I can’t say that sitting in the Primark changing rooms, balling my big brown eyes out, was my finest moment. It was however, a recent moment and one that shook me from the place of comfort that I’ve recently become accustomed too, down a rabbit hole of self pity which I’ve tried my utmost to avoid.
My weight has been one of the sorest points in my life recently. Post operatively, I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight and worsened the situation with an unequivocal love of food (read chocolate). Bulging belly aside, I’ve had a lot on my figurative plate at the moment and so putting less on my literal one has taken a backseat.
My relationship with how I look in the mirror and feel in my clothes ebbs and flows hand in hand with my mood: one day I feel as though I can take on the world, others I feel like a whale with legs blubbering my way through life. I can have a day where I am the most confident queen no matter my weight or dress size, I saunter through the streets with a spring in my step and a confidence in my eyes that disallows anyone or anything to bring me down. People may stop and stare at me and my immediate assumption is that they’re enthralled by my eccentric look – the pink, dreadlocked hair; a plethora of colourful tattoos; all of the metal in my body and face or even all of the above.
This confidence wanes…
Demons of old creep back inside my mind and I begin to feel like nothing more than a face in the crowd. The anxious darkness envelopes my once positive thoughts and my reflection morphs right before my eyes… what once appeared beautiful is now nothing but lumpy ugliness, the result of a body broken and a mind spent. I look at myself in nothing but disgust and wonder how anyone or anything could love anything as vile as me, anything as useless as me, anything as horrid as me. The stares are not at my unusual appearance but rather my larger waist size and the bulges from my strained clothing.
Living with anxiety and depression is meal enough. Add to the dish a spoonful of self-loathing, a cup of sadness, a dash of doubt and sprinkle a topping of self-disappointment and you’re sure to be left with a recipe for dark day disaster. While the excuses I’ve been clinging to for so long hold some bearing and relevancy to my aesthetic, the crux of it all is that I am overweight and under confident at the best of times. The good days have been kind to me, making more of an appearance as I settle into my medication and routines and yet the bad days continue to surprise me, to sneak up on me in bathroom mirrors or Primark change rooms.
I am working to reclaim my confidence, my strength and my body that I once believed to be beautiful. I made the decision to go and see about joining a gym and getting into an exercise routine, eating better and making healthier choices. I was feeling good, great in fact as I sauntered into the store with the intention of purchasing some inexpensive work out clothing for my impending life change. I know that I am not as small as many others or as fit as I once was so naturally I reached for the larger sizes – the largest in stock – and headed off to the change room to admire my (almost) new wardrobe. I took in the maximum of 8 items and began to try on each pair of capri leggings and each workout vest that I had taken in with me, my confident mood dimming with each item I tried on. As I looked in the mirrors surrounding me, in front of me and behind me I saw the broken body of a hard life. The shell of a woman who has spent eons fighting to be free of the chains that held her back and here she is, finally at the best place she has been in a long time only to be dragged down by this reflection of who she is on the outside.
I put down the remainder of the clothing that quite clearly didn’t fit me, all the while wondering at what point had I let it get this far. When did I stop taking notice as the numbers on the scale rose and the dress sizes gradually increased? When did I begin to turn a blind eye to every ripple, dent, bump and lump covering my once svelte physique? I’ve always loved being a curvier, fuller figured woman and my robust calves and voluptuous chest have served me well in the past and yet somewhere a line was crossed and pride turned to disdain. A million thoughts of this nature rushed through my mind like a raging river and outwardly down my face, before I knew what was happening I had completely broken down into a stream of tears and a series of sobs, holed up for ten minutes in a changing cubicle at Primark.
So no, this wasn’t my finest moment. This was in fact, the lowest moment I’ve had in months. Just as I had started feeling amazing about myself, my life, my choices and my future, the harsh reality of my health situation hits me like a ton of bricks. This body, this physical representation of who I am that carries me day in and day out has been neglected. Despite its best efforts, it has crumbled under the pressure of holding up an unstable woman, a woman that has endured so much in so little time, a woman who has tried her very best to keep it together when everyone else around her expected her to fall apart.
Nothing makes me feel better than some instant gratification body modification and so I made the impulsive (yet lengthily considered) decision to head over to my local piercer to make a new change to a disappointing body. Just like that, I had my cheeks pierced and felt like a new and less disgusting person: another outward change to reflect my inner personality.
I know now, in a rational state of mind, that it’s wrong of me to feel this way about myself. It’s isn’t helpful to feel so negative about my own body when my mind is as fragile as it is, and yet these two ideals go hand in hand. To feel depressed is to feel useless, to feel anxious is to feel ugly, to feel sad is to not feel good enough. The truth is, dealing with anxiety and depression and being overweight and unhappy with my body and my image can be really overwhelming to deal with. Some days are positive days, other days are not so positive… it’s a constant back and forth between feeling good enough and not feeling good at all. A game of cat and mouse between a smile and a tear, a laugh and a cry. A battle between darkness and light that continues to rage between my insides and my outsides, an appearance I continue to modify in the hopes that one day the mirror will show me someone I want to see instead of someone I have to see.
I am going to fix it.
I’m going to at least try…
I don’t want to be the skinniest and I’ll never be the prettiest but my goal is to be the happiest and that is all that matters. I want my inner happy to match my outer body and my goal is to work towards achieving this. I never want to feel the way I did in that change room again, I am however glad I did because it has helped me realise the importance of healing as a whole. I have spent considerable time focused on my head and my mind, my emotions and their stability and I’ve neglected my body. Times, they are a changing and I will do whatever I can to make sure the reflection I see in the mirror is the real me. A happy me.
A work in progress..