19 to 20

I literally cannot help myself. I’m positively compelled to get reflective towards the end of a month, year, decade… hell, even the end of a week if I’m honest.

2016 was the year I began the attempt to consciously build and shape my life, starting with sorting my weight out. In a way, it’s been a success. I have managed to protect a five stone weight loss, give or take a few pounds at times of particular stress, for two years. Even taking into account the massive gains of recent months, this is still the best I’ve ever done. I’m proud and relieved in equal measure. The last few years haven’t been for nothing after all.

My weight was taking a downwards trend right up until November last year, when I started nearing my target. It’s fairly easy not to think about other important, life-impacting things when you’re focused on that one goal, especially when being successful at weight loss has been something that’s eluded you your entire life up until that point.

But when the other stuff ain’t right, you end up building on top of rickety foundations. Cracks start appearing in the walls, and you can only turn the other way for so long. As such I spent most of 2019 tearing what I’d built to the ground in order to clear space for me to start over. I’m going into 2020 with a determination to build new, solid, foundations, and from there, I’m going to build something good, something sturdy. One brick at a time.

The last day of 2019 started off ok. I cleaned out the refrigerator of the few veggies that perished over Christmas, took delivery of my online shopping, and refilled it with plenty of healthy Slimming World Free Foods.

Then I went out for my last walk of the year, on what was turning out to be a foggy and soggy day. You know, kind that never gets fully light.

The weather matched my mood though, because I’m still really upset about my ‘friend’. I was thinking – if we had met on a dating app, hooked up a few times and this happened I could probably shrug it off. Just block him and get on with my life. But we’ve known each other for a decade. I think that’s why it hurts so much.

So on my walk I did a lot of stomping to try and work it all out of my system. It helped a little.

Despite being such a dull-looking day, there were curiosities to be found, such as this decorated Christmas tree. I’ve seen it before, but it’s never been decorated this nicely until now. If I remember I might add something myself next Christmas.

It was also a good opportunity for me to try out my new socks. Waterproof ones, no less. I found out about them from a post in a hiking group I’m in on Facebook. Even many seasoned hikers use them if they get leaks in otherwise comfortable boots, rather than going through the horrible process of having to break in a new pair.

Since my most comfy footwear isn’t waterproof, I decided to give them a go.

They work! Although since the muddy water was so cold I could feel it going in, my feet stayed completely dry. Pretty cool.

When I got home all the fresh air had tired me out, but no one was as tired as Newton was. He was visiting while his human parents were out shopping in London, and we had a good old cuddle on the sofa. If you are in any doubt about just how sleepy he was, check out his sleeping positions.

New Year’s Eve is typically quite hard for me, and last night was no exception. I was mulling over the last year and finding it so hard to remember the good and positive things. But then I looked at the doggo on my lap, and of course welcoming him into the family made the whole 12 months worthwhile.

I think my current views are clouded by my recent rejection, especially as I’ve been so clearly reminded of previous abandonments lately. I’m guessing the way I feel about being stood up has little to do with actually being stood up. I believe I had hoped for a distraction to make me feel less of a failure last night, and instead I just got a reminder of everything I was trying not to think about.

There’s also the fact that the last two New Year’s that stick in my mind weren’t good ones. There’s the one where my uncles decided it would be a good idea to spike my drinks with numerous other spirits, so I ended up getting absolutely paralytic. I have a vague recollection of my cousin’s fiancé kissing me in the hall as the clock hit midnight, then of my friend trying to drag me up from the pavement outside because I literally couldn’t stand up.

After that, my cousin’s fiancé came on to me and some other relatives at another party (this time I mercifully had my wits about me) so after speaking with my mum (I was still quite young at the time), she spoke to my aunty about it. The response was that I wasn’t to believed, and my cousin ended up marrying the guy. Needless to say, they aren’t still together.

