Friday, 28 July 2017

MY weight loss surgery.

My stomach is not made of felt.
|It is now, though, the size of a banana
So I'm 12 days post surgery and much to my annoyance, I'm not yet a size six... this is, quite frankly, a DISGRACE.

But seriously, I am 12 days post surgery and I'm still trying to get my head around the significant change that I chose to make to my life (with assistance from our ever brilliant NHS). I had a sleeve gastrectomy on 16 July. First time having anaesthetic and surgery, and first prolonged stay in hospital since I had meningitis in 1982. I was pretty freaked out by the whole idea of the hospital stay, probably more than the surgery.

I've touched on having weight loss surgery briefly in my blog before. It's something I really hadn't considered before. With my obesity and fertility issues, I was offered the surgery to help with weight loss and then the possible knock on effect from that would be qualifying for IVF.  So I went with it.

It's not as simple as people seem to think, I had to have psychological input before I was approved for the surgery.  And I have a lot of changes to make to my lifestyle.  So I thought I'd write a blog to try to explain a bit about 'my journey' (trust me, I hate that phrase as much as you do, but it's the best way to define it).

This is MY journey, no-one else's.  So to be quite blunt, my opinions are the only ones that matter so therefore:

1. Please don't ask me if I'm hungry, it doesn't help.  I am not a side show circus freak. FYI: ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is produced in the part of the stomach that was removed.

2. In the same way, please don't ask me what I'm eating or if I'm eating.  Quite frankly, that is only the business of me and my dietitian.

3. Keep your expectations of MY weight loss to yourself. I don't want you to tell me that you thought I'd have lost more weight than I have done.  I already have low self esteem so your comments will more than likely hinder my recovery.  

4. Along with physical recovery, I need time for mental recovery too. I have to relearn how to eat (effectively, I'll be relearning how to eat as my friends' baby is learning how to eat, so we can be chow pals).

5. Encouragement is GOOD. If you can encourage me in any way, that would be delightful. If you don't think you can, that's also cool, but I'd ask that you keep your negative comments to yourself please. This can hinder my recovery. 

6. It really isn't 'the easy way out'. As I say, I didn't ask for the surgery, it was offered to me. And I thought long and hard about whether to have it at all. So if you think it's the easy way out, keep that to yourself. Don't tell me eating less and moving more will help me out, I have two underlying health conditions that affect my weight as well as being on antidepressants. So if that's what you want to add to my 'journey', I'd rather you didn't, thanks. I'm well aware people think it's a cheat (including some consultants).  

I am already worrying myself that I haven't lost enough weight in the 12 days since surgery and have already begun branding myself a failure. This is incredibly unhealthy (I am well aware of this) and this way eating disorders lie.  I shall be letting my dietitian and bariatric nurse know how I'm feeling, and they will get me an appointment with the psychologist.   

I have a great support network around me including David, my family and assorted friends and work colleagues.  

So anyway, this blog might be a bit snarky, a bit unfriendly, but I needed to write this because at the moment, I need to concentrate on me and my recovery. If you feel like you need to ask me any of the above, it's probably not going to help me.

Fluffy and over emotional posts will resume soon. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Oh! I hugged Mini T!

Hooray for me!  I have been alive for 38 years.  It was my birthday yesterday, I indulged in pork pie and beer (because it was my birthday).  Hooray for me!

Its Mental Health Awareness Week this week, just a week or so after Piss Morgan (I am aware of that typo) complained that too many men are oversharing and should Man Up.  One twitter user replied saying that their brother tried to Man Up, failed and ended up killing himself due to anxiety and depression; he felt he couldn’t talk about it because it’s not manly to share your feelings.  This is the myth that Piss continues to perpetuate, in this day and age where the biggest killer of young men (under the age of 45).  He seems to think it’s not okay to talk about your feelings, because if you do it makes you less of a man.  He then posed the question "Is James Bond not a real man, then?" on Twitter and the internet laughed at him, because that’s all he’s good for.

Regular readers of this blog will have seen my documented struggles with anxiety, depression, incredibly low self-esteem and suicidal ideation.  These aren’t daily feelings (thankfully), and the suicide thing hasn’t reared its head in a long while.  But from time to time, it hits me.  Yesterday whilst out with David for my birthday, he took a photograph of me holding a pint (because it was my birthday).  This might not seem strange, in fact, it’s almost obligatory that he do this on my birthday.  But I hated the photograph.  I look enormous (which I am), like the size of a fully grown manatee.  He posted it to FB because that’s what he does, and soon the compliments flooded in as well as more birthday greetings.  And my dark half came out and she started her up her old game of telling me how shit I look:

‘They don’t really like you’. 

