Returning with renewed passion - Covid years and derailing

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Rushbrook60
Rushbrook60 Posts: 95 Member
So it's been a long time since I last felt like I had control and I know I'm not alone in this, so let's get talking about it instead of bottling it up.

Between 2016 and 2018, I managed to lose over 8st (100+lbs). I felt great, I was happier with my weight and the way my body performed.

In 2019, I struggled with my job (too much to go into, but basically a form of bullying) and I stopped taking care of myself as much, leading to some, but not much, weight again.

Roll on 2020, and covid hit. Gym closures, food shortages at food stores, restricted outdoor movements permitted...add to that further job issues, leading to changing jobs at a very unstable time for the UK, stress, illness from stress and extreme pressure not to fail. Grandparents needed care which I became heavily involved in, a water leak, repair and redecorate at our home, loss of wages to name a few events and again, my own health went on the back burner. 2 days after starting new job, and just 2 days before Christmas, we then lost my Nan, and this was right on top of covid stopping us from spending time with family at Christmas and New Year.

Come 2021, caring for my Grandad still continued, I was still in the early days of my new job, learning the ropes. Gyms had reopened but with restricted numbers and safety measures in place which not everyone was following, making it feel unsafe to visit. I experienced some further health issues that needed attention, was also helping with funeral arrangements for my Nan (which kept being postponed due to covid), taking responsibility for my Grandads medication and medical records, further leak/damp issues at our home which turned out to be severe and lead to us having to look at moving, lack of assistance from our letting agent, house hunting, moving eventually and taking on the project of improving our new property as it was in bad condition, we then lost my Grandad, finally laid both Grandparents to rest and attended both their funerals, then just before Christmas, I finally crumbled. I passed out, damaged the ligaments in my left knee and right ankle, then just 2 weeks later, ended up in the emergency room with chest pains, and learnt I'd suffered an anxiety attack, which after a mini assessment of my personal situation was deemed as my body giving up!

We are now half way through 2022 and I am still mending myself. I have struggled mentally and physically. I have gained quite a bit of the weight I had lost, but not all of it. 2 weeks ago, I went on holiday for the first time in 2 years and I needed the break from life because I truly felt broken by that point. I have all the skills and knowledge to get myself to where I need to be, but I had no will power or drive. I was making decisions that I didn't want to, but couldn't stop myself...my head would be saying "don't buy that", "don't eat that", "you don't need that", "don't go there" and yet my body would do it regardless. I was in a huge rut and I was so unhappy. The break helped, and I feel a little bit more like myself again and I have a little spark, looking forward to starting to count calories again and begin making progress. Tomorrow I do my first proper food shop since coming home from holiday a couple of days ago and it will be a complete kitchen restock. I feel a little more positive which is not a feeling I've had for a while, especially when I'd been so passionate about my health before.

The moral of the story is to let it out. Don't bottle it up, think you're invincible and can take on anything. Burn out is real (I'll be honest, I didn't think it'd ever happen to me), stress sickness is real, self neglect impacts are real...and when they happen, they hit you hard!

Don't be a me, don't let this happen to you. Let this be the place you can be raw and honest, not judged for what you are feeling, and certainly not compared to anyone else's problems. Something I struggled with was validating that my problems were real problems because someone else is suffering fair worse than I am...but it's all relative, it's relative to your life, your world! Just let it out...

