My Human Body

For as long as I can remember I have had problems accepting my body. It didn’t matter whether I had lost weight or put weight on I didn’t truly accept my body or feel comfortable in it. 

Recently a friend of mine, Judith Staff, recommended a group on Facebook called Body Positivity for People with Bodies by Kate Huffman. When I first joined the group I saw that I had missed an online Facebook challenge so I asked if there would be another. Lo and behold another Live Facebook challenge called Love Your Body – Kick More Booty was set to start.

I signed up immediately. If Judith thinks it is great then that is all the recommendation I need. Judith knows about my history. She knows some of what I have been through and how difficult it is to accept a body that has been violated for your entire life. 

Kate advertised the Love Your Body – Kick More Booty Live Facebook challenge which was three days of 1 hour training with a challenge at the end of each one. 

The first session had me hooked. This isn’t another weight loss programme. This is a way of accepting your body how it is and going through a taster of how we can work on becoming someone that loves our bodies no matter what shape or size. 

Kate Huffman isn’t just delivering this training, she has lived it! Having fought anorexia and being knocked back by a diagnosis of Lymes disease Kate accepts her body knowing that it is human.

With everything I have been through in my life it is a given that I have signed up for Kate’s 8 week Body Positivity course. It is worth every penny.

The course started on 12 August. Watch this space! I will be blogging about my progress so far very soon.

Feel free to read my blogs under Body Positive and sign up to my site to get further updates. You can also see how the free three day challenge went. 

I’m so excited about this!

A letter to my body

Dear Body of Mine, 

We have been together now for nearly 44 years. We have been through ups and downs but we are still going. 

Despite what I have put you through you still hold me up every day and keep me going even when I don’t want to, even when I have had enough.

We have been sexually assaulted, raped and beaten throughout our life yet you do not give up on me. You heal, get back up and help me take another step forward each day. 

We are meant to be here and we are made for each other. I know I have not been good to you over the last few years and I have given up keeping you fit and well but that is about to change. 

I have started a journey of body positivity and I intend to finish that journey. I will accept you for what you are but at the same time get you fit and healthy. 

My goal is no longer to help you lose weight. My goal is now to make you the best you can be to keep us both going. We have so much to do, so many people to meet. We can do this together and show the world when we are knocked down we will always get back up again. Ready to fight another day! 

We are stronger when we work together. Let’s do this!

We’ve got this!

Fitness over fatness!

The guest speaker at yesterday’s session, Judith Staff (O’Toole), said “This is not rocket science.” and she is right. Most of us know the things that Kate Huffman is helping us with but we need to believe in it and stop judging ourselves. It’s not easy and I do this a lot but I am willing to work on it and break free of my ‘monster buddy’ or retrain her to be kind.

What is fatness? 

I Googled it and found this….

When I read this every part of me screamed out “NO!”. Who writes this stuff? Why do they have the right to say that fatness is similar to any of the words below it. Who thought they had the right to say that fatness = large amount of flesh.

I have never read such rubbish! This makes me so angry! What is “excess flesh”? Who makes that decision and why? Why do we have these systems in place that make us judge ourselves? Instead why don’t we replace them with fitness. I would rather know how fit I am over how fat I am. 

What is fitness? 

Yes you guessed it, I Googled that too.

Whilst I don’t agree with all of the words below ‘fitness’ I do agree with the definition. 

Fitness – the condition of being physically fit and healthy “disease and lack of fitness are closely related.”

Success!!! No mention of a relationship between fitness and weight!!!!

BMI (Body Mass Index)

Kate said yesterday “In 1998 overnight because of the insurance company lobbyists a law was passed in the United States to lower the markers of what was “overweight” and what was “obese”. So overnight people who did not change anything who were “normal” woke up the next day and suddenly they were legally “overweight” and people who were “overweight” before were legally “obese”. No medical backing for this change.” 

If this is what our governments can do with or without medical backing then using BMI as an indicator of whether or not someone is overweight or obese is an absolute shambles. Instead why don’t they focus on fitness? 

Somebody could be at what medical professionals or the government consider to be an “ideal” weight but still have serious health problems because of being unfit. Equally somebody could be in the “overweight” or “obese” category and have no serious health problems because they are fit.

