My daughter found my work pass on the weekend.
She was confused by the fact it still had the NHS logo on it, when she thought I had moved on from working within the NHS. A brief discussion on suppliers, contractors and access to buildings – no doubt bored the life out of her.
A. then found my old work pass – same NHS logo – but a marked difference in the person staring out from the photo.
I often say that my marriage saved my life. That might be extreme, but it must surely have increased the expectancy by which I will live. The issue you see, is that I never realised just how big I had got. How out of control my life had become.
Sure I wore extra-large tops, but so do lots of folk. My waist still started with a 3 – with a growing number behind it – but I could walk up a hill quite comfortably.
And then I couldn’t.
I went through quite a bleak phase where my mental health was concerned, around about the time the photo on the left was taken. I was in a dead-end job, coming off the back of two redundancies. I’d even been living back with my mum before A. saved me. Yet still, even though we were managing as love’s slightly older dream – I felt like I wasn’t contributing.
Not in the fact that I needed to be the major bread-winner, more that I just didn’t have the money or motivation to claim I was even an equal partner.
Then the panic attacks kicked in. The trigger there, was the realisation a couple of years later that I was going to be a dad. I can normally deal with big things, but this was yet another thing piled on top of other smaller things. The weight – no pun intended – of the issues I was dealing with, simply got too much.
So one rainy night, I found myself in a phone box at the bottom of our hill, just outside the old Co-Op. It was a five-minute walk at best. Up a hill. A fairly steep hill.
I managed to convince myself that I would die if I walked up the hill. It would be the end of me. So A. drove down to pick me up. I curled up in bed and that was that.
Until things started to change. Until I learnt to accept that the problems would not go away on their own. That I needed to address what the issues were and to tackle them head on. So I started to step on the scales and open the letters from my bank. I no longer covered up the cash point when it automatically displayed my bank balance.
I was in my 30s FFS!
A lot has changed between those two photos. We’ve had two kids. We love them dearly, even if I use Twitter to subtweet their dickish behaviour at times. Lost a dog, but gained Guinea Pigs and fish. A bit like trading the cow for magic beans that fail to grow.
I gave up playing and writing about bowls, because I knew it was time to focus on my family and my career. Propping up an OK salary with freelance writing (Yorkshire Evening Post and DJ Mag) was alright for a time, but it wasn’t going to give me a future. So I buckled down and got on with the right stuff. Now I am in a senior role, working on a service I know will make a difference – in a company I believe is going in the same direction I want to.
And my weight has dropped. By over a stone between the two pictures. It was more, thanks to all of the walking I was doing in the last weeks of my notice period, but as I have mentioned elsewhere – living out of a hotel is playing havoc with my clean eating opportunities. Especially when I have no real desire to approach food in such a way.
It’s good to see the photos side by side to see how far I have come. To prove that growing up and settling down – those small changes can make a real difference. I am far better for it. I think those around me are better for it, also.
What I did was to confront the demons in my head. To be challenged by A. to deal with things better – in a way that I needed. So now when doubt creeps in or the mood escalates as if in a lift to the moon, I can spot the signs long before it becomes an issue. It won’t be the same for everyone. Seriously, don’t have two kids to see if it will improve your mood, just because it worked for me. Read my twitter timeline for a more balanced view!
What I did was find peace with being a slightly less fat bloke, thanks to the love and support of those I hold dear to me. Those I now hold a bit closer that I did a photo ago.