"My goal was to keep myself alive"

This week I almost succumbed to society's ridiculous pressure they place on women to be thin. In particular if you are a bride to be. If you aren't obsessed with everything going into your mouth or on the latest diet, people look at you like you've got 5 heads. This is exactly what happened when I had a dress fitting and was informed that I had gained a 1.5cm around my tummy since my last appointment. In the hour that followed my anxiety went through the roof, I began to sweat to the point it was dripping down my legs and telling myself that I am going to have to starve myself from then until my wedding day. As soon as I got in the car and took a breath for a I saw how fast my mind set when straight into beating myself up. I started rambling off excuses and trying too justify why that would've happened. It was a wake up call for me as I haven't felt like that for a long time which I am proud of. 

You see in the days, weeks and months after my suicide attempt, it literally took every ounce of my energy to choose life and keep myself alive. One thing that I didn't have energy for was watching my weight. With the amount of medications I was on at that time the weight just started creeping up on me. To the point where I just didn't have the mental ability to care about what it was doing to my health. My goal was to keep myself alive.

I did what ever it took to achieve that. Which often translated to me just eating absolutely everything I wanted all the time. Not just a treat once in a while or a cheat meal once a week or even a cheat day. This was a large big mac meal, 10 mcbites, a cheese burger and 6 nuggets in one sitting type of eating. Before I knew it was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. 

I learnt at a young age that appearance equals success. If someone is over weight or not living up to the unrealistic expectations society places on us, they are automatically deemed not successful, unhappy, lazy or have a lack self control just to name a few. I saw first hand the judgment in people's eyes when I was walking in the street or if someone seen me for the first time since they heard I was in the psych ward. People looked at me with pity. As if they could understand I was depressed when I looked the way I did. Someone actually said to me "maybe you wouldn't be so depressed if you lost weight" and getting called "fat" was so common that it almost lost it's sting. 

My response when faced with these comments and judgments was "I am alive, I will do whatever it takes to keep me that way, if it means I am over 100kgs then so be it, I'd rather be over weight then dead. When I am ready I will deal with it". 14 months ago I was ready to tackle my weight, not because of how I looked but because I realised I was slowly going to kill myself in a different way. So I began the long journey to get physically healthy again and have now lost just over 35kgs.  

I guess the message I want you to take away is don't let a number define you. You are alive and here for a reason. Our looks don't equate to success or failure and it is time this mentality changes. By embracing each other how we are and seeing the beauty in our differences we can achieve this. 

For me I realised it's probably not ideal to eat ravioli and lollies for a midnight snack before a dress fitting but I also realise that I am human and I will not let these unwritten laws rule my life. 

Live, breathe, embrace; 

Stef 

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Tenille Westerhout