Replies

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,436 Member
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    Congratulations on getting (re-)started, overcoming that feeling of disempowerment by grabbing the reins, taking control, exercising your power to make change in your life. You've given others some good advice here. You can succeed, too - and you know it. Hang in there, go get it!
  • Sinisterbarbie1
    Sinisterbarbie1 Posts: 712 Member
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    I have been in the same place as you, with slightly different but similar stresses and similar results. Congratulations on catching yourself before you fell too far, and for finding a good path forward. How exciting to be starting fresh to continue to build healthy habits. One thing that might help before jumping back into your responsibilities is taking stock of what helped you reset when you were on vacation and deciding whether you can incorporate any parts of that into your home life.
    If you took morning walks on the beach maybe you can plan to take a walk in your neighborhood listening to relaxing music in the morning. If there was a lovely tea or coffee you had while staring off into space doing nothing, buy yourself a special cup and find a spot you like to sit in in the morning, and sit there and meditate/think quietly before touching your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Identify an hour every weekend that is just for you. Go to a farmers market, read a book, listen to music, take a bath, talk to a friend but whatever it is schedule it as an appointment with and for yourself. It is only one hour and you can afford it no matter what is going on. It is riskier not to. Doing these types of small but meaningful practices helps keep me centered enough daily to face my responsibilities and to be better at what I do. If I feel ok about keeping my life in check then my health doesn’t get away from me either. Maybe it would help you too.
  • pootlermse
    pootlermse Posts: 13 Member
    edited July 2022
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    My story is so similar to yours! Mine started a little earlier, when I injured my knee training for my second half marathon. I'd gone from having to take a breather half way up the stairs to running 13 miles without stopping and I was so proud of that. When the injury meant I couldn't run anymore, I think I lost who I was.

    When I'd lost about 7 stone before 2017, I'd really done it by eating in a disordered way. I've a history of eating disorders and disordered eating, but I kidded myself that I was doing it the right way this time. But really, I'd been trying to outrun my binges, and once I couldn't run, it all went downhill, weight wise, pretty fast.

    Then Covid did a number on me, with very similar stresses and issues to the ones you faced. Too many to list here. I got another injury (trapped nerve, absolutely hellish pain). I was overworked. Bizarrely, I got a lot of freelance work in at the same time, two book translations back to back, while on some pretty strong painkillers and somehow managed to do it all and on time, but it cost me dearly. I was worried about everyone, taking care of everyone. And I was horribly worried about catching Covid myself as I'm a bit vulnerable to respiratory infections, and who on earth would take care of everyone if I couldn't? I was having frequent panic attacks, bad enough that ambulances were called, and general anxiety the rest of the time. But I did the same as you, trivialising my stress and problems because there was surely always someone else who was having a harder time of it than me. And anyway, I found that if I even started telling people how rough it was, it would all come tumbling out and it was really too much for most people to handle, so I just kept it in.

    Then during Covid, after waiting for over a year, I reached the top of the waiting list for my local eating distress service. I took a year and a half to work on my relationship with food. In counselling, I explored where my issues with food came from and how they were affecting me now. I learned everything I could about intuitive eating, although I eventually decided that it wasn't for me. I just couldn't do it. But I knew that to get better, I would have to accept that I might never diet again. That I might always be overweight. That meant deleting my MFP account, cancelling my gym membership (wasn't too sad about that one!), ditching all my rules about eating and exercise, and learning to eat everything without fear or guilt.

    Overall, since that injury stopped me running to 'earn' my binges and forbidden foods, I've regained about 25 of the 45 kilos I'd lost. But the last 10 or so have, in a way, been worth it because what I've learned by eating all the things has pretty much put an end to my bingeing.

    After those two book translations, the work dried up, I was struggling to make ends meet, and I got a job as an in-home carer. But the pay ended up working out at less than minimum wage which made it not worth the amount of my life it took up. So, I quit a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a national cost-of-living crisis, with no idea how I'm going to support myself and my son properly except for using the money I've saved up for a house deposit. This is obviously a bit bonkers. Getting another, better job is made harder for me because my lovely son has special needs, and I'm on call all day even when I'm not with them. They've had to drop out of college because they just couldn't cope, though, so I'm with them most of the time for now. So I can't do full time hours or anywhere near that. And the lack of job prospects that creates is, obviously, scary. But the impending mental and physical consequences of doing the care work for much longer was actually scarier.

    And anyway, I can see now that I've had some proper time off with no obligations other than to look after my son that I desperately needed a break! But it was still hard to switch off. I spent a day or two feeling lost and restless. Then I spent two full days in the back garden lying in a hammock listening to podcasts and audio books. I stared into space. I nursed cups of coffee as I read the newspaper – the articles now, not just the headlines. I did crossword puzzles. I did nothing. And sometimes I did one of the jobs I've been putting off for two years like cleaning a kitchen cupboard or organising the folders on my PC.

