This month I decided to join Slimming World. Imagine my delight when I bowled up last night to discover I was ‘Slimmer of The Week’.
Before I knew it I was adorned with a silver sash being photographed, to the delight of the audience, in my budgie smugglers…..
Ok, that’s not entirely true…’Slimmer of the Week’ – yes; dodgy speedos – no.
Yes, I know that image will stay with you for the rest of the day, but – SUE ME!
In less frivolous news, I read this week that folk carrying more weight than their BMI would suggest is healthy, THE OBESE, as they, whoops WE, whoops, I am often known, are the fourth most stigmatised group in the United States.
Although there are no equivalent studies in the UK, you can be as sure as eggs is eggs that attitudes are the same on this side of the pond.
So what, I hear you cry, obesity – it’s self inflicted – you bunch of fat knackers.
Tenderly put – but I’d like to challenge that point. Let me tell you a bit about my journey…
Given my whacky childhood, I’ve got an intriguing relationship with food – but that’s probably another meandering story…
I’d like to focus on how the drugs, pills and potions that, in varying degrees, take some of the edge off a variety of whappy head stuff for some folk, whilst doing bugger all for others, are notorious for piling on the pounds of their recipients.
My drug of choice – by which I mean something entirely different – quetiapine, known as Seroquel, has been known for adding an average of 11 pounds a year onto your regular punter.
My rapier-like, witty response whenever I find myself discussing my weight with folk who remark upon it, is that I’d rather be fat than mad.
Open and shut…
The truth of the matter though, is I’m both.
I bought one – I got one free.
Since I was around 15, I’ve been unable to look in mirrors. This, as far as I’ve been able to work out over the years, is related to the chronic shame and guilt I’ve experienced due to being sexually abused as a teenager.
This – until now – has got in the way of any observation of my physical self – including weighing myself.
I’m not sure what’s changed, it might be the fact that Walkamile the movie is due to be completed around August next year, it might be down to the fact that I’m just fucking fed up with it!
It’s not fucking normal to be unable to walk into Debenhams or any other heavily mirrored department store without having a mental habdab.
I just want it to be different.
Walking into the Slimming World group and getting myself weighed feels like a step in the right direction.
Hearing that I was 20 stone and 9 pounds, though, was a near crippling shock.
But it’s a start.
Looking at myself in the mirror with compassionate eyes still evades me. I’m doing it – but it still makes me want to vomit, run, fight and punch myself in the face…not necessarily in that order.
Yes, I know, as the guy assessing me for group psychotherapy said all that time ago, punching myself in the face might not be seen as a terribly bright thing to do.
But…tempting though it is, I won’t go down that particular road of debate today…and, yes, I know it was me who took the detour into this cul-de-sac.
My hope is, that by the time next year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is upon us, it’s 10th anniversary come September, I’ll be there to watch me wandering around on the big screen without having to race out.
I’m now, sort of, looking at myself once a week at the weigh-in. I’ve lost 9 pounds. I’m hoping that’ll continue as I’m walking between 4 an 8 miles a day.
It’s a battle. I know walking is only good for my mental health when it’s good for my mental health. I know I’ll dissociate and I know I’ll be unable to venture outside. I know, once the episode has passed, I’ll hear that old familiar friend – self judgement where, once again, the inner voice will scream,
‘WHY CAN’T I JUST BE FUCKING NORMAL?!’
And there’s the rub. How can I expect the world to stop judging me and folk like me, when I can’t stop judging myself?
Well, I’m taking the first few tentative steps.
Perhaps I’ll take some of the world with me.
I’m the Slimmer of the Week!
Walk a mile