The other one was in 1999 where I was in Cardiff seeing the Manics at the Millenium Stadium. Which sounds pretty cool, but I was so unhappy. I didn’t really feel like I fit in with my group of friends, plus we were staying with friends of friends and I was so shy and uncomfortable. But back then I would have done anything, anything to see my beloved Manics, therefore it seemed like a good idea at the time.

We stayed with student friends, and the house was grim. I got an allergic reaction off of a manky cushion I used as a pillow that night (I didn’t even have a blanket, and I still remember how awfully cold it was) and my face went all bobbly and swelled up. I had to go to the doctors when I got home as by that point my eyes were reduced to tiny slits.

So yeah, it would have been cool to have a distraction from those particular thoughts, but it wasn’t to be. It’s got to be a good thing, because these are thoughts I haven’t entertained in many, many years. How about I deal with them now, and in 12 months time be in a much better place? Sounds like a plan.

The rest of the evening was spent watching Blade Runner 2049 with the family (awesome) then I got an early night as I was planning a very early morning.

The little brother agreed to come out walking with me, and as is tradition we try to leave as early as possible. The problem is, he left the planning up to me which never, ever works out.

You see, I forgot that it’s winter, so when we got to our destination it was can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. So, we had a nap in the car while we waited for daylight, then enjoyed our first walk of 2020.

It was much like yesterday’s one – foggy and soggy! But we did what we set out to do, which for me was to start the year off how I want it to continue. I want to do much more walking and exploring than I did last year, no matter what the weather, and take more pictures with my DSLR.

I’m back at work tonight which means some semblance of routine and normality again, which will hopefully help get me out of this little funk I’m in right now.

I’m sure it’ll pass, because I’m doing the work to make it that way. Building them foundations.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Triggered

I never really understood what it meant to be triggered. On social media it seems to be a byword for someone who is ‘too sensitive’, and whilst I understand the true meaning of it, I never fully grasped what a crappy thing it is to be triggered until recently. I’m guessing that I’ve been triggered before, but I don’t think I’ve had the self-awareness to recognise it for what it is until now.

At least as far as my own experience goes, being triggered is not just about getting upset over being reminded of something bad in your past. It seems to me that when you are triggered that reminder serves to, emotionally, put you right back in that place you so desperately want to forget.

I really don’t remember much about my childhood, and I prefer to keep it that way, but some things stuck. None of them are good. When I was about 16 my mum got a gall stone stuck in her bile duct, which caused her to go bright yellow. She was admitted to hospital, and since my dad was (is) a complete waste of space, myself and my little brother and sister went to stay with some aunties, on my mum’s side of the family.

That side of the family is extensive. My Nan and granddad popped out kids into the double figures, and cousins, well, we stopped counting when we got past 30. Growing up the message was clear – if anything ever happens we’ll be there for you. What a load of shit.

As a kid we were always visiting my mum’s side of the family. Everyone loved my dad, thought he was a ‘diamond geezer’, but after he dumped his family for some disgusting old trout (after years of emotional abuse I might add) you’d think they’d stand by their sister, right? Nope! Amongst other despicable things, my uncle (my mum’s own brother) let my dad rent his flat, which in itself is pretty low, I think.

So, mum goes into hospital, and I’m already at breaking point at this stage after the messy divorce, plus I’m at a pretty delicate age that’s difficult for any teenager to deal with at the best of times. I’m trying to get to grips with that, plus I’m at college and barely coping with what I now recognise as crippling anxiety. I’m self-harming pretty badly too, but no one knows about that yet.

Thankfully, I go to stay with one aunt and my brother and sister stay with another, but we are only there for one night before they decide they don’t want us.

After being dumped back home where I start to figure out how I’m going to look after two school-age-children, cope with college and try not to worry too much about my mum, the phone rings. It’s my uncle, and he wants to know where my dad is because he hasn’t paid the rent. I said I don’t know (I didn’t, and yes it’s a touchy subject with someone whose family has let them down so monumentally), so he gets angry that I’m not giving him the information he wants. He hangs up the phone but then calls straight back. I don’t answer it, so I’m left a lovely answering machine message informing me I’m a cunt, and that he wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. ‘Scuse the foul language, by the way.

