Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Sharing my numbers and other tales

I'm 5' 10" and I weigh 240 pounds.

That's the first time I've ever written that down.

I've been thinking a lot about how the numbers in my life affect me. Particularly how I feel when the different numbers fluctuate. I lost 20 pounds or so over the past 18 months after being treated for PCOS, Diabetes Type II and Insulin Resistance with Metformin. A common effect of the drug is to lose some weight. For some people is can be a considerable weight loss, for others a small one. But it is taking a lot of emotional processing for me to come to terms with my body changing outwith my control.

The temptation to diet, to go down the path of disordered eating (I'm Bulimic), to lose more weight EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT WON'T WORK, is huge especially in the face of all the comments and praise from friends and family. Having to reiterate that I'm NOT dieting, that I'm not even sure I find the weight loss a positive, is so tiring.

I've found telling my friends and family my numbers (52 - 44 - 50, 240 pounds, 17 stone 2 pounds, 109 kilos, UK 22, US 18/20) produces much awkwardness. Many people just don't believe me. I'm can't count the number of friends who say 'you're not that fat!', that I 'carry it well' * and that I'm 'big boned' **.

I'm FAT. I became fat when I was about 10, after having Precocious Puberty, starting my periods at age 7, developing PCOS and a mood disorder. Becoming Bulimic at the same time and starting a whole series of stupid diets didn't help either. I've always had a fat adult body and I believe I'll always have a fat body. What's more I'm learning to accept that.

I'm learning every day about Size Acceptance and HAES, about eating well because I like it, not being afraid of being hungry and satiating myself, not making food into 'good' and 'bad' categories, to face the fear that I'll consume the world if I 'let go' my control and learning to enjoy food again, without it having a moral connotation.

Unfortunately I'm not making as much headway with the exercise and moving my body side of HAES. I have a lot of internal abdominal scarring after having a c-section which became infected with MRSA. At the same time as the infection I dislocated my Sacroiliac joint, the joint between the pelvis and spinal column. I spent the first two years of my sons life in pain, sleeping on the living room floor and taking a ton of painkillers. I still have pain from both of them today.

I'm also Dyspraxia, which combined with the tiredness and dizziness from my mood stabilisers (Seroquel/Quetiapine) also causes me to find movement generally difficult. My school experiences of exercise was appalling, as I wasn't diagnosed with Dyspraxia until I was 20. I couldn't then and still can't:
  • catch a ball
  • ride a bike
  • swim
  • cross roads alone
  • jog without falling over
  • use a treadmill
  • use a cross trainer
  • use a rowing machine
  • climb a rope
  • walk in a straight line without falling over
  • dance
  • do yoga poses
My lack of success in any sporting field, combined with the vicious and widespread bulling from pupils and staff alike would explain why I've become conditioned to react to anything resembling exercise or sport with anxiety and sickness.

I used to walk for miles and miles before I had the MRSA infection. I don't trust my body to move without pain anymore though. It hurts to sit up, to stand, to walk for more than a half a mile. I want to be able to dance, to feel my body move with ease, to run without it hurting. I don't think I can though.

The only advice I've ever had about all of this from a medical perspective is, of course, to lose weight. Since moving my body IS THE FUCKING PROBLEM, and I have disordered eating coming out of the wazoo it seems a little.. counter productive to suggest that I exercise and diet to lose weight.

I bought £160 worth of recumbent exercise bike three months ago. It's still in its box, ostensibly because we need to tidy up and wash the great big pile of washing that's in the middle of the bedroom so it's got somewhere to live. I say to myself, to hurt me, that the reason I haven't sorted this out is that I'm essential lazy. A small lost voice inside keeps trying to tell me it's actually because I'm scared of being in pain from exercise and I believe I don't deserve to feel good.

I reread what I've written and it just sounds like I'm making excuse after excuse not to try, not to put the effort in. Part of learning to be kind to myself is having to learn that I have limits that I have to live within. My body can't do everything that other people can do. It's sad but ultimately it's a fact of life that I can't change. Same as I can't do much to change my numbers either. I can just come to terms with them and do all I can within their confines.

