I’ve been ‘mad’ for a while now, I can’t actually remember how long but it’s not a new thing. I did a pretty good job of hiding it when I thought that hiding it was something that I should do, I put a lot of effort into putting on a façade of normality that tricked basically everyone. I held down a job (until I didn’t in quite spectacular fashion) and I was able to socialise even though I’d really rather not have. So friends, family and colleagues, other than thinking I was a bit down, were essentially unaware of quite how fucking off the scale insane I was/am. They would have been though, had they seen what I was like when it came to food.
I should point out that I used to be really fat, I was just under 18st and if memory serves me right once bought a pair of 40” waist trousers, so it’s safe to say that my relationship with food has never been particularly healthy. I went from that, to 30” trousers that needed a belt, and people I knew stopping me in the street telling me to eat more. To be honest, for years I just presumed I had an eating disorder, and maybe I fucking do, but in all honesty it only plays a supporting part in the theatre of nonsense that is my brain. The lead role goes to a crippling case of control freakery.
I had/have an overwhelming need to control something, anything, to give my life some structure as my mental faculties wobbled and occasionally came crashing down. I didn’t make a conscious choice to make food the object of such desires but in a handy coincidence it turned out it was ready made for it.
At my absolute worst my obsession with controlling what I ate overrode everything else; no plans could be made until I had figured out how I could incorporate my diet into them. There was one occasion in which a very attractive young woman asked me to come round to hers for what she made explicitly clear (there were pictures) was an evening of no strings attached sex. However I’d already finalised my lunch and tea for that day and couldn’t fit her around them so I made up an excuse and didn’t go (she hasn’t been in touch since, don’t blame her really). Now, that sounds fucking ridiculous and it is, but in my defence when you’re getting roundly fucked by the black dog of depression, regular fucking is a most unappealing concept.
Things aren’t quite as bad now, but the principal remains the same. Every now and again I get asked out (some women seem to think they can fix me) and before I can weigh up whether I actually want to go or not I have to mentally re-arrange my meal plan for that day, a substitution here, an addition there, everything has to balance out or it’s a no, and trust me that’s irrespective of who’s asking.
The minute my boss puts up the rota at work I know what I’ll be eating every day for that period, whether it’s a week or a month. Thankfully now I’m able to adapt to some extent and shift things about if the need arises, as long as I can make things balance out, things must always balance out. It doesn’t sound like it but this is progress, there was a time when I didn’t possess the mental acuity to do so.
Food shopping used to be an actual cunt of a thing to do, it sounds ludicrous (because it is) but when Sainsburys changed their offer on chicken for example, I genuinely didn’t know what to do, something as simple as the ‘3 packs for £10’ promotion no-longer running would throw me so far off course that I would just stare at the poultry section, trying desperately to get my brain to perform what is in essence a pretty fucking basic bit of maths. I’d lost control of the thing I needed to control. Even worse was when something was out of stock, that was the stuff of nightmares, fucking hell, those were dark days.
One of the symptoms of depression is an inability to make a decision, and the more you try to think about it the further way from a resolution you get, one occasion sticks in my mind. I was making a salad for lunch and for some reason picked up an extra tomato, should I put this tomato in my salad? I hadn’t prepared myself for this; this was an unexpected, snap decision and those are the worst. A full hour later I put the tomato back in the fridge (actually you shouldn’t keep your tomatoes in the fridge but that’s another story). I had stood completely motionless for 60 fucking minutes trying to decide if I wanted another tomato in my salad, all because I’m a massive fucking control freak that had momentarily lost control. It wasn’t even a big tomato by the way; it was one of those little cherry ones.
Many people have a metaphorical happy place, mine is a literal one, in the kitchen chopping veg, organising, cleaning, batch cooking (everyone should batch cook) and portioning things out. There are containers, there is a box for off cuts and no other people, it’s beautiful isolation and I’m in control.
As I lost a shit ton of weight I should end with a weight loss tip, sugar is the enemy, it’s the white devil and it’s fucking everywhere, cut as much of it as you can (stop drinking fizzy juice) but do not obsess about it, leave that to me.
I’m on twitter, if you’re on twitter we should hang out (not in real life) https://twitter.com/AllorNothingMag