That evening an aunt picks us up to take us visiting at the hospital, and I’m told not to tell my mum I’m upset. The one single adult I feel like I have left in the whole world who cares about me, and I’m not allowed to say anything.

Aaaaanyway, mother gets better and I set to work not thinking about this kind of stuff, whilst keeping a hatred of everyone on my mum’s side of the family simmering on a low heat for the rest of eternity.

On Monday, my mum was back in hospital for an operation, and oh boy did I find out what being triggered really meant. On top of being worried about mum, I felt the huge weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders and honestly, I felt like I’d be crushed by it.

Things were very different this time around though. My brother and sister are both adults now, and if I ask them for help, they’ll give it. I’ve got some pretty marvellous friends who are only ever a text or a call away, and I actually have quite an amazing support network at work, of all places.

I know all of this, but for the last two weeks I’ve felt like a frightened and abandoned child who is completely alone in the world. I’ve been wondering whether, if I saw my father, I might try to wring his wrinkly old neck. Because I’m so furious that he wasn’t there when we needed him in the first place. Which is weird, because he’s the very last person I want help from right now. ‘Triggered’ seems like a very small word for such a big feeling.

Whilst waiting for the hospital to ring, a couple of aunties are incessantly trying to get hold of me, wanting updates. Every time the phone makes a sound I’m on it, my heart pounding, anticipating the news of how the operation went. My brother and sister are with me, and they sit up straight and pay attention. The whole room is on high alert. But nope, it’s an annoying aunt. After the initial shot of adrenaline, all I can think is, alternately, ‘where were you when we needed you?’ and ‘I hate you so much, I wish I didn’t have to have anything to do with you’.

Mother is on the mend now, and although we don’t know exactly what the future holds (we are waiting to hear what, if anything, happens next) I’m sure now that I can deal with it. I won’t crumble when my family needs me, and I’m choosing to see it as a good thing that I’ve had to revisit all of these feelings.

By thinking it through, I’ve been able to challenge my own thoughts. I think I’m all alone, but I’m not. I think I can’t cope, but I can. I think everyone will abandon me. They won’t – the family and friends I’ve chosen to keep in my life won’t let me down.

So, this was my brain on Monday. Tuesday was an insanely frustrating day, trying to get my mother out of the hospital, which we eventually achieved a mere 6 hours after she was physically ready to be discharged. About five of those hours were spent waiting for a letter to be printed off for her to take home with her, just outlining what she’d had done. I’m failing to see why that took so long but also, another hour was spent waiting for the pharmacist to deliver some unknown drug for mum to take home with her.

Whilst some poor person was no doubt sitting in recovery for hours waiting for a bed to become available (as my mum had been the day before) a bed was being taken up waiting for a patient to be given Co-codamol, a frikkin drug you can buy in a supermarket for under 30p.

A) why didn’t they give her the prescription so we could collect it from the pharmacy ourselves? Not that we would have bothered, we have a drawer full of over-the-counter painkillers already… and B) why the flip is the NHS giving out prescriptions for stuff like that in the first place? How much must that cost? At least ask if it’s needed first!

Wednesday I was late getting to sleep as we had shopping delivered, then on Thursday I took my brother to an awards ceremony. I can’t go into details (at his request, he keeps things on the down-low) but we spent the afternoon hobnobbing with important police officers and commissioners. It was a weird kind of afternoon, but we both did surprisingly well in a social situation we both found excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Friday and Saturday I slept most of the day (keep in mind I’ve been working nights as usual) and now finally, finally I’ve had enough rest in order to be able to think straight.

I haven’t felt Christmassy at all so far, and what with everything that’s been going I haven’t felt like wearing my Christmas hats or anything like that. However, I am off work now for four whole nights!

So, expect normal service to resume shortly, with hopefully three weeks’ worth of festivities somehow crammed into a few days. Challenge accepted!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Love Conkers All

Aha, I’m BACK! Where have I been you might ask?

