My Personal Tribute to Mental Health Month, cont’d
Just a reminder…I am not a medical expert, and this is not a guide to recovery. Mental illness varies, and requires different approaches by different medical practitioners. My journey may not reflect the needs of someone else’s.
If you suffer from any form of mental illness, and are finding it difficult to cope, get in touch with a medical professional (family doctor, local clinic, helpline, etc.) immediately.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or are borderline, please see resources below:
National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) – Canada
Toll Free: 1-866-633-4220
*Or google “eating disorder resources canada” for listings of clinics in your area
For Eating Disorder Clinics in the USA, click here and choose your State for contact information.
Just want to talk? Chat anonymously with an active listener at 7cups.
The last steps I took toward my recovery from Bulimia nervosa, are as follows…
Mindfulness, Positive Psychology (Gratitude), Meditation & Affirmations
During my recovery, I came across Coach Kiomi’s podcast program. Coach Kiomi’s catch phrase is, “Master Your Mind, Master Your World,” which is exactly what I was looking for at the time. You create your own goals in this program, and she takes you through steps on how to achieve them. Did I mention it’s FREE? Interested? Here is Day 1: Self-Mastery & Positivity.
Her audio clips range from a few minutes to about 25 minutes in length, and include daily themes and homework. There have been many moments since I went into remission that I ‘be returned to this program for an extra boost of confidence/positivity.
In addition to Coach Kiomi, I began meditating for just a few minutes a day, and kept a gratitude journal. Numerous studies show that meditation and gratitude not only increase mental and physical health, but also add years to your life. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude keeps you both present and focused on the good in your life. In addition to that, I added affirmations that I’d say to myself every morning or when I’d begin feeling stressed/sad/insecure. Affirmations assist in changing the story in your head. Practice makes perfect, right? So, if you repeat affirmations (aloud is best, and in front of a mirror) on a daily basis, the brain begins to rewire itself to the words you are using.
Part of this whole process is being aware of the negative thoughts that come in and out of your mind, and countering them with affirmations and positive feedback. For example, instead of saying, “I’m stupid,” start small and change this to, “That was stupid;” or simply eliminate the negative thought all together by countering it with self-compassion: “I am stupid” to “I’m allowed to make mistakes.”
I Stopped Exercising
Now, before you start jumping for joy because you think I’m giving you permission to not work out, listen to me: I stopped all forms of exercise that were geared towards making me “thin.” As Christy Harrison says, anything that feels like punishment or compensation should go. For example, running as fast as I can on treadmill in a corset (yes, I did this…do not try it!) as a response to eating loaded cheese fries. . Instead I focussed on forms of exercise that allowed me to connect more with my body and nature, rather than just thinking about the gains (or losses) I’d make. Some things I incorporated into my daily routine:
1. Yoga! I downloaded apps so I could do this in the privacy of my home. Sometimes I’d have yoga days with friends and family.
2. Dance! I never took a formal classes. I danced around my apartment for the length of a self made playlist.
3. Walking/hiking! Beautiful scenery always helps.
I Never Lied About My Disorder
Not once did I lie about my illness. I knew that part of the process of recovery was acknowledging it, and understanding that there is no shame in what I was going through.
As time went on, and the more people I spoke to, I realized that so many women at some point in their life have experienced disordered eating. The thing that I thought would make people uncomfortable actually allowed them to open up, and connect with me on a deeper level. I was even able to help some of them recognize and correct dangerous patterns or unhealthy relationships with food/body. This allowed me to see the beauty that came from my suffering. I approach others with curiosity and love, rather than judgement.
Not only did speaking openly about the illness release its power over me, but it also made me realize the blessings that came with it (back to the gratitude!). Since having it and going through recovery, I have learned so much about myself that I maybe wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I grew tremendously and created friendships that perhaps wouldn’t have existed should this illness not have entered my life. I began to understand what I deserved when it came to friends and partners, and that my opinion of me was the most important opinion of them all.
That Brings Me to Today
…because who can argue with Morticia Addams?
Through the practice of mindfulness, my relationship with food changed. I was able to listen to my body and pickup on cues that I had always ignored before, such as fullness. I started realizing what made my body feel good and energized, compared to bloated and lethargic, and therefore started naturally drifting away from the foods in the latter category.
When the obsession over being “skinny” subsided long enough, I realized that I actually enjoy weight lifting, and slowly incorporated that into my routine. When doing this, I gave myself permission to stop or take breaks from exercising when needed in order to avoid the guilt of “missing” a workout and triggering me in any way.
I started listening to people like Oprah, Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown, and other inspirational women and got clear with myself about what I want to do: write and help people.
For me, I believe I’ll always have the shadow of this illness following me. I say that because I know within me I carry a darkness that I very gently tread over at times. It’s the small voice in me that believes I’m not good enough. It sounds like a scary thing to possess, but it’s a part of who I am, and keeps me aware and motivated to push forward. That voice may always be present in some small way, but rather than being fearful of it, I am grateful for it. The moments that it gets through, the stronger, more powerful voice that I have built up over the years, comes roaring. She is fire, and she reminds that small voice who is in charge now. So, yes, perhaps the smaller battles will continue, but damnit, I won the war. And if I could break this victory down into the most basic element, it would be this: I forgave myself. With forgiveness comes compassion, and with compassion I learned to love me.
So, fuck-well, my friends and forgive yourself.
Enjoy some body positive quotes below. Have any you’d like to add, feel free