social media/instagram cleanse

I know everyone says this, but the screen time on my phone has become absolutely baffling; honestly, it makes me sick to my stomach. Almost every time I go on Instagram, it ends up leaving me in a worse headspace than I initially had before logging on— and yet, the detrimental cycle inevitably continues.

Whether it be about comparing my productivity, preparations for college applications, bodies and selfies, nutrition accounts, superficial levels of intelligence put up as a facade, overwhelming news, and petty arguments between people; all these things and more made me absolutely nauseated afterwards.
However, I continued to hang on. I have this fear of missing out, of being left out or behind, because I am not constantly active in group chats or replying to stories. But I must remember— this type of interaction, though reinforcing relationships, is hardly their defining characteristics.

At first, this challenge was quite difficult. I kept having the urge to pick up my phone and scroll, or catch up with my friends. However, it quickly became my new norm. It was such a relief to not have headaches after the constant bombardment of news or posts, and my head was much clearer and better able to focus on the present moment. This new age of technology and instant gratification makes for very short spans of attention, and a drive to continually look towards the future. Having a break from Instagram’s reinforcement of this was wonderful, allowing me to be more present.

Deleting Instagram was like running away to the Walden cabin with Thoreau. I escaped the ideas of the masses, and was able to hone in on myself and my individual thoughts. Thoreau even writes: “…There comes a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion…” What he means here is that humans need to discover themselves; they need to figure out what we are going to do in this life. However, none of us have a complete understanding of this from birth, so we often fall into conforming to other people’s behaviors and actions. This tactic, although very easy to do, is imitation; and effectively, as Thoreau says, suicide. As Stephen West from Philosphize This puts it: “…imitation is suicide…you going around doing your best imitation of what the people around you are doing in the interest of avoiding a difficult conversation with yourself…is effectively suicide…suicide of your individuality. No, self-reliance preaches a sort of radical non-conformity…” By leaving my main source of social media, I was able to become more of an individual. But the fact remains that objectively, this break was rather short— however long it may have seemed to me at the time. I firmly believe that I must continue taking these breaks in order to radically redefine how I view myself and my place in this world.

Unfortunately, my situation makes it very difficult to go completely without Instagram. Almost all of my interactions with my friends take place via its dms, I run a business where I message people through it, and I have an art account from which I take daily inspiration. All in all, I truly missed my friends, and from my hiatus realized that there are quite a lot of opportunities to spread positivity and empowerment on this platform.

Therefore, what I have taken from this is to:

  1. Limit my time on the app
  2. Limit where exactly I am spending my time and energy (focus more on messaging with my friends than mindlessly scrolling)
  3. Actively use my platform to spread positivity and empowerment, whether that be through complimenting on people’s photos, reposting meaningful quotes, checking in on people, and overall making my stay less toxic and more joyful.

Another piece of advice I found to have helped me: Whenever you have the urge to scroll/open an app, instead opt for a breathing exercise.

All in all, I learned a lot from this seemingly minuscule “experiment”. I realized that often, Instagram is a place for me to avoid myself. And I confirmed my suspicions that I should restrict my time on this and other unnecessary electronic applications (albeit gradually, and not entirely cutting them out, as this is near impossible and not very practical)

I hope my ramblings were interesting for you to read 🙂

dread.

“dread”, i whisper; its smoky tendrons curling around my throat, ever so slyly tightening. 

lost in the infinite; my eyes are dizzy, a nauseous swirling of galactic blue and hazy purple. 

lost in the finite; mundane dirt fills my veins, clouds my sight. 

what can i say? who to turn to? speak, and you are roughly thrown from your country. your platform wholly eradicated— and this is merciful. 

speak again, and you are ill. not autonomous in your thoughts; requiring intensive propagandizing, indoctrinating.

the eerie stares, perennially present, watching out for every misstep. why must we revert back to history, the deathly pallor of the ussr? do they forget?                

my throat, my nimble fingers, my inner thoughts— purloined and looted. appealing to the masses, quivering in eternal fear of doubt and consequence. 

no longer are my creations my own. no; they slip from my soapy fingertips, into an unending chasm.  

i scream until my mind aches. 

but the chasm, so cavernous— the sounds are lost. disintegrate to nil. 

screams are nothing when they are not your own.

