One of the difficult things about this project is constantly being on camera. Every day, no matter how rough I feel I put on a smile, well sometimes, strike a pose and with a little bit of make up and a lot of low lighting, try to look pretty. Lately though I have been suffering from the body blues and though I long to slip into arse skimming slimming trousers and shirts my never ending pile of dresses beckon and the camera calls to record my every insecurity.
I want to be happy with my figure I really do but I honestly can’t remember when I was last able to look into the mirror and be pleased with what came back at me. The difficult thing is that its my own fault, the tablets I am taking threaten weight gain and unless I start getting into some serious cardio I am going to continue to struggle to combat the effects.
I know I am not alone in this problem, anti-depressants and bipolar medication is renowned for causing weight gain and an increase in appetite and it is a pain. For me it felt all the more frustrating when I started to gain the weight as whenever I am going through a manic phase my metabolism peaks and I burn through food like fire licks through fuel.
Though it is vein and self centred, part of the reason I protested to going on the quetiapine in the first place was because I was afraid of putting on weight. I have been trying to force myself to move more quickly in the morning so I can have more time at toning up but as another side effect which I am still struggling with is sleepiness so far I have managed just a few snatched sit ups and a run of squats whilst brushing my teeth.
What cheered me up a little when I got home this evening is knowing I am not the only one. My mysterious dress donor wrote again and quite considerately to my current condition sent size 12 dresses with a little more room to hide away in. In the letter she admitted she too is currently struggling with her size and the temptations of left over Easter eggs.
It is always nice to know that one is not alone and the letter cheered me up enough to keep the hip hugging dress on till the photos were done. Inspired my letter writing friend I make a decision to stop being such a lazy bum and start moving more and snacking less on the tempting pastry puffs sold downstairs at the delicatessen.
Just because it cheered me up, and in the hope it will make you smile I have included the third letter from my mystery sender. For a change I thought I’d give it you unedited without my take on the translation. It came again tucked into a shoe box with three other dresses. Perhaps she is a shoe box collector or a fan of footwear? The puzzle continues.
Hulow ugayn Eeleenor
Howes yew bin keepeeng? Ay howp yoos wel nd lyf bin treedeeng yew goot. Iym owkay. Feal betr wen weder ees varm.
Jewst senteeng yoo unodder feew dreseengs unt beltses. Howpes dem fited yew.
Iyam feree oops set at de mowment bekaos Ayhv pooted on sum wayt. Bin eeteeng Eestr egses unt siteeng om baksyd eensted ov dooeeng fingses.
Mast stp dees ut wuns – nortee roomn dat Ay am.
- Today’s dress is another from my mystery sender. It is beautiful linen and button downed with a cute little collar. I wore it to work with a long sleeved black top and red heart shaped belt but by the time I got to Manchester I was feeling a bit constricted and lost the belt and extra bulk of the top. The tights are a gift from my mother who picked them up from one of the Loros charity shops. They were still in their sleeve and though they look like they come from the 80s tights are tights. My mother and I often find really decent tights in charity stores which have never been opened. Its a good place to look and often you can find silk stockings for a bit of a fifties feminine treat for your feet.
Come this Saturday me and the boy will have been going out four years. In spite of me having a fair few up and downs and in all honesty a couple of quite serious breakdowns during this time, I think the reason we have come the distance; aside from the fact that he has the patience of a saint and we still quite fancy one another; is because we have always right from the start applied the basic vows of marriage to our relationship. Now, I’m not one to say that marriage is essential to make a relationship work; I have plenty of friends who have got along quite nicely thank-you very much without ever feeling any urgent need to put a ring on it; but nevertheless I think that relationships work best when you apply principles such as “in sickness and in health”, “for richer for poorer”, and unless you have a really very cool/ liberal lover, “forsaking all others”.
When myself and the boy first met I was flat broke and though I was not looking for anything serious as tends to be the case we accidentally went and fell in love. At the time I was spending all my spare pennies on cigarettes and alcohol and because he was a sweetie and probably because he didn’t want to see me lose my rather curvaceous figure he kept feeding me fry ups and insisting on cooking me dinner. I remember one day when I was about to set off for home he slipped me a tenner to go and buy food. Ten minutes, 20 Marlborough mediums and a bottle of red later I came to the conclusion that yes 12p chicken noodles were a suitable source of nutrition.
