Thursday, 24 March 2011

My Fitness Story… - Desperate Measures

When I was first contacted by this week’s guest poster, I didn't appreciate the scale of the tale that she had to tell. She outlined her story and admitted she was nervous about telling it. Having reassured her that she could remain completely anonymous, she said she’d write the post when she felt ready. Imagine my surprise when the post arrived in my inbox the following morning.

And then I read her story. I was totally blown away. I understood then why she had been so nervous about reliving this part of her life. She has been, and is, incredibly brave. For this poster took drugs to help her lose weight. Not just "slimming aids", illegal drugs. 

This post is longer than usual, but I urge you to read it and give the poster your full support in the comments. I know she is nervous about the publication of this post and has told me she is unlikely to read the comments, but you're generally very supportive and I'm sure lots of helpful comments will encourage her to read them. (Abuse will just get removed by me anyway). This post is not written to justify her actions because she is ashamed of them. It's written to explain how she came to take drugs to help her lose weight and the effects it had on her and her life. It is a cautionary tale, it is shocking, it is powerful but it's also uplifting.

So, now, I hand you over to my anonymous contributor, who will tell you her fitness story about the desperate measures she took to lose weight. 

Ah. I’d had a bottle of wine when I offered to do this guest post, and I’m already unsure as to whether or not I can pull it off, but I’ll give it a try. I can’t possibly fit the entire story of my battle here, so I’ll try to cut it down to the weight-based bits for the purpose of the post...

Freshly single and working in the pub industry, I suddenly became acutely aware of my weight. Well, not so much my weight but my size. I was 22, 5’2” tall and weighed around 13 stone. My dress size was 16 and I’d never been as big as I was then. Working in the pub wasn’t my only job, so I was tired too and had little time to make new friends. I was lonely.

One day, I was moaning to my flatmate about how knackered/fat/fed up I was when he suggested I do what he did and take a bit of speed at weekends.

I was horrified! It’d never crossed my mind to take such drastic action. He explained to me how if I just took a small amount on a Saturday morning, I’d feel much more energetic and the weight would surely start disappearing. I had no boyfriend, no kids and no real responsibilities back then, so I decided to give it a try and had some the next morning.

It was great! I felt so full of energy and my housework was done in no time! Now what? Oooohh yes, we should go for a walk. We walked for hours, my flatmate and I, until I had finished the 1.5ltr bottle of water I’d taken with me and desperately needed a wee, so we went back. Being this full of energy, I thought, I’d lose weight in no time at all!

And lose weight I did. I didn’t want to wait for months to look great though, so rather than having speed at weekends, I immediately started having some EVERY morning. Even the ones where I went to work at the office. That wasn’t a total disaster either – I was completing the workload of two people every day. The weight just ‘fell off’ (I hate it when people say that now) and within the first week, I’d lost a full stone. I was thrilled! I very quickly became less about the energy and so, so much more about the weight for me. I was taking this stuff every day because it was really helping me.

Four months later, I was a size 10, I had a very busy social life, worked both jobs comfortably and was happy - sort of. I was paranoid, I avoided my family and I was obsessed with not eating. I could live with that though, because I was slowly but surely creeping towards that never-worn-before size 8. Once I got into a size 8 dress, I would definitely stop taking it. Or at least cut down – because I did have some days where I didn’t have any speed and ate like a horse all day (so it wasn’t like I was starving myself, right?) Food became my nemesis – I so desperately craved it but looking at it made me feel fat, I felt like a failure if I ate it. I didn’t do much shopping – most of the meals I did have were from a take-away because they were almost always an impromptu and knee-jerk reaction to a sudden, overwhelming urge for food. Disgusted by what I’d eaten, I’d then eat nothing for at least two days to balance things out.