Self-Image (plus some existentialism)

I have always struggled with positive self-image. I believe most people in this world have. But though this is the case, it does not mean that it is something to strive for and normalize. 

I feel like I constantly need to be achieving something. Instead of allowing my accomplishments to sink in, I seem to be elated for a split second, and then run after another goal to conquer. 

This also seems to apply to body image. Although my body image was very good during quarantine, recently a couple of my friends came over for my birthday. I absolutely loved having them and enjoyed every second of it; but afterwards, looking at the pictures my mom took, I had a breakdown. Not seeing my peers prevented me from comparing myself— so when I finally did see them, I became more prone to this detrimental comparison. Looking at myself in the camera, I began to nitpick every detail— my hair was too long and limp, my stupid braces, my weird nose, etc. The problem was, my family and friends didn’t see it this way at all. I got so many positive messages from people telling me I looked beautiful, and my family members said I looked like an angel. These positive messages only confused me more; why were my close ones lying to me? The conflict between my self-image and that which external factors were telling me contrasted to an absurd degree. It made me angry at myself… for being angry at myself. 

The strange thing is, my self-image changes drastically. At some points, I look at myself and think, Wow! You are SO talented and smart. You have achieved an enormous amount of things already, and your desire for knowledge is incredible. You look absolutely beautiful and strong. And I believe it. 

But other times, I look at myself and think, You are so stupid. Look at all of these genius people around you you are nothing. You are worthless and you need to work harder; you are ugly and gross, and how could you ever DARE to think otherwise? 

This disparity of my reality is what frustrates me. How can I go from one viewpoint to another so easily? Which one is the truth? Can we even attain a reality if we view it through such flawed lenses as what comprises our human senses? Is there such a thing as reality, if everyone— including your own self— has these disparate mindsets?

Switching the topic a bit, I’ve recently been obsessed with Albert Camus. When I study a certain person’s work or philosophies, I begin to adopt their mindset. This is definitely what has happened with Camus; I’ve read The Stranger and The Plague, and have just begun reading The Myth of Sisyphus (DEFINITELY recommend all of these).

Though some people may immediately write off his ideas as depressing and miserable, I tend to strongly disagree. These people fail to dive deeper into his philosophies— they are lazy in their beliefs, and instantly judge. Camus’ ideas are actually of the opposite nature. He supports Absurdism, the “conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe.

However, this is not a reason to despair. “A meaningless universe is actually an opportunity to free ourselves from the shackles of hope and experience existence more fully” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hJZEq61KeM). This idea took me a while to truly grasp. Though I try my best to learn with an open mind, it is incredibly hard to overcome subconscious judgments that spring from the ideas you are raised, or “nurtured”, with. I am by NO means finished processing this idea, and I don’t think I ever will be… and that in itself is beautiful.

Here is a great video to watch about Camus’ take on life:

And as always, I cannot recommend Stephen West’s Philosophize This podcast enough (I have not gotten to Camus’ episode yet, but I already know it is absolutely INCREDIBLE)

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

–Albert Camus

Anyways, what is my point in going off on this tangent? It is that the universe is absurd (at least from Camus’ perspective). It is random and arbitrary, and there is no reason in it. But that is not a cause for despair— it is not a cause for philosophical or physical suicide. It is instead a reason to create our own morals and values, to fully commit to living our own life.

A meaningless life means that these standards of beauty, these pre-written societal paths of accomplishments and set roads to some distant point, are fallacies. We are free to revolt against these constraints, and throw ourselves into our lives. If there is no afterlife or transcendent morals, why should I set myself to harsh expectations? To become what Camus refers to as an absurd hero, I must live life to its absolute fullest, despite the absurd. 

To me, this applies to my self-image in that I must rebel against the ever-clashing realities I am constantly barraged with, and instead live my life fully and joyfully. I must make absolutely the most I can with it, instead of restricting myself to what society tells me to do or look like.

This is very hard to properly apply to situations, but I will not give up trying or thinking. My absolute favorite thing is when I am able to connect seemingly distant philosophical ideas to concrete conflicts present in my life or immediate surroundings. It makes their application and reality so much more tangible.