Although he was the provider at the start of our relationship by the time I graduated I was making a tidy enough package so that if he was skint we could dip into my privy purse to pay for cinema outings, bottles of wine, nights on the tiles and steak.
The boy graduated two years after me, not because I am seeing a toy boy you understand but because he was rather more keen in being the drummer in every Mancunian band around the way than getting all academic. It was because he was still a student that when our one year anniversary came round, I ended up treating us to a holiday to Rome and when we were too lazy to cook it was me who paid for us to eat out in West Didsbury, Manchester’s one stop haven of heavenly cuisine.
When I lost my job though, both times, it was the boy who helped me pick up the pieces, kept me financially afloat when I was too proud to go to the job centre and who even helped me search through the rubbish to find a new role.
Although most of our relationship has been spent just below the poverty line we have always found ways to entertain ourselves; games of Scrabble where JB, Onions lead singer always wins; games of monopoly where I always win; tea and music; my ever more elaborate attempts at dinner parties for ten even when we have no table; gigs; walks in the woods; running (failed after one attempt when he smoked throughout whilst I had a series of small heart failings) tennis, technically not necessarily legally sound movies and more gigs. Although we loved it when I was making a tidy package money never brings happiness and as Neil Sedaka’s wife says to him in Laughter In The Rain, “Sometimes I miss the cold days.” Struggling together is terribly romantic and there’s nothing quite like playing cards through the night with nothing to fuel you but a pot of decaf tea.
The other issue is of course the sickness and the health. Luckily the boy is fine and dandy other than the occasional sulk and the dreaded man flu, according to the boy he has single handedly fought off swine flu and is a pillar of strength in the face of modern medicine most of which he views as being in some way linked to a conspiracy of making us weak. Maybe because of this, when we first met I waited till June to come clean with him about my crazy. I didn’t want to scare him away and if I’m honest I thought I had completely recovered, love does wonderful things for your brain and your body; eating becomes a chore and your entire mind turns to mush. if you don’t watch out you end up boring all of your friends to sleep by talking about how fabulous your lover is. Luckily however, by the time me and the boy got together I was a cynic about love and when he etched the words “I love you” on my back I told him to, “Get a grip”.
When I told him about my poorly head it was because I had decided to come off the anti-depressants I’d been taking for two years. Buoyed up by love and the wonderful newness of it all I didn’t think I needed them. With his approval and no advice from any medical practitioner I came off the drugs. Within a month I crashed so hard and so fast that some days I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I felt so ugly and frustrated with what I saw. I put on weight and because getting out of bed was so hard I would sleep for hours and rather than looking for work I would watch West Wing episodes convinced there was no point trying because I was useless. In the end I had to move home so I could survive. The boy did try to support me but he was still a student and one part-time job shared between two people equals not a lot left to live on.
With the help of some friends in the know, my family and the boy I managed to pick myself back up but it wasn’t easy. Every time I go down hill it is always the boy who has been there over these last few years who is there straight away to drag me back up again. Every time I get poorly he’s there to wipe away my tears, calm me and convince me that the world is a good place and that things will get better.
On one poorly head occasion when we somehow found ourselves at A and E after a particularly bad reaction to Sertraline, (the name still gives me the shudders), we came face to face with a psychiatrist who had obviously decided he was not a fan of women. After deciding, from looking at me rather than my notes you understand, that I was anorexic with father issues he banned the boy from hugging me, told me there was nothing wrong with me and then finished by telling me I should just go ahead and give up then and live in a mental health ward. Thankfully both the boy and the psychiatrists assistant realised I was just extremely anxious in a very scary place and needed to get some sleep and the boy got me the hell away from him before had a chance to lock me up and throw away the key.
I have never forgotten what he did that day and acknowledge that what ever happens with us in the future, without him being by my side that day I could still to this day be living in a closed ward, misdiagnosed and miserable overseen by the most tyrannical mentally unstable medical professional I have ever come across.
We never signed any contract when we got together but both of us always find a way to work it out, scream it out or just forgive regardless. I like to think that its because he like me knows that whatever our problems with us when its good it’s so very good, though at times we can of course both be wicked.
