Dear Eating Disorder

It’s been you and I for quite some time now. You’ve always been there, sitting on my shoulder and we know each other well.  So well, that I’ve come to consider you a strange kind of friend. You’ve always been there when life got out of control, your words so familiar and reassuring. You learned to disguise your voice as my own, making it hard to distinguish truth from lies.  I’m writing this today because I’m ready to say that I don’t need our “friendship” anymore. I’m ready to call you out for what you are.

You’re a tyrant. And I became a slave to your warfare’s agenda. Counting, tracking, monitoring, obsessing, judging, striving, pushing. You consumed my every thought and set my mind and body against one another. I punished myself when I let you down. Exercising till I felt dizzy, throwing up until I couldn’t stand. I did your bidding to the point of exhaustion and to the exclusion of everything that mattered to me.

You’re a thief. You stole my joy, energy, excitement, health and personality. You stripped me of life and happiness and robbed me of so much TIME. Holidays, parties, time with family, time with friends, new experiences and opportunities- all tainted with your toxic chatter. Time spent critiquing, obsessing, and panicking. Time that I will never get back.

You’re a liar. You told me my worth was a number and a size. I only saw distortion, reflected in the mirror. You promised me happiness after one more kilogram or one more kilometre. You had me convinced there was nothing wrong, as my hair fell out and I shivered in summer heat. I believed you when you said my worth was based on my appearance. “Lazy, hopeless, incompetent, stupid, not trying hard enough, failure”. You went further than food and weight- You had me convinced that I would never amount to anything in life. 


But You are NOT ME. You never have been and you never will be. And although it’s hard to let you go, I’ve finally learned to distinguish your thoughts from my own. You are no longer welcome in my mind. You’re persistent and familiar but our “friendship” is off and despite your best efforts, I am finally FED up with your abuse. I am choosing happiness over control. I am choosing me over you.  

***If you or someone else you know is struggling with food and body image visit: http://nedic.ca

 

 

 

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Emotional First Aid

       A few weeks ago I cried on a hotel room floor for 11 hours straight. Crushed with anxiety, rumination and loneliness, I didn't sleep for that entire night. I wrote a text message to my best friend but deleted it without sending... I was in pain and the mere existence of my hurt made me feel guilty and ashamed of myself. I tried to distract myself in any way I could, hoping it would all leave me.

Now let’s pretend that it was the same day and I had fallen down the stairs and broken my leg, trying to get to the hotel  gym. I would have called one of my crew members, who then would have helped me get to a hospital. From there I would have gotten an x-ray, a cast, and pain medication. I wouldn’t have felt guilty or ashamed of my injury. I would have taken the action needed in order to take care of myself. I wouldn’t have been alone in my hotel room, hoping the pain would disappear and my leg would magically heal itself.

    With mental health problems ever prevalent within our society, it is time to start giving the same attentiveness we give to our physical well being, to our emotional well being. When most of us are dealing with a sore throat, we go to the drugstore to buy medication. When we break a bone, we go to the doctor to reset it. But what are we doing to reset our broken hearts? Despite efforts to heighten awareness and acceptance, the stigma, secrecy and shame surrounding emotional distress is still VERY much a thing. That is why I believe in the idea of “Emotional First Aid”.

    Emotional First Aid is being a first responder to yourself. It is about being self aware enough to know when you are hurting and brave enough to investigate why. It is then about taking the steps, in order to get the help that you need.

What might be in your Emotional First Aid Kit?

  • Allow yourself to feel. Sit with your emotion without judgement and without the need to change yourself. Let your symptoms be whatever they may be.

  • Do an activity that you know will make you feel a bit better. I go for long runs and listen to my favourite music. You could meditate, read, walk, journal, watch your favourite movie, go out in nature, etc. (Just make sure that it is not something unhealthy, that could make the problem worse.)

  • Connect with someone. Someone you can trust, someone who loves you. For me that’s my family and a few really great friends. They can often help to remind you of your wonderfulness. You are always so loved and so supported! We all need each other.

  • Go to therapy. I am a huge fan of therapy. Everyone can benefit from a calm, educated, unbiased perspective. EVERYONE CAN. It is not weak or unnecessary to see a registered psychologist or counsellor.

  • Get yourself some pills. This is something I don’t have personal experience with but I do believe that there is NOTHING wrong with a brain chemical balancer, if it helps you feel good again.

I think a lot of us (myself included) struggle with thinking that our emotional pain is somehow not serious enough for help and attention. We compare ourselves to others with “bigger” issues and feel ashamed for feeling the way we do about the things that effect us. It is always good to have a healthy perspective but really,  all you have is YOUR  reality that YOU’RE experiencing. If you are hurting, you are hurting and your pain is just as valid as anyone else's. Get the help you need in the ways that you need it, for whatever it may be that is bothering you.

If you are struggling right now with something not immediately evident to others, like mental health, you have full permission to do whatever it is you need to do to heal. Take care of your emotional health in the same manner you would take care of your physical health. Treat a broken heart the same way you would a broken bone. Be open and vulnerable with yourself and others. We are all in this together. It is my hope that the more we do this, the more we will ALL collectively be able to mend one another. And remember to be patient, time heals all wounds, after all.

Xx,

 

Sophie

 

 

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All or Nothing

        Is there something about yourself that you would like to change? It could be a habit, lifestyle choice, thought pattern, personality trait, an addiction… Internal conflict is tricky business. There’s nothing more frustrating and scary than struggling against yourself. Throw external shittiness at me all day and I will namaste my way through it but I find NOTHING as unsettling as feeling like an enemy towards myself.

My eating disorder is an example of my own struggle for internal change. My recovery hasn’t been the uninterrupted, straight line I’ve wanted it to be. It’s taken years, it’s been up and down and on and off. Just when I think I’ve finally rid myself of the negative voices, they blindside me from around the corner. Letting myself down is a hopeless feeling. How am I supposed to give myself the love I need to change when I’m the one fucking myself over?

I was talking to my roommate about this feeling the other day and she said “Sophie, you are a person of extremes”. She’s so right. I’ve been trying to cure myself of a controlling, all or nothing mental illness with a controlling, all or nothing mindset! I want so badly to be able to draw a line in the sand, to put an immediate barrier between me and my problems. All or nothing. Black or white. Perfection or failure. There has never been an in between.

But what would happen if I accepted the inevitable human struggle of my recovery and own self discovery? What if I sat silently in the in between of who I am and who I want to be? Looked at my setbacks as lessons instead of failures? Or better yet, accepted myself exactly where I was, without judgement. Just like any goal or journey, it is not realistic to jump from A to D. The same goes for self improvement and change. Instead of trying to jump across the entire ravine, work on building a bridge. Each set back can serve as a building block for the structure that will eventually reach the other side. I’m learning to trust the space between where I am and where I want to be and accepting that it’s the process that creates the foundation for lasting change.

Can you relate to the all or nothing mindset? Be patient with your addictions, your shortcomings and your struggles. Instead, accept the inbetween stage as inevitable and necessary. Free yourself from the self imposed pressure of having to change overnight and be okay with the time and space it takes to cultivate lasting growth.

 

Xx,

Sophie

 

You must take time to build a bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

You must take time to build a bridge between where you are and where you want to be.