Comparisons

I had a little blip a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d share it with you.

My mum and sister had come down to visit and we had the most wonderful night of laughter, good food and lots of drink! The next day I was hungover. I had that feeling of emptiness I get when I’ve had a heavy night of drinking the night before, that no amount of food can seem to satisfy. I don’t know if anyone else gets that? Anyway, I basically spent the day grazing on copious amounts of food and woke up the next day feeling awful. I felt guilty and ashamed that I hadn’t been able to resist the temptation to feed the hangover. And for the first time in a while, I felt ugly and fat. I began to doubt all the positive steps I’ve taken, and to fantasise about the skinny body I used to have.

I began looking around at other people, comparing myself to them, and wishing I looked different.

But then I took a step back and reconsidered. Everyone has their own story. You can’t compare yourself to other people, because we all have such different lives and we’ve all faced different struggles. It also follows that you can’t judge a person based only on their appearance. You have no idea what’s going on in their lives. And if people do judge you on the way you look, their opinion is certainly not one to care about.

I’m still learning to be confident in my skin. To love my new body. To listen to it, and to respect it. But I sure as hell won’t be comparing it to anybody else. We’re each our own person, and that what makes the world such a beautifully diverse place.

Don’t let what surrounds you change the way you feel about yourself. Love yourself just the way you are.

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Epiphany

I’ve know it for a long time, but today in therapy I had an epiphany and I really think I’ve seen the light.

I was feeling miserable after about 2 weeks of heavy binging, and I’d put on 1kg, so I was feeling awful. Although I’ve stopped restricting the way I used to, I still consciously hold back and often don’t fill myself up at mealtimes, leaving me with unfulfilled cravings leading to a binge. Out of control, eating without really wanting to, until I’m in pain. My body and mind are used to filling up this way because they’ve been deprived for so long and they know it’s back to restricting the next day. But I don’t restrict as much any more, yet my head still seems to be working in the same way, hence the intense self hatred in recent weeks.

I woke up this morning after another binge feeling terrible, feeling like I didn’t want to get up and face the day, a feeling that is all too familiar. But after some serious reflection I’ve realised what I need to do, and it’s quite simple. Eat substantial meals that satisfy me.  Snack when I’m hungry. Stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Nourish my body and enjoy every mouthful of food without worry about calories. Let go of all the rules. Allow my weight to fluctuate. Some weeks I’ll have lots of social events or a weekend away centred around good food and drink, but then I’ll have other weeks where I go to the gym and eat a little less. Just eat without deliberating about every for choice, eat something because that’s what I feel like eating, listen to my body, and food will cease to be the enemy which occupies all my thoughts.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Love yourself. Be confident in your body. You are beautiful.

Conflicting Feelings

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.