Four years ago I went on a Valentines date with a boy named Chris, he was sweet, good-looking, tall and had a great body. I had met him just a couple of weeks before when a friend of mine who worked at student direct, Laura Wales had called me up short of someone to take part in the paper’s blind date. At the time I had a little argument with the giant and as a result had been cut off and so the idea of food and more importantly wine was appealing whoever else might be there. I remember thinking it might be nice if my date didn’t show up so I could have more food, but he did and we had a good night. My housemates took the mick as less than a month later the pizzeria where we had eaten had burnt down, according to them it was due to our firey passion for one another. As the original date had gone well and as I was under strict instructions from my wiser slightly older housemate to play it cool I found myself on february 14 at a noodle bar with said Chris. It was a nice date and there was even a kiss but no coffee and I remember wondering if there was enough of a spark.
Today I went on a Valentines date with the boy, or Chris. He has a great body; he still works out after all these years and being a drummer for Onions means in spite of his sweet tooth he keeps on the trimmer side of cuddly. He has the kind of shoulders and arms you want your man to have and is tall enough so I can get away with wearing up to six-inch heels and still have to stand on my tippy-toes to kiss him. He is kind and sweet and this morning, once he stirs he brings me a cup of tea and a dozen red roses.
I have to swallow down my annoyance because I notice they are from Marks and Spencer and I know they cost him far too much. I am annoyed because I would have been happy without roses, happy for us to use the money for a meal or a cinema date but secretly I feel the wonderful smug feeling you only get when a man you love gives you a great big over-the-top gesture that he loves you back. Still sweet after all these years he has also got me a Valentines card with a ticket to see Midlake this Wednesday within. I am surprised even though I knew he was planning to take me to a gig for weeks (his friends have no tact and kept letting slip at which point I had to sing loudly and walk out the room as though nothing had happened) I have managed to convince myself that we were off to see The Wild Beasts, I prefer Midlake.
Unfortunately although I had planned to treat him to a wet shave and massage at the boy beauty parlour; something he would never book himself but which I know he would love; I finally got round to summoning up the courage to check on my overdraft the other day and the results were not good. In spite of me being unemployed HSBC are charging me an unseemly amount for being overdrawn and unless I get paid work soon I have no way of paying it off; because of this although I get him a card and make him cups of tea I offer to sort through his wardrobe as a gift and iron him ten shirts as a way of showing my love, and though it is not terribly romantic I pair his socks up for him because I know he hates doing it.
Our good friends are about and the boys join me to watch the football in the afternoon after the boy has had a practice; he needs to tap or the tension builds in his shoulders and he gets crotchety ; one of them is sulking as although I know his girl got him a very nice present for his birthday the day before she has not had time to get him a valentines present. As I have a dozen roses and need none, I call her quietly from the room and give her a rose to give to him. It’s nice to share the love but in the photos the boy takes later on I have to be careful to conceal the missing bloom. Thankfully the dress is remarkably busty and so his eyes are happily distracted. The dress today is on loan from the very lady, the musical theatre legend that is Anna Clayton. I believe it is from Primark and I must admit that I struggle to button myself into it as she has a much slimmer figure than me, one of the benefits of being a dancer.
After we have taken the photos I don my faux fur hat and we head out to Abode, Micheal Cain’s Michelin star dining experience. I have eaten here twice before, once with a friend on my birthday when me and the boy were having troubles and once with the boy for my birthday when we had patched things up. Both times I have loved the place. We always eat in the upstairs area as the downstairs just feels a little too formal and the tables are too big and so I feel we lose a little bit of the intimacy when we struggle to reach each other over the condiments. We are booked in for six and happily they are out of the chicken so instead they have quail, which is delicious. After Marks and Spencer irritated me the other day I rang around trying to find a reasonable deal and happily came upon Abode who had only added £5 to their usual offer of four courses for two people with one bottle of wine. It is usually £25, the same price as the M & S deal but as we didn’t have to wash up or cook it we did not mind the extra charge.
As we sit snuggled up together in the bar area after finishing our meal, sipping the last of the wine, I am so glad I met the boy before falling into something that wasn’t quite it with the Valentine’s day Chris. A week after the Valentine’s date which lacked the sparkle I bumped into The boy, The Chris, and from then on there was only him, my boy, my Chris, my Valentine.