    And now, finally, I feel safe enough to count calories again. Only less fanatically. With a much smaller deficit and much more flexibility. And better food choices that are all about feeling satisfied and well fed and happy rather than losing weight fast or punishing myself for overeating or under-exercising.

    And as for exercise, I went back to the gym last week. Hated it as much as ever. Decided I never needed to go back again. For now, I'm spending the £30 a month on things I actually like instead, which makes me MUCH happier. I exercise in a way that I enjoy instead of in a way that makes it feel like just another daily job to tick off the to-do list. I set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day, and I do it consistently. (Only missed one day when I got my new fixed rate offer from my energy company and the panic attack it caused so bad I was utterly useless for 36 hours!). I run a little bit when my brain and body feel up to it, a kilometre here and there while I'm getting my steps in. I swim occasionally and slowly. And that's it. For now.

    Doing it this way means that it's probably going to take me three times as long to get to a weight I feel happy at (which will be at least 5 kilos more than the bony weight I got down to last time). And that's okay with me. It has to be. Because it actually feels good. Not in a diet-high, frantic, fanatical way. In a happy, contented, treating myself and my body kindly sort of way. It took a pandemic to show me, finally, that I needed to take care of myself and my body.

    I've no idea what's next, if I'll find a job, if I'll ever make it to a size 14 again, if I'll have any savings left, if my son will be okay... but hanging about here and not worrying about it too much for a bit... It all feels very much unlike me and very much... okay. :-)

  • Rushbrook60
    Rushbrook60 Posts: 95 Member
    Options
    I have been in the same place as you, with slightly different but similar stresses and similar results. Congratulations on catching yourself before you fell too far, and for finding a good path forward. How exciting to be starting fresh to continue to build healthy habits. One thing that might help before jumping back into your responsibilities is taking stock of what helped you reset when you were on vacation and deciding whether you can incorporate any parts of that into your home life.
    If you took morning walks on the beach maybe you can plan to take a walk in your neighborhood listening to relaxing music in the morning. If there was a lovely tea or coffee you had while staring off into space doing nothing, buy yourself a special cup and find a spot you like to sit in in the morning, and sit there and meditate/think quietly before touching your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Identify an hour every weekend that is just for you. Go to a farmers market, read a book, listen to music, take a bath, talk to a friend but whatever it is schedule it as an appointment with and for yourself. It is only one hour and you can afford it no matter what is going on. It is riskier not to. Doing these types of small but meaningful practices helps keep me centered enough daily to face my responsibilities and to be better at what I do. If I feel ok about keeping my life in check then my health doesn’t get away from me either. Maybe it would help you too.

    I love this advice. Thank you, I will definitely look at making an appointment with myself x
  • Rushbrook60
    Rushbrook60 Posts: 95 Member
    Options
    pootlermse wrote: »
    My story is so similar to yours! Mine started a little earlier, when I injured my knee training for my second half marathon. I'd gone from having to take a breather half way up the stairs to running 13 miles without stopping and I was so proud of that. When the injury meant I couldn't run anymore, I think I lost who I was.

    When I'd lost about 7 stone before 2017, I'd really done it by eating in a disordered way. I've a history of eating disorders and disordered eating, but I kidded myself that I was doing it the right way this time. But really, I'd been trying to outrun my binges, and once I couldn't run, it all went downhill, weight wise, pretty fast.

    Then Covid did a number on me, with very similar stresses and issues to the ones you faced. Too many to list here. I got another injury (trapped nerve, absolutely hellish pain). I was overworked. Bizarrely, I got a lot of freelance work in at the same time, two book translations back to back, while on some pretty strong painkillers and somehow managed to do it all and on time, but it cost me dearly. I was worried about everyone, taking care of everyone. And I was horribly worried about catching Covid myself as I'm a bit vulnerable to respiratory infections, and who on earth would take care of everyone if I couldn't? I was having frequent panic attacks, bad enough that ambulances were called, and general anxiety the rest of the time. But I did the same as you, trivialising my stress and problems because there was surely always someone else who was having a harder time of it than me. And anyway, I found that if I even started telling people how rough it was, it would all come tumbling out and it was really too much for most people to handle, so I just kept it in.

