So being the stupid clichéd eating disordered, obsessional, perfectionist that I am (I’m such a stereotype I know), I’m really pissed. I got one mark – one measly mark – off of a distinction in my essay. And now obviously I feel like an absolute failure. But for NO REASON. It’s not even part of my assessment and doesn’t count towards my grade at all – it’s purely for feedback purposes and it told me exactly how to make it a distinction. Plus it’s only one mark so it wouldn’t matter if it was assessed. But it’s not good enough. I hate myself for thinking it’s not good enough because it should be, but I know it my heart of hearts it’s not. If it’s not distinctions I’m not doing well enough. I got one and a half marks of a first in my undergraduate degree, I don’t want to make that mistake again. So annoyed. At least uni is over for the term now. I still have a lot of work to do though for my dissertation (if I even stay at uni…) so no relaxing for me over Christmas. And obviously I have to be putting more effort in. Still, at least I’m not failing as much as I thought I was even though it still feels like failure to me. I didn’t go to the end of term course drinks (obviously) but I did finally speak to someone on my course today without having a panic attack! Shame it’s probably the last time I’ll see her but she was really nice actually. I gave her a cigarette and we talked about the film from the lecture (world premier guys! Someone who used to be at my uni made a documentary called My Grandmother about the contradictions of development projects in the Israel/Palestine conflict – interesting stuff. Also very depressing) and she was really happy and chatty so I didn’t have to do much. I don’t even know her name though and she’s in my seminar… I’m not really a social butterfly.
Anyway, today I am going to moan and I don’t care. I know that I have to get healthy and gain weight and that’ll make everything that’s hard at least a little bit better with time but I don’t have to like it. I’ll do it, but I have the right to hate it. I hate gaining weight and I hate eating this much food and I hate my body and I don’t want to do this anymore. I will do this but I hate it. I see absolutely tiny people wherever I go and I’m jealous. They get to be small still and I don’t. As I queue up for my coffee and cereal bar, I hear people talking about the fat content in flapjacks and how there’s just so much you shouldn’t even share one as that’d be too much. It’s a flapjack – it’s hardly bad for you. Needless to say I now feel like cereal bars and flapjacks are too greedy and unhealthy for me. And it’s nearly Christmas and I don’t feel festive. I don’t want alcohol calories and extravagant food calories and it makes me dread Christmas. Plus it’s the brother’s birthday night out this weekend and most of the people going last saw me twenty-two pounds ago and will think I’m fat or at least judge the fact that I’ve gained weight. Gaining weight is not really socially acceptable and people will judge me. And it’s hard. It’s hard to eat this much even if it’s not even that much as it goes against every fiber of my being. It makes me feel like a bad person. I talk about all these foods I’m eating like peanut butter and chocolate and potatoes and ice-cream and you know what? They make me feel bad. I know I shouldn’t have these opinions because they are meaningless but I feel like they are ‘unhealthy’, ‘junk’ foods and I judge myself for eating them because obviously they are just categorically bad. Except they’re not. They are just food and right now they are particularly good for me because I need extra fats and carbs and energy. That doesn’t matter though because illogically, it makes me feel like rubbish. Like a bad person doing unhealthy, unjustifiable things. Right now I’m eating so much food just to maintain my weight. I desperately don’t want to add more. You need an excess of 500kcals (ish) a day to gain a clinically significant amount of weight in a week (0.5kg) and I’m already eating above what’s recommended for women of my age and activity level who are a normal weight. I don’t want to eat more even though I know I have to. I try to kid myself that maybe this is my “set point” as I’m maintaining on weight gain amounts of food, but it’s still underweight and I still don’t have periods so it’s just a lie really. I don’t want to have to choose the full fat products in the supermarket. I want to choose things that I feel safest with. I know exactly what yogurt has the lowest calories and every week I have to deliberately chose ones with higher fat and thus calories. It takes so much energy to not weight out my blackberries to make sure I don’t over do it. I mean – its bloody blackberries girl! I could eat all the blackberries in my house and over shoot my calorie target by what, 50kcals? Does that even matter? Of course not, but it still pains me to just guesstimate amounts using handfuls as a guide. And don’t even get me started on spreads. I do these things everyday and I desperately don’t want to do them. My days are full of things I hate, weights that make me feel worthless, things that make me anxious and scared and upset, but I do them anyway. In fact, I actively pursue them even though they make me feel awful because I hope that in the future there’ll be a payoff for all this rubbish now. It takes all my energy and effort and I hate it. But then again, no one said I had to like it, just that I have to do it.
And that’s the crux of the whole thing there. I have to do it. I have to do all these absolutely rubbish things in the hope that in the future, none of it will bother me anymore. It’s not only gaining weight, it’s also behaviours like calorie counting, excessively weighing food and myself, restricting myself to only “healthy” foods etc. None of these behaviours and worries should be normal to anyone (although they are to an alarming amount of the population) and for me, they have proven themselves dangerous. I have to cut myself off from all my “healthy living”, “diet”, “daily exercise” and “low-fat” experiences entirely as this road leads to no good, but in a world where these dangerous actions are seen as self-improving, I can’t help but find myself feeling lazy, greedy and somehow immoral. I know that health and nutrition guidelines are essentially all rubbish, but I took them to heart years ago and to me they just feel right. Even though they’re hyped up nonsense. Weight loss, diets, low-fat, high fibre, exercise, at least 5 daily fruit and veg, low carb, low sugar, unprocessed, less meat, less dairy, more whole grains, unrefined foods, low sodium etc. All of this is nonsense really. Fibre is only good to a certain amount, half an hour walking a day is actually enough exercise, fruit and veg is great as long as that’s not all you eat, fat is crucial for functioning brains and reproduction and we need both saturated and unsaturated fat to be healthy, carbs and sugars are great energy boosters, sodium is really important for health, meat is so high protein and full of vits & mins, dairy is great for your bones, whole grains are good, but so are processed foods too. It’s all about moderation. Everything in moderation. Except I like to take things to extremes.
You know what though? The extremes are rubbish.