Today has been a bleak day. I have tried to pull myself out of it but right from this morning I have struggled to lift my mood and having a back log of reviews to write has not exactly helped. Some days I think I am invincible and really do genuinely believe I am capable of doing anything and indeed everything I want to but other days like today I just can’t wit till I can crawl into bed and shut my eyes to join the darkness which has unsettled me all through the day. I read a dreadful article today, by a mental health care practitioner of all people about how we choose to be happy. What I found most frightening is someone in his place believes that people with a mental illness are merely somehow choosing not to get better which as most people know who have either experienced mental illness or who has had close contact with a person who has a mental disorder knows this is utter tosh and irresponsible to say the least. One of the things I have found when I try to force myself out of a depressive state is that I usually end up having an episode which often comes extremely close to a break-down. Thankfully it has been months since I have experienced such an episode, but it is hard to forget the utter despair and loneliness you feel when in one. If someone insults one’s intelligence by suggesting one has chosen a state of mind such as this, often the result is an extremely dangerous desire to duck out and end it all due to one feeling tragically misunderstood.
As I said though, today has been a bleak day thus why I have at least tried to brighten this post with floral images and mostly I am sad to say forced smiles. Since Tuesday I have had my dosage of mood stabiliser increased and to be honest it broke my heart a little when I found out the plan was to do so all along providing I had no drastic side effects from the tablets. the ideal dose is 300mg apparently this is the dosage at which the drug acts as a mood stabiliser to stop any dramatic highs or lows as well as having anti-depressant properties. Of course if it works it will be wonderful; highs as I have said before can be wonderful but can also be quite difficult to handle both for myself and my loved ones. The problem as the title suggests is the side effects; not you understand the extreme ones these tablets could cause such as jaundice, a long-lasting and painful erection, a rash, fits or difficulty in breathing; but the side effects which are deemed to be acceptable given the eventual positive attributes of the drug.
I know they are trivial given what the drug could result in but I must admit I was quite happy with just the anti-depressant and having to take two types of tablet makes me feel like a drug addict without the confidence or alleged cool factor. These side effects are mainly weight gain, sleepiness and a lack of a certain drive of which I shall not mention, but those who have been on antidepressants will know what I mean. There are certain s-words which I don’t feel are appropriate topics and a lot of you I hope would agree. This then leaves us with the other two offending troubles – I hate feeling sleepy and I hate putting weight on, I really do. For someone who usually rises around seven naturally and who has beans enough for three not waking till ten and still feeling as though I am sleep walking for an hour after is extremely depressing; the opposite effect of what the silly things are meant to do. I am having to drink coffee like I usually do water and still at night I am falling straight to sleep barely a few minutes after I’ve swallowed the stabiliser. It’s rubbish because I love chatting in bed to the boy about our day and this is something which we are missing out on at the moment and it’s not as though we can chat in the morning instead as he gets grumpy if there is too much chatter from me before midday by when he is wide awake. I hate it and its making me irritable and as sensitive as a stick of magnesium.
The other issue I have is the weight gain; they warn you that you are likely to put on weight in the first weeks of the treatment, they don’t tell you how much but based on the last time I took tablets with a sedative effect left unchecked it could easily be as much as 2/3 of a stone. It’s not that I mind being curvy, I am happy to have reasonably sized breasts and a bit of a bottom as it just makes things look better. What I can not stand though is putting weight on round my middle; I like my tummy being reasonably flat and toned and do all I can to make sure it stays so. I do squats whilst brushing my teeth and washing my hair and pull my tummy in when I’m walking. If all else fails and start to get a bit jiggly I do some exercise; cut back on sweets and cheese; limit my alcohol intake and even do the odd sit up (at least until the boy tells me I’m doing them wrong at which point I sulk and suggests he do some himself).
Unfortunately as shallow as it is my misery is added to today both by the post and the fact that when I look in the mirror I have a bit of what can only describe as a bit of a bakery, rolls. It upsets me because I like to feel confident, I like the boy to still feel attracted to me after four years and I like my clothes to fit nicely. Also for less shallow reasons I enjoy being fit and healthy as it means I can dance till 4am, beat the boy on the odd occasion at play fighting and run for the bus, the train or the plane when I need to. I know it’s a trivial problem, I know there is a lot more issues in the world than my waist-line but today it is making me blue and when I take off my dress, which is Kookai from the stock-x-change in Market Harborough, brought for fancy dress nearly nine years ago, I am delighted to dive under the covers and pull on some pyjamas.