By the time I met the man who would be my husband, I had reached my goal – I went on my first date with him in a size 8 denim dress from Topshop. I’ll never forget that dress. He wanted to take me out for meals, call at KFC and eat it in the car overlooking a beautiful view, and have McDonalds’ hangover breakfasts. It was brilliant. I didn’t take any drugs for the first few weeks with him and although I missed the feeling of being in control of my hunger, I was having such a great time getting to know him I didn’t really care. At least I didn’t really care until THAT dress stopped fitting me. I only took about 3 weeks to happen, and I didn’t like it. I had eaten too much – what a fat, greedy pig. He would never want me if I was fat so I had to go back to taking speed. I figured I had no choice. It was no real problem though because I’d just have it in the week and see him on the weekends – problem solved! Whatever I did, I couldn’t risk getting fat again because then I would be unhappy.

I couldn’t keep it up. I missed him when he wasn’t there, but couldn’t phone him because I’d talk forever or become furious for no reason and I didn’t want him to think I was a cow. I really wanted this relationship to work, and so one day I made what was a huge decision for me. I told my boyfriend all about it, warts and all.

It sounds like such a cliché, but he saved my life. By the time I started to see things properly, I realised just how much of a mess my life had become. I didn’t have friends at all – only people who used my house to chill out in. (Don’t picture some kind of crack den when you read that – I didn’t have a large group of ‘drug friends’.) I might’ve been thin but I was desperately unhappy – I’d started and dropped out of a degree course because I couldn’t do the work required. I’d had other, more pressing matters to attend to. One evening for example, before an assignment was due, I spent 6 hours rearranging my CD collection.

I asked my flat mate to move out (after he’d stolen my car and I scolded the policeman who pulled him over) and began to get my life in order. It was incredibly hard going for both of us. Panic attacks, paranoia, sleep paralysis and totally unforgivably irrational behaviour towards my boyfriend were just the tip of the iceberg. I was so very depressed, too. I’m not sure I will ever truly get over the depression really. If anyone was going to help me through this though, it was this man. He has been so, so patient with me over this whole thing and for that I will never, ever be able to tell him just how grateful I am.

Now I look back, and I feel lots of things. Shame, sadness, disgust. Worry that my children will one day inevitably be offered drugs. Hope that they will be a stronger person than me and say no.

Most of all though, I look back at those old photos and feel so very lucky to have been ‘found’. I honestly have no idea where I would be now without my husband, although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a great place. I may have been thin, I may have worn designer clothes and looked great (in my eyes) but now, 6 years on and back to my original size 16, I realise that I was never, ever, happy. Yes, I complain regularly about my thunder thighs, my baby belly and my bingo wings, but if I’m truly honest I don’t do much about it because I can’t be bothered. It’s been 6 years and the thought of writing this post still woke me at 4am, filled with dread.

I made some terrible decisions when I was younger, with some consequences that will be with me forever. The most important one though was the best one I ever made, and so as I finish this post to go and eat left over Chinese food for breakfast, all I can really tell you is that I would far rather be fat and happy than thin and ... lonely? Homeless? Unemployed? Unloved? Paranoid?

Dead?

The first reaction I had when I read this was "Wow". I've read it several times since and I say "Wow" every time. Thank you so much for writing this post and for telling your story so powerfully. I really hope writing this helped you in some way, but I also hope that this post helps others who might consider such a course of action, as it shows that what might seem like a simple solution is actually nothing of the sort. There were huge repercussions, which impact on your life to this day. What I think this shows is there is no such thing as a magic bullet, no easy way. Losing weight is a lifestyle change and it can't just be solved by taking drugs.

Do you have any similar experiences that you'd like to share? If so, please leave a comment below. Even if you don't, leave some supportive comments for my guest poster. She has been so very brave in coming forward.

If you have a fitness story to tell, then get in touch with me on Twitter or via the email address on the About me page. I will link back to any blog you write if you wish, or you can remain either partly or fully anonymous. Don't forget you can read all the previous posts in the series by clicking on the My Fitness Story... tab above. 
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