Where we chat about health, happiness, heartbreak, love, loss and life.
Age Bracket: 41-45
Lives: London, United Kingdom
I believe in God but mostly because I think I’m too indoctrinated not to. It was how I was brought up. I didn’t question it. When you’re a kid you generally accept what adults tell you. It’s hard to shake off such long-standing beliefs, especially when you’re told you’ll be punished for all eternity if you do!
I struggle with my weight and have a food addiction. I can’t seem to just have one biscuit. I have to eat the whole pack. I think it was learnt behaviour from my parents. They’re both overweight too. I grew up around an unhealthy attitude towards food. It was used as a reward and it was taken away as punishment. “You’ll be sent to bed with no dinner if you carry on” was a popular threat.
I think addiction, any addiction, is a surface symptom of a deeper, underlying problem. If the underlying problem is addressed, then the addictive patterns change too.
I used to binge drink a lot. But then so did most of my friends. I think I was definitely a problem drinker for a good few years there. Once I started I didn’t want to stop. I would often wake up feeling wretched. Not being able to fully remember what had happened the night before. Waking up next to questionable people. Going for brunch, sunglasses on, just for hair of the dog. When I got my drinking under control, that’s when my weight ballooned. It’s like I transferred my addictive tendencies with drink straight onto food instead. I can stop quite easily at a couple of drinks over dinner now. It’s the puddings I’m more interested in.
I try to go swimming a couple of times a week but something often gets in the way. I’m usually exhausted from work. I find it hard to stay motivated and now that I’m so big, I don’t like how I look in a swimming costume either, which doesn’t help. I know that it’s a self-defeating cycle and that if nothing changes, nothing changes. I only have myself to blame and need to stop finding excuses. But it’s really hard. They say that nearly half the UK population is overweight now, so I know I’m not the only one. This is a real problem. It can make me feel incredibly depressed.
I love my job. Teaching children how to be fully functioning, useful members of society is such an important thing. It’s amazing to see how they learn and grow and develop. Although I accept that I’m biased, I think it’s a very underrated profession.
I don’t want my own children. I decided in my 30’s that parenthood wasn’t for me. That might sound strange coming from a teacher, but maybe it was that exposure that helped me to decide. I love teaching them, but I don’t want any of my own. I know what hard work they are!
The benefits of being child-free are huge. I have infinitely more time, freedom and money than my friends-with-kids do. I still have my own stresses and struggles, of course, but at least I’m not transferring them onto an impressionable child. I’m quite proud of that.
I’d love to be in love but you can’t pick and choose if and when that happens. I find relationships very hard. I tend to lose myself in the other person very quickly. I get preoccupied with the other person. Like my relationships with drink and food and shopping, my relationships with men have always been an ‘all or nothing’ type of thing. I’m very codependent in relationships and I’m working on it in therapy.
I get lost in books. I can spend a whole weekend curled up with one. Bubble bath. Hot chocolate. Bacon butty. My pets and my books. Bliss.
I drink too much coffee. To the point where it makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack and yet I can’t get enough! It’s definitely another addiction for me, but then most people are like that with coffee, aren’t they? I don’t remember coffee shops being such a big thing when I was a kid. They’re everywhere now. I find it hard to resist.
I have two dogs and a cat and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. The cat prefers to be left alone but the two dogs are my babies. They give me unconditional love and seem to know how I’m feeling. Just stroking them calms me down if I feel upset and I talk to them all the time as though they completely understand me, which I secretly think they do.
I know the way I comfort eat is an unhealthy coping mechanism. The same way that drinking, smoking and shopping used to be for me. My therapist says that ‘addiction is untreated pain’ and I think that’s true. I had an unhappy childhood and working through that trauma is hard work and takes time. When I find something that makes me feel temporarily better, I tend to over indulge in it. Even when it starts to cause more harm than good, I just keep going.
It’s hard when people act like food addiction is just about greed and laziness. It’s not. It’s a coping mechanism gone wrong. Behind any addiction is some sort of unaddressed pain. I’ve known successful businessmen who’ve been incredibly wealthy but they gained that at the expense of everything else. They didn’t have happy home lives. They didn’t know how to maintain a loving relationship. They had hypertension and beer bellies by the time they were 30. Their lives revolved around work and status symbols and trying to prolong the lifestyle they had in their 20’s. They weren’t happy, healthy, well-adjusted men. They were stressed out workaholics.
I’ve definitely got classic cross-addiction issues. Whenever I’ve sorted one thing out, thinking that was the main problem, like when I addressed my problem drinking for example, another problem immediately popped up in its place. In therapy I’ve learnt that I need to go much deeper to address the issues I have. I have to get to the root cause. The surface problems, the things I turn to for comfort, they can obviously bring their own problems, but I need to heal myself on a fundamental level. I need to find out what drives me to need that level of comfort or escape in the first place. I’m a work in progress, we all are.
What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for someone else. I’ve tried all sort of diets and nothing keeps the weight off long term, but then, that’s because sooner or later I always revert back to over eating all the stuff that’s bad for me. I need to develop an all round healthy lifestyle that I can happily maintain. Something that’s not a short term, quick fix. Don’t we all?