What were you doing six months ago? According to my bullet journal, May was when it all started. On May 17 I was driving home from uni, listening to my podcast with Richard Fidler and Kumi Tagichi when I started to feel faint. My breathing became erratic, I was getting hot and cold flashes, I felt shaky. I began to wonder if this was what a panic attack feel like. Determined to get home I focused on my breathing and began chanting the wise words of my role model Julia Gillard. I was going to be resilient one more time. I made it home 25 minutes later, had some food and felt a little better.
The following day, I discussed my moment with my good friend over lunch, asking her if she had ever had a panic attack. I detailed what had happened the night before, and we diagnosed that it wasn’t a panic attack, but I probably needed a decent meal. Being a PhD Candidate, it’s easy to get buried in work and forget what day it is, until your body shouts at you for being complacent about meal times. I decided to make an appointment with the doctor anyway. Other little things were starting to unravel within me. For example, at night times, I found it hard to sleep. And not in a count some sheep and get over it way. My mind would race with all the things I needed to do for my research. Then, I would start to worry that my husband was going to vomit. That he would vomit in his sleep, and I would have to wake him up, and get him to safety, which was the worst thing I could imagine, because I HATE vomit. In other words, my brain was in need of a rest, but the hectic pace of life meant I needed to be resilient one more time, and one more time after that, and fuck, I forgot my house keys. That paper is due next week, have you got dog food? Will you pick up the dry cleaning, I don’t care about the dry cleaning, the mortgage is due, and the bank is empty. Where is my resilience?
I saw a medical doctor, and if you read my previous post, you would know, I have been diagnosed with a crappy gallbladder. It’s full of sludge, and I am now counting down the days till the doctor takes it out. I also booked in to see the psychologist. She said I’m stressed and have a phobia of vomit. I could have told her that, but that’s not the point. The point is, since that non-panic attack on the 17th of May, I’ve lost 25 kilograms. It doesn’t seem like much when it’s written down. When I look at my tummy, I still see my body in the same way, so really, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything at all. This is something I also mentioned to the psychologist. I told her I remember worrying over my thunder thighs when I was four years old. I didn’t tell her any of the other things I did in my teens, or the shitty relationship I developed with food during my adult life, but she told me to eat healthily and regularly, which, sounds like good advice, but when your brain breaks down, logic and reason fly out the window.
So 25 kg. When people see me know, they tell me how radiant I look. How healthy I seem. I’m trying to take it in with good grace, but for the better part, I tell them I’ve been really sick. That no, I’m not healthy. My body was not my priority for so long, that it cracked the shits and decided to put everything on hold on my behalf. That my PhD is now progressing at a glacial pace (although, with climate change, is that a relevant metaphor anymore?), that I’ve spent too many hours on the couch feeling sorry for myself. That I missed my little Bro’s 21st birthday because I was camped out next to the loo in case I spewed ( So really, I didn’t miss the experience of a 21st birthday). 25 kg because I couldn’t eat for days on end. 25 kg because I’m only eating one proper meal a day, with two small snacks, with very little processed food.
25kg. What would you do if you lost 25 kg? I’ve cleared out my wardrobe and scored a few bargains on eBay, but in all honesty, I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll put it all back on again. I’m scared I’ll lose more weight. I’m making plans for my life post surgery which include health and fitness professionals, but I don’t know if I have the resilience necessary for this weight fluctuation bullshit. By the time I turned 30, I felt I was at peace with my body. I knew I had mistreated it, starved myself, gorged myself, not exercised, exercised too much, hated myself. I was at peace with myself and realised that my size was just one piece of the puzzle that makes myself up, and my lifestyle didn’t have enough room for hour sessions at the gym, or organic kale and quinoa smoothies. I also knew from experience, that every time I started a gym membership, or went on a health kick, that falling off the bandwagon was inevitable. By 30, I think deep down, I just decided to keep off the band wagon all together was the safest option.
If you were starting to think that my gallbladder was obesity related, you would be wrong. Despite coming to terms with the fact that I would never be slender, I was still hyper-aware that being fat was a health risk. I heard it on the news with near a daily occurrence. Well-meaning loved ones warned me that I was at risk of diet related problems. The nurse I saw for a check-up tut-tutted as she wrote down my weight at 95kg. It would be easy to say my weight was the cause for all of my problems, but when I pressed all of the doctors and specialists, they have assured me, my gallbladder sludge is not weight related. When I pressed the surgeon, he said I wasn’t fat. I reminded him that I’ve lost 25 kg, and he said, that I was overweight, but not fat. He see’s patients who are much larger than me and my body was simply breaking down on its own accord. It’s probably genetic, and that I’m probably a part of the 30% of the population who have naturally shitty gallbladders.
Fat fat, fatty fat fat. I was fat, now I am not fat. Fat is a part of my body, but it is not me. It was me, I was on the Body Positive cheer squad “all bodies are good bodies’, but it doesn’t feel right when I say it now. I’m still overweight for my height at 164 cm and 70 kg, but with the right outfit, you wouldn’t even notice. I mean, I’m not going to get mistaken as Miranda Kerr anytime soon, but my face isn’t moon-face fat. I no longer get chub-rub and my wedding rings need to be re-sized (again).
On my fridge, I have two magnets that I purchased on a trip to Canberra. One of Paul Keating and one of Julia Gillard. Each has a different look on their faces. I like to think Keating is telling me to work hard, that he says “Ainslie, get the work done.” Gillard, on the other hand, has a softer smile. Sometimes I see it and think it’s a reminder to be kinder to myself. Other times, I’m reminded of the importance of researching the women members of parliament, since no-one else has done research at this in-depth level. But after reading her book, I know her smile is saying “I was not going to give any bastard the satisfaction. I was going to be resilient one more time”.