I really hate being hungry.
For those who know me through this blog, you may have seen me write about my issues with food before, and for those who know me in person … well, you’ve seen it firsthand.
Since I was young I’ve had an unstable relationship with food. I find it difficult to even cook in front of people. Eating in front of friends and family is a piece of cake (pardon the pun). But strangers, work colleagues and even my housemates? That’s where it gets harder.
If I had to pick one moment in my childhood that ruined me in the healthy eating side of things, I know what I would choose. That one defining moment that, like a bad dream, has never faded from my memory. Though the specifics may be gone I can still feel the shame of it. It clings like a bad smell.
I was eight years old, getting ready for school and it was time for breakfast. My older sister had recently become obsessed with Weetabix, so my mum had bought a load and decided to try me out on it. I didn’t like the texture, the little oaty bits floating in the milk in my mouth seemed like the worst combination you could invent for a morning meal. So, obviously, I said I didn’t like it and was about to go on my way. I was happy enough to last until break time when I could spend 20p on a warm bread roll from the Tuck Shop. I didn’t see the harm in turning it down.
That is, until my mum poured it over my head. I don’t know if she was in a bad mood prior to this, or if it was me who had sent her over the edge. All I remember of that moment was her anger, and my head covered in Weetabix. Thick, gloopy wheat slid through my hair. Honestly it resembled something more akin to baby sick than edible food, part of the problem when I tried to eat it. But I hadn’t eaten it, and so there I sat at the breakfast table, pink nightie and slippers still on, coated in my own food.
And then she made me go to school.
I really don’t like to think about this. It makes me feel like a horrible person, making my mum out to be some cruel bitch who treated me like shit. She didn’t, she just wanted to prove a point. She just wanted me to eat my breakfast and be quiet about it, but she never intended to cause me any harm. It did, but that’s beside the point. I forgive her … forgave her a long time ago. That doesn’t stop it hurting when I look back though, especially when I see the correlation between the way I felt then, and the way I feel every time I try and eat now.
So off I went to school; eight years old, pink nightie on, Weetabix now congealing in my hair. I was sent off to class like nothing had happened, but obviously it didn’t take long for people to notice. I was late as it was. I entered my classroom and all of my peers, one by one, turned and looked at me.
I was mortified.
I don’t remember much of the aftermath of that day, just the voice of my headteacher as she washed my hair as best as she could, and dressed me into my uniform behind a sheet she’d found in the fort in the corner of the room. I have never forgotten it: the feeling of being utterly humiliated.
I think that’s why I struggle so much now.
Almost every time I think about eating food, I feel like I don’t deserve it. I tell myself I don’t need it, that I can manage without. When I’m eating I’m not enjoying it; I’m wondering who is watching me, what they’re thinking, are they judging me? I’m covering my mouth so no-one can see me chew. Sometimes I’m screaming at myself for being a fat cunt who only ever seems to shove food down her throat and then is too much of a pussy to puke it back up again after. Because yes, I tried that. But I’ve puked too much in my lifetime through travel sickness to pull the proverbial trigger.
The bigger problem shows itself however when you look at the direct correlation between my eating, or lack thereof, and my mood. If I don’t eat enough in the day, my mood takes a severe dive. It’s why I get myself into so much trouble when I don’t eat at work. Sometimes it can be a simple thing of there being too many people in the room at once, sometimes it can be a case of being in a bad mood before lunch begins which transfers into an absolute lack of desire to force food into my system. It means some days I wake up at 05:30 and don’t eat until late afternoon or evening, where some days I eat at 12, maybe 13:00 at the latest and won’t eat again that day. And if I let it happen more than once, it spirals to more than once a week, then creeps up to more than half of the time. It’s unbearable. Sometimes lunch break is pure torture.