I hope you enjoyed this philosophical approach to some recent thoughts about self-image! The more I learn about philosophy, the more I realize how intrinsically connected it is with our human reality. Philosophy is not elitist knowledge of abstract, unusable ideas; but rather, the study of innate human nature and behavior.

a philosophical approach to anxiety

Hello!

This quarantine has been incredibly stressful for everyone. People have been struggling to sustain themselves both physically (job, food/supplies, etc.) and mentally. 

For me, almost the entirety of quarantine has been filled with terrible anxiety and worry.

I needed an outlet for my stress, and so I poured it into preparation for my AP tests and working on my college application. I devoted hours to studying and stressing over my extracurriculars; every extra moment I could spare was used to pore over stats and college reaction videos on youtube, and I found myself spiraling as I read through unending lists of writing and science competitions. 

This was terrible for my mental health. Constantly comparing myself to others made me feel as though all my accomplishments were insignificant; as if they were meaningless when contrasted with others’. 

I found myself isolating. Every evening, I would shut myself up in my art room and draw. Whenever someone walked in, I felt this terrible sense of anger and irritability. I would immediately snap and tell them to leave me be.

Sometimes the anxiety would get so bad that I would physically tense up; I just felt so scared, so stupid compared to other people. I felt as if I wasn’t doing enough.

As if I wasn’t good enough.

I constantly pushed myself to do better and better, making the false promise that I would feel much happier once I achieved my goals— and yet, once I achieved them, my pride was incredibly brief and subsided almost immediately. After I accomplished something, I put it past me and moved on to the next thing on my list.

After the AP tests, I thought I had finally calmed down. However, this was not the case; I was still constantly worried about doing more. I even ventured onto College Confidential, the most toxic and debilitating forum out there. I self-isolated and recoiled from human connection.

As you might expect, this was terrible— not only for me, but for my family as well. The anxiety wasn’t 24/7 anymore, as it was before the exams, but it was still very prevalent, and prevented me from truly enjoying the present moment.

I recently started listening to this philosophy podcast called Philosophize This by Stephen West. I absolutely adore it, and I can’t recommend it enough.

This podcast got me deeply interested in philosophy and thought.

Most of the philosophers, at least from the early Hellenistic period, all sought one goal— eudaimonia (happiness/wellbeing). Initially, I listened to their personal methods to reaching welfare from an outsider’s perspective, purely from interest. 

However, very recently I realized that I needed to apply their thinking to my real life. Laozi, Leibniz, Spinoza— all of these great thinkers spent their entire lives seeking the answer to a virtuous life. In order to genuinely thank them for their work, I was morally obligated to further their knowledge and attempt to insert it in my personal experiences. 

However, I didn’t truly synthesize this until yesterday. Yes, yesterday! Yesterday, I wasn’t happy or content at first. Again, I was looking to the future, worried about things that might not even happen. My future-oriented way of thinking had made life fly by much too quickly, without me being able to properly appreciate it. I had been comparing myself to Yale graduates and national scholars, frantically scanning research papers published by high school students— and, as you can imagine, I was in distress. The only way to explain my emotions is that I was spiraling. I was spiraling into a dense whirlwind of comparison, self-doubt, and trepidations. The “goblins” of panic were coming out.

Then, I decided to take a walk. I took my notebook, a pen, and my phone, and I went to a nearby meadow.

I put on my adored philosophy podcast, and I walked and relished in the outdoors. The sun-drenched blades of grass, the whistles of nature, the hot concrete stairs on which I rested completely overwhelmed me. I suddenly felt a sense of nostalgia, of childhood summers entrenched in carefree innocence. I paused my podcast, and I decided to take notes on the plethora of concepts I had been listening to for the past couple of weeks. I started with Rene Descartes.

Rene Descartes

I cannot begin to express how incredible that sensation was. Finally, after months of agony, I was once more connected to the present. 

