This time last year and the year before that, I was edged with eating disorder thoughts. My life revolved around what I ate and how much I moved. Even though I was being treated in an eating disorder clinic, I wasn’t properly healing. It took time and lots of energy to get to where I am today, healthy and thriving, and I am forever grateful to have so many people in my life who have helped me throughout this journey.
A birthday is a day to reflect on the year that has been. It is a lot like a personal ‘New Year’ where you create your own resolutions and promises to the self. But eating disorders can easily snatch that away from you. From personal experience, I had to really prepare myself for the day, pretending to function like a normal human and being comfortable around food especially cake. If you could really see what was going through my head at that time, you’d be frazzled. It was its own chaotic snake pit.
“Don’t eat too much.“
“Don’t eat the icing of the cake.“
“Only have a small slice of cake. “
“Workout before and after you eat.“
“Skip breakfast tomorrow to compensate.“
“Take little bites so you don’t seem like a pig.“
These thoughts didn’t just come and go. They stayed even on regular days and it was an uphill battle to wriggle out of such a burdening kind of thinking.
Today, after months and months of trying to restore my mental wellness, I have reached a point where I feel the strongest both physically and mentally. I now take care of myself because I love myself. I have gained freedom around food and myself and it is a feeling that should be celebrated. So, since this month was my birthday month, I let go of all the uncertainty and made it a good one. I celebrated with my family and my grandfather, the people who I know love me no matter what, I ate food that was made with love by my parents, and I cut a generous slice of cake for myself, something I had not done in years. I danced around from all the energy I had. I made people laugh. I had almost forgotten what the real me was like. It’s crazy how much you can regain and more from recovery.
It wasn’t always easy, believe me. There’s so much that goes through your head, so many doubts that consume you but I think that the hardest part of it all is forgiving yourself. Forgiving yourself for putting your mental illness first over yourself. Forgiving yourself for taking away the happiness of the people that love you. Forgiving yourself for your insignificant mistakes. Forgiving yourself for falling apart at times. You see, when you think you’ve lost your soul, the body does the same and so it makes it harder to move forward, harder to take a bite each time. There is no strength to reach for health and happiness anymore. The voice that seeks life and to be loved almost fades to a nothing. But let me tell you… no matter how long you’ve been swimming in this ocean of self-loathing, there is still a shore somewhere and as Dory likes to say you have to “Just keep swimming”.
My aim is to help people. It has always been that because I know that I would have wanted to hear this when I was still in the depths of my disorder. I am sure that if you are in a dark place right now, it’s not always going to be like that. Remember that darkness exists to make light truly count.
So take the time to ask your self, “Am I giving myself the space to grow into the person I wish to be?” If the answer is no, then make the space by starting to take care of yourself the way you take care of others. If you start to see the world as a blessing to the existence, then you’ll start to see yourself the same way.