Knowing, Respecting and Loving Yourself

A huge part of my recovery and my growth as a person has been learning all about myself. I have a greater understanding of myself today than I ever could have imagined possible previously. I am far more able to understand and identify my feelings, triggers, emotional blocks. I am able now to acknowledge that perhaps something I am saying or doing is unhealthy, but to also recognise the growth I have shown. In this way I am able to find something positive to focus on, rather than negative.

For example, a couple of days ago, I was having a particularly low day. I was looking back through old photos and admiring my body at the time my eating disorder was at its worst and I had lost a lot of weight. I have been feeling really unhappy with my current body and having been fighting a lot with the urge to lose weight through unhealthy means again. This includes dieting and ‘healthy eating lifestyle’ plans like slimming world.

(I will not even start a rant about diet culture/diet industries and how evil they are. I would just recommend that you follow @bodyposipanda aka Megan Jayne Crabbe aka my favourite account on Instagram and the reason I am still trying to love myself. Also read her book. It’s incredible)

So anyway… I’m sat there, looking at these photos, hating on myself. I was considering how I would be able to hide my ED from my family and friends, especially my partner. Then it occurred to me… when I was in full ED mode before, my hair sucked. Like super unhealthy, didn’t grow very well at all. Right now, I LOVE my hair. It has taken me years to grow it out and it is finally looking and feeling healthy. It is the one and only thing some days that I can honestly say I like/love about myself. So I decided then and there, I probably would have to try loving myself again instead because I don’t want to ruin my hair.

I went to my partner and proudly told him what I had been thinking, adding in that actually nails get brittle too and that was a pain. I was also stood unashamedly admiring my hair in the mirror. He was shocked and said “so, you’re telling me that the reason you decided against it now, was not for how it affects your mental health, what it will do to your insides, how it would affect your family or friends etc. You decided… because of your hair?” I actually laughed out loud and acknowledged completely how potentially fucked up that was. How to a normal person that is still super unhealthy… but to me, that is so damn grown. I decided not to hurt myself to change my body because I focused on something I loved about myself. I didn’t even have to consciously do it. I made the choice out of love for me. Maybe not love for all of me sure, but that seemingly small part, that will grow (like my healthy hair!). I was able to, in a very dark moment, genuinely love something about me and my appearance. I used that and chose love for myself over hate for myself. That. Is. Growth.

It’s January, it is the month of “New Year, New Me” diet and fitness ads are everywhere. It feels like everyone is talking about their diets and how fat they are or how bad they were over Christmas. I have been actually dreading going into the office because that place is rife with diet talk. For someone fighting an eating disorder mind, I can tell you it’s pretty damn triggering. It is not going to be easy for me to stand up for myself and politely ask my colleagues or friends to not talk about their diets in front of me. I am afraid of the reaction I will get and the judgement in people’s eyes. The look of “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder, you look like you need to diet”. I am going to have to bite my tongue to avoid a rant about diet culture and how bad it is. I am going to have to remind myself constantly, why I am fighting this, even if right now it’s only for my hair.

I am politely asking anyone reading this right now who knows me personally: I do not want to hear about your diet. I do not want to hear about your new healthy eating plan. Or food based lifestyle change. Or your plan to lose weight. If you post about your diet or constantly talk on social media about good food vs bad food and how “eating this is going to make me so fat” respectfully, I will unfollow you as it is not healthy for me. I do not want you to comment on my weight in any way, even if it is meant as a compliment. If your goals for 2020 are image related I don’t want to know about them. I am asking this in order to respect my mental health and to aid my recovery. I am also asking because maybe it will make someone think. Not everyone is as open as me. There may be someone struggling, as I am and they also don’t want to hear about your diet. I don’t think it would actually be wrong to ask, if you are not sure, if someone is comfortable talking about your diet/food plans. I consciously bite my tongue and aim to be respectful of other people’s views when it comes to diets. I only ask for the same respect when it comes to my views and my mental health.

If you are also feeling the pressure of diet culture and the pressure to obtain the perfect body (as decided by who!?) I’m with you. I have told many people to try this and I feel it is even more important now. In the comfort of your own home by yourself, get naked. (This isn’t about to get weird I promise) stand naked in front of a mirror – those small make up mirrors don’t count! Then I want you to pick at least one thing that you love about yourself, even if it’s just your hair. Do this every day, really take in your body but do not get sucked into hating it.

Even if you don’t love your body, your body loves you.

Even if your body is not perfectly healthy or doesn’t look the way society tells you it should look, your body loves you. Your body works every single day just to keep you alive. You are alive because your body loves you. When you look in that mirror and start to notice all the things you hate about your body, remind yourself that your body loves you and then try to love it back.

I have just started doing this again today. Today I love:

  1. My hair… obvs!
  2. My waist and the curve of my hips
  3. My big Greek booty
  4. My eyes

Stay strong warriors, I see you, I’m with you, we’ve got this. 💚

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