… Well I had promised a post on insomnia, though I imagined it would bea more insightful (or at least coherent) job than the following rant/whinge. In all honesty, two hours isn’t horrific by my (rather poor) standards. It’s just about bearable; it’s when I literally don’t sleep at all for days on end that I start to really panic and break down.

I still don’t know exaclty what caused my sleeping problems. I’m assuming it’s something to do with the bigger-lack-of-health-picture over the last few years. The first time I remember it being really bad was in my first year of university. I didn’t sleep for a week, ended up convinced that my curtains were melting off the wall and screaming down the phone at my parents at 3am (poor sods.) Grim. Eventually I went to the doctor who gave me Valium and told me to hope for the best. Not exactly a permanent solution.

The few alternatives I’ve found haven’t been much better. I can’t keep relying on substances to get me to sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a totally natural night’s rest. I went to the doctor again this Christmas, only to be told I ‘obviously have a psychological barrier’ when it comes to sleep, and so have been referred to a sleep clinic in London. For some reason that brings to mind an image of me with electrodes in my head and looking like one of those lab monkeys that gets given cigarettes (…not that I’d be all over THAT or anything…) Brainwave monitoring aside, I really hope I get some answers and an action plan that is sustainable in the long term.

Insomnia, in my opinion, is one of the loneliest things in the world. I end up terrified of going to bed, knowing that hours of tossing and turning are waiting. It drives my boyfriend insane – he’s one of those lucky people who could probably fall asleep standing up if he put his mind to it. It’s also one of those irritating issues where everybody on the bloody planet feels authorised to give their opinion on how best to tackle it:

‘Oh the ONLY thing that works for me is a hot bath and a milky drink,’

‘Have you tried listening to the World Service?’

‘Take tryptophan, it’s a natural supplement that…’

‘Make a list of everything worrying you!’

Irritatingly, all these people tend to be the ones who either fall asleep at 10pm every night, or go to bed at 4am then sleep till midday. I imagine top of my list of worries would be ‘I can’t effing sleep.’ The thing is, I know people are just trying to help, but do they not think I’ve tried milky drinks (gag) and hot baths? I’ve taken 4 Nytol (the ‘one a night’ ones too!) to no avail, tried all the herbal supplements and still end up watching the sunrise. Prescription sleeping tablets work to a certain degree: they knock me out, but leave me with a terrible ‘hangover’ the next day. Lunesta (Zopiclone) left such a horrific metallic taste in my mouth that I was convinced I’d somehow ended up with bleeding lungs. I’ve done the ‘no-caffeine’ thing. I’ve counted sheep till I hit the 2,000 mark and lost count.

Apologies for what is essentially a big fat moan, but I suppose what I never realised about sleep deprivation until I suffered from it myself is how depressing it is. 48 hour marker, my emotional stability crumbles, my vision starts to blur and I vascillate between uncontrollable anger and floods of tears. Productivity goes out the window and tackling anything at all – whether it be work or day-to-day life – becomes impossible. And it’s not even like I can use all those hours of sleeplessness to catch up on work: I’m exhausted beyond the point of being able to read or write, but the second my head hits the pillow my eyes ping open and my mind races.

It’s now 8.08am, and I’ve been awake since 5.30, having seen 3.34 on the clock. I’m going to go to the library and try to bang out some work, though I already feel rather crappy. I’m starting to think I might need someone to just batter me with a sledge hammer at night. Unconscious at 4am sounds preferable to ‘awake.’

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I’m going back to university today. Normally I look forward to it; returning to independence after having to slip back into ‘daughter and child’ role for a month or so can be a relief. This time… not so much. I have 10 weeks to write a dissertation, alongside 2 other assessed essays and two ancient Greek exams, all of which count towards my final degree. Oh, and lectures/seminars etc. Lordy. I know my success when it comes to tackling the workload alongside having some semblance of a normal life will depend on my intake, my sleeping and a certain amount of willpower. All three are a big fat ‘easier said than done!’ but more on that later. Insomnia is something I’d really like to address, as I’ve suffered very badly for the last few years.

So I will post properly tonight. I slacked off yesterday, spent the day desperately trying to hold in the contents of my stomach after a brilliant but unexpectedly drunken night with some friends. I really bloody hate those people who can drink until they’re stumbling, vomiting and passing out all over the place, then wake up the next day right as rain. Maybe I’m just unfortunate… or getting old! My hangovers do seem to be absolutely crippling though – they last all day, and even once the headache has gone, I feel shivery, achey and ‘out of it,’ like I’m coming down the the ‘flu. Very strange.

Time to pack. Wish me luck!

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I should start by saying thank you to those who read/commented on my last post. After such a long absence, it was really to hear that some of you still remember me – cheers!

Gushiness aside, I think I made a mistake when I implied that the first post on a new blog is the hardest to write. Maybe my brain works in a weird, topsy-turvy way (aside from the diagnostically warped part…) but I also find the introductory paragraph of an essay fairly easy. After that you have to start making ‘points’ and ‘tackling the issue at hand.’ Which is fine when you’re answering a set question (‘Discuss the importance of hunting and drinking in Macedonian culture,’ ‘Why were German thinkers interested in Greek tragedy?’) but a bit more complicated when you get to occupy your own little corner of the internet and suddenly feel obliged to fill it with interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

I could make it very easy for myself and slot back into my old ‘role.’ I’m wary of lapsing back into ‘recovery blogger’ mode having made such a song and dance of how I-am-more-than-my-eating-disorder-thanks-very-much. But it also seems like the obvious path to take. I hope I’m not being horribly presumptious in saying that most of the readers who ‘knew’ me from before and followed me here have, to some extent, struggled with food and/or weight issues. Writing about how today, when I tried on a dress in H&M, I panicked because my stomach looked pregnant (ignoring the fact I had consumed about a litre and a half of Pepsi Max about half an hour earlier) or how it appeared to be academorexic day in the library (gr) would make me feel relatable, like I have a niche, a ‘target audience.’ Not only that but also an outlet and somewhere to vent my apparently endless list of insecurities and struggles to people who would no doubt provide me with excellent, compassionate advice.