I don’t rightly know.

In fact I didn’t realise just how far I’d wandered until I returned. I started feeling a bit more like myself last week, but as I said in my last post, part of me was waiting for it all to go wrong again. I certainly wasn’t going to be counting any chickens before they’d hatched, not this time.

But the weird old month of August did its thing – I set some boundaries, I accepted some things that couldn’t be changed, I stopped waiting for apologies and explanations that I knew wouldn’t come, and I started living for myself. It was like my inner self knew that it was safe to come back home.

Now we’re back together again we’re stronger than ever, and we are finally on the same page as far as weight loss goes. I might not be miserable where I am now, but I’m not prepared to settle for simply ‘not being miserable’. I can do be better than that. I can make a really good life for myself. Can and WILL.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much conflicted. I so, so want a world without diet culture, because there’s so much wrong with it. Most of us know that the vast majority of people who go down that road end up right back where they started or, worst case scenario, with a serious eating disorder. I know that my relationship with food is not a good one, and I know that as a dieter (especially one who does it in the public domain) I’m part of the problem.

Whenever I post a before and after picture, I’m sending out a subconscious message to everyone who still looks like my ‘before’ picture that they need to change. I’m making an assumption that because my life was horrible at that size, then theirs must be too. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want the way society views fat people to carry on as it is now.

On the other hand (and this is where I start myself running around in circles) I am SO GOSH DARN DETERMINED to get back to 12 stone 10 pounds and nothing will stop me doing that! I want to fit into my nice clothes that have become too small. I want to continue to take advantage of vastly more clothing options than I used to have. I want to continue to be able to find things that fit in charity shops. I JUST WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

I’m aware that I’m a hypocrite, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept about myself for now. That’s probably the least harsh thing I’ve thought about myself in recent times, so there’s progress there at least.

So it’s a new season, a new start, and autumn is coming in strong! I’m off work this week and I’ll be honest, I’m currently sitting in the garden wearing warm socks, a cosy cardigan, with a lovely glass of red wine at my side. The big push to get back to my target weight starts properly next week when I don’t have so much going on. Until then I’m simply refusing to give it too much headspace.

My disentanglement from my last post continues however, because despite what I’ve eaten I’ve still managed to hold on to the enormous value of going for a lovely walk. Typically if I’ve eaten rubbish I default to a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, but there’s always a point.

My most recent walk was intended as an experiment. I devised a new route that I think will take me about 45 minutes, but the last time I did it, it took me about an hour as I kept stopping to take photos.

What I want is a decent, shortish route that I enjoy walking so that I can do it every day and still fit in all of my arty pursuits, which I am loving with an absolute passion right now.

So Saturday morning, straight after work I told myself sternly – ‘no photos, ‘kay? Let’s just get a move on and see how long it takes’. 30 seconds later, however…

Well! I can’t be blamed, can I? It was a beautiful morning and there was so much to see! The route that took me an hour last time took me an hour-and-a-half this time round. Oh well, it’s not like the park is going anywhere.

I did nearly get stuck in a ditch trying to find my way into a field isn’t officially part of the park and that was full of early-morning mist. The sun was hitting it just perfectly, but I couldn’t get the shot. After escaping from the deceptively deep ditch, I took a detour thinking I could get through but I hit a dead end – a little cul-de-sac in the woodland with one special feature. A frikkin horse-chestnut tree!

I don’t find a decent conker in years then I stumble across this untouched treasure trove! Quite simply, I am winning at life.

As I mentioned before, my arty pursuits are becoming so much fun. Trying to make something used to exhaust me, because I always found it hard to push through the ‘ugh this is going to be sh*t’ moments. From what I can tell I think everyone has those. What I’ve found is that things always look a bit pants halfway through, so now I just accept it as part of the process.

Yesterday I spent all day making a really cool present for my brother. I’ll share that in a couple of weeks once his birthday has come and gone.