I am also infamous in my team at work for not accepting food from people. Bare in mind there are around 12-13 of us, including my manager who adores baking of all kinds, and on top of this a senior team who want to make us feel better about losing our jobs by throwing us all pasty days and the occasional lunch buffet. Any time food is offered around the desks, it gets to me and people will either skip me entirely, or offer out of mere politeness. In the case of the latter, I have lost count of the amount of comments – not hurtful I should add, that’s important – saying “don’t bother, she won’t accept it”. Whilst this is true, I almost always will turn down an offer of food, of chewing gum even, it is also true that it hurts that I can’t accept it. Maybe it’s habit, maybe it’s fear. Personally I think it’s both. That’s why I’m trying to break that habit and hoping with it so too will the fear dissipate until I can just … eat.
I know of a local place, or more I know of a local website, that offer courses, classes and in-person counselling sessions for eating disorders. I don’t know if what I have is a “disorder”, but I think they can help me. I am thinking of contacting them. I’ve had this for years. For 14 of my 22 years I have lived with this. It is crippling. Do you know how many panic attacks I’ve suppressed in restaurants trying to have a nice meal with my family? How many hours I’ve spent crying because I’m so hungry but thinking of food is too excruciating to remember how to breathe? At its worst I can go into total shut down just trying to pick up my fork. And all the while the voice in my head is verbally battering me with cries of “pick it up, you twat” and “just fucking do it” and “it’s only food; what’s wrong with you?”
I’m trying to make sure I eat lunch every day. So what if there are four people in there? There are more than four chairs, and I need to eat too. I have also discovered there is one person at work who can get me to accept food. Mostly I feel guilty for not accepting because he asks so nicely, but I think it has a lot to do with trust as well. Trust in him that he won’t pressure me into taking it, just encourage. But perhaps trust in myself that nothing bad will happen if I take it. Public eating is still hard, but it’s a start. I still can’t comfortably sit in a restaurant and eat a meal, only time and practice will help that.
I want to get better. I’m sick of it. Food has held this power of me since before I hit double-digits and it’s time to stop. Time to kick the unwanted house-guest from the bedroom of my brain.
I want to be free.
That’s right people, crack out the party poppers and punch bowls, because this little blogger just got herself a boyfriend.
I’m too excited to care about the details, but approximately two months ago I began speaking to a wonderful chap who went by the name of Bambi. Regulars at The Hell Butterfly should remember him. He was the one that challenged my writing skills, made me think harder about what I wrote and form opinions on things I’d never thought about before. He was the one that made me feel comfortable talking about so many things that I felt I couldn’t talk about with anyone else. He was the one that I may have actually passed unknowingly at London Film and Comic Con this year, the both of us having attended the Saturday convention.
He is the one who introduced me to The Voodoo Lounge bar and took me to see my first firework show in several years. He is the one I cuddled as we laughed at the small children and admired the rare red moon over The Hoe. He is the one I introduced to my Dad the evening that Plymouth won their game against Exeter. He was the one I had my first kiss with.
He is the one I just closed my Plenty of Fish account because of.
He is also the one who just helped me move into my new house. He is the one who just spent all weekend with me, rather than meeting his own friends. He is the one who just made the approval of my mum and younger sister. He is the one who stayed at my new house two nights in a row, and made me a cup of tea in the morning. He is the one who cooked us the best pasta bake I’ve ever tasted.
Bambi is the one I just became official with.
Bambi is my boyfriend. I am Bambi’s girlfriend.
It feels surreal saying it, but hell I’m going to keep saying it because it feels damn good to be able to do so without it being a lie. I am in a relationship. It took me a few years longer than some of my friends, longer than some of my family, but while I may already be 21, the reward of waiting for the right person to come along has paid off. Could I have seen myself allowing R, or T, or J, or M24 to sleep in the same bed as myself all weekend? Could I have seen myself waking up to see R, or T, or J, or M24 laying next to me as I woke up? Could I have seen myself being cooked for by R, or T, or J, or M24? Honestly, not really. I’m sitting here as I type this picturing those scenarios, and none of them fit right. Some feel awkward, some too fake, too stereotypical. Then I picture the weekend I just had with Bambi.
That fits. Bambi fits.