‘They’re just complimenting you because that’s what you do when someone posts a photo of themselves or their significant other on FB’ 

‘They really want to post up the truth, YOUR truth, Tara, and post ‘Sorry Dave, your wife looks like a manatee with a stupid smile where her top lip disappears so it shows all her stupid teeth’.   

Managed to get to the cinema without too much trouble and then finally enclosed my dark half back in her cupboard.  Then, as we left the cinema, (which is situated next to a gym), two blokes came out of the gym, one looked over at me then whispered something to his mate, then they both looked over and openly laughed at me.  And it was definitely not because I’d told them a hilarious joke (You know what I hate about Russian dolls?  They’re so full of themselves ).  So I was made to feel like utter dogshit on my birthday – fair dos, they didn’t know it was my birthday; they didn’t know I have such a low self-opinion but yeah, they made me feel like utter garbage.  David and James, bless them, tried to help by saying ‘forget about them, they’re idiots’ and ‘They don’t matter’ but that’s exactly how anxiety can get you. It’s true, why SHOULD I care that two blokes I don’t even know openly laughed at me?  Because I do.  Because anxiety and my dark half make me.  And I’m finding it difficult to cope at the moment.  Got another birthday night out planned with the gal pals for Saturday.  I hope my dark half fucks off by then.  

If you’re being affected by low mood, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation or any other kind of worrying thoughts or feelings, please do share your thoughts and feelings with others, whether its friends family or MIND or Samaritans, or even contact me through this blog.  Just please don’t suffer alone.   And writing my feelings helps me out so much.  I find it cathartic, which is why there are so many posts on here about mental health.

FUCK Piss Morgan.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mini T's Mini Meltdown (This is NOT a delicious recipe)

I went to a horror movie convention the other weekend in Birmingham.  It was brilliant, met up with friends and made some new ones, including Michael Myers himself, the actor Tony Moran.  It’s true, we’re FB pals, HE friend requested me. I taught him the word minge.  Fairly proud of that. 
Anyway, I got some photos with some Nightmare on Elm Street stars, Rod Lane from NOES 1 (Jsu Garcia) and Roland Kincaid from NOES 3 (Ken Sagoes) (paid for) and some pals took some snaps of us too.  And then I saw the photos, and I could have wept.  I look utterly horrendous in every single one.  I’m the size of a juvenile elephant, my face looks utterly ridiculous, I have about five chins and that weird top lip disappearing smile that always makes my teeth look more prominent than they are.  This is why I haven’t posted any of the pics up.  Even the ones I’ve paid for.  Even the one of me with Jsu Garcia AND Ken Sagoes (a photo op I’ll never get again) because of how I look.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have major hang ups about my appearance, most noticeably my weight and then my actual physical appearance.  I thought I’d come to terms with the fact that I could look pretty at times, and hell, I even wore a bikini and posted it on the internet…I think that was more the prosecco though than me.  These photos from the horror con kicked off something in my brain which, coupled with a few other things, caused me to have a bit of a meltdown over the last weekend.
Anxiety had kicked me around on Friday and Saturday, culminating in me dropping out of a well overdue night out with my gal pals.  I couldn’t have coped with all the photos, the trying to make myself look presentable enough to be seen out with these women, my best friends, who are all goddesses in their own way.  In my brain, sometimes, I feel I don’t fit in with them.  And it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on.  It’s nothing they’ve ever said or done, it’s purely me and my own stupid brain.  So I ducked out of our night out because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with me ruining every photograph.  And I stayed in, with the cats for company.  Weirdly, as the time passed, and I knew I didn’t have to go out, my anxiety eased off a little.  Just a little though, it’s still here, kicking the crap out of me.
Writing about how I’m feeling is one of my main coping mechanisms.  It’s cathartic.  And I might overshare at times, but I’d rather do that than have all my feelings and emotions bottled up, ready to unexpectedly spill.  Folk call me brave for writing, I’m not.  I’m just sharing experiences I’ve had, that others might have had, so that maybe one other person can read it and know that other people get anxiety and depression. 
I’ve always been an advocate for speaking about my mental health; and I will continue to be.  I’m aware that others feel they can’t speak about it which is sad.  This is a conversation that we need to have, we need it to grow above just a hubbub; it needs to be a loud and angry conversation.  Mental health services are getting slashed by the government (and previous governments).  Mental health charities and other charity helplines are getting inundated with referrals, letters, emails, telephone calls from people suffering because there’s no mental health service near them, or that it’s been so slashed to the bone, they can’t get an appointment.
It’s not shameful to have a mental health issue.  We need to feel comfortable to speak about it.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

How are you?

It’s Time To Talk Day.

You might not know what that is.  It’s a campaign set up by Time To Change in 2014 for people to converse about mental health.  It falls on the first Thursday of February.

