrounded by music thanks to my parents and their friends. It was namely rock’n’roll. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Guns’n’Roses, AC/DC, The Police. And even though those bands had all mostly broken up (or died!) by the time I was born, the walls of the my rooms of the various houses I lived in as a kid were always covered with their posters, and I idolised them. As I got older and formed my identity, my interests branched out as I explored drum and bass, techno, pop, trance, world music, opera, classical, grunge, Brit pop, boy bands, R’n’B, Rap, Chanting…the list goes on.

I am so thankful for the presence and prevalence of music in my life, as it has certainly helped me through some hard times. Fights and relationship break-ups, the fighting and divorce of my parents, illness and death of family, bullying and hardships at work, the lows of depression. But it has also provided me with some of the most memorable moments in my life, especially when I seen the musicians I love live.

The love for concerts!

I saw Metallica live in concert with my brother during their ‘Black’ album tour. He wasn’t even a teenager, and I think I was (only just). We wore black, and got to witness our first security ‘pat downs’ of bogans on the way into the arena, including our Dad who had walked us to the door. We then head banged and rocked our out to our idols, who made such an impression on us. To this day we still think it is the best concert we have ever seen.

Mum and I saw KISS on their reunion tour in the ’90’s (this was when KISS had decided to get back into their costumes!). It was awesome! Their costumes were so cool – and I do believe that those boys walk (or possibly strut) better in platform shoes then most women. And the KISS army – the most amazing fans who really get into the spirit and dress up like their costumed idols. It was so very cool.

And then there’s the time I got crushed in the mosh pit during a crowd surge whilst watching The Offspring set at the Big Day Out (an Aussie music festival). It actually assisted with the development of my agoraphobia, and put me off of the Big Day Out and large concerts for years. Thankfully it also assisted with my transition to Dance Musical festivals such as Summadayze. This has now become my annual summer pilgrimage.

The Backstreet Boys

One of the highlights for 2010 was experiencing the Backstreet Boys in concert with my friend Kate. As the lights went down on the crowd and silence descended on the arena, Kate and I became squealing like school girls. It was so much fun, us being in our 30’s. I know you might doubt it, but sometimes you just need to let go of all of your ‘adult-ness’ and just let the kid in you out (or the young, squeal girl in this instance!).

At the close of 2009 I finally saw Pearl Jam with my brother, years after the ‘grunge era’ had passed. The only time they had come to Perth when I was a teenager I had queued for tickets – these were the days you had to physically queue – and the tickets had sold out just before I had got to the ticket window – I was devastated. So, when I finally got to see them live I was blown away. By the band who were just perfect, and especially by the god that is Eddie Vedder, even as he got smashed on red wine. They were worth the wait.

I do have one regret, and it is just missing seeing Jeff Buckley when he toured my local town. I was busy, and apparently missed the most amazing display of vocal prowess and musicianship. To this day the beauty of that man’s voice just blows me away. And suddenly he was dead – just before he peaked, and way before his time. But, at least the world still has his music, of which I believe will continue to touch people for many years to come.

This blogging thing

I’m exceptionally tired at the moment after starting a new job 2 weeks ago, so my ‘post a day’ aim for 2011 has slipped. I was probably extending myself a bit too much, since I’m still a novice blogger, but my intentions were good.

That’s why I will use this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and comment. It means the world to me. To be honest, it is quite overwhelming – but in a good way.

This blogging thing has really helped me to feel free – it is strange that something like this can be so liberating. If you had asked me 6 months ago what my expectations were, I never would have thought that it would have this effect on me. Very unusual indeed…

What do you do to encourage your mental health?

I’ve battled with depression for over half of my life, therefore maintaining my mental health is incredibly important to me.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that:

  • Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
  • Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
  • Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

These numbers are disturbing, so with the increasing prevalence of depression in society, how one deals with their mental health is becoming integral to daily living. I’ve tried a whole load of things to help me get through, some previously tried and tested, some things that worked, some that failed dismally.