Now, I don’t want this to seem like I’m suddenly head over heels, and I’m going to try and control myself so as I don’t cause any problems by getting ahead of myself, but the fact I haven’t stopped smiling since my Facebook status first read “Bambi is now in a relationship with Megan” is proof enough that this is something I want. And more importantly, that it’s something I want to do right. No rushing, no assumptions, just honesty, trust and patience.
It’s going to take hard work, but aren’t the best things in life worth working hard for?
If you had told me two years ago to the day that I would be sitting here typing this to 130 readers while talking to an incredibly sweet guy I would have stared blankly at you and raised an eyebrow. That is because, almost exactly two years ago, I had plans – serious plans – to kill myself. But I am here, and my life is actually quite fantastic.
August 2012: The last two months have been spent convinced I had failed my A-Levels. There was no way I was going to get into university, I told myself. And of course if – I’m sorry, when – I didn’t get into university I wouldn’t get a good job and wouldn’t have a career and wouldn’t have even a slightly decent quality of life. It was all downhill from my final exam in June as far as I was concerned. I hadn’t felt a single emotion in months. Since the exams began in May I had been an empty shell, existing, drifting. Three months of this had gotten me to a point where I didn’t care about anything. I could no longer be happy, couldn’t even laugh at a joke. I could no longer get angry at anything. Not even mildly passionate about the subjects dearest to my heart. I hadn’t cried in months and simply, I just didn’t care. I couldn’t feel. It was scary. I was scared of myself, what I had become. But the scariest thing of all, was that no-one noticed.
I had decided. When results day came along and I didn’t get the grades or the university acceptance, I would get my things together. My family had all been on holiday in Croatia at the time, but I had elected to stay behind. I was home alone for the next week, but still had our German Shephard, Heidi, to look after. I would never abandon her while the family were away. I was emotionless, not heartless. So come results day I would organise: write a makeshift will; give my parents my bank details; arrange my funeral preferences and guest list; allocate my belongings; write letters to my friends and family; stock take (I would be crushing boxes of pills into a glass and washing it down with whatever alcohol I could stomach). It was all planned. Then, once I had everything together, I would sit tight until my family got home. I would see them one last time, say goodnight to them, to my dog, to my life. I was going to go downstairs that night, sit on the kitchen floor, and toast eternity.
Then I got in.
“Congratulations, you have achieved the necessary grades and have been accepted at Plymouth University beginning September 2012.”
I don’t know if that’s exactly what it said, but the point is I got in, and I was terrified. For every other final year college student finishing their exams they had been preparing for this moment for months. They had been packing, planning, anticipating. I had done none of that, and suddenly I would be moving across the country in 3 weeks. After the initial shock came the blinding panic. I text my best friend at the time to tell her I was in but I was freaking out, and she didn’t help. I had to deal with it by myself.
And somehow, I did.
I didn’t write my will. I didn’t write letters to my family. I didn’t hoard pills and booze. Somehow, and I don’t know quite how, I pulled my shit together and made it to university three weeks later.
Obviously I have had my ups and my downs – though, to amend the Robin Hood lyrics, “sometimes ups, outnumbered the downs, but not in Megan’s head” – throughout the last two years, including an ever-growing self harm habit, more tears than droplets in the Great Flood and a number of suicidal contemplations. But nothing has compared to the dull ache of emptiness I had during those three months.
Tonight, while discussing the success of my autistic cousin, my mood dipped to a significant low. In the last two years my cousin has joined respite care to learn independent living, done a money management course to better his knowledge of finances, joined a catering course to gain experience in the workplace and a qualification. What did I, an able-bodied 21 year old flake, have to show for the last two years?
The fact he keeps pushing forward is the best way to get the better of a bully. If you let a bully hold you back then they win. And from what I can see from the time we have known each other, you keep moving forward. You’re about to go into your 3rd year of uni, compared to where you were 3 years prior I would say that’s moving forward. You’re doing your best to step out and experience new things. You are doing well.