We heard a lot about that yesterday and it has made me think. It has also made me angry! I admit I didn’t even consider whether there was a link between BMI and fitness. I have just been thinking of them as one. 

Today I am going to change that! I have a Fitbit which I use for various things, tracking my weight has been one of them. So today I am going to remove that function on the app. My weight doesn’t matter, my fitness and health does!

I have removed the weight and food tracker sections of the app now and left myself with fitness aspects for encouragement.

During lockdown I have kicked myself numerous times for binge eating again and again. I still want to get out of that cycle but I also want to work on my fitness to help with my mental health, my current health issues and to reduce the risk of further health issues. 

My weight is irrelevant! My fitness is key!

Sod the BMI scale and weighing scales (getting rid of mine today). I need to get active. I have spent most of lockdown in my one bed house barely moving and it has led to a reduction in my fitness. The thing holding me back is my ‘monster buddy’, the one which talks me out of doing things, giving me excuses…. It’s raining, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m tired, i’ve just eaten. I even Googled how long I should leave between eating and exercising. This gave me the best excuse ever!!!! If only I could take technology away from my ‘monster buddy’.

So yes, today I feel angry at the government and the way the world has raised us. I know what I need and want to do. All I need now is to talk my ‘monster buddy’ round. She WILL get it and she WILL help me. We WILL get there together!

What gives me the right!

I woke up this morning and found myself looking at the parts of my body that I hate. My legs, hips, bum, belly and face. My ‘monster buddy’ was saying how fat and ugly they are. Then something changed. I started to correct myself and say I’m human. These are my human parts and they are unique to me. Who am I to decide what is ugly and fat in this world. 

Who decides what is ugly?

Deciding whether something is ugly or beautiful is a personal choice. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? So next time you look at yourself and your monster buddy tells you that you are fat, ugly or some other mean thought remember you are human but you are a unique human. 

Kate Huffman took us through a video yesterday which shows women’s body standards over the years. It was enlightening and at the same time surprising. The surprise for me was seeing some ‘normal’ “plus size” shaped bodies. So many of us have this ideal in our minds that we believe has been everybodies ideal throughout time but this is not the case.

Today I went for a walk and took some photos of trees to highlight in a different way that no two of us are the same. We all have our differences just like these trees we are allowed to be different shapes and sizes. This makes us the people we are today. How we look is only a small part of us. Our human bodies store our true selves, our personality, our beliefs, our experiences good and bad. Everything that has happened to us in life has led us to this day. Our human bodies deserve to just be. If we work on our monster buddies we will soon accept our bodies for what they are and feel the freedom to live our lives without judgement. 

No tree is the same, neither are we!

The Body Story Tree

I started to think about Kate’s course from yesterday and the body story tree/flower. Like Kate I have a thing for trees. Ever since I started my journey to find my voice I have become attached to the tree of life and what it means to me. 

The Body Story Tree made me really think. Every part of me is unique! 

I have an identical twin sister. Although we were born as identical twins (developed from the same fertilised egg) we do not look identical any more. My sister has always been thinner than me and has always looked more feminine. This is because we are individuals who have different tastes and live our lives in different ways. 

For so long I have compared myself to my sister because I have seen her body shape and appearance as better than my own. The pressure has been there to look the same because we are twins. People forget that we are individuals.

We have our own shape and size which is unique. We also have our own struggles with our body shapes and sizes. 

Somebody’s size and shape does not mean that they are not struggling with how they look. Our demons are inside us, as Kate says these are our ‘Monster Buddies’.

I’m not going to say that I am fixed now after two sessions but I have learnt a lot. I can now work with that and I know I will pick up more from the next session. 

Here is my body story tree

Finding my Beautiful Destination

That moment when I realised I have been going about things the wrong way. Trying to fix binge eating and my need to drink alcohol to numb feelings instead of focusing on the cause – mental health problems.

This is a moment when I can start to turn my life around!

In the words of Martine McCutcheon “This is my moment.”

Apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their heads 😂. 