    Then during Covid, after waiting for over a year, I reached the top of the waiting list for my local eating distress service. I took a year and a half to work on my relationship with food. In counselling, I explored where my issues with food came from and how they were affecting me now. I learned everything I could about intuitive eating, although I eventually decided that it wasn't for me. I just couldn't do it. But I knew that to get better, I would have to accept that I might never diet again. That I might always be overweight. That meant deleting my MFP account, cancelling my gym membership (wasn't too sad about that one!), ditching all my rules about eating and exercise, and learning to eat everything without fear or guilt.

    Overall, since that injury stopped me running to 'earn' my binges and forbidden foods, I've regained about 25 of the 45 kilos I'd lost. But the last 10 or so have, in a way, been worth it because what I've learned by eating all the things has pretty much put an end to my bingeing.

    After those two book translations, the work dried up, I was struggling to make ends meet, and I got a job as an in-home carer. But the pay ended up working out at less than minimum wage which made it not worth the amount of my life it took up. So, I quit a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a national cost-of-living crisis, with no idea how I'm going to support myself and my son properly except for using the money I've saved up for a house deposit. This is obviously a bit bonkers. Getting another, better job is made harder for me because my lovely son has special needs, and I'm on call all day even when I'm not with them. They've had to drop out of college because they just couldn't cope, though, so I'm with them most of the time for now. So I can't do full time hours or anywhere near that. And the lack of job prospects that creates is, obviously, scary. But the impending mental and physical consequences of doing the care work for much longer was actually scarier.

    And anyway, I can see now that I've had some proper time off with no obligations other than to look after my son that I desperately needed a break! But it was still hard to switch off. I spent a day or two feeling lost and restless. Then I spent two full days in the back garden lying in a hammock listening to podcasts and audio books. I stared into space. I nursed cups of coffee as I read the newspaper – the articles now, not just the headlines. I did crossword puzzles. I did nothing. And sometimes I did one of the jobs I've been putting off for two years like cleaning a kitchen cupboard or organising the folders on my PC.

    And now, finally, I feel safe enough to count calories again. Only less fanatically. With a much smaller deficit and much more flexibility. And better food choices that are all about feeling satisfied and well fed and happy rather than losing weight fast or punishing myself for overeating or under-exercising.

    And as for exercise, I went back to the gym last week. Hated it as much as ever. Decided I never needed to go back again. For now, I'm spending the £30 a month on things I actually like instead, which makes me MUCH happier. I exercise in a way that I enjoy instead of in a way that makes it feel like just another daily job to tick off the to-do list. I set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day, and I do it consistently. (Only missed one day when I got my new fixed rate offer from my energy company and the panic attack it caused so bad I was utterly useless for 36 hours!). I run a little bit when my brain and body feel up to it, a kilometre here and there while I'm getting my steps in. I swim occasionally and slowly. And that's it. For now.

    Doing it this way means that it's probably going to take me three times as long to get to a weight I feel happy at (which will be at least 5 kilos more than the bony weight I got down to last time). And that's okay with me. It has to be. Because it actually feels good. Not in a diet-high, frantic, fanatical way. In a happy, contented, treating myself and my body kindly sort of way. It took a pandemic to show me, finally, that I needed to take care of myself and my body.

    I've no idea what's next, if I'll find a job, if I'll ever make it to a size 14 again, if I'll have any savings left, if my son will be okay... but hanging about here and not worrying about it too much for a bit... It all feels very much unlike me and very much... okay. :-)

    Wow, that sounds like so much to contend with. I wish you all the best of luck with your job hunting and your own injury recovery and personal/self care x