Saturday, 9 May 2009
Friend or Foe?
I grew up having a great relationship with food - I loved it!!! I was a skinny child (fag - pronounced 'feg' - legs was my nickname, as my legs were so thin) and could eat whatever I wanted. I was very tall (ha! still am!) and had more issues with my height than my weight. I always wanted to be smaller and blend in more. When I reached about 15 years old, I started to get 'chubby'. I still didn't have too much of a problem with it - I loved eating. As I got older, I started to notice I was 'curvier' than most of my mates - and while most days I liked how I looked, there was a niggle in the back of my mind that I should be thinner.
I was always a 'people pleaser' (see previous posts) and when I became ill (started around 4 years ago) with depression, the idea of losing weight began to really appeal to me. In fact, the whole weight loss concept consumed me. Maybe people would like me more if I was thin and beautiful...I so desperately wanted to be liked and accepted - by everyone! Depression made me feel out of control, and here was a simple way of gaining control - starving myself. Wow this all seemed like a good plan at the time.
When I first started to lose weight, the compliments flooded in. It was intoxicating! I was addicted to hearing how well I looked (ironically, I was having the darkest thoughts ever, at the same time - sign of insanity?) and terrified of putting weight back on (people would lose respect and admiration for me). I continued to lose weight but never felt or looked (in my eyes) thin enough. My husband and parents were worried sick about my health (physically and emotionally) and urged me to go to the doctor (I was entrenched in depression at this stage and battled with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis). Emily, my daughter, was also hugely affected by my behaviour during this time (something that can still raise feelings of shame and guilt during my weak moments - I do take these messed up feelings to Jesus and am undergoing inner-healing for alot of this stuff).
I received counselling and support from my pastor and father-in-law, Roy (which really helped me understand neuro-pathways and my addiction to approval - essential component to my recovery!), my hubby loved me through the blackest moments (even though I tried so hard to make him leave me), my mum and dad were an incredible source of support and encouragement, and my doctor was fantastic. She understood my reluctance to get better (that would mean taking responsibility!) and slowly guided me towards a healthier mindset.
It's taken time - years. I've put on weight (probably the heaviest I've been for a long time) and have started enjoying food again. My relationship with it is more complicated than before I became ill (I still sometimes mentally log all that I've eaten that day, I sometimes struggle with guilt for eating junk food, I sometimes look in the mirror and feel sick - sometimes, not all the time, like in the past) It's getting better but, make no mistake, it's hard work. I have to continually cast down thoughts that I'm not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough. I work hard to tear down jealousy and comparing myself to others. I discipline myself to eat healthy foods at regular times and allow myself treats. I lean heavily on God's strength and grace to accept myself for who I am. I speak positively (out loud!) to myself about how I look and feel. I focus time and energy into helping others (to stop myself from self obsession).
I'm only beginning to reflect on this weird time of my life...it's painful but healing. Expect more on this subject matter over the next lot of weeks.