I should really be writing about something else at the moment but my brain has gone into uncooperative teenager mode and all it wants to do is play Bubble Island and surf the Internet. I’m on the verge of a decision that’s going to cost me a chunk of my income but in the interests of slaying my people-pleasing dragon, there’s someone that needs removing from my working day.
People pleasing. It’s got me into so much trouble over the years, and it works hand in hand with my ‘please like me’ nature and inability to confront just about anyone, even if they are standing on my foot, and say “You’re hurting me. Please stop.”
Back in 1998, I wasn’t in a good place. I should have been, really. I’d just moved H#2 in with me, we were OK, he still wasn’t speaking to my parents even though they’d apologised for the way they’d treated him when we first met, but it wasn’t a massive deal as I still lived in the same town as them so I got to see them, and my friends, without too much aggravation. He made his feelings known about some of my friends; the male ones all wanted to sleep with me, the female ones were ‘weird’ and the only one he really approved of was ‘L’ who he was still in love with. I mean in touch with. Silly me.
But he wasn’t the problem. V was. In 1998 I went to my doctor, and told him about my food issues, being bullied and humiliated by V, my stress, how miserable I was, and the fact I had come out in eczema so badly that it was all down my legs, arms, shoulders and back and nothing would shift it. He was great! He listened and suggested that I saw an eating disorders specialist at Ipswich Hospital. At last – a cure. I bought books on eating disorders; Geneen Roth advised anyone with a binge eating problem to stock up on the things they were scared to have in the house, so that there was always enough of them and no need to binge. Right. I was too scared to do this in case H#2 thought I was a fruit loop. I bought Overcoming Binge Eating by Dr Christopher Fairburn and I sat there and read it, stunned as he described me. Shit. I had an eating disorder. I was officially a looney tune. I told H#2 with some trepidation that I had an appointment to see someone and he didn’t get it. He laid into me for lying to him about having an eating disorder. “I only just realised” I remember saying. “I thought I was just crap at dieting until recently.”
It was another step down off the pedestal, was that. He was already unhappy in his job in Ipswich, and I was miserable and being bullied at work. He hid it from me that he was being bullied as well. You can see how this is going to end, can’t you? Shame I didn’t.
So I made it to the hospital, really excited about getting help at last.
I poured my heart out. The sympathetic consultant, or whatever he was, nodded, murmured support and then told me that I seemed very self aware and that I clearly realised I had a problem with food. “Yes, yes” I was thinking. “Please help me!”
He then pronounced me intelligent enough to find my own solutions, and said that the NHS unfortunately only had the resources to help people who were causing themselves dangerous harm through their eating disorder. I should have lied and told him I was throwing up. I cried all the way home. So, next time you hear someone in government lecturing about obesity being a killer, remember that in 1998 just being a fat binge eater wasn’t considered dangerous at all. I was on my own.
I couldn’t talk to H#2 because he didn’t understand. I’d stumbled upon ASED, a community of people with eating disorders online, and that was a help although I could only access it at work. There were people with full on anorexia and bulimia venting about their self hatred, and it did put things into a bit of perspective for me if nothing else. I started to feel valued because I was more of a ‘counsellor’ to the others when I was having a good day. I did have a lot of bad days, and they’d support me too. It was a wonderfully nurturing community and I think it helped me feel less powerless and useless. I listened to Alanis Morisette a LOT in 1998. My favourite three albums were:
- Alanis Morisette – Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
- The Manic Street Preachers – This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
- Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
I still can’t listen to any of them without going right back to that time! Here’s a taste of Alanis:
It was a REALLY depressing playlist.
All the good ASED was doing for me was being cancelled out by V and her bitching. In the summer of 1998 I went with her to the Suffolk Show for two days, two 12 hour days in a hot marquee giving consumer advice. Typical of my luck, I came down with yet another viral infection, this time in my eye. I couldn’t handle sunlight! My eyes were streaming and there was no way I could have called in sick so I spent the entire time with dark glasses on, in the marquee, out of the sun. She KNEW I was ill – she was with me the whole time. I assumed that when I called in sick the day after the event, when I was due back in the office, she would understand that I was poorly and that looking at a VDU screen all day wasn’t going to be a good idea. Instead, she called me into the dreaded office for a meeting with her and another manager, put me on report for my sick leave and blasted me for faking it.
I called the council’s staff welfare department and asked for help. I was offered six sessions of free one to one counselling. Great, I thought, this will help. I had to tell the cow where I was going though, because it was in work time. Great, just give her more ammunition! It turned out that the counsellor was new to the game and very much of the “Blame it on your parents” persuasion. He had me dredging up every incident I could think of from my childhood, cuddling my inner child and being hypnotised.
I still ate everything in sight when I thought nobody was looking and weighed more than I ever had. He didn’t last long. The only good thing I got from him was a recommendation to read Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” which introduced me to the idea of positive thinking. I thought it was a bit woo-woo but a lot of it did sink in.
I was so down. I got yelled at by a group of morons who passed me in a car one night on the way home, yelling, “Stop eating pies and go on a diet, fat bitch” or words to that effect. I cried all the way home.
I didn’t join any diet clubs during those years. There was no point, no point at all.