I was supposed to go to Stockholm this weekend. In a flurry of determination to make life better the week after my dad died, I had registered for the Stockholm marathon this weekend and booked Ryanair tickets.

Even though I decided in February not to do the marathon, I still planned to go and have a nice little weekend break in Stockholm.

But I decided not to go in the end. I was tired and broken and had just had stress levels go up after a visit home and I needed to get my life together and I didn’t need to spend money I didn’t have on Swedish hotels and meatballs.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as tired as I’d been in the last week or so. I needed to stop and regroup and actually try to make things better.

Lots of things have been going on, but let’s focus on weight. I’ve got very heavy again, not quite to my maximum ever, but to what feels like my maximum. I’m the kind of size where putting on one sock in the morning is just such a mammoth task and takes my breath away that I sit there on my bed, looking at my second sock and trying not to cry at the thought of having to get that on too. I’m the kind of weight where I wake up in the middle of the night with pains all over because my joints just can’t bear the pressure my weight puts on them. And the hot weather just makes everything harder. I’m one of those fat people now who pants for no reason. Like I’m just sitting down and I haven’t exerted myself at all, and I can hear myself panting. My body needs a change.

And I hadn’t managed to stop the bingeing.

So instead of going to Stockholm, I had four days to work on me.

And the number one thing I did was to go to a hypnotist. I’d bought a hypnotherapy session on Groupon months ago and it was soon to run out. I slept and ate most of Thursday and I made my appointment with the hypnotist for Friday morning.

Of course I was late. I scrambled around trying to get out of the house on time but a bus just wouldn’t get me there on time and I ended up getting an Uber for the price of a hotel room in Stockholm. I wasn’t going to waste this long weekend and not do anything to help myself. I had to get to the hypnotist!

The hypnotist was a Groupon hypnotist so my expectations were low. And I wasn’t going to some swanky city centre office. I was going to his home, an ordinary-looking semi-detached house in the suburbs of South London.

He greeted me kindly and brought me into his office, which had a slightly funny smell. As soon as I sat down, the chair began to give under my weight and it started rolling backwards. I quickly anchored myself by holding onto the desk, spreading my weight carefully. (Thin people will never know what it is to as afraid of chairs and their potential to suddenly break as I am.)

Anyway, he was a very nice middle-aged man. But I guess I’m middle-aged. Sigh. Let’s say he was about fifty. He seemed kind. While I filled in the form about my medical history, he asked me about my broadband provider as he was having problems with Virgin Media.

Then the counselling started. He was nice, but of course it’s always difficult with a new person to say “ta-dah! — here is a list of all my issues!” I told him stuff related to eating and food and weight because that’s what I wanted to work on. I couldn’t tell him I was gay. I still work from the assumption that any man older than me is homophobic. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. And so later in the session, when he started talking about a future where I get a girlfriend, I just smiled and nodded.

He started asking about childhood memories and we did some exercises where I closed my eyes and he led me through relaxation exercises as he had me visualising good and bad childhood and teenage memories. It was surprisingly effective.

I didn’t think it would work at all. He had a relatively heavy Indian-English accent, so when he said my name and the names of the people and places I was visualising, they didn’t sound at all like anyone would have said them in my childhood so that jolted me out of it, as well as the fact that he kept mixing up my memories and so a story I told him about something that happened in the kitchen was transported to the garden when he described the memory and asked me to visualise it. But I kept the faith, I visualised the memories. I felt the feelings. And after a few of these exercises, it was definitely true that the painful memories were less painful.

I had renewed faith in his methods as I opened my eyes and we talked some more. That said, I did have moments of doubt. He told me that I should lose weight slowly so I wouldn’t have a loose skin problem. LOL. I could lose the weight over five years and there would still be loose skin. No one who hasn’t lost over a hundred pounds should ever give weight loss advice.

When I told him I had a PhD, he looked physically shocked. He said, “you are more qualified than me!” He seemed to take my problems less seriously after that. That should have annoyed me. But it didn’t. I think his attitude was something along the lines of “well this guy can achieve difficult things so he doesn’t really need all that much help” and it kind of persuaded me that that should be my attitude too.

Anyway, after this chat, it was time for me to get hypnotised.

I moved into a reclining leather seat and he had me lie back. It was very comfy and it was the first time I really felt like this was actually hypnosis, although the noise of his washing machine spinning next door did keep me tied to the reality of the situation too.

We started with some simple relaxation and more visualisation. Again, as he spoke, he kept getting the details of my life slightly wrong, but it didn’t matter. At one stage, he made my arm move up (seemingly involuntarily) while I thought of a list of things and later it moved down while I thought about something resolving itself. It’s not that I felt I couldn’t control my arm if I chose to, but I certainly felt I wasn’t controlling it at that moment. I’m not questioning why it worked, but it did.

I left his office feeling buoyant and with a sense of self belief I often lack. I’m still feeling some left over glitter in my soul from it three days later.

I weighed myself at Boots an hour or so later. I’ve gained 10 pounds since I last weighed myself. Considering just how much I’ve binged in the last month, that’s not as bad as I expected. And I’ve been in control ever since. Three days without bingeing. Three days of feeling so much more peaceful than I have in weeks. (In another unexpected benefit, I have now gone since Friday morning without checking my work email once. That’s the first time since starting this job over a year ago that I’ve gone more than a day without checking my work email and it’s lovely.)

I’m feeling hopeful. I will go back for more hypnotherapy. I don’t know if it will be to the same hypnotist, but I do like it a lot.

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