What I can share now is my journal progress which I’m oh so happy with! This morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep, so I painted this whilst watching the new Netflix series of The Dark Crystal.

I absolutely adored those weird 80’s movies, whilst simultaneously being rather terrified of them. In fact David Bowie in Labyrinth used to scare the absolute bejaysus out of me and often I couldn’t watch it without my mum in the room. I kinda miss being that kind of scared of things, it was fun!

A few birdies later and it was time for a check up at the dentist, which is testament to how much better I’m being at taking care of myself. My check up was a year overdue, but thankfully no treatment is needed so after a clean I went on my merry way.

After that I went to visit an old work friend for coffee and a catch up, but I needed some serious nap time when I got home. Which again will leave me awake at stupid hours when I have another early start tomorrow. Ah well, what can you do? I’m taking my brother somewhere fun as a surprise, so more on that after the event.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Uncharted Territories

I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this here post. I feel like I have travelled enormous distances these past few weeks, and from here on in we venture into the unknown. It’s scary, and exciting.

I’ve changed so much in the last 18 months. At my core I’m still the same, as a wonderful friend pointed out to me. Perhaps neither of us knew it at the time, but I felt like I was drowning and she threw me a lifeline. I still have the same core values – I may mess up, and I may have messed up more frequently and severely lately than ever before in my life, but I’m still me and I still want the same things. I want to be the best version of me that I can, and I want to be happy. I want the people I love to be happy too. That’s it in a nutshell.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads, because the best version of me no longer equals the slimmest version of me.

One of the ways I’ve changed a lot relates to dieting, and because of that Slimming World is no longer a good fit for me. I have much to be thankful for, such as incredible friends I may not have met otherwise. That’s the most important thing to me of all. The support at Slimming World is great, but with around 50 people attending a group it’s understandable that you can only delve so deep. After all, consultants aren’t trained as psychologists. Even if they were they aren’t there for full-on emotional support, and although most I’ve met would do it in a heartbeat it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of them.

I’ve scratched the surface, but I have a lot more work to do. A Slimming World group just isn’t the place for me to grow anymore, as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’ve been going for the best part of three years now, and trying to force myself to carry on when I don’t want to has been having a negative effect. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to abandon my friends, I felt scared I was using it as an excuse to abandon my diet, and I felt trapped because deep down I really didn’t want to be there. In the end the new part of me, the one I’ve been nurturing for a while, decided that I was just going to do what was right for me. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve been thinking about learning how to eat intuitively for a while now, because there are a whole bunch of people out there learning how to have lives free from diet culture. It’s possible to be happy, and whole. It takes a long time, but it can be done. I can barely even imagine it, but I want it. I want it bad.

However, I know I’m not ready yet. Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, and I want to get my recent gains off, for good. Ordinarily as soon as I feel happier or resolve something that’s been bothering me, I jump straight back on the wagon and get on with things. Since a lot has been bothering me lately, I figured I’d got the taste for the sweet stuff and needed to go cold turkey, but no matter how good I felt or how much I filled up on healthy food, I couldn’t seem to get it together.

This last week I’ve had a few downs, but now I feel good. Not just good, SUPER GOOD. So why then, do I still feel truly, ravenously, tummy-achingly hungry ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME? I normally feel a bit like this when I’m hormonal, but it never lasts for this length of time.

I just couldn’t understand it.

I decided to spend a few days just eating what I wanted whenever I wanted, whilst trying to gauge my feelings and cravings as an outsider. To just be an observer, and not be invested in what was happening. There was no need to feel guilt, or worry about gaining weight. It was an experiment. Weight gain would just be an interesting data point to analyse.

I didn’t worry or fret about the results, and do you know what happened? I only went and figured it out. It was a genuine facepalm moment. I went back to check my dates and weight history to check I was right.

Yup.

It’s the flipping anti-depressants messing with my appetite, I’m sure of it!