I have always felt disconnected from my body. Even in elementary school, I would constantly tell my mom how I’d stare at my hand and repeat “I’m real” until I got completely shocked. It felt as though I had been living through someone else, or through a fictional book or movie; and when I forced myself to acknowledge my current existence, I was shocked and perturbed. In middle school, I would feel like I was looking down at my body from above; like my mind was separate from my physical existence (this reminds me of the great thinker Avicenna and his flying man thought experiment, but that’s a story for another time 🙂 )

Anyway, I have always struggled to be mindful and in the present. And now, more than ever before, I found myself continually looking towards the future in doubt and self-hate. 

So you can conceive my relief when finally, finally, I was grounded. I was sitting, and I was writing about Rene Descartes, and I was breathing. 

When I came home, my mom had a talk with me. She told me that she had been angry with me all day due to a fight we had yesterday. I started crying, she started crying; we didn’t want to fight. And it was at that moment that I realized I had to make a change. It reminded me of Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy— I didn’t want to lose such a precious relationship as I had with my mother because we couldn’t express our emotions properly. I love my family, yet I was constantly tense and isolated, and so I took it out on them. I realized that it had to STOP immediately, or else I would permanently squander my most valued bonds and connections due to an act of sheer folly committed in my teen years. 

Later in the evening, I was again writing about Descartes in my notebook. And I came upon this quote of his:

“Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it”

And another one:

“We ought to give the whole of our attention to the most insignificant and most easily mastered facts, and remain a long time in contemplation of them until we are accustomed to behold the truth clearly and distinctly”

Here, Descartes is saying that in order to solve a problem, one must break it down into the smallest pieces they can and then behold the truth. These smaller pieces are much less complex and easier for our minds to manage; there is less opportunity for error, and we are able to perceive the truth more clearly.

Normally, I would just read the quotes and thoughts of these philosophers without truly processing them. I thought, I don’t have any of the problems that these thinkers wish to resolve (again, my subconscious ideas of perfection, and my instinct of wanting to believe everything is completely okay). 

But in this instance, I decided to apply his philosophy to my life. I thought, and I thought deeply. And after breaking down my constant anxiety, fears, and self-doubt, I reached the conclusion that I was at war with myself. My internal dialogue was a hostile, bloody war-zone, and I was tearing myself apart. I self-isolated and cringed from touches and hugs because I couldn’t even live with myself, much less be able to open up to someone else.  

I realized that I need to find inner peace. This may seem cliche, but I could care less.

My goal is to find peace with myself. I need to accept and genuinely love myself in order to be profoundly happy. 

Laozi

I thought of Laozi, and his ideas of Taoism. Taoism (or Daoism) mistrusts conventional knowledge. After all, its most firm belief is that humans will never be able to truly comprehend the “Tao”.

“…who rules the realm with knowledge, is the terror of the realm…”

“…forget about knowledge and wisdom, and people will be a hundred times better off. Throw away charity and righteousness, and people will return brotherly love. Throw away profit and greed, and there won’t be any thieves…”

I initially scorned this controversial stance of “anti-learning” and “anti-knowledge”. I thought, what a simple and stupid way to attain virtue! Not desiring to learn? That’s ridiculous.

And though I retain my curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I also realize how wrong I was with this rash black and white judgment. The initial stem of all my anxiety was, in fact, a trepidation of how vast the knowledge of the universe is, and fear that I would never attain it in its totality. The Taoist approach to simply letting go (“flowing”), and honing in on yourself, has incredible merit. Allowing to “forget yourself, and you will never be forgotten”— meaning, do things truly for the purpose of helping others, and not to make yourself look better. I was constantly needing to be productive, and feeling guilty if I wasn’t. I was forcing myself to do things solely because I thought colleges would like to see them on my transcript. If I did something for my own happiness, I either rejected it as a waste of time, or tried to alter it so as to fit my conceptions of what productivity entails. 

Taoism advocates, at least to me, that we should indeed thirst for knowledge, but only for the right reasons. 

In my therapy session today, I was able to really hone in on this idea of peace and doing things with intention. My therapist helped me lay out some points that would recenter me on this journey to self-acceptance, and help me track my progress:

  1. Self-acceptance
  2. Genuinely loving myself/being less harsh 
  3. Being focused on the present moment
  4. Being mindful and calm

These are all with the purpose of soothing my innards, and establishing a calm in the torrent of internal doubt and fear. Some further tactics I developed during the session were

  • To practice gratitude
  • Utilize grounding techniques when I “spiral”
    • Go through the senses; body scan
    • Become present and mindful
    • Write out the shame circle
      • Get outside, take a break
      • Look at it with fresh eyes and compassion
  • Say thank you to compliments and let them actually sink in; absorb them

This journey to peace is a long one, with an undefined answer. I tend to gravitate towards black and white, which is why philosophy is so interesting to me— it forces me to realize that there is no black and white, almost always regardless of the issue! 

