I feel as though I have progressed in my recovery SO much.
School and real life, though wonderful, seemed to have almost distracted me from myself and my internal problems; quarantine gave me the chance to finally face the greatest challenge of all… me.
Now, I am exercising in a healthy way— to feel strong and powerful, rather than for the satisfaction of my anorexia. Each time I am able to lift a weight or build muscle, it feels like I am laughing in my ED’s face: “You thought you could get rid of my energy, you thought you could kill me— but guess what! You can’t! I’m stronger than you!”
I am also facing past fear foods on a daily basis, and they hardly feel scary anymore. There are still traces of the ED voice, telling me lies and negative words, but I simply shut it out. It’s like background noise— unpleasant at times, but generally just a bit of white noise that my mind blocks.
That being said, I still struggle. I have plenty of bad body image days, at times I compare myself to others (both externally and internally), and I catch myself buying into the exhaustingly hypocritical and false “beauty standard” that celebrities perpetuate. AND THAT IS OKAY! Do not feel bad or disheartened if you find yourself having thoughts or emotional responses to triggers when you thought you were well into recovery. The former’s existence does not dictate the truth of the latter.
What matters is your response to these thoughts, and the actions you take.
If someone has accidentally said something triggering, sit down with them and discuss it. They most likely did not mean to hurt you in any way, but if they don’t know what they said wrong, they cannot fix their behavior. It can be very hard to talk about, but it is the only way to help others support you.
If you are comparing yourself to others on social media or elsewhere, try to visualize a pleasant experience. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a meadow or a peaceful garden, or wherever you feel at peace. Think about all of the details present, and then picture yourself doing something you love. Don’t focus on how you appear; just concentrate on the actions you are taking and how they make you feel inside. This visualization technique often helps me greatly.
Another thing you can do if you are stuck in a comparison loop is to acknowledge the photos’ surface-level content. Realize that the photos a person is posting are just snapshots of a moment, and are not accurate representations of the person themselves. Try to focus on the person’s eyes, smile, or other indications of their inner emotions. Instead of comparing or being jealous, instead you can compliment them! By saying out loud, “wow, I really love their eyes/outfit/etc.”, or commenting on their post, both you and the person receiving the compliment end up feeling really good. The karma will also come back to you in the future! Giving positive energy to the universe increases your chances of receiving positive energy back.
Finally, what I have been doing is practicing SELF-LOVE!!! I will probably make a whole separate post about this, but a brief overview of what I have been doing is making a daily list of what I love about myself, what makes me confident, and what I was proud of accomplishing for the day. I urge you all to do the same! Stopping to really think and write this down is not vain or narcissistic in any way. In fact, it brings your internal self joy and helps put your position into perspective.
To end this mini rant about self-love and struggles, I want to thank everyone who has sent me messages about my blog and recovery. To hear that my experience and writing has helped others makes me incredibly happy. When I first had the idea to create this blog at the very beginning of my long road to recovery, I could never have imagined that I would be making tangible differences in someone’s life experience. That is the ultimate goal of this blog! However, I am not perfect either; hence the name imperfect recovery! I am always ready to help or talk if you need the support of someone who has experienced the same things as you.