Now what I feel is sweet, sweet relief. If you don’t know what the problem is how can you fix it? But now I have something I can change! I have to consider my options. Am I ready to come off of the pills now I’ve removed so many damaging things from my life? Shall I go the doctor to ask about trying a different medication where I may get different side effects? Something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there is hope. In any case I’m not taking my mental health lightly and I’m waiting for a referral to come through for some kind of counselling, so I’ll still be getting help.

When I thought about intuitive eating I never thought it could ever work for me, not when my body was screaming at me that we really, really wanted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s even though we’d just eaten a pizza, a load of garlic bread, plus 3 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s six slices of bread on top of what is already a significant amount of pizza dough! I’m pretty sure that in such cases the body is not to be trusted.

But if my body returns to sending me proper signals again that I can tune into, then one day I can be free. Free from a lifetime of trying to shrink. Free from points or Syns or macros. I used to think such thoughts meant I was deluded, that such a thing couldn’t be done. That the balance I’ve yearned for all these years could never be attained. In the meantime the evidence keeps mounting up that it yes it can!

As such I now begin a new chapter of my life and I’m absolutely ready for it! As I mentioned before, I still intend to get these gains off, which is going to take a lot of hard work whilst I feel like my tummy is a huge, gaping hole that can never be filled. While I’m doing that my plan is to learn, learn and learn some more, along with feeding my soul with books, art, friends, family and experiences. In other words, with life.

Before I sign off I’ll briefly return to the ordinary kind of blogging where I ramble on about everyday life a little bit. After a few years now of falling in love with nature, I’d say I’m more attuned to it than most. I’m pretty good at spotting things others might miss.

Perhaps that’s why, at work last night, I spotted a small-yet-perfectly-formed mushroom growing out of the wall outside the toilets. It was absolutely thriving in some seepage leaking out between a crack on the wall and the floor, though I dread to imagine the exact nature of said seepage.

As such today’s journal page was dedicated to mushrooms, though the work one was not as exciting as those shown here. They are all drawn from pictures of mushrooms I found myself whilst out and about.

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time going through my photo albums. Even with some relatively nice experiences I’ve had over the last year many of my photos had bad, bad memories attached to them. I was conflicted for a while, thinking that if I removed them it wasn’t an ‘honest’ record of my time.

I then realised it was stupid to hang on to things that hurt me, and when I looked back over what remained for 2018, my year clearly was not nearly the write-off I thought it had been. There was plenty of good stuff to look back on and I ended the exercise feeling a whole lot better.

No more hanging on to the bad stuff, it’s time to move on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Up Again

Ah, sweet relief. I’m finally starting to feel human again! Things aren’t perfect of course (nothing ever is, that’s life) but I feel like doing things again – doing them because I want to, not forcing myself because I know it’ll make me feel better in the long run.

Now the fog has considerably cleared from my brain I’ve had time and headspace for reflection. It started with thinking about what I’ve done so far to tackle my weight and what I’m going to do moving forward. What I’m really going to do, instead of continuing to break my own promises.

I updated my motivational wall and that was quite telling. Although my best loss through Slimming World is 8 stone 10 lbs, my current loss is 7 stone on the nose. Interestingly I got my 7 stone award in 2017, and as far as numbers go I haven’t made much progress since then.

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However, the fact I’ve managed to keep off 7 stone for a year and 8 months has exceeded my wildest expectations.

Someone at work the other night asked my how my diet’s going, and it brought me up short for a moment. Although I talk about being on and off plan, I genuinely don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I use the word diet occasionally as sometimes it’s just easier, but bouts of emotional eating aside, this really is forever. As such the idea of ‘being on a diet’ actually feels quite alien. I like that.

I finally feel like I’m really ready to carry on where I left off when I was steaming along for months on end. They were good times.

I’m so happy I’ve started feeling better just before the end of the month, because I do love a fresh start and a new beginning. It just so happens that we’re also on the cusp of the crossing the half-way mark of 2019, and I feel that I’ve learned enough over the last few days to set me up for a fantastic second half.