Rather than looking upon daunting tasks with fear and preconceived anxiety before I even begin, I must instead relish in the unknown. For how depressing would it be to discover the absolute truth of the world? Us humans are characterized by our relentless curiosity and desire to learn more. If we reach the end answer, our purpose would be void. So, I must embrace this unknown knowledge; and delight in the fact that I have so much left to discover. And I must do it for myself, and the betterment of my mental state. 

upon sacred pedestals

What am I perceived as? 

What do people sense 

When they peer at me 

From worn corridors and

Virescent-striped walls?

_

Am I another one

Of the sophomore horde—

Average, simple; two years

Slip away as soap 

Joyfully dancing betwixt

The clumsy fingers

Of a newborn; 

Two years to come,

Carefree sentiments dispersed—

The scattering of birds

At daunting sight of 

The unknown?   

_

Or, am I distinct; am I unique

In the foreign language 

My tongue swirls

So elegantly, as creamer

Billowing in the currents

Of Stygian cold brew; 

Sharp consonants a peculiar

Sweetener, utterly alien 

To their native ears?

_

Or, am I the erudite,

A studious pupil who 

Cannot rest, scorns repose  

Till their insatiable thirst 

For enlightenment assuaged?

_

Or, can they not discern? 

Are their eyes forever barred?

Must they only see

The frosted brand of “anorexic”,

Permanently burned into

My speckled milky forehead?

_

Do they gossip, do they

Whisper, their words

Trailing cigarette smoke

Beneath the bathroom stalls.

_

Do they murmur softly 

As I amble by: 

She is the girl;

The girl who missed 

The start of school.

_

The classes huddle, 

Imparting secrets;

Locutions caught in 

Furtive nets, altering to

Staggered phrases:

I heard…  was in … hospital.

_

They mumble warily,

As if the words are 

Nocuous vipers, eager

To abscond their 

Jars of entrapment;

And I, a fragile doll.

_

What am I? Who am I? 

To myself, 

I do not know; 

To others, 

I am but further led astray.

_

As day breaks clouds

Of morrow; and moon erst 

Shut its gentle lids

Asleep— am I forever 

To be hailed as 

Another anorexic girl?

Natheless my attainments, 

Must I be compared—

Gingerly placed upon

Sacred pedestals;

Merely for a disease?     

and yet, i long; and yet, i fear

It makes my stomach clench, calling forth a sense of unbearable nausea, to think of those mossy stone walls. They appear well-kept, valued and historic— but the sin lay in our quiet knowledge, unbeknownst to outsiders. Hidden beneath the cracked plaster lie unfathomable depths of hushed angst, desperate pleas, unabating yearn. Frack the gravel— its pebbles mix with briny droplets of liquid longing. The quintessential Pennsylvania landscape; trees piling atop one another, a draping forest (don’t try running away, you won’t make it far), a viridescent meadow of gentle grass. A field of tears, dents in the turf formed from lengthy phone calls— the singular connection to the realm of natural existence. The change of people, perpetually flowing in and out— the passage through eras, different periods of history. 8 weeks, 8 units, 8 contrasting vestments of power. Every morn, 4 AM; the baring of virgin eyes in pure dusk. The mortal struggle to thrust on a thin nightgown, papery and cold. Bare, gelid skin underneath; hairs sporadically stick up in minute clumps. There ensues a blurry field of vision, a desperate groping for glasses. A slew of fluorescent lights coalesce with the heavy swirlings of slumber. 

And then the descent. 

Agonizing dread steeps into every crevice, kafkaesque shadows lurking in the dark cardinal corners of the waiting room. The phone rings, chimes permeating throughout the array of medical spaces. Suddenly, they call your name. Steady thumps, beating upon the carpeted floor. The swift click of the door unlocking, the bustling of the weary nurse. Needles, heart monitors, plastic covering upon the seat, finger pricking… and the sharpest sting of all, the scale.

