Updated: Mar 5, 2020
Becoming a victim of narcissism is a lot like playing a game of Jenga against your will.
The narc (narcissist) stacks up the blocks and each one of those blocks represents each behaviour; the frequent lies and exaggerations, never ever ever ever ever being wrong, false image projection, rule breaking, boundary violation, emotional invalidation and coercion, manipulation and our favourite the gas-lighting.
Each time the victim experiences a moment of cognitive dissonance, a block is removed and added to the top. Inevitably the tower becomes so unstable that all the blocks topple over.
It’s in this moment that the victim has finally had enough.
My mum’s Jenga tower toppled when I was 15 and when she left is left us (my two sisters and I) without protection from my narc dad who of course turned his energy towards building Jenga towers, one each for the three of us.
It was in the aftermath of this, and my dad gas-lighting me into believing that my mum left and wouldn’t come home because I, his 15 year old daughter could not persuade her to. So the fact that she left was now my fault and I believed it and stopped eating.
The entire situation had made me feel so sick that I hadn’t been able to eat anything for days and then I lost my appetite so continued not to eat. When the hunger pangs happened, instead of thinking oh I should eat I actually liked how they felt. A form of self harm, it was my fault mum had left and this will be my punishment. It was the only thing that felt real that I could control. For about 5 or 6 months I had rationed myself to 2 apples a day at most and nothing else but black coffee and water. I’d plucked a number out of the air and decided that was my goal weight.
Once I had hit that goal weight I treated myself to some chips and once I started eating I couldn’t stop. As the weight started to pile on, I tried desperately to stop eating all together again but I couldn’t so I tried to be sick instead. I couldn’t do that either. Not through a lack of trying it just wouldn’t work and so I started taking laxatives. I had gone from anorexia, to binge eating to bulimia in the space of a year.
It probably took another year to become completely ‘clean’ of these illnesses and though I have never found myself in the throws on any of them since, it kick started another battle that raged for the best part of 2 decades.
In the 20 years that followed I bought endless books on weight loss. I tried the Atkins, 5:2, Alkaline, Zone diets, Weight Watchers and Slim Fast.
I've been dieting for so long that I went through 3 different formats, I would buy fitness videos, then fitness DVDs when VHS became obsolete and then streaming fitness videos online now that DVD’s are going the same way.
I would become obsessed with the scales for a while and then banish them from my life because it got too close to my anorexia days.
The most frequent dress size was somewhere between a 12 and 14. But it fluctuated constantly going from one extreme to the other. At my smallest I was a size 10 and at my biggest I was a size 20.
It’s no coincidence that my yo-yo-ing dress sizes matched perfectly with my frequent dips in mental ill-health. As a dark cloud of anxiety would envelope, or depression or the sleep paralysis started to invade every aspect of my life, so too would my drinking.
This always exacerbated my already low moods and would cause me to lose interest in leaving the house. My fitness levels would plummet but my appetite would sore. The moment I was over the hill of the mental dip, my drinking would go down, as would my appetite and my desire to leave the room would return.
It wasn’t until I confronted my past, addressed my mental health and set myself the marathon as a goal that I really started to lose weight. In other words I lost weight because I changed my lifestyle. I started doing more activities because I enjoy it. Like I did when I was a teenager. I started eating much healthier because I wanted to feel healthier. I stopped drinking alcohol because I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
I started thinking about the amount of money I must wasted over the years on the books, the videos, the DVD’s and how much money we all spend on these sorts of things so I started to have a look.
Obesity costs the NHS on average £36.6 million a year. And if you thought that amount was crazy, then brace yourselves for how much the weight loss is worth.
The weight loss industry in the UK is worth roughly £2 billion. Mind blowing amount. I can’t even imagine how much Marmite I could purchase with £2 billion. So I worked it out, 421,052,632 jars. Or 645,161,290 Flat white with oat milk from small batch.
I find this so fascinating that I am definitely going to research this more, so there will likely be a post in the not to distant future about this on it’s own.
What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone, this is why we have so many choices. We all get drawn in by the promise of; ‘take this pill and you’ll lose weight effortlessly and fast’. Or ‘drink these shakes thrice a day and you’ll lose weight effortlessly and fast’.
We put ourselves through hell, we starve ourselves or restrict what we are eating to a point where the only thing we feel is miserable. We follow these diets religiously for days/weeks/months and we spend £2 billion a year to feel this rubbish.
This is all short term stuff because these diets are only looking at the immediate weight loss.
They don’t address the long term weight maintenance once you have achieved your desired weight. They don’t advise when creating goals for ourselves to be realistic about them. They don’t address your eating habits, your lifestyle at present.
The big thing is they don’t talk about how you got there. For me, my weight is a visual representation of my mental health/ill-health. Not everyone is like that, but we all developed habits and lifestyles that led us to the weight that we are and until we address that any diet we go on is temporary, a quick fix
Until we get to the bottom of why we gained weight in the first place, we might see short term changes with these fads but not a life long change.