Wednesday, 21 September 2016

That awkward post in which I talk about mental illness

Ok, so I wasn't going to post this, but then I was praying a lot and thinking and stuff and now I'm going to. I want to be honest with you guys, and I want to be honest with myself. (Let's ignore the fact that this is weird because I have friends and family who read my blog and I don't talk about this stuff in real life, because writing is easier than talking.) Alright, let's do this. (*hides*)

When I was in sixth grade I suffered from anorexia. 

When I was eleven years old, I starved myself so I could be pretty. 

Not actually my quote, but my picture. 

There is literally no other way to say it, and saying it is awful and makes me wonder how that ever happened. How does an eleven-year-old hate herself so much that she won't eat? Won't pack a lunch? I went from having banana bread with butter and a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast (it wasn't healthy, I know, don't judge) to having banana bread with hot chocolate, to having hot chocolate, to having a glass of tea. In case you weren't aware, tea is water flavoured with dead leaves. Then oops! I forgot to pack a lunch. To be honest, I'm not sure I've ever fully recovered from it, and I'm not even sure what started it off in the first place. I think I might have been more aware of what was beautiful and what wasn't, because before then I didn't really notice. But once I started noticing that what everyone else was saying was beautiful didn't line up with what I looked like, things started to go downhill.

So I got over it. My parents and family were amazing, although none of my friends knew of course so they weren't much help. It wasn't like I was going to tell them, anyways. I started eating three square meals a day, stopped obsessing over my weight.

Then we moved.

This time, things went downhill in the opposite direction. Did you know that willpower acts like a muscle? The more you use it, the more tired it gets. Now lets take a look at what I was like when I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. (And still am, now at seventeen.) I was shy. I wasn't good with talking with people. Then I was tossed in a situation where I had to talk with people, had to make new friends because I didn't have anyone else beyond my family. I had also skipped a grade and a half, and I had to work for it. Between talking with people and working extremely hard to catch up on the educational side of things, I didn't have much energy or willpower left to watch what I ate or to make myself do some exercise. Add the stress of taking as many difficult subjects as you could do. Imagine how that went, if you will.

It wasn't very good. I gained quite a bit of weight, and that didn't help my already drowning worries and fears and body image issues. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror somedays, still can't. Yeah, I went from anorexic to overweight. *high-fives self*

Things have gotten better in the last eight-ish months thanks to my gap year. I've lost some weight, watch what I eat more and have been able to do more exercise than before, which makes me feel better about myself.

Of course, the self-hate still hasn't gone away.

The frustrating thing is that it bounces back and forth, like a tennis match that I can never quite win. The ball is in the other court! Yay! I'm curvy and proud of it, because I'm just who God made me to be! Then the ball bounces back. I hate myself. Chubby cheeks. Look at that stomach hanging out, gross. And you wanted to take care of yourself? Oh great, yet another pair of pants that don't fit anymore, you idiot. Slap! Goes the racket, and oh, look, I'm exercising and eating well! Don't worry about your weight! Slap! You don't deserve to be loved. Slap! I wouldn't change a thing about myself. Slap! Guess who's not eating lunch today?

Welcome to my life.

Look at that, a quote I actually made up.

And it's hard for me to walk the line between being obsessive about nothing and trying to be healthier. But am I? Is it just my stupid brain talking, or do I actually need to make some health changes? It depends on the day, and I don't want to mistake health issues for a psychological issue or vice versa.

I'll be fine for weeks, then one picture of myself will send me spiraling down a smoky haze of sticky guilt and shards of loathing. Some days I feel like I'm the most beautiful girl in the world, and other days I have to force myself to go outside. I've been like this for years, and I'm not sure it's something I'll ever be able to get over. I want to. I really, really want to. Hating yourself isn't something I'd wish on anyone, and it annoys me beyond reason that I'm so stuck on my image that I can't see myself for all the good things I am. I believe with everything in me that you are more than what you see in the mirror, but why can't I always apply it to myself? And I'm so

so

so

tired of it. 

And honestly, I don't know how to deal with it. I'm going to keep exercising and trying to eat well because it makes me feel good, and I enjoy being active. I enjoy going for jogs and going to jiu jitsu and exercising with my friends so, so much. I just don't want it to turn into an obsession.

But I think it's a little too late for that.