Upon speaking of my cousin and his success, this is what Bambi said to me. I don’t know if he realises yet, and I’m certain he didn’t at the time, how amazing it felt to hear him say that. Three years ago I lost all my friends as they left for uni and I was depressed, cutting, and failing everything. Two years ago I was nigh on friendless, emotionless, and perfectly ready to kill myself. Last year I was contemplating dropping out of university and shitting myself about moving into a house of strangers. This year I am mildly nervous about moving into a house of strangers. This year I am contemplating staying at university, and working out how to be successful at it. This year I am ready to feel, to live, to breathe. This year I have Bambi.
Ask me again if, two years ago, I thought that I would be sitting here now telling all of you that the simple kind words of an incredibly sweet guy had allowed me to see, for the first time in my life, that I have come a long way .. I would still be staring you blank in the face and raising an eyebrow. But I am. I am here. I am here.
Today was the first time I had ever been able to look back on that moment two years ago, almost to the day, where I was ready to die, and smile. Smile because I survived. Smile because it got better. Smile because I was my own bully, and I won. All this time I have said it was my acceptance into uni that stopped me from killing myself, but really it was me. I stopped myself. I made the conscious – or maybe subconscious – decision not to swallow a tumbler of pills and shnapps.
I saved myself.
And now, two years, almost to the day, later, I am here and I am alive.
And I am happy.
God it feels great to say that. It is so strange, as I don’t remember the last time I could legitimately say “I am happy with my life”. But for once I think it’s true. I am happy with my life. I’ve always known I had a good life, I had all the tools and all the potential to make something good out of it, but the one thing I lacked to make it work was motivation. It was too easy being depressed. It was too easy being in pain. I think to an extent I was in love with it. It was simple, familiar. Sitting, slumped, in a dark room staring at the wall while sombre music played out in minor key in my headphones. It was a safe zone. It had been my home for years. The place I returned to at the end of every night after a hard day.
But now ..
Now I think I finally have the motivation to make something happen. I have the support, the will, the drive. I’m scared, that’s not changed, but to quote a good friend of mine, I am “nervcited”. It’s terrifying but I am excited about the possibilities and the potential. I could make something good out of the pieces I have been given, and today is the first time I have ever seen the light in my word of black.
I am here.
It would have been around the two year anniversary of my death today.
I am happy.
I had forgotten what it was like to feel, but I broke down that wall and now I am free. Free to feel. Free to be human.
I can make it.
This is just a quick post to advertise The Hell Butterfly’s new sister website, Stop The Silent Killer. In light of recent events I felt it was about time I set this up. I’ve been considering it for a while but it’s finally up.
It is a platform for you to share your stories about mental illness. To tell the world about your struggles, and how you solved them. To share your pain, to help others through their own.
It is a safe zone, somewhere for us to help each other through the pain of mental illness, and to get the word out to the world about the truth behind the mask.
Let’s not stay silent about it any longer.
Please visit the link and share it. It has only just been set up and could do with a little boost to get it off the ground.
Regular Hell butterfly broadcasting will commence shortly.
Crack out the party poppers people. It’s time to celebrate.
The Hell Butterfly family has breached triple figures! Today I received the notification that Jigokucho now has 102 followers.
Let this be the start of something great. I am so grateful to every one of you. Thanks to you, my voice is being heard. I don’t know whether any of you care about what I say or what happens in my life, but you’ve given me a platform to say it anyway. So a big big thankyou to you all.
Let’s keep growing the family and spreading the love. Or, well, the words. The Hell Butterfly is meant as my message to you all. Let’s keep passing those messages on.
Here’s to the next chapter in the life of Jigokucho.
You guys are amazing. Keep that up and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not beautiful. Haters make you famous, so don’t let them hold you back. Every one of you has done something amazing for me, so the least I can do for you all is let you know how much I appreciate it.
Stay beautiful and write on, folks.
Every day she tried.
The fountain was old. Very old. In fact, her grandmother had told of the times she had come here as a child herself. It was not your average fountain, not in design and not in beauty. This one was an awesome sight to behold. Made entirely of marble, the base of this behemoth was square, lipped at the top with an intricate series of carvings below, along the sides. She had been coming here every day for the last 431 days and was yet to memorise it. There was just too much to take in, something new to see each time. The water in this square always seemed so pure. It was brilliantly clear, yet tinged with a dazzling azure that set off the pale ashen hue of the marble. And in the water one could see all the coins that had been thrown in, one for each wish made by someone somewhere in the world.
