Pride, stripped bare
I have lost my muse. At least, I have misplaced her, along with my dignity, self respect and several odd socks. My inability to write over the past weeks has been a genuine source of alarm; for without writing, at least these days, I feel that I have little purpose. It occurred to me today though, that perhaps the problem is not a lack of inspiration, but my avoidance of an abundant source of inspiration that is literally right under my nose. For me, writing is truth and, currently for me, the truth is painful. It is something I wish to avoid, and yet something that dominates my thoughts every waking moment. The truth is, I am fat, and I am addicted to food.
I don’t mean the kind of food I used to greedily consume in my down time at Sydney’s temples of gastronomy, or the down-to-earth home cooking previously promoted on this blog. I mean common junk, designed by committee and honed in laboratories, the kind that would cause Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to call for an exorcism. Exactly the kind of food that, intellectually, I abhor. I hate it; and yet I can’t get enough of it.
As a champion of good food, found in nature, this is a cause of shame and humiliation of a magnitude that eclipses my seemingly more socially acceptable diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I have spent weeks, months, ruminating on the vicious circle that has formed in my life, intellectualising my problem and trying to understand why I keep reaching for food as a crutch when the very same is quickly eroding my wellbeing and sense of self-worth. As someone who has previously shown a predilection for addiction, perhaps an ‘addiction’ to food is a natural progression – cocaine being out of my price range. I have read and re-read the work of Dr David Kessler, who aims to explain how foods engineered to be hyper-palatable combinations of salt, sugar and fat tap into our brain chemistry and stimulate a desire for more. Mindless consumption is the enemy of mindfulness, which is the path to a balanced and meaningful life. And yet mindfulness serves as a, sometimes literally, painful reminder that I am fat, and it is uncomfortable.
I understand. And yet, I eat.
Addictions are often secret and deceptive affairs, and my propensity to gorge myself with Tim Tams is no different and has worsened since striking out on my own. Perhaps by bringing my problem into the light, I can begin to be more truthful with myself and others, not to mention illuminate something which those around me have surely noticed but kindly refrained from mentioning: I am getting really fat. I have increased my body weight by something approaching 30kg in around 18 sorrowful, sedentary months. My body is beginning to feel alien to me, as if I am wearing a fat suit. Though sure enough, when all is stripped bare, the fat remains.
As long as I have had a body, I have hated it, but I have a newfound appreciation of how healthy the size 14 me looked, even if she was not satisfied with her shape. Perhaps the key lies in learning to accept my imperfect self and making the most of my life regardless of my size. Perhaps if this can be achieved, I will begin to care for the self instead of trying to destroy it.
Having intellectualised my problem, perhaps overly so, my Doctor is urging me to focus on the positive things I have achieved in the recent past. Today I stopped to appreciate the beautiful home I have created. I also laughed – really and truly – for the first time in what seems like weeks. There is much hard work to be done though, and I am currently (perhaps foolishly) enrolled in not less than two exercise programs that I hope will help give me the kick-start I need to begin rebuilding my self confidence.
I write this with the measured awareness that my deepest shame is now on the public record. But I’ve never been one to shy away from the painful truth. Now I need to learn how to be mindful of it.