Starving for perfection and dealing with self-rejection
This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and we will be sharing four blogs by our Young and Parent Champions about their experiences.
When I was asked to write a blog about eating disorders, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. Having spent many of my teenage years flicking through copies of Cosmo and Company magazines examining every semi-naked female body, I knew only too well how it felt to want to change myself. To want to have those flawless air-brushed legs, wear those minuscule bikini bottoms showing off my Barbie-like behind and maybe even feel beautiful; if only I were like that.
But reading those articles in those magazines and some of the real-life stories did not deter me, indeed I would feast upon every detail; those articles would actually give me tips, things I had never thought of, things that other people did... things I tried myself...
So this blog isn’t your usual story whereby people who haven’t suffered from this illness will read with aghast and shake their heads in disbelief. You may not want to read on knowing that I am not going to give you any assistance. But I think you will. I think that you know deep down inside that this isn’t right. How amazing it would be to be free of this awful illness that grips every part of your life.
This blog will tell you what you probably haven’t even been told.
Genetics for starters – some people are more prone to weight gain in certain areas, some will never get that apparently desired thigh gap that the celebrities seem to aspire to regardless of how much they weigh (although if you note, most of them stand with their feet pointing inwards and lean slightly because like me, they’re designed differently and quite simply aren’t built like that). Body types aren’t made up – they exist and we all are shaped differently! The doctors say that my pelvis for example, is very narrow and my legs don’t bow out (although I wish they’d told me that before I went through eight hours of labour with no pain relief but that’s another story...) It was how I was born and nothing will change that. It is what makes me, me.
Food is fuel – what you put in your body, you get out of it. Fuel your body properly and it will reward you immensely. I remember when I started eating really well, I felt like Wonder Woman. I had so much energy. It inspired me to try weight lifting – not the kind whereby I ended up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but where I would look healthy and toned. I never felt more empowered in all my life.
You are beautiful and everyone is different. Embrace your quirks, be happy to be different, be happy to be alive. You might not ever look like the people in the magazines, yes, some people seem to be blessed at birth and will turn heads wherever they go but they don’t live in your shoes. You have the power to control your own future and only you. You can be anything you like and you can’t let an eating disorder hold you back because it will do that – it will rob you of years and rob you of your future health. Take a step back now and change your direction.
Take responsibility. This is something I wish I had learned a long time ago; to be responsible for what I ate or what I didn’t eat and for what I did following that binging session. I remember too well over-eating and instantly wanting to take that back and turn back time but being able to stop myself and say, “I did that and I was in control and it won’t happen again” was mind blowing.
Finally, learn to love yourself. I often look back and wonder why I did those things to myself. Somethings that have even left me with health consequences as an adult. I think perhaps it was a need to feel attractive, a lack of self-confidence or anxiety. All I can say now is that you have the power to stop this. Break free from those shackles that take over every aspect of your life. You are in control of your own destiny. A friend changed her WhatsApp to a slogan that said, “if you don’t heal what hurt you, you will bleed on people who didn’t cut you”. Stop and think and make those changes now. Don’t suffer anymore because that is what you are doing – start living today. Life is beautiful; live it so.
If you or someone you know needs help right now, you should, if possible, try to talk to a parent, carer or trusted adult. If talking to an adult is not possible, visit our urgent help page which includes organisations that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also find free mental health support services for young people aged up to 25 on the Youth Wellbeing Directory.
We also have contact details on our urgent help page for BEAT – BEAT provides support to help young people beat their eating disorders.