(posted by Zena)
I’ve spent my whole life on a diet. Well, a series of diets. I’ve probably lost and gained my entire body weight two or three times.
Motivation’s always been an issue: the latent-ardent-feminist within abhors the get-thin-for-men school, and I’ve just never had the willpower to get by on two lettuce leaves and half a stick of celery (which I have just realised will surely be the name of my Spike-alike production company).
But something happened.
It’s a long story, but I’ll try and give the seven-inch version.
On March 7th I went to stay with some friends for the weekend. No big deal; friends from church who’d been inviting me to hang out for a while. D, I’d known since I was about fifteen, and M, his wife, I’d met in the last few years since they’d been together. While we weren’t best friends, it felt like we had a hippy-searching-style understanding of the world, and I was looking forward to a relaxed, chilled weekend. Also, I’d heard she was a good cook, which is always great. I’d had a crazy day at work, running around, and was starving when I got there, as I hadn’t eaten all day.
When I got there on Friday night, D was already a little stoned – which in itself doesn’t bother me that much – and M had taken the kids somewhere and would be back shortly. D told me he liked to chill at the weekend, and I thought, that’s cool, so do I. I’ve smoked a small-to-middling amount of dope in my life, and don’t really have a problem with it. Just, like most women, I get slightly morose rather than giggling at the cracks in the pavement.
D offered me some hash cake. I said I’d never had it before. He said it was better than smoking: smoother, faster, no munchies. Sure, I made an error of judgement, I could have said no, blah blah blah, but I trusted him, and I’m an experimental type of person. I get off on new experiences, and I figured this would be one. And it was.
Later, I found out that putting a hundred quid of stuff in one little cake is not so smart. And about the vagaries of cooking, and you don’t know how much you’re having, and all that jazz.
After ten minutes, when I wasn’t bouncing off the ceiling, D offered me a second piece, which I sensibly declined. After half an hour, the room started spinning a little, and everything felt slightly muzzy. By the time M got back with the kids, I couldn’t really focus. We sat down for dinner, and at 9pm – about an hour and a half after I’d eaten it – I was overcome with the most death-defying paranoia ever.
I was convinced that I was going to die. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, and shaking it so violently that the plates broke. I remember trying to put my hand through their glass kitchen cabinets. I remember my heart beating so fast I thought I was having a heart attack. I remember feeling that I couldn’t control my bodily functions.
D and M handled it badly. He was so stoned that he couldn’t really deal with it. M kept saying “D, she’s your friend, you sort her out.” All I wanted was for someone to hold my hand or give me a hug and tell me everything would be alright. D kept telling me to sleep it off and it would be fine, but I knew I would die if I went to sleep. I clearly remember M saying “D, this is the third time this has happened, you have to stop giving this to your friends.”
The kids – 5 and 7 – seemed pretty freaked out, and who wouldn’t be, a strange woman coming over and trying to wreck your house. I wanted them to call an ambulance, and remember them having a huge row, as they didn’t want to get the authorities involved. Later, I found out that I was lucky not to be hospitalised from the amount of dope in my system, and lucky I didn’t end up cowering in the corner of some small room for three months.
When I really lost it, and started shouting and smashing things up again, they pushed me outside – it was raining heavily – “to walk it off”. I didn’t have a coat, and I was freezing, and scared. After about ten minutes, I begged to come back in and said I would “behave”. They put me in their spare room with a couple of litres of water (D had said early on to keep drinking or I would dehydrate, and I was paranoid I would die).
It was about 11pm – the room was overtaken by Aztecs who wearing my skin inside up, which was pretty unpleasant. (I’d just seen the show at the Royal Academy that week). I remember thinking to stay calm, and it’s only the drugs, but I couldn’t. I tried to go to the toilet, but couldn’t co-ordinate myself to get up. Around 11.30, I remembered that I had some friends. Called my boyfriend, his phone was switched off. Then I called a good friend, S, and she realised straight away that something wasn’t right, and I told her as best I could what had happened and how scared I was.
S got the address, and came over to collect me. By this time, D and M were in bed, and I just walked out of their house in my pajamas, and S gave me a hug, and took me home, and cosied me up in her spare room. She stayed up all night with me, talked to me when I got scared again, and was a better friend than I could ever imagine.
By Saturday, the paranoia was coming in waves, and so I had periods of lucidity which was good, but I was petrified I was changed forever in some way. My boyfriend came round and hung out, and on Saturday night he took me home. I was weird for at least a week, couldn’t really go out, and he stayed with me and looked after me. Usually I’m the looker-after and needing things from people, feeling incapable and delicate was a scary, new feeling.
That week, the handful of friends I told were amazing. People came over and cooked me vegetables (I was petrified of putting anything unhealthy in my body), and were just nice to me. It took about a month to realise I was completely back to “normal” – whatever that is.
D and M? They woke up on Saturday morning to find me gone. The last they’d seen of me I was trying to kill myself, and D finally called my mobile about 5pm. I couldn’t really talk to him. He said it was my fault, as I should have told him I was on anti-depressants (which I’m not), as that’s why I had a bad trip. He wasn’t at all apologetic. I decided that I didn’t like how he behaved and didn’t want to talk to him again. For a few months I was angry: I wanted to call Social Services because I didn’t think living with stoners was good for the kids (he told me they come home from school and say “are you stoned today, Daddy?”). After about three weeks I told him that if I ever heard that something like this had happened to anyone else, I would have no problem calling the police. And also, that I never wanted to be in contact with him again.
I learned things, though. One: always have breakfast. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had eaten something that day. And – related – that you only have one body, and you really need to look after it. It’s within your control, you have choices, and I felt like I was so near to death (all paranoia, I’m sure, but real scary nonetheless) that I wanted to make the most of the time I have left. Two: what good friends I have. Like lots of people, I occasionally feel friendless and insecure, and this experience showed me how much my friends really value me.
For two weeks, I only wanted to eat steamed broccoli (strange, I know), and lost some weight. Then I thought, I could eat in a way that looks after my body all the time. And that, folks, is how it all started…