This week’s goals are all in hand – despite 31 degree heat I still got out and filled my exercise ring today. I can happily take this heat, because I got what I wanted – a whole load of glorious sunshine! I just walked up to the church on the hill and back, but it was enough to get my heart pumping.

I’ve been eating well, enjoying it, and I have a weekend of good things to look forward to.

One thing I have learned lately is that walking is something that’s absolutely essential to my wellbeing. While I was busy I honestly didn’t have the time or energy to do the amount I wanted, which just compounded how awful I was feeling. I’m damn well delighted to be back outside with Mother Nature. Yesterday I saw THREE RABBITS. Three! Funnily enough they didn’t stay still for a picture so this will have to do.

I also got the tyre done on the new car, had the air conditioning re-gassed… then found out there’s water leaking from somewhere. Last week this would have really peed me off, but this week? Not so much. I’m sure I’ll get it sorted, and I still have my existing car to use for as long as I need to. Ain’t nothing getting me down.

Right, it’s now time for me to go get ready for a measly four hour shift. I’m leaving work early as I have a fun thing planned for tomorrow. More on that later!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

By a Thread

Since I last posted I’ve been in a dark place. Me starting to feel a tiny bit better was then replaced by depression coming along and punching me right in the side of the head with all its strength – and I’m still reeling from the blow.

Notable achievements over the past week have been having a shower and being awake for a few hours in a row. The other day I even picked my post up from the floor. It sounds funny when I put it like that, but I’m not exaggerating. That was a big deal.

My ‘ordinary’ job has been quiet, which is lucky, so I have been going home early at every opportunity, though without pay. I know I can’t really afford it, and I feel guilty and scared about that, but also I know that being unconscious is the only thing that feels good at the moment and I’ll take any opportunity that will allow me to achieve that. What I dearly want from most from life right now is to be asleep. To be anything but feeling like this.

Oblivion please.

Eating well has gone out of the window and I skipped weigh-in on Tuesday partly because I genuinely didn’t have the energy and partly because I wasn’t in a fit state to interact with people, at least unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to go, but there’s only so much I can handle.

Somehow, on Monday night I managed to find the strength to make it to my own Slimming World group and deliver what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable new member talk. Huh. Although I suspected I had it in me, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it feeling like… this. But I did. Cool.

Let me try and explain what it’s like. I know things, logically – for instance I went out for a walk last Thursday and I knew that the cool breeze was lovely on my face, I knew that the sun was making everything look pretty, and that going for a walk is good for me. I knew it but I couldn’t feel it.

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I took a picture. See, pretty yes?

Afterwards I went for a really nice meal at a pub down the road. The food was super fancy but in a down-to-earth setting with no snooty staff. I had a chocolate bomb and the waitress came round with a teeny tiny saucepan full of sauce to pour over the top, melt the shell and reveal the delicious insides. It came with real flowers on top. I ate a flower. Normally that would have thrilled me, but not then. Damn.

Today a friend very kindly came out with me for moral support while I was putting up some posters for my Slimming World group. It went a lot better with company, and I am feeling more confident that I’ll find some hidden reserves in order to give my group the service they deserve when I launch on the 24th. They really do deserve it, they are special people.

In the meantime, after sobbing down the phone to the doctor’s receptionist my appointment has been moved from next Wednesday to this Saturday morning. I’m genuinely counting down the days. One more to to get through once tonight is over with.

I know I won’t feel better straight away, but I need to know that something is going to get better.

I was looking back at photos from last year and the end of November was the last time I can say I felt really, properly happy. I really want to get back to feeling like I was then, and looking like I was then, too. Blimey I felt skinny!

I might be hanging on by a thread right now, but the truth is I know deep down that it’s a deceptively strong thread. I will be back to how I felt in November sooner or later. It’s testament to how much I’ve changed though because although I slip (more often than not these days it seems) apparently gone are the days when I completely give up.

So if you’re not feeling tip top right now, just like me, then give yourself a pat on the back for still putting one foot in front of the other, even if it is a tiny step.

We’ll get there.

