It is Sunday night at 7:41. I had no intention of writing this week because I am currently drowning in pharmacology but I had a thought process that lead me right to my laptop. Today (yesterday for those who are reading on this fine Monday) is September 23rd, 2018. 2 years ago I got surgery on my ACL and forever signed my fate of being a retired D1 athlete from Michigan State University. This date will always hold some sort of value to me because of that reason, but what I realized tonight, the thing that drew me to writing right now, is that this date also signifies the start of my battle with body dysmorphia.
Let me state this right here right now- this is not a pity blog post. I don’t want people commenting and DMing me saying I am beautiful or undermining the fact that I have these issues, because every time I bring up this subject that is what happens. People tell me I am fine, that I am being ridiculous, that I am so happy and people tell me I am beautiful. All of those things might be true to you, but to me, every negative thought that goes through my head is validated by the feelings associated with them. The thoughts are real because they bring out emotions in me. I acknowledge, and sometimes even encourage, the negative self-talk, the body shaming, the food guilt, and they produce a physiological and emotional response in me, therefore telling me they’re true.
I will also state this right here right now- I am extremely lucky to be in the health that I am. I am a very healthy individual, I know this. From a science aspect, I have great vital signs. I eat pretty well, probably better than like 85% of America. I get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. I work out 4-6 times a week. I drink at least half my body weight in ounces of water. I do not smoke, do drugs, or excessively consume alcohol. I have never been diagnosed or suffered for a long period of time with depression or anxiety. I have amazing friends and family. I am decently smart. All of these things would chart me in the category of being healthy. Again- I know this.
The one unhealthy thing about me is the relationship I have with myself and the relationship I have with food. I know there are many people who have it worse than me, and my heart breaks for them, truly. But I made this blog to talk about my life and use it as therapy, so here I am wiring, instead of going to the therapist my primary care doctor just recommended me to go to for these issues.
September 23rd, 2016- I began to put pressure on myself and my body image for the first time in my life.
I never had a negative thought about my appearance in my life up until this moment. That probably sounds cocky, and I honestly probably was cocky, but it is true. I never said I was fat, had small boobs, needed a nose job, wanted botox, wanted a bigger butt, IN MY LIFE, until I put that pressure on myself to come back from my ACL reconstructive surgery better than I did when I went in for it. It started as a healing process which was healthy, but then social media over took everything about EVERYTHING. I mean literally our world revolves around social media and kids don’t even play outside anymore and it is so terribly sad. Okay- end tangent. The point is social media overtook my relationship with myself, and it started when I thought I was broken. It started when I knew I had lost my identity as a college athlete. It started when I knew I wasn’t going to be running all. the. time. and couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted and still stay the same size. It started when people started to seriously compare themselves on Instagram and care about how many likes they got on a picture. It started because for the first time in my life I was totally unsure of what my life was going to hold next for me.
I am smart enough to know that I let it get that way. The one thing you really have control over is yourself and what is important to realize in this situation is that maybe I was predisposed to those thoughts, but I allowed them to continue and I allowed them to be validated, that is where my control failed, that is where I let myself get to this point. I could’ve stopped the way I responded to the thoughts, not necessarily the thoughts themselves.
The negative thoughts about my body and about food consume me everyday. I have AT LEAST one thought an hour about something negative about the way I look or the food I’m eating. If I eat something bad for me I immediately feel guilty, but I will keep eating more because if I am gonna do it I mean I am gonna do it big. So instead of eating one muffin I eat three just because yolo, literally. Then I think those 3 muffins alone will make me fat and the body shaming starts and doesn’t finish, well ever.
Nutrition has become so confusing to me I sometimes feel like I don’t even know what is right anymore. Eating has become a chore and something I let consume my hours of my day and my thoughts, and walking around in my own skin and become uncomfortable and way too familiar. On a nutritional topic- the answer is, always has been, and always will be, EAT REAL FOOD.
I struggle with knowing if my body has even changed. Is it all in my head? Do I look different? It’s a constant game of trying to figure out reality and it’s exhausting. Somedays I think I look great other days I think I have gained 15 pounds over night and no one will ever love me. It’s a constant cycle that I still have not figured out how to break.
Am I mentally ill? I am not a doctor, so I couldn’t tell you. Do I have some self-love to figure out? 100%.
TEN THINGS THAT ARE HELPING ME:
- I remember that food is fuel and that is how it should always be thought of
- My body moves and functions properly and that is a blessing
- Who I am is not defined by the size on my tag or the number on the scale
- Wanting to change my appearance is not a bad thing, but does not need to happen for me to be happy
- Every person on this planet has a different bone structure
- Every person on this planet holds fat differently
- I am a woman and my body is preparing to have children and that is the most beautiful thing not this planet
- I will take FIT over SKINNY every fucking day of the week
- Beauty is not always defined through physical appearance
- Being consistent in body, mind and spirit is the key to getting where you want to go
Today marks 2 years of this struggle. And I can honestly say I have never felt more clear than after writing this. This is the most vulnerable I have ever been and I almost talked myself out of posting it, but it is important, so here it is live on the internet for everyone to see. It is real, and I know plenty of girls (and even boys too) are struggling with this exact same thought process.
Just because I wrote this doesn’t mean I think I am tiny and perfect and all my problems are fixed, but now that I have written this down I have accepted that the way I have responded to this constant strain of negative words isn’t okay. I may never be able to get rid of the thought process completely, but I can get rid of the way it makes me feel, and that starts today, and if you’re struggling with this too I hope it starts for you.
Stay positive, be grateful xxx