The recurrent words, endlessly repeated each morning— “Looks like your blood pressure is orthostatic! Would you like blue or orange gatorade?” 

And yet.

As dreadful as it was, as arduous and exacting— I owe my life to it. I owe my joy, my love, my jubilation; I am deep in the debt of life. 

And yet.

The people. My friends, communally sharing these experiences. Only they can understand. They have witnessed the menu rotations, they have heard the counselors gossip. I shed keen tears of unencountered emotions— their eyes absorbed, their ears paid heed. They know exposures and passes; we sang songs and practiced witchcraft. The modish pinkhouse, the droning lantern flies; brief snippets of outside humor spreading like wildfire. We premiered The Notebook in the stained ivory walls of the DLR; our friendship bracelets, artfully handcrafted in group therapies. The unending wait in the medicine line, the fear of missing appointments; our mailboxes, chock full of reminders. These individuals are intrinsically threaded in the ligatures of my veins, weaving a veiled tapestry unrevealed to any other.   

And I miss them. 


How can I miss these people, these brief moments of connection; and despise the environment, dreadfully repulsed by the thought of returning? Contiguous memories, speckled as stardust upon my sloping lashes. Chasmic connections, unparalleled to any other; petrifying, loathsome circumstances— 

And yet, I long; and yet, I fear.      

when the perfect girl falls

a personal essay

The “perfect girl” was cold.

It was debilitating, gut-wrenching, corpse-like, freezing cold- and yet, it was a blistering July day on the beach.

Her fingers were pale, weak, frail. They seemed to transfer a thin layer of ice onto anything they set their bone-like extremities upon. 

But at least they felt something

The rest of her was not as fortunate. 

I was numb, I was a zombie. I could feel nothing, my brain was so malnourished. There was no joy left in life— I was not living, but just barely surviving. Nothing was ever warm; even my vision had a tint of icy blue. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises, sharp sounds, prolonged clamour. I couldn’t tolerate life

I was a living embodiment of anorexia.

The media does not portray eating disorders accurately. They glorify them, mask them in appealing labels of “healthy eating” and “nutritional diets” and “great exercises to boost your calorie expenditure”. 

What they don’t show is a hospitalized teenage girl with a heart rate below 35 BPMs, missing a quarter of her sophomore year. What they don’t show is blood getting drawn twice a day, covering her arms with bruises. What they don’t show is her being wheeled in a wheelchair, too low in weight to be permitted to walk. What they don’t show is the trauma she now has, the information she wishes she never knew.  

I was the “perfect girl”. Blonde, blue-eyed, tall, straight A’s, intelligent, kind. I was the ideal daughter, the flawless elder sister to a developmentally delayed younger brother. 

And so I repressed my emotions, my anxieties. I pushed them off, telling myself to be the consummate automaton I thought was expected of me. “They have other things to deal with,” I told myself, “they shouldn’t be bothered by my issues”.  

And then, I cracked. 

Like delicate porcelain striking against the sharp needle of life, like an egg shattering against concrete. My mask of perfection dropped, my bubble of safety popped.

The “perfect girl” fell— and she fell hard

I was in the hospital for six days, and a residential facility for eight weeks. During that time, I found out more about myself than I could have ever imagined.

But most importantly, I found out that I wasn’t the “perfect girl” I once knew. In fact, I realized that no one was a “perfect” anything at all. 

At first, I denied it, pushing it away. It was possible to be perfect, I insisted, and I would become it once more. I failed to notice it was the very imperfections themselves that constitute the beauty of the whole.

As I progressed in treatment, I realized how absurd my former beliefs were. I started to recognize the innate faults in everyone around me, and how these faults serve to enhance, rather than diminish, our intrinsic value. 

The “perfect girl” finally realized that it was okay to make a mistake- nay, she realized it was advantageous to make a mistake. For a mistake allows one to learn. If you live life perfectly, you are not really living; you are simply a shadow, an emotionless robot. Life is about mistakes. It is about learning, about improving upon yourself. It is about becoming stronger after you fall. 

