Being nice to myself is one of the most difficult things for me to do. My automatic mind is to ridicule myself until I get it “right.” But, my past anorexia, binge eating disorder, body dysmorphia and bulimia have always resulted in the complete opposite.
I developed a deep sense of self-loathing at a young age. I never felt like I was enough, and I had a deep sense of emptiness that needed to be filled by food. I thought I would die feeling the way I felt. I felt addicted to food, I hated my body, and I truly thought it was all my fault. In my struggling, self-hating mind, I was failing to meet any of my own expectations and was unable to maintain what I deemed as a “good weight.”
But now having pursued recovery and a path to better mental health, I can see things clearly. The patterns I created and the relationships I built with food were so obviously a result of everything I was missing and desperately needed.
Anxiety and fears with food and my body did not just manifest on their own. Growing up, I did not feel very loved or wanted in my home. I found it nearly impossible to find anyone who understood me. I felt excluded from all the “cool” girls in grade school, high school and even college. I turned to food to make me feel better.
But I would eat until I couldn’t breath and would immediately hate myself. The food was no longer able to serve the purpose I was hoping for. It was a cycle that did nothing, but make me hate myself even more. I didn’t realize that I needed to love myself and gift myself compassion for this deep struggle.
Before opening my mind to the idea that therapy and realizing that working on my mental health was truly the answer, I was terrified by the idea of both. It is extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re struggling. Then, it’s intimidating to think of trying to “fix” yourself. But I needed to remind myself that I am not a failure and I am not broken. I deserve a better life and I have to put in some work to actually get it.
Therapy opened my eyes to the idea of self-love, self-worth, patience and compassion for myself. Growing up, some of us were never taught these ideas and therapy can truly help develop these attributes. Today, I’ve made it my life’s mission to break the stigma on mental health and therapy. I want to emulate and teach an attitude of acceptance and openness when it comes to seeking treatment for mental illness.
I have been going to therapy at least once a week for over two years now. I have finally completed over one full month of eating disorder recovery and have continued to work on improving my mental health. I still have a way to go, but my ultimate goal is to continuously work on myself. I understand that recovery is a process, that I will have ups and downs and that I will fall hard, but I will never shame myself for doing so.
I have now developed ways to love myself through even my darkest moments. Thanks to therapy. Thanks to feeling my feelings. Thanks to finally opening my mind and transforming it into a self-loving one.
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