Here are some things I’ve done, or presently do, to help maintain a balance:

  • Burn incense and natural oils when at home. I find certain fragrances such as Sandalwood, Musk and Lavender are relaxing.
  • Listen to music. Late last year I started listening to jazz and chants. I also started to rediscover some of the music I used to listen to – but had stopped through sheer laziness. I find it helps to take the edge off.
  • Don’t take drugs. Most are a depressant – after the initial buzz and high are followed by the lowest of the low. I learn’t this – not by choice – one night after my drink was spiked whilst out with friends at a club. I have never felt so low before in my life then I did after that night. The memory loss did not help things. It took me over a week to start feeling normal again.
  • Get a pet. Before doing so though, you need to realise it is a commitment, and they do require love and care. My dog was given to me as a present, and at times dragging myself out of the house to take her for a walk has been hard, but without her I would have been lost.
  • Write lists. This helps to get stuff out of your head and onto paper. I have many journals with copious amounts of lists on all kinds of things from what makes me happy, to what I want to do in life, to why I hated my job or felt so sad. This is also good to look back on years later – to see how far you have progressed, or to really ‘see’ your patterns of thinking throughout the years.
  • Allow yourself to rest. I have moved between the extremes. I have either rested too much, or I have gone like a bull at a gate, and ended up exhausted, sick and depressed. Allow yourself time to recoup, but try not to just sleep your life away. It’s a very easy habit to slip into.
  • Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is the more relaxed, slower paced yoga style focussing on relaxation and breathing. I didn’t actually expect to be able to relax, as I had tried other types of yoga such as Ashtanga, and ended up stressed! But alas! The effects from Hatha Yoga were instantaneous, and I really must take it up again.
  • Say no. I still struggle with this, but you must learn to say no, and realise that it is okay to do so. Dealing with the guilt you feel from doing it is not easy, but you must remember that if you are exhausted, you are really no good to anyone (Note to self).
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. I should be saying ‘don’t drink alcohol’, but I can’t do that as a few drinks relax me. You just need to remember to not let it become a habit, and to avoid binge drinking, as like drugs, the high is followed by a real low.
  • Exercise. Easier said than done when you are sad, tired and frustrated. I struggle with this as I’m either all of nothing. I become obsessed with something, such as weight training at the gym, but then I become so reliant on it for the way it makes me feel, that it turns into a type of addiction. And then I force myself to stop. And then I just don’t exercise.
  • Get out and spend time with friends and family. Sometimes it takes a lot to get out, but when you do it’s worth it. Even if you just sit in silence with someone. Knowing they are just there really helps.
  • Read. There is a wealth of literature on depression, on self-help, on writing and art therapy to help with depression, and of course comedic fiction, or really whatever you fancy reading. It takes your mind off of the seemingly never-ending internal battle within your mind.
  • Talk to a professional. You may need to try a few first – councillors, psychologists, your GP, and so on, but once you find the right person, major breakthroughs can be made. Most countries have organisations or initiatives that can help with the cost these days also – so hit google and don’t let money, or the lack of, be an excuse.
  • Take anti-depressants. From experience you are either pro or con anti-depressants. I have moved between the two, but as someone explained to me once, it’s like taking medication for diabetes, or cholesterol. Sometimes you just need to do it to have a better quality of life. It’s important to note here that not all types will agree with you. I took Zoloft many years ago, and weened myself off of it as the side-effects freaked me out. I managed okay for a few years, but then ended up in the lowest of the low of my depressive states, and after trying everything – diet, counseling, exercise, mediation, Pilates, yoga, and so on, I realised I could not do it myself anymore. After being open and honest with my doctor of years, we decided to try Luvox (Movox) and thankfully it has helped dramatically. The thought of possibly being on them for the rest of my life terrifies me when I think about it, but I would rather take a pill every day, then not live.

The important thing to note is that these may not work for you. Just because it works for someone, does not mean it will translate to others easily. It’s a matter of trying, and then watching yourself closely to see what the effects are.

It is also important to stress that there is nothing wrong with seeking help from medical practitioners, or in taking medication to ease things. From personal experience I have gone through this. I have avoided speaking to my doctor or seeing a psychologist, and battled with the thoughts of taking anti-depressants. But, sometimes that added assistance helps. It doesn’t mean you are a lesser human being. It just means that you are human.