In the centre of this large square was a second tier, this one circular. Out of the cylindrical structure, hands reached out, almost inviting the viewer in. Some held their palms up, letting the water trickle between their fingers. Others held their cupped hands tilted, allowing the water to slide from their palms into the pool below. These were secretly her favourite part of the whole fountain. The arms, hands, fingers, were sculpted with such detail, such delicacy that they seemed almost real. As she was once again admiring them, a small child on the opposite corner of the fountain was reaching for one. He held a coin in his hand. She knew what he was trying to do, but his arms weren’t long enough. A man behind him took him in his outstretched arms and held him up. She smiled as she watched the child place the coin into the upturned palm of an imploring marble hand. She had lost count of the number of people who did this, but she never failed to smile at the spectacle.
She turned her attention now to the statue crowning the fountain. This was what brought the crowds: they came for him, and came back for the fountain as a whole. The man atop the structure, looking proudly, protectively, down on the people, was a soldier. When her grandmother had visited, the soldier had been different: he had been dressed in the uniform of the First World War. Her statue was dressed differently. That was the one thing that had changed. The fountain had always been a tribute to the soldiers of war, but as the warriors had changed, so had the hero that stood strong and powerful at the top. Her hero looked as though he had just come home from Afghanistan; the helmet sat back on his head; the boots tight to his feet; the gun cradled in his arms, ready to defend those in need. His eyes seemed almost to shine with a gaze that told you it would be okay, his smile said he was home and happy, yet he never lost the pride of the armed forces. He seemed relieved to be off the battlefield, but did not forget that he was the protector, defender of his country.
She had brought a one pound coin with her every day. Today was the 432nd coin she would toss into the water. One friend had told her it was stupid. She shouldn’t put that amount of money to such a hopeless cause as wishful thinking. She had almost slapped that friend, but instead explained why she did: the money was unimportant to her, it was the gesture that gave her hope. Each day a veteran of the war would come and collect each coin, place them in a bucket, and leave. The next day he would return first thing in the morning and make a public announcement: “yesterday we raised X amount for Help the Heroes”. Each penny went to them, and the people of the town, even the thugs and ruffians, respected the cause enough to leave every piece of it in the water. Today would bring her donation total to £432, but it was the gesture of throwing the coin into the water, or placing it in the upturned hand, as she made her wish that gave her hope that it would come true.
She looked into the eyes of the soldier above her, smiled, and threw the coin. As it danced in the air, the sun glinted off and momentarily blinded her. She was still staring at the statue when she realised something: she had heard no splash. The statue seemed to smirk at her, like he knew something she didn’t. She looked down. An outstretched fist was held in the air before her. The arm was clad in thick camouflage material. The fist turned, unclenched, and there in the open palm was her coin, the arm in startling resemblance to those of the fountain. Her eyes travelled up the arm, but instead of marble, she found flesh. She found a face. She found the face. The face she had prayed for: the face of her husband. He was wearing his uniform, complete with helmet tipped back on his head, and boots tight to his feet. His eyes seemed almost to shine with a gaze that told you it would be okay, his smile said he was home and happy, yet he never lost the pride of the armed forces.
He took a pound coin from his pocket and added it to the one in his palm. He then held his hand above the water and dropped them both in.
“That makes 433, right?”
She nodded, gobsmacked. Her eyes clouded up. Her wish had come true. He was alive. He was safe. He was home. The grin that spread across his face at her reaction brought her back to reality. They embraced, she cried, he cried. She couldn’t wait to shove this in her friend’s face: sometimes wishful thinking is worth it. Her eyes were drawn to those of the soldier atop the fountain and in her mind she thanked him for bringing her husband home. He had protected her until her man had returned to her. She could finally go home with her very own hero. And as she left, the marble soldier appeared pleased, and he turned his attention to the next person who needed him.