When I was finally weight-restored and discharged from residential treatment in late October, I had never felt more euphoric. I had been through absolute terror and fear, but the results were ethereal. After not being able to see the outside world for so long, I was enraptured in absolutely everything. The changing leaves, the heavenly weather, my darling friends and school- I was intoxicated with pure love for the reality around me. My first day back at school was one of the happiest days of my life; I was blissful, rhapsodic even. I had never felt so elated before.

It took me darkness— quite frankly, hell—to see the paradise that life is. No one cares for how perfect you are, no one worries over your appearance. A mistake should not be scolded, but instead rejoiced over. 

On that wonderful Monday, a “perfect girl” had died. And yet, I was not upset in the slightest. “Good riddance,” I thought. 

The girl’s “perfect” skeletal figure, her “perfect” emotional coldness, her “perfect” standardized test scores— these are only the scattered remnants of a forlorn life, left to flutter in the wind; rather, a fallacious, sad excuse for a life. 

Her grave is left unattended, overgrown with weeds and ivy. Ironically, it has more life now than it ever did when it was a part of me. 

Calories (A Poem)

Calories

A curse word.

The word. 

Flung so carelessly about, precariously perched atop their tongues, 

Ready to pounce on you unsuspectingly, to sink its controlling teeth into your veins, 

Filling your joyous bloodstream with silencing darkness.


“Come on, ladies, work it! Pump those arms!” 

You sweat, water trailing down your temple,

You feel strong, you feel warm, you feel powerful,

You are grateful for your body and everything it does.

And then

“Just a little more! We’ve gotta work off the calories from that whipped cream!”

Your arms drop. 

Your veins fill with darkness,

The exercise is no longer fun; it is work, 

Tireless, unabating control.


“OMG, you guys should try this new snack!”

You happily take a piece,

Your chest inflates with immeasurable pride-

You are flexible with yourself,

You are spontaneous,

You feel the fear, but do it anyway. 

And then

“They’re only 45 calories!” 

Your glance falls to the floor.

The stone-cold darkness prevails once more.

… “Oh, and they’re also fat-free.”

Another biting sting,

A merciless punch to the gut.


“Guys, look at that stir-fry bowl. It looks good!”

You fill with hope, 

Hope that someone is free from the disordered grasps of rigidity,

Hope that they will not say the word.

And then

“Woah, it’s 800 calories! What the hell, that’s almost half the amount you should consume in a day.”

It was false hope.

You can’t take it anymore,

Lead pulses through your veins,

Weighing them down,

Down,

Freezing them.

A thin sheet of ice covers your skin.


Your lungs suffer.

The air is completely pushed out,

Not a single drop remaining.

Your happy balloon is popped,

Popped with a single word. 

The word. 

Calories

Update/Quasi-Recovery

Apologies for my extended absence! I’ve been really caught up with life, and living it to its fullest. I have been so joyful, so confident in myself, and so grateful for everything. Thank you family, friends, and peers, for being such amazing influences! I love you more than anything; I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by these beautiful people. 

I’ve done things recently that my middle school self had never dreamt of doing. I haven’t been afraid to speak up in classes and discussions to voice my own opinions. I haven’t let my false perceptions of myself deceive me. I even asked someone to a dance! These things all seem rather straightforward to some people, but for someone who has struggled with social anxiety, they are huge leaps. I am, very simply put, in love with life

What is my point in saying this? 

Although I am so happy with where I am right now, it doesn’t mean I’m not struggling with certain things. Near the beginning of the holidays, I was really scared of challenging my eating disorder. My life seemed so good that I didn’t want to disrupt it with anything fear-inducing. I wanted to stay in a sort of “quasi-recovery”. However, this state of half-recovery is a very dangerous place to be in; for one, it can very easily lead to a relapse. Your ED can creep in before you realize it, and in very subtle and unnoticeable ways. Quasi-recovery is not fighting your disorder, but rather coming to a compromise with it, which is not the goal. It isn’t really fully living. You do not want to make peace with your ED- you want to defy it, barrel at it with the very last reserve of strength you have. You cannot keep certain parts of your disorder if you want to truly be free from its toxic grasp. In order to fully recover, you must go all-in. Challenge every single ED behavior, no matter how small. Do exposures whenever you can. Actively work to fight urges. Don’t overwork yourself; take as much time as you need. Just make sure you are doing the absolute best you possibly can.  

