Today I want to share with you something that not many people know. Or at least I don’t think they do! I want to talk about anorexia and body dysmorphia.
When I was in the tail end of my teen years, anorexia set in. When I look back there were lots of reasons for it really, although I didn’t know it at the time. I thought that it seemed from one thing but the reality is that there were many things that I felt I had no control over. It was a very hard and depressing time and it lasted a good number of years. I vividly remember trying to get ready for a night out with friends and breaking down in front of my wardrobe as I thought that everything I owned made me look huge. The reality was that I was never big. I’ve always been slim but something in my mind shifted and I genuinely thought that I was the biggest person in the world. I was fat. I was ugly. I was completely worthless. Those thoughts raged in my mind for years and years. They destroyed friendships, relationships and they destroyed me.
Eventually I talked to a GP who referred me to a specialist centre. On my first visit they told me that I would need to gain 2 and a half stone before they would discharge me. Fear rose from my feet and I left and never went back. I struggled on, trying to ‘be good’ and get better but in all honesty I couldn’t be bothered. It was too difficult to change my mindset and stop my eyes playing tricks on me. I was quite happy to shrink away from the world. Years went by and I kind of improved. Children came along and I tried very hard to model good eating habits for them. But when I was alone, the monkies in my brain were still there, goading me, making me feel ugly.
The beginning of the end for my eating disorder started when Jack was ill. Never has the phrase ‘scared the life out of me’ been truer. When Jack was fighting for his life, my life was put into perspective. Did my weight really matter? I was loosing my son in front of my eyes, did it make any difference to the outcome of that situation if I was really skinny? Would the world suddenly work in my favour? Of course it wouldn’t. Jacks struggle gave me the wake up call I needed to take a second chance with my life. The chance to really live and appreciate everything that life gives to me, both good and bad. My ‘recovery’ had started and I didn’t even realise it. Ava’s determination inspired me further when she came along at just 28 weeks and I watched her fight for every second of every day. If my children wanted to desperately to live then so did I.
I’ve started to realise just what my body is about. Doing a Dirty Dash last year made me see that my body is not a temple to be built perfectly for others to worship. It’s perfection (or not) is not a measure of my self worth. It did not dictate if I had friends, or a partner. It did not make me better or worse than anyone else. It is a power house to be worshipped by me! It is mine, to be cherished and loved and given the freedom to just be. A true shift in mindset had begun and I loved the freedom it gave me. I felt as if I could do anything. I started to appreciate the wonderful work that my body had done carrying my children. I appreciated the way that it carries Jack endlessly. I realised that it needed some love. I’m still very much on my journey and bringing yoga into my life has helped massively. Yoga asks you to be the best that you can be that day, in that moment. Which is all that any of us can strive for. It calms any chatter in my mind and gently challenges my body. After all these years, gentleness is exactly what my mind and body needs.