Instruction of Ptahhotep, c. 2350 BC
I arrived back from Egypt a week ago - feeling better than I have since... since I can remember.
It's a breath of fresh anonymity, travelling on a boat with strangers you will never see again. The sunshine agreed with me - the food less so, but never mind.
I have always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a little girl for the culture and history, and while that side of the trip was nonetheless amazing, it was getting away that made all the difference. I physically felt all the tension and hate draining away from my body - whenever a terrible thought or anxiety about my life came into my head, it blew away again - because my life was so far away in a distant land. The beauty of landscape, the stillness of the mystical Nile, the hot sun caressing my skin that had not seen light for months... it was medicine and I feel so thankful for it.
The eating was difficult. 3 meals a day. Every plate of food leaving behind a thick residue of grease. There were tears. But I did it. And I didn't gain weight thanks to the walking excursions and tours.
Coming back to the plain, bland food in my kitchen was heaven though - my blood must have been oilier than a car engine.
After so much bright sunshine, my eyes have yet to become accustomed to the gloom that welcomes me back to England.
England is so ugly this time of the year. Miles upon miles of damp concrete, grey roads, long lines of grey houses, grey earth, grey sky. Impossible to think it was the same sky that I had seen so shining blue just days before. Everything here looks as if the colour and life has been drained from it. Grey, hanging faces. A terrible grey society.
I don't want to live here anymore. I feel terrible saying what I do about my country - but we are not a great nation anymore for we are not a happy nation.
What I see when I walk along the South London High Streets is an obese poverty. A poverty of fried convenience foods, cheap alcohol, endless TV channels and broken homes - Urban poverty supplied with a wealthy nation's luxury. The people don't long for running water or pray for a bountiful harvest - they long for meaning and pray for a soul.
For example, a Nubian Felluca Boatman I saw in Egypt who had laboured all his life into an old age of bone and sinew - eating only food from the earth and darkened by the sun. Of course I can never imagine the hardship he has endured - but arguably he is healthier and happier and purer - physically and mentally - than most of the comparably wealthy tourists who he takes across the Nile.
When I visited my poorest relatives in a little village in South East Asia I felt it as well. They didn't hang mirrors on their walls, they didn't read magazines, they didn't have excess, they didn't have a society that demands impossible ideals. They were poor but had such a very basic and happier way of living. But it's terrible and ignorant for me to say that isn't it: to believe that people without first class healthcare and education and housing are happier - but I can't help but think it would be a tragedy if they became like us, depressed and empty and fat. But then I am making sweeping generalisations; I forget, not everyone is depressed and empty and fat.
My local high streets and supermarkets are packed with women who never 'made it'. Women dressed in thick, shapeless jackets, pushing trolleys and prams, no makeup, overweight... That's not the life I want - and that's not the life that girls of our generation were bought up to want... and since I left my job in the City and have been at home, I walk down the high street in the middle of a working weekday and see myself turning into those women, and it makes me so afraid.
But take away the make up and the dresses and the heels, scrape back the hair - and I am one of them, so easily. My Mum lays into me all the time: you lost all your ambitions, all your drive, you were going to earn big bucks, you were so hungry for success...
And what am I now I've turned my back on all that? I'm everything I always dreaded being and fought so hard to be better than. Is plain Jane happy? Probably. She doesn't need to act or dress up or vie for attention from men, she's happy in her own skin. But, I'm not plain Jane, I've never been happy in my average skin.
I aimed for the top and crumbled to the lowest depths because I couldn't handle not having it all. I stripped away everything to try and find myself, only to realise that the one thing that was missing and was ruining all my dreams, was me - because I'd become my ugly eating disorder. I'd let all my fears and insecurities and self-hatred consume me and take everything else with it.
2010 has been, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. The sickest, emptiest, most painful experience.
Everything I went through is being erased from my heart and I swear I will never go through anything like that again. EVER. It was the hardest but most incredible learning curve. I understand my weakness, I understand my mistakes and I understand why it all happened - it's all logged here on these pages.
I'm leaving London and going to a different part of the country to start my job at the Boarding School in a few days. The truth is, it's intensive rehab. I'm travelling back to London one day a week to carry on with my weekly treatment here whilst living full time in a school boarding house, sitting down three times a day to eat healthy meals made for me. I have to wake up everyday with an open smile on my face. I have learn how to be a nice person. I can't be dark and closed and lock myself away to do my job.
This experience is going to change me and rid me of all the demons that have ruined my life. When I come back to the world in 7 months, I'll be ready.
You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl. Like it or not, I live in a 'wealthy' world with mirrors hanging on every wall, where image and money and success matter. I am not a sweet, innocent girl who is happy with a plain face and a plain life because I don't live in a world where that is possible - to be like that means I fall into that obese, urban poverty.
This is part of my plan. Intensive. Three wholesome healthy meals, no junk, no bingeing and purging even possible, no alcohol, more exercise and more exercise, intense healthy living, happy, smiley... shrinking and becoming the girl I always wanted to be. I'm going to lose at least 20 lbs, get fitter and have a sane, happy head.
In 7 months I'll appear from this bootcamp ready to take on the world.