I don’t think there would be anything wrong with this at all, other than the fact I said I wouldn’t do it and I now very much consider that part of my life to be one I should push as far away out of the spotlight as I possibly can. However, it did get me thinking about writing in general, and particularly from the point of view of a 21st century woman.

See, I reckon Bridget Jones and her enormous pants have a lot to answer for. Aside from the role probably wreaking havoc with Renee Zelwegger’s metabolism, I really resent the concept that in order to be ‘relatable,’ women nowadays must play the card of the perpetual underdog. The single woman with the difficult mother and the dead-end job, falling out of bed into a pile of takeaway cartons then arriving at work two hours late trailing loo paper that has stuck to her (mismatched) high heels. Yes, Anna Maxted, you. And well.. a lot of others, but I want a job one day. Anyway, they then get a bit older, marry a man who is in all likelihood a wee bit useless and become that frazzled not-so-yummy Mummy who poisons the fourth grade with salmonella bake sale brownies and probably still trails loo paper, but this time it’s coverd in baby poo. I realise it’s televesion but ‘Outnumbered’ writers, feel my glare.

(side note: I actually love that programme.)

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that success no longer seems to sell. The world of ‘recovery blogging’ was and is criticised because in order to write one, you must have an eating disorder to recover from, yet it seems that is an attitude that extends far beyond the realm of my Google reader. I do not mean to suggest that we should dive in at the other end of the presentation spectrum and only allow ourselves to be portrayed in the rosiest of lights. I just think it’s time we stopped feeling so bloody sorry for ourselves. Time we cut down on the empathy and found a bit more aspiration. Yes, it’s comforting to know that other women eat a pint of ice cream then fall asleep without brushing their teeth, yes it makes me feel better about the fact that I have been known to pound 700 odd calories of Bombay mix after a bottle of wine (and yes, I felt guilty.) It’s just getting a bit… old. Not to mention the fact I find it rather sad that we now resent or openly dislike those women who do ‘have it all.’ Job/academic success, relationship, friends, health, happiness. As my Dad always used to tell me, the reason Dick Dastardly never won in ‘Wacky Racers’ was because he spent far too much time trying to ruin the other contestants’ chances rather than improve his own. Accepting and embracing imperfection is one, very positive thing. Wallowing in a facade of inadequacy is another.

So today, I may have been kicked out of the o2 shop for attempting to unplug the display model charger and give my HTC a quick 5 minute boost, and I may have stuck my finger in my hazelnut Americano to see if the syrup really was sugar-free and horribly burnt it in the process. But I also tried on two dresses that looked – dare I say it – rather good, got a crap load of work done and my hair is for once behaving itself. I am far too much of a natural pessimist to view the world through rose tinted spectacles. But it’s also time to take of the crap coloured visor and put away the teeny tiny violin.

And always check your heels after using the bathroom.

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This is a weird one, isn’t it? Trying to write this post has been difficult, to say the least. There is a very slight chance some of you might remember me; I blogged on a daily basis when I was eighteen, then left for university. I attempted to delete my cyber-self because frankly, when you want a fresh start the last thing you need is your new flatmate typing your name into Google and realising that not only is his next door neighbour insane in the most literal sense possible, she also has a porridge fetish.

Sadly I miss rambling, even if it is narcissistic and self indulgent. However, starting again is difficult. I won’t bore you (or myself) with a gushy ramble about ‘what I’ve gained in recovery besides a shitton of weight,’ because while it is entirely true that my life now is unrecognisable to the one I led when I last logged into WordPress, I would also be lying if I declared myself ‘recovered.’ I still have ‘issues.’ I suppose to some degree, I always will. I cannot promise I won’t, now and again, blather on about them in my usual long-winded fashion. Yet enough has changed both internally and externally for me to be able to recognise that while I still at times feel ruled by food, the life I have carefully built for myself in the last three years is dependent on knowing that there is more to Kensington High Street than Wholefoods, and more to my person than years of disordered eating.

As things stand: I am in my final year of my undergraduate degree. That means a fair bit of work. Understandable, given the complete lack of self discipline in the academic department over the past two years. I have a dissertation to submit in 11 weeks time, a crap load of exams and then the oh-so-enjoyable task of finding myself some kind of job. Ideally in journalism. Ideally some kind of graduate scheme.

Other information? I’m now 21. My degree is Classics. During term time, I live in the midlands and then back at home in London for the holidays. I have a boyfriend; we’ve been together for nearly eighteen months. He has the patience of a saint when it comes to me and my generally neurotic nature, and in every other way he is far too similar to me for the ‘saint’ metaphor to run much further! Although we did quit smoking together (8 years and ending up on 25+ a day… but good God I miss it like mad) so we must be a little bit good for each other.

I feel I should insert a photograph of something here… Porridge? Perhaps not. I highly doubt anyone will even read this, given my appalling track record when it comes to sticking with blogging while attempting to ‘have a life’ too. Worth a try! It will be interesting to see where this goes.

PS: Any sports fans should definitely read this (and no, it’s not mine or the boyfriend’s!) If you’re not a sports fan, you could always click over for the charming British wit and cheeky picture captions. Go on.

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