I love my new life. I love my newfound freedom. And I fucking love being able to indulge in and enjoy food, like seriously, so good. But I’m struggling to love my new body. The new way it moves, the new way it feels when I walk around or when I’m sitting down. I’m trying, I really am, and some days I really do feel at peace with it, but today has been a struggle.
I’ve injured my ankle, so I can’t do any high impact activity, which I’m struggling with. I usually go to the gym/ running at least 3 if not 4 times a week, and I haven’t been able to do any cardio for 2 weeks now. And that’s ok, it really is, it’s just a big change for me. Today I decided to go to the gym just to do some weights and get out for a bit, and what I was seeing in the mirror just didn’t look like me. The weight gain is obvious now. I’m not skinny anymore. And I feel like I’m losing my identity.
This is a topic we were covering in therapy last week. My homework was to make a list of the benefits of changing and the disadvantages of changing, and the first thing I wrote was ‘loss of identity’. Not only had that appearance become part of who I was, but the constrictive way of living, following rules and feeling in control (despite being completely miserable) had become a safety blanket I relied on as part of every day life. When my therapist asked me who I was other than my eating disorder and being a medical student, there was nothing I could think to say. And it just hit me how sad it is that this has ruled my life for so long. That I can’t identify as anything else. I don’t know what I like or how to define myself. And that was the first time I’ve cried in therapy. I’m known to a lot of my friends and family as a closed book. I rarely show my emotions and I never opened up to anyone prior to starting on the road to recovery, a major skill this journey has taught me, although I still find it difficult.
So today, when I was looking at myself in the mirror (which I tend to avoid these days), I hardly recognised the woman that stood before me. The weekend I’ve just spent back home filled with meals out, lots of drinking, and lots of drunk food, suddenly turned into regret (when it’s actually been an amazing weekend celebrating my sister’s birthday). The awesome weekend I have ahead of me in Geneva with my housemates, which will be filled with good food, drinks and laughter suddenly made me feel anxious. The thought of wearing a bikini in public filled me with dread and shame. And for the first time in a long time, that familiar feeling of self hatred began take over.
But then I got home, made a banging cheese omelette, had dinner with my housemates, arranged to go out for dinner with my Dad tomorrow, and realised how wrong I had been. It’s so easy to get caught up in these thoughts, but more and more I’m finding I can bring myself back to reality. I see now that I am so much more than a body. I am still worthy with belly rolls and touching thighs. I’m living.
So to anyone reading this who is questioning their decision to fight back for ownership over their life, for for freedom from the constraints of an eating disorder, or any mental illness for that matter, have faith that you made the right decision. Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come and what you’ve been able to achieve. You are more than your body. You are beautiful. You are worthy.