Monday, 18 August 2014

Comfort Food to Binge Eating.

This post is very personal and it is not going to be very upbeat I'm afraid but after hearing the death of one of my favourite actors, Robin Williams, I feel the need to finish writing this post.
I had put this off for so long and had even deleted it because I felt that this was not the platform to express my battle with the food demons. Also because I feel so drained from being in that zone, that typing it actually exhausted me.


A word that many pretend not to hear or a word that many think is used to describe someone who is weak.
Fighting every day to find something positive in your life is not weak.

Jack is my favourite film that stars Robin Williams.

Robin Williams battled with depression for a long time but even when he was probably at his lowest, he didn't show this to the world. Instead he was making sure everyone else was happy, was laughing and smiling. 
He was addicted to alcohol and drugs at certain points in his life. Could this have been his way of dealing with his depression? His way of numbing the pain and keeping up with the fight?
We might never know.
Everyone has their opinions and views on this issue with his death but no one will ever know how he was feeling. Not even those who have been through it.
For those who have been naming him a coward, words can not describe how stupid and naive you are.

We all deal with depression in different ways and we all have something we turn to: Alcohol, Exercise, Drugs, Music, Family, Books, Self-harm, Sex...the list goes on.

Mine, is food.

I love good food but when I go through my lows I turn to junk. Lots of it.

Mum said that I had loved food since I was a baby and that to stop me crying, all they had to do was give me food. Yup, my unhealthy relationship with food started VERY early.
Growing up, mum always commented on how fat I was getting and how I needed to lose weight but I think she felt bad for saying those things because the very next day she would be buying or cooking my favourite foods for me. 
I don't blame mum. 
She was working 6 days a week and instead of her getting us ready for school in the mornings, we got ourselves ready on our own from as early as I can remember - can you imagine the 7 year old me working a gas grill to make toast?! 
The only time she spent with us was on her day off because by the time we got home, her and dad were at work and by the time they got home, we were in bed.
My parents started me on dieting at about 10 years old. The only problem was, no one was there to support me or help me through it. It didn't help that I was working at the take-away, helping myself to a chip here or there and stuffing my face while no one was looking.
That became a norm for me - eating when someone's back is turned and then still eat full meals in front of them. Sometimes I ate so much I felt sick. 

With my family on holiday in Florida

If I wasn't at the take-away I was mostly at home doing house work on my own while my brother helped out at the take-away. I wasn't allowed to play with the neighbourhood kids so I stayed in and ate whatever I could find. Food kept me company when I had nothing to do. 

At around this time, I was also forced to attend a private school.
I loved the school I was originally attending - Everyone was a friend. I was the only chinese girl in the school but I was never bullied there, in fact I was friends with almost every pupil I knew in that place.  
I was made to take an entrance exam, which I wasn't very sure why, I just went along with the crowd. Maybe being oblivious to it all was what made me do extremely well and in turn got me accepted in to that school - it wasn't until after the exam I realised what it was for.
I was dreading the last day at my old school. 
I remember crying. 
I remember feeling angry. 
So angry.
The parents kept saying it was for my own good, blah blah blah. For a child, this means nothing. They don't know what is supposed to be good for them!

My new school was my hell. Teachers couldn't care less what the kids were feeling. None of them had the time for you. I spent many of my early days in that school trying to make excuses to go to the nurse's office (where I always got a fucking Tum Tum). 
My grades started to slip.
The classes were divided up so the clever ones stayed in one class and the not so clever people were in another. They started me off in the 2nd top class but by the end of my 1st year there I was in the bottom class. In my old school I was in the top group for almost everything (bar english).
The pupils had their own groups of friends and this was the first time I was confronted with the "In" crowd, the bullies, the "geeks", the "loners" and whatever bloody groups you can think of. 
I had changed friends so many times in that place and eventually I ended up with a group that made me laugh, made me realise that there were good people in that hell hole. But by then it was too late, my binge eating was already happening and there was no sign of stopping. 
Did I get bullied? Yes.
I didn't want to admit that I was a victim of bullying and I still don't but it's a fact that I must face. 
It was my time at this school that got me snacking on chocolate bars and crisps constantly. Before school, after school, on the bus, on the way home from the bus stop, in my bedroom - any time I was on my own. 
Learning dance moves and dancing in the middle of my living room helped prevent my body reaching morbidly obese levels but I was still fat.