The last week or so have been tough. Going from feeling low to not wanting to be here anymore. So much so I wrote ‘Will anybody notice or care‘. I am very lucky to have friends that contacted me, around the time that I published that blog, to see how I was and then guided me through making me feel valued, wanted and most of all loved. Sometimes people can save lives and not even know it. A few words make such a difference.

Recently I was listening to Madeleine Black’s memoir Unbroken and everything changed.  

The therapies that Madeleine had tried and how they affected her really got me thinking. I have only tried therapy with Rape Crisis and a therapist through work. 

Rape Crisis were fantastic and I hope to start therapy with them again once I have moved house.

But there are so many other things I can do to help myself. 

I have tried to stop binge eating and drinking alcohol so that I would feel better about myself. But I was tackling this and my mental health in the wrong way. 

Madeleine said “It was time to turn and face that which I’d been running from for so long.”

When I heard this it made me realise I need to start facing the childhood sexual assaults, rapes, coercive control and sexual assaults in relationships which have cause my mental health problems. Only then will I be able to truly find myself and be free from my demons. 

So today is the first day of my true journey taking on the horrors of my past. Do I expect there to be hurdles along the way – yes, do I think this will happen overnight – no, could this take a long time potentially years – yes.

I do not expect this to be easy BUT 

I WILL beat this,

I WILL find myself and my beautiful destination, 

I WILL live again!

Will anybody notice or care

Have you ever felt like the world would be better off without you and that people would barely notice if you were gone. That’s how I feel today.

I woke up this morning feeling like what’s the point. Then the inevitable thoughts of who would notice me gone or miss me. Obviously family but why – because they love me yeah I guess so, because I would be no longer here to fetch and carry for them hmm or because I am no longer here to be their scapegoat.

Other than family I have a lot of people I know but I just don’t feel like I am worth missing, being noticed as gone or even a worthy friend. 

My life hasn’t been my own, it has been controlled by other people. Now even when I want to do the biggest thing I have ever done for myself by moving home a few hours away from where I live now, I cannot do it but this time I totally understand. Although the government has relaxed their rules and I would be able to move house unfortunately I need to wait because others are self isolating. All I want to do is get away from this place. To start my new life. But is it going to be any different? Am I moving to basically be the same controlled person in a different city.

Do I even care anymore!?! What’s the point???

Today I feel like giving up. Today I am wondering if I will ever find myself and be able to have my life to myself and be able to live it. Would I ever be able to see if someone is controlling me and be able to get away from it. Will my mind, body and soul ever be mine.

Too many people have fucked with my mine, body and soul. I don’t know who I am or if I am even worth being on this or any other planet.

My mind is basically shit and not worth having, my body has been violated by too many people and I am not even sure I have a soul.

Today I am thinking and feeling FUCK IT! What is the actual point? 

I think about taking my own life at times and today is one of those days. I have considered hanging myself. I even know how and what with, I have considered this numerous times. I consider driving as fast as I can into a lamp post. This one has been on my mind since I was 18 years old. 

So this is where I am today. I doubt if this will even be read but I guess I am not even sure if I care.

Day Two: Finding myself beneath food and alcohol!

A working day always makes things a little easier by taking my mind off of things. So for the majority of today I have been absolutely fine and have felt positive. 

There was a challenge to encounter though. I needed to go shopping for my mum. She gave me a list and I stuck to it. I won’t say I wasn’t tempted but I did it. I shopped for food and didn’t buy anything for me to binge on and didn’t buy any alcohol. That in my book is a raving success. 

I did get some bad news when dropping my mum’s shopping off. She had an angina attack at midnight on Friday. Putting aside my frustration that she hadn’t told me before today, I am just glad she is ok. She called the doctor on Monday to let them know. 

Despite the attack, mum being as stubborn as she is still mowed her lawn on Saturday! She’s made of strong stuff that woman. 

So tomorrow is going to be a tough one. I need to go shopping for myself. I will make sure I have a list, I will eat before I go and I will avoid the alcohol aisles. That is going to be my way of shopping for a while. 

The only other thing that is going to get in my way at the moment is my time of the month. Like a lot of women my emotions are all over the place once a month. If I don’t want to eat everything in sight then I am really low and wanting to drink. If I can get past this then I can get past anything.

