The Secret to Happiness
Nearly nine years ago I was sitting in a Pizza Express with my brother. I was ill, I had a cold, I was hungover, I was tired, aching, run down and very depressed. I was terrible company and my brother started to have a go at me. “Look at yourself! You’re unhealthy, you’re bored, you party too much, you have no focus! You eat shit! You’re a vegetarian and you don’t even eat vegetables! You’re a mess!”
From that very day I joined a gym and started making a conscious effort to eat more healthily. You see, he was right, my brother; I WAS a mess. I didn’t eat well, I wasn’t fit. For years before that I had kept fit by dancing in clubs every night but by then I was even bored of that and found myself going out just because I didn’t know what else to do with my life. Hahaha what a joke that now is! I look back at my shallow existence and wonder how on earth I maintained it for so long! For a girl who got 11 GCSEs all at A* and A grade, I have no clue how I ended up hanging round in nightclubs with vacuous people night after night spouting the same cocaine-induced crap at me *yawns*……. Now I’m not saying that all night clubs are full of these drugged up pretentious people who’s only care is buying the most expensive champagne (or what table it’s on if they can’t afford it), just that certainly the clubs I went to were.
I’m not showing off about my qualifications by the way; just making the point that at school I dreamt of becoming a vet or a lawyer. I was a member of the YOC (Young Ornithologists Club – aka bird-watching), you see, I’ve always been a bit of a geek deep down. And nothing wrong with that! The problem started for me when I got bullied for being ugly, and my young 15 year old mind went “Right, I’m going to show these bastards I’m not ugly! I’m going to be a model, and not just any old model but a famous one!” haha – little did I know that with fame would then come some of the worst bullying I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t want sympathy for this; I’m simply trying to make you understand how crap my life once was. I went from being called ugly at school to being called “saggy tits”, “dodgy nose”, “tramp”, “classless” and so on, only this time it was publicly, in national newspapers and magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t exactly act like a lady at times. I have always been a bit hyper and always had a wild and daring side to me. Unfortunately it was the wild and daring side that made me money so I just carried on with the lunacy thinking “well at least it’s paying my mortgage”. I’m not saying I deserved to be annihilated by the press, but I didn’t help myself and neither did I really stand a chance from day one. Bad management and no advice led me to just living a life of “fun”. I didn’t do anything to help my cause, or certainly, the good things I did do for charity and such like were all kept fairly quiet so no one ever got to see the kind, generous, loving side to me. The more I got slaughtered, the more it hurt and at times, yes I did want to kill myself. There were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was stuck in a vicious circle of: if I didn’t go out and do outrageous things I didn’t earn any money but I was too famous by then for anyone to give me a “normal” job. I spiralled downwards feeling like the whole world was against me. The few times I did go out dressed in a classy dress or a trouser suit, I STILL got slated, or they just didn’t write about me at all so I just felt like I couldn’t win.
By the way, I’m going off-piste a bit here because I really didn’t mean this to be about my relationship with the press over the years (which, by the way, is now mostly very very good! OK magazine Online I’m talking to you here – you’re always so lovely!). So let me get back to the crux of the matter. You get it; I was depressed. I had no money, no work, only a tiny handful of real friends and no prospects.
The day my brother shouted at me was a huge wake up call to sort my mess of a life out. And I did. Slowly but surely, one step at a time, I got fit and healthy. I started to take care of my body and of my mind! I stopped doing all the things that made me unhappy, for example; one day I finally admitted to my best friend that I hated going out clubbing. She breathed the biggest sigh of relief and said “I’ve only been coming out with you because I thought you loved it! I hate it too!” Now THAT’S a true friend! Haha. It turned out that for three whole years she and I had been going to nightclubs, each of us too scared to tell the other that we hated it! Both of us would be standing there thinking “my feet hurt” and “I can’t wait to go home and get in bed”. Well, what do you know?! Jodie Marsh hates clubbing now. Stranger things have happened ;-)
So, that problem out of the way, all that was left was to find what did really make me happy. I knew that my dogs made me happy and the long walks we do every day, but that was about it! How do you go about finding happiness? It’s a tough question! I started to read lots of self-help books but even they didn’t seem to hold the answers I was looking for. And you know why? Because the truth of it is that a book can’t tell you how to find your own happiness. Everybody is different and everybody has to discover for themselves what works for them. For me, it turned out, the simple things make me happy (or mostly). I taught myself to cook, I cooked for friends. I taught myself about gardening (told you I was a geek) and started to plant things from seed in my garden. It gave me the biggest buzz seeing those tiny seeds grow into big beautiful plants and flowers. I took it a step further and started growing my own fruit and vegetables. Last year I grew onions, runner beans, tomatoes, broccoli, chillies, strawberries and raspberries, along with basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, sage and mint. I felt like Jamie Oliver! Every night I was cutting fresh produce and cooking amazing dinners with it! Ok, this is all sounding a big too grown up and civilised so I’ll just take this opportunity to remind you that I own a Harley Davidson. This has always been my “other” source of enjoyment. I love nothing more than taking the Harley out for a spin. Wind in my face, flies stuck in my lipgloss, the smell of freshly cut grass and seeing the countryside while cruising along on my own without a care in the world. I love it, I really love it.
Then of course there’s the real love of my life. The one gorgeous thing that saved me from everything. The thing that made me respect myself once more, the thing that made me feel confident and truly happy: the gym! When you exercise you release endorphins that make you feel good. I think that fact alone should be enough for the government to give free gym memberships to depressed people instead of pills. But there’s more….. going to the gym gave me the body of my dreams. Where before I had cellulite and flabby bits and bits I wanted to hide; now I am super toned and firm all over. I don’t have any bits I want to hide now and at 37, my body is in better shape than when I was 23! I love that I work hard to keep it this way (things are always more satisfying when you’ve worked for them and you’ve not just been given it on a plate). I love the confidence it’s given me, I love that I have goals to work towards with my competitions, I love that the gym never fails to make me feel amazing and powerful! Nowadays I don’t really have a bad day but if I do have a moment or two when I feel tired or a bit down, I go and do a work out and come out feeling stronger, happier, more determined and more in control. I have never ever left a gym session feeling crap! Of course I might one day leave feeling crap; if I drop a 50KG dumbbell on my foot but touch wood that hasn’t happened yet and won’t (and if it does, the whole of twitter will know about it before a paramedic).