Sticky Treacle

I’m stuck in a bit of a rut at the moment, caught between being okay and not being okay. No man’s land if you like. I’m no longer struggling to the extent that I was a few weeks ago, but I am far from being “okay”. I’m not bursting into tears at any given moment and I’m not fighting the need/want to remain in bed and pretend that the world outside my window has just stopped. I feel happier, calmer, more at ease with myself. So that is a definite improvement. But I don’t feel like me. It feels like someone has stolen my sparkle and replaced it with treacle…and not in a good way. I’ve never tried to actually wade through treacle, but I imagine it is very close to how I feel like is going currently. It’s hard, when it should be good. It should be tasty and full of sugary goodness. There’s no specific reason for the hardness, other than my brain (and body) being a bit wonky. I can’t focus on that sugary goodness because all I can think about it how damn sticky it is.

In my last post, I touched on anxiety and how it impacts in my life. What I’m finding hard is that I’m not just anxious over things that normally make me anxious. I’m a person who loves going on buses, trains (unless it’s cross country) and coaches. I love journeys. So to suddenly be faced with having a panic attack at the though of getting on a bus is a whole new ball game for me and I don’t know what to do about it. Once I’ve got over the initial hyper-ventilating and feeling like I’m going to pass out, I usually do manage to make it onto the bus, but I then spend the journey literally sweating and shaking. I don’t know what to do about this. If I stop going on buses, I am restricting myself to remaining in the town that I live in (I can drive, but city parking is almost impossible and I would need to sell my organs to pay for parking) which in turn would probably make things worse. I don’t know if this is just my need to be in control of every situation coming into play but as long as the bus driver isn’t driving like an F1 driver, I’m okay with the fact that I’m not driving.

It doesn’t make any sense. The fact that it doesn’t make sense, makes me more anxious because I don’t know how to resolve the situation and I have visions of this slowly becoming the new normal. The other new normal is the deterioration in my self confidence. I mean, I haven’t have great self esteem since forever; if there was a medal in putting myself down, I would get gold. But I haven’t ever really been socially anxious. I used to be quite shy, but that’s different. I’m now struggling to do the most basic of things such has ordering a round of drinks in a bar by myself. This is resolved by me either throwing money at a friend or getting them to come with me and behave like a child minder. It’s embarrassing. It’s not me. Going to university gave me the confidence to speak up against things I didn’t agree with or things that I was passionate about. I’m now struggling to order a gin and tonic in Wetherspoons.

The other major thing which isn’t good right now is my relationship with food and exercise. And my on-going distorted body image. It all went a bit wrong when someone close to me suggested that I joined Slimming World. This was due to me moaning about putting on a bit of weight when recovering from surgery and constantly image bashing myself. Their lack of understanding is almost comical; they made the comment in a well meaning way but oh my god, where do I even start with the impacts of it? It doesn’t matter that my GP has tried to rationalise things and pointed out that a Slimming World group probably wouldn’t accept me, because I’m not overweight (her view, not mine). I might as well be walking around with a flashing “I AM FAT” sign above my head.

I feel really hypocritical. I preach about the importance of self love, being body positive and loving your body and then there’s me, unable to look at my own reflection because gross. Loving your body is not pushing yourself to swim 2k every morning and then consulting My Fitness Pal (work of the devil) to see how many calories I have burnt. There have been too many mornings when my joints have been crying for me to stop but I haven’t because I’m competing with the voice in my head, saying “anything less than 1.5km is a failure.” And that voice is louder than my crying joints. That voice is louder than than my own crying when my veins collapse when a poor nurse is trying to take blood form me. That voice is louder than my moans about my hair falling out or the fact that I feel dizzy whenever I stand up or that I’m cold.

I’m not going to be tragic and say that I will not ever ever love my body. I truly hope that one day – probably after many years of therapy – I will be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of what is staring backing at me. I can acknowledge that my body does some pretty remarkable things, and I don’t mean my shoulders dislocating everything I pull a top over my head.

Until that day, I will keep going on about how important it is to love yourself. I will carry on telling teenage girls that they are not ugly or fat or a waste of space. I will carry on making them realise their self worth because society is so fixed on making them feel inadequate. I will carry on explaining the basic biological rule of not every girl’s body being built to naturally have a thigh gap or a bikini bridge or whatever other stupid craze the media depicts. I will carry on fighting the stigma. I will carry on fighting the glamorisation of mental health: being cold, faint, grumpy and sad isn’t beautiful. Losing your hair isn’t beautiful. Your bones hurting because there’s no protection around them isn’t something to aspire towards.

The biggest thing that I have learnt as I have got older is that aspiring to be someone or something else is never going to make you happy. It’s setting yourself up for failure and misery. Because “no one is youer than you” and you are worth it.

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