Nobody finds themselves in alcohol or by binge eating. Neither will I!

Day three bring it on…..

Finding myself beneath the food & alcohol!

For many years I have been binge eating and drinking alcohol to numb the pain and emotions. To have time where I can forget myself and the life around me and just be.

I have been battling depression since I was a teenager. I always thought this was because I needed to accept that I am a lesbian. Yes that was a difficult journey but little did I know that there were a lot of other things lurking inside me.

I started seeing a counsellor when I was 18 years old. This was to help me come to terms with being gay. Unfortunately I had the wrong counsellor who thought she would tell me she thought I was going through a phase…. It’s a long bloody phase. I’m now 43 years old. Nope, i’m still 100% part of the lesbian rainbow crowd.

I was screaming out back then to be heard. I was also referred to a counsellor who specialised in alcohol addiction. I thought it was a waste of time. I didn’t drink that much right!?!

Only now, 25 years later, I can see it for what it was. Alcohol abuse!

Recently my therapy with Rape Crisis came to an end. The therapist was there for me for 18 months allowing me to vent, cry, have panic attacks but most of all help me through what I can safely say has been one of the toughest times of my life. 

When I registered to the waiting list for a Rape Crisis therapist I needed to talk to someone about an incident that had been brought back to the forefront of my mind. The memory of a sexual assault when I was a child. Little did I know that once I unearthed one memory more would come flooding back. 

After all of these years I was remembering being sexually assaulted and raped as a child from 7 years old until I was around 17 years old. 

If that wasn’t enough after talking to my therapist about my previous two relationships it was apparent that I had been sexually assaulted by my partners at the time. I was lucky to escape their controlling behaviours.

I know that not everyone who has been through trauma turns to something like food or alcohol to lose themselves. Unfortunately I did. I feel that I wasn’t strong enough to let the feelings free. I didn’t want to feel them. 

So for a number of years I have been binge eating when I am depressed or low in mood and sometimes when I was angry too. This has not been my only vice, I have also turned to alcohol. 

Alcohol numbs the feelings that I don’t want to feel. Binge eating, usually sweet things, helps me lose myself. I am no longer me when I am drinking or binge eating. I’m escaping my mind and body. 

Today I am fed up with the vicious circle of binge eating then kicking myself for doing it and numbing my feelings with alcohol.

Today I have decided to stop both for as long as I can. I am not going to put a timeframe on this because it could all go wrong tomorrow and I will kick myself again. The main thing is I want to try and I want to write about it so I can show others what it is like for me. 

Are you on a similar journey? What are you giving up? Is it harder during lockdown? Let me know your thoughts.

So here I am at the end of day one. I have not had an alcoholic drink and I have only had something to eat when I am hungry. I feel determined but as people know that can change from one minute to the next. Lets see what happens!

This journey is about finding myself, who I really am. I will be allowing myself to feel instead of burying myself in food and alcohol. It’s not going to be easy but I am willing to try. That’s a good place to start.

Essential Tremor and me

Have you ever held your breath when you try to put a key in a lock, when you put pen to paper because you can’t keep your hand still? Have you ever wished bar staff wouldn’t fill your glass to the top because it will end up on the floor or needed a friend to cut up your food when out for a meal? These are just some of the ways Essential Tremor has impacted me. 

After having a hand tremor for what felt like a lifetime my head started to join the party. This freaked me out! Not because I was worried about my health but because I was worried about how I looked and what people would think of me.

So, feeling a little awkward and embarrassed, I went to my GP to explain what was happening. To my surprise, after a brief examination, she explained that she would like to refer me to a neurologist and did some blood tests. Which proved I am ‘normal’. 

I went to see the neurologist who carried out some tests getting me to do various movements and tested my reflexes. I explained what was happening. Then he said… “you have a Benign Essential Tremor”. 

My immediate thought was ‘ok, wtf is that?’ He explained that it was to do with my brain and can affect hands, arms, head, tongue, neck, legs and feet. 

Brain doctor has confirmed I have a brain…..get in! 

He prescribed me beta-blockers (Propranolol) which help. He explained that it’s a life long condition which will get worse as I get older.  