This post comes courtesy of today’s Daily Prompt.
All the best to the military, great respect for our people out there. Unfortunately this fountain is merely a figment of my imagination, but let’s pretend this link is our very own Help for Heroes fountain.
- THE WOMAN WHO CANNOT COOK | She Writes
- This I Wish: | Musings | WANGSGARD
- Bitten by the Love Bug!! [Wish Come True] | She Writes
- Last wish | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
- “Take a breath, count to three, throw it in” | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
- Pensive | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
- Daily Prompt & For The Love And Sea Shells | The Jittery Goat
- Spring is late as we | y
- tossing a coin | Love your dog
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Sabethville
- Three Coins in the Fountain: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
- Wishing | Kate Murray
- Shooting Star | the intrinsickness
- ever so often i | y
- Rejected by the Trevi Fountain | wisskko’s blog
- Wishes of a Dreamer | jsleflore
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain #postaday | Of Glass & Paper
- Fountains | Writing and Works
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | genieve celada photography
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
- Wishing on a Fallen Penny | snapshotsofawanderingheart
- Coins In A Fountain | Awake & Dreaming
- Fontana di Trevi | Life is great
- My 27 Cents Worth ::E.N.Howie’s Motivational Moments
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Basically Beyond Basic
- Me, aged about ten, “I wish I could fly”… | thoughtsofrkh
- Tossing pennies over the left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain and staving off nosebleeds « psychologistmimi
- I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
- Among the Whispers
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain | Burning Imagination
‘Wishful Thinking’ – A Short Story | jigokucho
- Daily Prompt: Three Coins in the Fountain « Mama Bear Musings
- Coins in the Fountain | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
Hit. Red peg number three please.
The game of Battleships with M24 has progressed, and the latest hit was unexpectedly beautiful.
Originally I had decided that the third hit would be his asking me on an official date. He did bring this up the other day by asking if I’d fancy going on a date or meeting up, but no day was ever settled. I chose to wait till he set a day and time to strike. But something happened last night which made this potential, weak, strike a powerful head-on impact. M24 just took a well-deserved third red peg, and it was in no way how I had expected.
Since speaking to M24 my mood has been very much up. But two weeks of up was bound to send me crashing down as soon as the bad stuff began to creep in again. I don’t deal well with stress, and this latest essay was trying to push me off a proverbial cliff.
Remember that metaphorical freight train I said was hurtling towards me? Last night saw it collide head-on with my vital organs. Imagine it in slow motion. The last three days were like the impact of the train hitting me. Three days ago it made contact with my chest and the pain began to spread. Two days ago my ribcage shattered and breathing became difficult, but I was still standing. Yesterday my organs were pummeled and I was dying inside. I had a breakdown last night that tore me apart. I could not stop crying, as every time I did I would have a few seconds reprieve and then the pain would return and the tears would flow.
I thought of quitting university. I actually opened a new email and started to type up a drop-out letter to my tutor. I couldn’t do it. I closed the program and carried on having a meltdown. The one message I did manage to send was to M24. I have been dreading this for a while now, but after the intense pain I was in I knew it had to be now that I told him. I sent him a message telling him about my 5 year history of severe depression. I told him about how unstable my moods were. And I told him I didn’t want to drag him into my shit. He is far too nice to be brought down with me and I told him he deserved better than that. I also gave him the chance to walk away from me if he wanted.
He didn’t take it.
His reply, and the next few after this, were some of the most touching words I could ever have hoped for. He was so understanding and said he would never think any differently of me for it. He even said he hoped he hadn’t done anything to upset me accidentally. He was worried that he had upset me. He told me he appreciated that I could tell him and that he actually liked me better for doing so. I won’t copy his exact words because I’m selfish and it was so beautiful I don’t want to share it. But he was incredibly understanding and took it better than I had let myself believe he would. I was terrified that I would drive him away, and obviously this didn’t help the meltdown I was having, but the way he handled it was so amazing it actually stabilised my mood and allowed me to finish my essay.
Strike three – red peg.
M24, you just earned yourself a whopping third hit.