Life sneaks up on you. And sometimes you sneak up on you too.
This is the story of my last ten days, not my greatest ten days.
Last Thursday week, I was leaving work when I got a WhatsApp from one of my colleagues. It simply said “Pints. Come.”
I knew where the pints were being had. I didn’t need any more information. I went and there were pints and friends from work and it was lovely.
I didn’t plan on staying long.
Five hours and many ciders later, having been shushed by the barman for rowdily singing Cher’s Believe and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive together at the top of our cider-soaked voices (I have found the right kind of London friends), I was in a Tube home.
I was very drunk. But my other job was waiting. I had 33,000 words to proofread by the following morning at 7:00 am. My main job pays my ridiculously high London rent. My proofreading job pays for everything else in my life. And a 33,000-word job was too big and too profitable to not get right. It was after midnight when I got home and I knew I had to sober up and spend at least two hours on this job.
I’d been so so good for weeks. But my drunken brain didn’t see another option. I ordered the Credit Crunch special from my local pizzeria. £10.99 for a box of wedges, an 8-inch garlic bread pizza, a 16-inch meat lover’s pizza and a litre and a half of Diet Coke.
The meal did the trick, sobering me up sufficiently to get the job done.
I fell asleep at 3:00 am, with a belly full of cider and pizza and wedges.
I was awake at 7:00 and I didn’t want to be alive.
How did I survive the next day at work? I ate my way through the day. It was OK if I binged today, I reasoned. The next day would be Saturday. I could sleep, recover and reset.
But the bingeing didn’t stop. I was all in. I woke on Saturday with so many good intentions. Fun things to do. Worthy things to do. Go to the cinema. Clean the flat. Get back into my book. Record a YouTube video. Go shopping.
I couldn’t face it. My Saturday went like this: I got up. I dragged myself to a shop, bought enough to food to feed a regiment and ate until I was too sick to stay up. I went back to bed and spent the rest of the day fitfully sleeping off the binge, telling myself Sunday would be better.
Bingeing has something in common with smoking. I remember when I was a smoker (seven years smoke free today!) I couldn’t sleep if I knew I didn’t have any more cigarettes. I’d go to a shop and buy a box of fags and that would be all I’d need. I wouldn’t actually need to smoke one. I’d just need to know that I had cigarettes in the house. Then I could sleep. A binge is the same. I don’t quit on my day while I’m bingeing. It’s the moment I decide to phone for the takeaway, or decide to go to the shop that I breathe a sigh of relief. Phew. I won’t have to face life today. I can just eat until I can’t stand up and then go back to bed, even if it’s just 2:00 pm.
This has been my pattern for years.
I thought I’d broken it. Four weeks into my diet and it was going fine. Not fast, but fine. But the binge has lasted more or less ten days now. Days at work are better, but not the evenings. And I visited friends and went to a show in lovely Newcastle last week and that snapped me out of my binge for a while too, though I was still a bit groggy most of my time there. But the rest of the time has been bad.
I think I’ve gained back most of the weight I’d lost. Possibly more than I’d lost.
And my weight is driving me mad. The constant and severe pain in my hips and ankles is just intolerable. I’m getting less able to move. After work today, when I was on my way home, I was so tired that I sat on a bench on the platform of Stockwell station while over twenty-five trains passed by, all of them going my direction. I was just too tired to get on any of them. I was there so long that two different Transport for London staff members approached me to see if I was OK.
I’ve kept myself going with five or six bottles of Coke Zero a day. I’m still doing both of my jobs. And doing them well. But life is getting harder.
So I’m starting again. Round 2 has begun. I know I can do this. I haven’t made all the appointments I’d promised to make with the doctor and the hypnotist and whatever else I could. I’m making those appointments. I’m calorie counting again. I’m walking again. I’m going to win.
And if I don’t win, what have I got to lose?
About sixteen stone.