He also said something I wasn’t expecting… If you don’t have your medication with you and feel you need your tremor to reduce alcohol will help, wine or spirits are best!

Did I just hear that right!?! A doctor just gave me advice to drink alcohol. Result! What a great excuse though ‘medicinal purposes’. 

My first prescription for Propranolol was 5mg as and when I needed it. I now take 80mg once a day every day. Unfortunately that now needs to be reviewed because my tremor is getting worse again. 

Rather than let this stop me doing things I try to find a way to adapt. I carry one drink at a time, I use a trackball mouse when on my PC, I use two hands when I need to for any tasks where normally it might be one. If I am having a particularly bad day I am lucky enough to have friends and family who understand and help me by taking my drink to the table or cutting my food up for me. Thankfully the latter has only happen once in public. 

When I eat out I make a point not to have soup or anything equally as awkward where I could cause a mess. I always go to my food rather than bring my food to my mouth. 

If people don’t like seeing that then that’s their problem not mine. 

But I am lucky, although my tremor is getting worse it is no where near as bad as the tremor that Roger Warburton has. I can only hope mine doesn’t get to that stage.

The tremor is part of me. I have chosen to embrace and adapt to it rather than hide away. I still play golf and have tees which are easier to balance the ball on.

Adapting to changes in our bodies is something most of us do or will need to do in the future. Don’t let ill health hold you back!

Oh and by the way – if you challenge me to a game of this the answer will be a resounding yes! Right after I have had a glass of wine!

Watch Chris Warburton’s footage of his dad, Roger receiving an implant to help his tremor click here.

If you would like more information on Essential Tremor or other types of tremor visit The National Tremor Foundation.

TRIGGER WARNING: How a flashback made me feel.

One weekend not so long ago I was feeling good. I played golf on the Saturday morning and caught up with some friends on Sunday. I made time to blitz my house and even caught up with my emails. Things were going well. Then everything changed!

I was watching a documentary series about a guy on trial for killing his wife. Part of the defence discussions were about emails between the accused and another guy. Up to this point I had no idea what was in the emails. Then the camera focused on the folder containing print outs of the emails. They showed pornographic images of naked men in various sexual positions.

One of the images showed the front of a naked man. As soon as I saw it, I turned the tv off. 

My body went so tense and I was rocking backwards and forwards. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. 

It took me straight back to sexual assaults and rape from my childhood. The shock running through my body was something I had never felt before. How could one image change everything in an instant. 

I couldn’t stop shaking and rocking. I wanted desperately to get the images of what happened to me out of my head. I can now see them much clearer. The one thing that I really don’t understand is that I can feel it happening all over again now. 

How the fuck can that happen. It feels like it’s just happened. I feel so dirty, disgusting and ashamed. Why has this happened to me? What did I do? 

How can one picture change everything for me.

Only recently I was OK. Yes, I was having down days and still working on what has happened to me but now, now is so different. 

I struggle to get out of bed in the morning even when I am wide awake. I am scared to go to sleep in case I have more nightmares. I am now worried about being around some men. I have moved desks at work because I kept getting spooked about men walking behind me. I have more thoughts of taking my own life. TV, books, music, people talking – anything that contains sex I just cannot hear, read or watch. I am afraid when I am walking to my car after work now it is dark. I am afraid to walk to the local shop, less than 5 mins away, when it’s dark. 

What the hell! How can this one image make such a difference. It has changed my life for the worse. I wasn’t expecting to see it. I never wanted to see anything like that again in my life. Now it’s stuck in my mind and I can’t get rid of it. 

It’s plaguing me. Tormenting me. Putting me back in time to the sexual assaults and rape! I CAN FEEL IT HAPPENING ALL OVER AGAIN!!! WTF!!! I feel so physically sick.

I’ve never felt so triggered in my life. I haven’t been the same since I saw that image on TV. It’s only been 10 days but believe me it feels like a lifetime!

I am really not sure how I am going to get passed this. 

So, how does it feel to have a flashback? It feels life changing, devastating, nauseating, frightening, debilitating. 

I hope I never have a flashback again. I wish I could give advice on how to cope but I have no idea myself. 

Please take care everyone. This shit is horrible!