Readers of this blog (and possibly of David’s blog FoldsFive) may be aware that I have suffered on and off with my mental health for years, suffering severe depression leading to suicidal tendencies, extreme self-loathing, issues with my general appearance (and no, not that I’m just obese, general actual hatred of myself, my face etc.), feelings of low self-worth, feeling like a failure because I can’t conceive… I could go on. 

My point is this: today, I’m in a brilliant place, mentally.  I may occasionally get the odd wobble at times (but who doesn’t?), the odd dark day but I still manage to get up and out, put a brave face on it.  I’m still on medication, and to be honest, I can’t really see a point when I won’t be.  But I firmly believe that the reason I am now living, rather than just existing is because I shared my problems: I talked, I blogged, I had a CPN, I had a psychologist, I spoke with friends and family. 

It can difficult opening up, I know that; but try and take that first step, you don’t have to speak to someone you know, you could use Mind, Childline, Samaritans or Silverline.  You don’t have to go through it alone.  There will always be someone to listen.  Someone will always have time for you to talk.

Please, just talk.

I love you all.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

This blogette is brought to you by the letters F U and the numbers 2016

Okay, the blog title might be an overreaction but to be honest, it's been a ridiculously weird year for all, I think.  Here is my summary of 2016.

Bad things that happened in 2016:

*  So much death (and not just celebrities: Syria, plane crashes, victims of terrorism, natural disasters...)
*  Brexit and Donald Trump which is giving rise to the far right 
*  Relationship breakdowns 
*  The continuing deterioration of my beloved auntie  
*  Losing the wonderfully bonkers Patricia White

Good things that happened in 2016

* Various engagements, marriages, pregnancies and births not to mention trips at home and overseas and folk moving house (in Duncan’s case, a whole continent away). 

* Negan 

* Amazing gigs with lovely people (a-ha, ELO, Bruce Springsteen, John Carpenter, Jimbob are a few that come to mind)

*  Making new friends

* I've been okayed for bariatric surgery, which means things are forward for me and D becoming parents

* I wore a bikini for the first time since I was about eight and felt fucking fierce (after drinking the best part of a bottle of Prosecco and posting a photo on FB for validity from my chums of course)

* I’ve come to terms with my face.  It is actually okay.  It can look pretty sometimes.  I am okay with that.  It has taken 37 and a half years for me to come to that conclusion

Beware 2017, I'm coming for you (NOT necessarily dressed in a bikini). Screw with me or mine and I'll kick you down some stairs.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

In which I haven't changed the record

So, there we have it.  I have admitted, ONLINE, that I’m going to be having bariatric surgery to stop me being such a massively, grossly, offensively obese monster; and to help with the whole fertility thing.  If I said it, it MUST be true.

I’ve done my research into each type of surgery; gastric band (no), gastric bypass (no) or sleeve gastrectomy (BINGO).  I have been approved for surgery but the waiting game has just started…

To get to the stage where I am now, I have had to lose weight of my own accord to show willing.  I have done this and am continuing to do so.  I have also had to see a psychologist, to make sure I’m not too nuts to have surgery.  The main thing picked up in this session was that I’ll always have hang ups over how I look, and so I will need a follow up session or two post-surgery.

A sleeve gastrectomy is where about 75% of your stomach is removed, so you’re left with a sort of mini banana shaped stomach pouch.  It’s irreversible, it’s safe and it probably seems fairly extreme, but I’m focussed and want this to happen.

Here are some conversations I have with myself on a week to week basis:

“Why don’t you just eat like a normal person, and not a pig?”
Well, yeah, tried that and did really well and became depressed and didn’t care. 

“You’ll never be able to have children whilst you’re the size you are”.
I know this, genius; this is why I’m having the thing.

“You’ll be too old for kids then anyway, you know, you’re 37 now.  You’re over the hill”.
Which is why I need it done ASAP.  We are under the fertility clinic also.  The cut off age for IVF is 39 years and 11 months.  This is why this needs to be done.

“You’ll have loose skin, and look like an even bigger mess”.
Well possibly, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

“It’s just sheer laziness that’s done this.  It’s your own fault.  Why should the taxpayer pay for your greed”?
Because I’m a taxpayer as well and, although my obesity hasn’t caused any major health issues as of yet, it might do later on in life, like heart disease, strokes, cancers etc.  So operate on me now whilst I’m a relatively healthy, youngish specimen, and I’ll save you all cash.  Alcohol and smoking related problems are treated, why can’t food related ones be also?  

I’ve had a life time of jibes about how I look (ginger,glasses, braces, bad skin), about my weight.  I previously mentioned that as a little kid in infant school, I was subjected to bullying for being fat (which I absolutely wasn’t when I was four, five or six) and took it that seriously that I stopped eating my lunches at school in a bid to make me thinner.