My comforter.

At home I was asked to record football for dad but when I forgot, I got hell. Dad never hit me, but he would shout down the phone, yell and go berserk. 
It didn't scare me but it did upset me that he was giving me grief for not remembering to record a football game when he forgets my birthdays. 
Mum would shout at me in the mornings  if she woke up in a bad mood. Anything would set her off. It got so bad at one point that every saturday morning I woke up, sat in front of the telly and braced myself for the wrath that was coming my way (I only found out later on in life that mum was battling with her own demons). I was brought up to never talk back to my elders so I always kept my mouth shut.
After each incident, food was my comforter. I ended up hiding food in my bedroom and stashed wrappers under the bed. If my mum found them she just thought I was greedy. 

The chinese community would always call me the chubby girl. My cousin even asked me, "Why are you so fat?" 
Did it hurt?
Of course it did but rather than lose the weight or tell them where to go, I ate more. Food blocked the bad memories. Temporarily.

17 years old - Someone who smiles does not necessarily mean they're happy.

When I finished repeating my second year of Uni I decided to drop out. After so many years of doing everything I could to please everyone, I broke. I wasn't happy, and at this stage I was starting to self harm. I was prescribed anti-depressants by my doctor but it only made me feel worse so I stopped.
I couldn't bear the thought of failing my 3rd year then getting hell from my parents for failing again. 
Naturally, my parents went nuts. Dad especially. I was crying and trying to explain to them my "problem" but they didn't understand and they refused to acknowledge that I suffered from depression. 
Can you imagine that feeling? 
When the people you are supposed to lean on in times of trouble, when the people who are supposed to give you a simple hug...just laughs at you when you finally tell them that you have depression. 
What would you do?
I left home. It was that or I killed myself. 
I left a note. I posted my keys through the letter box. I packed the essentials and left in the early hours of the morning.

I spent 2 years living in Bristol with my then boyfriend. The relationship was terrible, he was abusive emotionally and made me feel like he was the only person I was allowed to talk to. He got insanely jealous of any guys I became friends with in work. Towards the end, it got physical. A push here, a shove there...
I spent most of my time at work where I ate constantly. I was never hungry because of the large amount of bread and cheese I was consuming on a daily basis - but my stomach never felt full either. I remembering devouring half a loaf of bread during one lunch break!
I got in to debt because I wasn't managing my money properly - pretty hard when the other half wasn't working much and had put everything in my name. I couldn't tell the family as I didn't want to seem like a failure.
I was in such a state that I couldn't bear it much longer. One afternoon, I swallowed a pack of painkillers...about 20. Instantly though, I knew I couldn't go through with it. 
What about the people in work who depend on you to be on time for your shift? 
What about your family in Scotland? 

There is light in the darkness but not all of us can see it.

My relationship with my family are much better since returning from Bristol. They have realised that I had a limit to how much I could be pushed. It doesn't mean it has all been fantastic - we still have our arguments but what family is perfect? 

I have seen a counsellor/mental health nurse before about my issues. 
Did it help? 
It helped to talk but when she mentioned doing certain things to help lift my mood - that's where I got stuck. 
It's hard to convince someone who is working in a restaurant 6 days a week and 11 hour days (and very depressed) to get up early and do exercises. Yes, I am probably making excuses for myself but unless you have been there, you will never know how it feels to try and get out of bed every morning, feeling like there is a constant pressure all over your body.
I told her I had used an app on my phone to track my calorie intake for a while and had lost 2 stones in a month. She was shocked and said that it was very drastic. 
However, for me, I felt like I had control. 
I then lost the control because I ended up seeking food as a reward and comforter after going through another rough spell. That's why I was there. She told me not to use that app as it wasn't being realistic with weight management.
At the next session, she told me of an app that I could use to control and keep track of the foods I was consuming and that I should give it a go. It was the app I told her about!
I never went back after that session.

I am still battling through it and maybe I will see a doctor again one day but right now I have so much going on I don't have the time to stop. 

Why do I get depressed? I don't know why.
Maybe it's because I feel trapped. Maybe it's because whenever I see the News, there is always bad news. Maybe it's because there are too many evil people in the world. Maybe it's because wars are going on constantly around the world. Maybe maybe maybe!

