You may remember I blogged a while ago about starting to attend a group at church called ‘Celebrate Recovery’. It’s a Christ focussed twelve step programme which helps people with their hurts, habits and hang ups. You can find more details about Celebrate Recovery and whether it runs in your area from the link at the end of this blog. A standard introduction at celebrate recovery is “Hi my name is… , I am a Christian and I am in recovery from…” Which seems simple or so you’d think. Not to me it seems who over analyses everything I say and do. As a nurse I pride myself on being a reflective practitioner, which is a vital part of nursing, yet can’t help but berate myself for taking this too far and obsessing over my inadequacies. I have managed to skirt the introduction thing thus far and it has been without issue but tonight I was asked if I would be willing to read out the beatitudes which would involve an introduction in front of the whole group. I was happy to read out the beatitudes but quickly had a moment of realisation that I didn’t know what to say in my introduction. I could have confidently said I am in recovery from mental illness or childhood sexual abuse or even promiscuity if I go far enough back but however true those statements are they do not reflect why I am attending CR.
So this is more of a brain fart than a blog post, a bit of a diary entry marking the start of an important change in my life. I hope so anyway.
I spent my late teens and early twenties losing and gaining weight at a rapid pace, sometimes having gone between where a size eight hung off my frame and where a size eighteen was stretched across my vastness, I would sometimes go between these two extremes up to twice each year sometimes maintaining a ‘normal’ size for a few months but mainly expanding or decreasing with only my subconscious aware of why I was doing this.
My body was younger so could take the abuse I threw at it in the form of bulimia or periods of restriction and excessive exercise but when I became pregnant eight years ago I knew that I could not pass my issues on to my child. Ironically I developed hyperemesis gravadarium and vomited between 25-30 times each day for my entire pregnancy but thankfully I managed to kick the habit not having using my previous behaviours since having our daughter in 2006.
Whether coincidence or not but when I gave up my coping tool I experienced a depression severe enough to have hospitalised me. I had experienced mood episodes prior to this but not to this intensity. Since this period of severe depression and another one a few years after that with treatment from medication which added to my weight gain and an inability to leave the house due to fear and anxiety my weight crept up and up. I am able to remain light hearted publicly re my weight but I feel repulsive alone. I am repulsed by my own reflection which is a huge shame as I have reached a point in my life where I actually like me as a person!
Over recent years I have tried a couple of times to lose the excess weight and for a while I do well, loosing a stone or two each time hindsight has taught me that this is the point when I seem to self sabotage. As soon as I get to the stage whereby friends and family begin to notice and complement me I struggle to accept that and my weight goes back on.
I consider myself to be quite an insightful and self aware person so when I looked back over and realised this was a pattern I was forming I began to explore why this may be the case and wonder what I could do to travel beyond this stage. That is when my epiphany took place and I realised I wear my weight like a mask. I use it to try and hide my emotions and to protect myself. I ought to explain that when I say protect myself I think that goes back further than me sabotaging my dieting efforts right back to my early life experiences. I think a psychoanalyst would have a field day with my theory here that my weight is there to shield me from unwanted attention, the sort of unwanted attention which shaped my early life in such a negative way.
Now that I have realised where my weakness lies and how I self sabotage my attempts to lose weight and gain control over this one aspect of my life which remains out of reach I feel I owe myself the time and attention to concentrate my efforts on changing this. I am worthy of self acceptance over self sabotage and I will lose this weight.
In the past four weeks I have lost a stone in weight so know that soon I will reach my vulnerable time so must keep this self awareness at the fore and refuse to acknowledge the self depreciating thought patterns I am familiar with. I know everyone deals with things in differing ways but for me I plan on using a combination of self awareness and faith to hopefully succeed this time where I have failed before. I am joining a year long programme with church called ‘Celebrate Recovery’ some of you may have heard of this programme and I’d love to hear success stories if any of you have used it as a guide. If you haven’t heard of it then google it, it is a programme to help people work beyond their hurts, hang ups and habits and learn skills to aid them with this in the long term.
The programme covers everything from addiction, relationships, self harm, self esteem to weight management and even hurts from past abuse so I feel hopeful that it will help me.
I would never have had the confidence to go alone to this group but a chance conversation with a dear friend about our individual battles with our weight was what led me to my moment of realisation as we discovered that we both struggle with our weight for the same reason and vowed to support each other on this journey. So on Monday we will both go to our celebrate recovery group and we hope that this will be our final journey of weight loss. It was a chance conversation which led us to realise that this is why we hold on to our weight when we hate it so much, I wonder how many other women this is relevant to. I will likely share my weight loss with you via this blog and twitter and hopefully will make it beyond the point I usually get to… wish me luck!