For me, structure was vital. In order to complete certain challenges, I had to sit down and plan them out with a family member or friend. This may seem unnatural at first, especially to the person you are doing the challenges with; however, I promise it will come much more naturally if you continue completing them. I hadn’t imagined ever willingly wanting to have this one specific fear food, but through multiple planned (and some spontaneous!) exposures to it, I progressed immensely. I recently had some of it very naturally and intuitively, without any second thoughts. This, to me, is a huge improvement! It goes to show that doing uncomfortable things and truly pushing yourself to your full potential yields unmistakable advancement.

Anyways, this was my short update/motivation! I hope you have a wonderful day! 🙂

My Thoughts on Body Image

I’m willing to bet that all of you, regardless of whether you’ve had an eating disorder or not, have struggled with negative body image at least once in your life. How did you respond to it? Did you just ignore it, did you have anxiety, did you wallow in its burdening effects? 

For me, bad body image contributed to my eating disorder’s development, but it wasn’t the only cause. However, it was the prevailing reason as to why I continued acting on eating disorder symptoms; it exacerbated everything, and was its worst at the height of my eating disorder

Think about this.

The point at which my body image was at an all-time low was when my weight was its smallest and I was actively partaking in symptoms. 

Even when I was doing everything my eating disorder wanted, and my body was extremely thin and emaciated, my body image was still terrible and my body dysmorphia was worse than ever before. 

Nothing is ever enough for your eating disorder; it keeps wanting more, more, until you eventually meet your demise. It is never satisfied until you are dead. Therefore, it is futile to pursue the goal of changing your body in order to feel better about yourself; this tactic does not change your underlying issues, like low self-confidence or body dysmorphia. The only way to truly feel better about your body is accepting it for what it is, and all it does for you, without trying to negatively alter or change it. 

(I am in no way saying not to exercise or work out- in fact, I love exercising! It allows me to release my stress and makes me feel strong. However, make sure it does not become obsessive, and always question your motives for doing it– if it doesn’t make you feel good and is just fueling the ED, then I’d recommend to stay away from it until your mindset improves)

I found that after I had restored my weight, my body image was so much better- even though I had gained body mass! It seems counter-intuitive and strange, but once you start actually nourishing your body and giving your brain fuel, the positive body image comes much more naturally. 

However, a heads-up is that anxiety will have a huge spike when your weight reaches 90% or so of your ideal body weight. This increase is shown in the graph pictured below:

This is when your body image will probably be its absolute worse. However, you must keep pushing through, for once you get past that barrier, the anxiety decreases dramatically.

My recommendation for dealing with negative body image is to first restore weight if need be, or to fuel your body properly; even if your BMI is not underweight, you still need to make sure you are getting the proper amount and type of food you need! Your brain cannot make rational decisions if you don’t do this. I know it is excruciatingly hard for many people, but I believe in you! This is a vital step in the process!

Once you pass this point, begin working on body neutrality. It is extremely hard to go from hate to full-blown acceptance, so take small steps towards body neutrality before you move on to love. 

TIPS FOR B A D B O D Y I M A G E DAYS :

  • Think of your body in terms of its individual parts, and try to name at least one thing each of those parts do for you that is completely unrelated to its appearance (ex. My arms allow me to hug my friends, my legs help me dance)
  • Record the positive aspects; write down at least 3 things you love about your body!
  • DON’T COMPARE. Just don’t. Everyone is different, and in all aspects; their bone structure is different, their genetics are different, their personalities are different. We as human beings are all unique in our own ways, and instead of feeling bad about this, we should appreciate its inherent beauty. Every single person on this Earth is stunning in their own way- what’s not to love about that?
  • Create small reminders. I love taping little notes all around my work-space and on items I use frequently; they usually have a quote I adore or a calming drawing. It may seem silly, but it really works! I have attached some of my own examples below:

I hope you appreciated this post about body image! I will probably be posting more about this, as it is a rather broad field and I have a lot of thoughts on it. 🙂