I’m a self-hating fatty.  I personally can’t get behind fat acceptance programmes, because I can’t accept myself being as fat as I am (although I have been overweight almost my entire teenage-adult life).  It really does make me miserable, no matter how much to try to put on the jolly fat tart persona, that’s really not who I am at all.  I’m speaking solely from my perspective.  That’s my view of myself.  And as I learned in all my sessions of therapy, if I fire the shots first, then I do the most damage to myself. 

I’ve joked about trying to develop an eating disorder but it being too damned difficult.  How is that acceptable?  Answer:  It isn’t.  I’ve seen what eating disorders can do to people.  But society nowadays is so obsessed with image, aesthetics and being thin, there’s not much hope for the younger generations of kids coming through.  A friend of mine mentioned that her daughter asked her one day whether she had fat legs.  My friend was shocked and asked who’d said that to her.  Her daughter kept quiet.  Let me point out that her daughter was around four years of age.  Another friend of mine advised me that her daughter had developed an eating disorder of sorts.  She was seven. 

This report that was released recently is terrifying reading.  It brought back my own experiences of school, but I really am shocked at how young these feelings about self-image begin.  Mainstream media, magazines, telly shows, FB, celebrities, these are all showing us what’s pretty and what isn’t.  Thinness is pretty, fatness is not.  Smooth, tanned skin is pretty, pale freckly skin with a few imperfections here and there is not. 

I hope things change, because if I am ever lucky enough to have a daughter, I wouldn’t know where to start with this hell hole 'aesthetics is everything' nightmare.


Monday, 4 July 2016

In which I yearn for children. AGAIN.

TW: Infertility

“Come on, Tara, when are you gonna start having kids?”  This was said to me recently on a night out.  I try to laugh it off, most of the time, but this time I sort of blurted it out that things don’t seem to be quite working as they should and so it could be never.  I realise they were just trying to help, but they continued on about their friend who has had IVF and I had to look away, trying to not cry.  A good friend who I was sitting next to grabbed my knee supportively, but it didn’t really help.  People ask it a lot, and then when there’s the pause before answering, there’s an air of uncomfortableness and embarrassment on their part, because they sense that something is up.  Apologies are said and that’s that.  And I always say “Oh, it’s fine.  We’re just, you know, having some issues and tests and that”, trying to say it as upbeat as I can.  Sometimes I can pull it off, sometimes I can’t. 

I always remember thinking that everyone was so worried about unplanned pregnancy that planning a pregnancy that doesn’t happen seemed to get sort of lost.  I always had a worry that I could never fall pregnant, never have a child.  And that is what seems to be happening.  I kind of foresaw this, I guess.  I’m like Mystic Meg only less boss-eyed and fucking mental.

“Oh don’t be silly, it’ll happen”
Well it hasn’t, has it? 

“You could try IVF”         
Do you know the criteria of what is required for IVF? (I’m classed as morbidly obese so I need to sort my weight out first – and I am doing, just not quick enough.  The cut off point for IVF is 39 years and 11 months so I have enough time, but it’s not quick enough for me)

“My mother got pregnant well into her 40s”       
Good for her.  I’d sooner not have to wait that long.

“There’s always adoption”         
There is.  And this has been looked into, fully, but yet again, the fact that I’m a massive great big fat mess means that’s a no-no.  (Not a never, though…)

I know these things are said with care and love, but when you hear them so often, they can grate.

I feel defective.  Women have babies all over the place, all the time.  And I can’t.  I feel like a massive failure due to not being able to do what seemingly nearly every woman can. 

I’ve never admitted this before, but there are times that I feign illness to get out of events where I know there are going to be loads of kids because I feel like I can’t face it.  To my friends reading this, I’m sorry.  It’s me, entirely.  It’s all me.  But I can only do so much, or I can only act along so far before I want to cry.  Obviously this has only happened once or twice but sometimes, just sometimes, I need to be alone and not think about anything kid related.

I’ve touched on this previously in other posts about being broody, I never realised the desire for children was so strong.  It’s such a force; it’s overwhelming and can sometimes become all encompassing. 

David and me sometimes joke about just getting a dog and having done with the idea of babies.  Then we mock argue over what kind of dog (obvs, it’d be a greyhound, he reckons a collie), and that helps.  And we laugh and joke about it together, but sometimes we sit and cry and hold one another about it because it just seems so fucking unfair.

Tests and appointments are being undergone and attended.  I’m on a stupid extreme diet to show I can lose weight so I may be considered for gastric surgery (recommended by a fertility doctor), but everything is taking too long.  I know I have to be patient; hell we’ve waited long enough.  A little longer probably won’t hurt, will it?