This week my psychologist and I spoke about if I were to get well and what it would look like and my fears around it and to be totally honest I can’t remember what it’s like to be well. It has been over a decade of illness and nearly two years since I came into hospital after a handful of shorter admissions.
If I really try to imagine it I imagine a ‘well’ life to be quite good. I wouldn’t be in hospital and I’d be at home again with my family and my dog. I’d bake and cook meals and snacks for myself, I have hoards of recipes saved for when I get better and I can’t wait to try them out. I would enjoy eating, an idea that seems incredibly alien to me right now. I would go to ballet and help out with the younger classes. I would go to the beach with my friends and laugh the night away at karaoke. I’d watch telly with my family and go to the cinema with my dad. I’d play on the 2p machines at Barry Island with my mum. I would have my freedom back and I could go on walks alone, just my iPad and me. I’d experience new things, new foods, new places. I would live instead of exist. I would be able to be an adult although that absolutely terrifies me.
Everything about getting well is full of uncertainty and it completely overwhelms me. I’m scared to eat again, it’s been nearly a year since food passed my lips and it terrifies me to think of the day I have to put it in my mouth again. I don’t even know how my stomach would physically handle solid food after so long. I’m scared of the taste and texture and ‘greasy’ feeling food gives me. I’m scared to gain weight, to be fatter than I am now. I’m scared that none of my clothes would fit me. I’m scared that being bigger would make me hate myself even more than I already do. I’m scared of the responsibilities that come with life, I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m scared of the day another of my loved ones dies, it feels unbearable to think about my mother and father dying. I don’t even think I could handle my dog dying. I need to reintegrate back into society and that scares me, even the thought of standing in a supermarket aisle terrifies me at the moment because I am so used to these four walls. I also worry that I wouldn’t have anything to blog about. My whole social media outlet is centered by mental illness and if I were to get well then where would that leave me? I’m not sure that I know who I am without all of this and the thought of being an adult terrifies me. I might be in my twenties but I don’t feel ready for that yet. What would I do for a career, I mean I don’t even have A levels, would I have to go back and study? A recovered future is full of questions. If I were to get well then I wouldn’t have a mental health team around me, these people I have known for years will not be in my life anymore and that really scares me.
I want a normal life, a recovered life but I’m not sure that it’s possible and that makes me feel a bit torn when it comes to recovery. Part of me wants to really give it a shot but the other part wants to give up and die and I can’t say which side is winning at the moment although it is probably the latter.
This world book day why not check out the book ‘Dear Stranger’. All profits from the sales of these books goes to the mental health charity Mind.
Dear Stranger is a collection of inspirational, honest and heartfelt letters from authors, bloggers and mind ambassadors to an imagined stranger. Insightful and uplifting, ‘Dear Stranger’ is a humbling glimpse into different interpretations of happiness, and how despite sometimes seeming unobtainable happiness can, in the smallest of ways, become an achievable goal.
Letters included in ‘Dear Stranger’ are written by a variety of people including myself, Fiona Phillips, Matt Haig, Caitlin Moran and Richard Branson.
The society that we live in has a scary focus on weight loss. Weight loss is a common New Years Resolution, apparently a self-care method, whatever it is that’s happening in the world you will be encouraged to lose weight for it. Summer on it’s way? Lose weight. Easter just gone? Lose weight. New Year? Lose weight. We are faced with shiny, happy faces plastered all over weight loss adverts on TV, in magazines and at bus stops, community halls. Everywhere. These adverts are all around and they convince us that losing weight will make us happy, but will it?
I think for some people losing weight could make them happy, if someone is overweight and they lose a little bit of weight by changing their eating and lifestyle then losing weight could help their happiness although I’d argue that weight loss alone is not the cause to improved happiness. It’s probably more to do with social life or body image or self-esteem, or perhaps the nutrition in the lifestyle change. Notice I am saying ‘changing their eating and lifestyle’ and not the word diet. Diets don’t make people happy in the long-term. By diets I am referring to those diets that cannot be eaten for the rest of someone’s life. The atkins diet, the 5:2 diet and so on. They are short-term fixes that often result in yo-yo dieting. These diets can actually cause weight gain and increased dissatisfaction in the long run.
Often dieting and weight loss lead to unhappiness, if someone is on a strict diet then it will probably make them quite miserable in themselves, they will battle with cravings and may no longer go out and eat socially. Often people lose their personality along with the weight.
I am not saying that people shouldn’t lose weight. If someone is overweight and makes a lifestyle change with their eating and exercise that is maintainable and does not cut out any food groups and they lose weight to become healthy then that is fantastic. However, I am saying that by losing weight and dieting you are not going to become that shiny, smiling woman on the advert. You are not going to be performing perfect dives in your red swimsuit into a swimming pool with a beautiful blue sky up above you. You will still be you, you will still be living your life and your body will still have flaws. If you are losing weight because you want to be happy then you will probably never achieve your goal. Your weight is a number, it is the overall number of the weight of your bones, your organs, your blood, the food you ate yesterday, the glass of water you have just drank, the teeth in your mouth and your flesh on your body. You cannot weigh your happiness on a scale. You cannot lead a fulfilling life if you are spending each and every day chained to the scale. Life can make you happy, experiences can make you happy, other people can make you happy. The latest diet in Now magazine will not.