Not everyone will know why and asking them will not give you the answers when they themselves are asking that same question every minute of the day.
Do I still wish I wasn't alive? Yes.
Do I still have thoughts of killing myself? I can't. 
My nieces mean so much to me that I could never leave my family to tell them that their Aunt hated herself and the world so much that she had to commit suicide in order to be free.

These two little monsters mean so much to me.

I know the foods I should be eating and the foods to avoid. I know what I should be doing to stop myself from feeling low. I know things that can help relieve stresses. I know all that! Does it mean I put it in to practice? No. 
Because when a person wakes up in the morning feeling gutted that they are still alive, it is very hard to get that person to do those things that are supposed to "brighten" them up.
Telling them to snap out of it doesn't help. 
When someone asks me if I'm okay, I feel exhausted just saying, "yeah, doing alright."
I am trying my best to have a better relationship with food and I feel Blogging has helped slightly. This blog has helped me to see things in a more positive light and is something I look forward to. I still do the odd bingeing when I feel crap but it is nowhere near as bad as it was. 

When I found out Robin Williams had died, something inside me took a big hit. Knowing he had given up his battle with depression made me feel genuinely sad. Anyone losing their fight with that darkness inside them gets me going to that dark place too. 

Exactly how I feel most of the time.

Do we want to feel this way? Hell no! Why on earth would anyone want to feel this way?

The next time you see someone who is not as svelte as you, don't instantly jump to the conclusion that they are a lazy, greedy bum. 
The next time you see someone who may not be as cheery as you, don't just assume that they are rude. 
The next time you see someone with cut scars on their arms, don't think that they are just an attention seeking emo.
Everyone has their own story and until you have felt what they have felt and been through what they have been through, you will never truly understand how they are feeling. So NEVER say, "I know how you feel."
Believe me. You do not know how they feel.

Be supportive when you can. You don't need to do anything big, sometimes just sitting next to them is enough. 
Be ready to listen - because you never know, you may save someone's life by just lending an ear.

To those of you who have suffered from depression before, you know what it is like and hopefully you will be able to educate those who are maybe not so sympathetic towards sufferers. 
To those of you who are still fighting, I can't say it will get better because that would be false hope but please know that you are not alone in this. Take comfort in knowing that there are people out there who will listen and try to help, if you let them. Be strong.

This post will be the toughest one I publish as I have not spoken much about my past issues to my family and friends. 
Thank you to anyone who has taken their time out to read this. It means a lot to me.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank those who have been there for me during the difficult times.

I will leave you with my favourite quotes from "Jack":

Lawrence Woodruff: You were a shooting star amongst ordinary stars. Have you ever seen a shooting star, Jack?
Jack: No.
Lawrence Woodruff: It's wonderful. It passes quickly, but while it's here it just lights up the whole sky - it's the most beautiful thing you'd ever want to see. So beautiful that the other stars stop and watch. You almost never see one.
Jack: Why not?
Lawrence Woodruff: Beacuse they're very rare. Quite rare. But I saw one. I did.
Jack: I just want to be a regular star.
Lawrence Woodruff: Jack, you'll never be regular. You're spectacular.

Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular.

Note: Every individual suffering from depression are different and all the views I have on the subject are my own opinions. They certainly don't reflect on how every person with depression feels. Everyone has a story. This is a snippet of mine.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, I was very moved reading it. Thank you for writing what some of us are too scared, or ashamed to say. What you wrote about, the things you went through, how you felt, it makes sense that you'd seek comfort where you could find it.

    By sharing this, you're stronger than you think. Don't give up, see other drs and therapists if you can,. I can't promise things will get better, but they can, so don't ever stop hoping.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Claire, you have no idea how much that means to me. x

  2. Isa, such an amazing thing to write down - for yourself and others. I have the utmost respect for you in everything you do and I am so proud of you. It is so important to share stuff like this - nobody should ever have to 'go it alone' for any reason, and just by doing this you have allowed others to be there for you and helped so, so many people. You are an amazing lady x

    1. Thank you Genna. It's amazing how alone we can feel even though there are billions of humans on this planet. I hope this will help others to open up about their thoughts and feelings too.x

  3. WOW Isa ... you had me riveted from start to finish.
    So proud of you for sharing your feelings and experiences with such honesty. I feel privileged to count you as one of my dearest friends and would like you to know that you're a shooting star - you'll never be regular. You're spectacular.


  4. Aw Max, that is so sweet of you, thank you! X


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