* What does that even mean?? I carry my fat separately in a Prada bag, instead of a plastic shopping bag?? What??

** I actually am technically. My skeleton is approximately 40% heavier and denser than is average for my frame and height. Go figure.

Thursday, 28 June 2007


With my first blog post I thought I'd introduce myself and my crafts. I'm 28, living in Edinburgh in the UK with my 8 year old son and my partner Grim. Grim is my sons step dad. My other two partners, Nicolas and Andrew, live together a couple of miles away. We're one big extended family. Grim, my son and I have lived here for nearly 4 years now, but I was born and bred in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

I grew up in a family where all the women could knit, sew, crochet and embroider. Every female relative, on both sides, crafted in their spare time. I was lucky enough to have that knowledge and resource to fall back on as a child and teenager, although I was unable to take full advantage of it at the time, as I was struggling with several undiagnosed learning disorders.

I have a condition known as Dyspraxia which is "an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement" which leads to problems with language, perception, thought and the classic 'clumsiness'. I only found out I was Dyspraxic when I was 20, after spending my younger life struggling in school and in trying to learn new skills. I also have SAD linked with Bipolar. I get depressed in the winter and I have mixed states and rapid cycling Mania and Depressive episodes in the spring and summer.

These conditions both limit and inspire me. It's unlikely I'll ever be able to work for someone else, but the mania makes me very creative in short bursts. My Dyspraxia makes learning new skills a huge challenge, with practice of over 6 hours a day for several months necessary. But the satisfaction I get from knowing I can do things, make beautiful objects and garments, makes every small victory over my limitations even sweeter.

I started out in my craft career making clothes for my Barbie dolls. One week when I was 11 I was off school, ill and bored. My mum was (and is) in the habit of buying old craft books from the local library. She had bought a book of doll's clothes patterns for Barbie and Sindy, published in 1972. I still have it. I spent that week, and many more after it, tracing off patterns and making clothes for my dolls. My first attempts were terrible, but I persevered though my teenage years (having an excuse to hang on to my dolls) until I decided I wanted to make clothes for myself.

I was a Teenage Goth. Being a UK size 18 at age 13 made buying any clothes that I wanted to wear a challenge. Goth clothes at that time were only available in sizes for the thinnest of girls. I wanted flowing velvet dresses, drainpipe jeans, frilly white poet shirts and that epitome of Gothic clothing, The Corset. My quest for The Corset became a (so far) life long obsession.

I was lucky enough to become the Saturday girl for a one woman business in the village where I lived when I was 13. She specialised in weddings and alterations, as well as selling haberdashery and fabrics. I ended up spending most of my spare time making wedding dresses and evening wear, as well as ripping out zips from jeans and learning to sew them back in. I did that until I left home at 16.

I made some appalling mistakes, broke many needles and wore some awful outfits, but I learnt so much about pattern cutting and construction through my teens. I also started making beaded jewellery, working cross stitch and different types of embroidery, make candles and use essential oils to massage and make toiletries. My parents indulged my hobbies, and I had a happy time making a big creative mess.

I taught myself to knit and crochet 3 years ago. Again the sheer amount of time and effort it has taken to learn the basic skills has been discouraging, but now I can knit! I can crochet! I can make yarn based shinies! This makes me very happy. I belong to Edinburgh's Stitch and Bitch (every Wednesday night at Chai Teahouse from 7pm onwards. Details here, blog here) . I've made some great friends and learnt an awful lot from all the other members.

I've carried on making corsets and clothing. I've made custom items for different clients over the years, but I'm on a semi permanent hiatus now. It causes me so much stress to make things to a dead line that it's just not worth in. Now I make things to sell on my etsy(but get too scared to photograph them and get them online), write patterns to sell on my blog (but worry they aren't good enough to post) and learn new techniques and craft skills (but worry that I'm too obsessive and anal) I also worry a lot. It keeps me occupied..

I'm hoping to post random ideas and writing, some of my craft projects and links I find around the web. Pretty much like any other blog then really!