Hayley x

Belief

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Valentine’s Day marked another little slip for me. Truth be told I used it as an excuse to have ‘one last day’ of naughtiness before really knuckling down again. That’s OK though! Reading my friend’s blog always helps, because no matter what internal struggle I’m going through the likelihood is that he’s been through it too and has some wise words to say on the subject.

One part of his latest post jumped out at me.

‘I screw up and then I sort it out.

Over and over again.’

Exactly that. It’s normal to slip, everyone does it. Neither of us has quite got the hang of not feeling bad about it afterwards, but we’ve both become experts at the sorting out part. That’s why, for the first time in both of our lives, our (lower) weights have been stable.

Dave also mentioned that our new appearances have become our new ‘normal’. I’ve gone from seeing my reflection in a window or mirror while I’m out and realising with a jolt that the person looking back at me is, well, me, to seeing old photos and not recognising that person at all. I’m not sure exactly when my perception shifted, but it’s a good feeling!

Until now any success on the scales would have been very short lived, something my colleagues would testify to.

I don’t really get many compliments about my weight loss at work these days, because any losses I have now certainly aren’t as drastic or noticable, but I do still get the odd ‘we didn’t think you’d keep it off, you know’ comment. I quite like these comments, because I didn’t think so either, and it reminds me of how flipping awesome I am for managing it.

Believe me though, you can do it too. Don’t ever doubt it. If you screw up, sort it out. Over and over again.  

One thing that has cheered me up is the reappearance of that mystical ball of light in the sky, otherwise known as the sun. A few rays and some warmer days has perked me up no end.

Yesterday I went on a walk to get some exercise in before Steve came over, and there was actual evidence of SPRING.

That bumblebee is quite possibly the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my photography and how excited I am for the future, but I did have a little moment of doubt. I was thinking about how a couple of years ago a friend and colleague asked me to do a wedding but I didn’t have the confidence, so in the end another colleague (who I don’t know personally) did it for him.

I remember seeing the photos and thinking ‘I could have done that’, and it was true as far as technical skills go.

This person quit work not so long ago to go into photography full time, so I thought I’d take a peek at his Facebook page (link) to see how he’s getting on.

Oh. My. Word.

His work is absolutely stunning. Whilst appreciating the hard work that has gone into honing his skills and generally just admiring his style, I also had a sinking feeling. I felt like that should have been me. I should have done that first wedding. I should have had more confidence. I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Then I metaphorically shook myself, because I couldn’t have just forced myself to become the person that could do that, it’s taken time and effort. I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years thinking and changing and shrinking and growing in all kinds of different ways, and it’s OK that it took me a while (36 years!) to get to this point. Better late than never.

Today was something of a landmark occasion actually. When I went back to Slimming World in 2016 I met a lovely lady called Steph, who is also a photographer. I knew instantly that I liked her, and that it would be cool to take our cameras out together for a walk and have a chat.

We haven’t attended the same Slimming World group for a long time, but we stayed Facebook friends and I always liked to see how she was getting on. Then last week, after literally years of meaning to do it, I asked if she wanted to go out for a walk and a talk (or a twalk, as Dave the blogger would say).

She has a gorgeous rescue dog called Cinnamon (who for a photographer’s dog annoyingly does not seem to want to look at the camera) but I managed a few nice snaps regardless.

I like this new Hayley who isn’t frightened of talking to people, even people she knows. I’d been hoping to meet her for a long, long time.

As for my weight loss, whilst mulling it over at work last night I’ve decided to try something new. From now until April, I’m going to do completely blind weigh-ins. I’m even going to ask the social team not to write my results in my book, because I know it’ll be really hard for me to resist peeking.

The reason for this is that whenever I get close to target I get a little bit obsessed with thinking ‘if I can just lose x amount per week I’ll be at target by such-and-such a date’. It’s good to be focused and have goals, but if I get too obsessed it makes me think of all the worst kinds of food for some reason.

I’m still going to work hard and stay active, but without being consumed by the numbers. Let’s see how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x