So how do I deal with self-hate? I mostly ignore it. Not very healthy, I know. But if I can't see it, then it can't see me. What a terrible way to live my life. Once again, I wish I could give some kind of advice as someone standing from the other side of the battle, I wish I could hand out wisdom and guidance for other people who are struggling with these issues, but I can't, not really. I can't because I'm still in the thick of things, killing orcs and aliens and crazy assassins left and right and sometimes being stabbed myself.

If I had any advice, I'd say that this is a battle you have to fight everyday, all day, and you have to win it. I'd say pray, because God's got your back even when it doesn't feel like it. I feel like I've been struggling with this by myself, especially since He's been so obviously involved in almost every other aspect of my life. Maybe I'm not seeing His hand yet, maybe I need to just get on my knees and pray more.

I'd say love yourself, but I know that's easier said than done.

Well, that was more serious than usual. Does anyone else struggle with body image? 

13 comments:

  1. Victoria, thank you so much for being brave and sharing.

    I don't really know what to say, except that you're not alone. I haven't struggled with specific eating disorders, but I do frequently become discontent with my body image. That analogy of the tennis match was perfect - that's exactly what I do too.

    I struggle with the concept of loving one's self too.. Personally, I think that statement has been a bit misused - yes we're to value and respect ourselves, because of God. He's the one who saves us, and makes us beautiful, and gives us value and worth. We respect ourselves because we're God's workmanship and because of His working in us, not because of anything innately good in ourselves. Sorry for the over-explanation. :)

    So, keep on keeping on! Keep on praying and striving and fighting! And thanks again for sharing. You're an inspiration. xx

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    1. Thank you for being kind and reading and commenting :)

      I hate that tennis match :/ I can't seem to stop playing for some reason. And I'm so sorry that you have body image issues as well, that sucks.

      NO THAT'S PERFECT. I actually love that. So much. Thank you! And thanks for commenting!

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  2. Whoa. I'm glad you overcame anorexia. I have never struggled with body image a lot... Just mainly me being sad about being quite skinny. I'm just about the correct weight and I have tried to gain some more weight but recently I have given up. So now, I'm pretty content. The main problem is exercising. I used to run quite a bit but recently I have given up.

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    1. I am too :) That's great that you're content with yourself, though, that's all that really matters I think. Although don't give up running! Running is so much fun!

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  3. Whoa. I'm glad you overcame anorexia. I have never struggled with body image a lot... Just mainly me being sad about being quite skinny. I'm just about the correct weight and I have tried to gain some more weight but recently I have given up. So now, I'm pretty content. The main problem is exercising. I used to run quite a bit but recently I have given up.

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  4. I think it's really brave that you shared this story. I've only known people who've battled anorexia and it sounds terrible and scary, but I'm glad you can through. Stay strong, girl. :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Heather. It means a lot :)

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  5. Wow. Thank you for your honesty. It was really brave of you to share this.

    Self-hate sounds very hard to deal with. Keep going! You are awesome! (Or I think you are at least ;) )

    I also love, love your photos. And the quote. :)

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    1. Thank you for reading, Ashley!

      Yeah, it sucks quite a bit. And thanks for the encouragement! Thanks so much!

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  6. VICTORIA! I honestly love you, this was a wonderful post in a million ways. Thank you so much for sharing it; you are using your blog in the best possible way, to write strongly and well about important things.

    Where even to being about body image? I have never had an eating disorder but I have certainly spent my whole life, at least from the age of nine or ten (even eight?) feeling battered around by our hyper-weight-conscious culture. The tennis metaphor is absolute PERFECTION, I inwardly squeaked when I read that paragraph because that is exactly how I feel. And there is such a massive tension, as you say, between, physical issues and psychological issues. Because on the one hand I want to attack (violently, with a cricket bat) everyone who tells women (and yeah men too but that's not what we're talking about) what to do with our bodies, and how they should look, and that ANY woman cannot be beautiful in her own skin, cannot be loved, is not in God's divine image. But on the other hand our physical health is important, and of course we SHOULD exercise and eat properly and all this stuff, because both anorexia and obesity ARE problems ... and so we're left in this situation of not knowing quite how to feel or quite what to do.

    Which is really hard.

    "I believe with everything in me that you are more than what you see in the mirror, but why can't I always apply it to myself?" That line, in fact, that entire paragraph, is so beautifully written and so relevant to me and, I guess, to everyone. I suppose one piece of advice I have is to know your mind's tricks. Learn them. Like learning an enemy strategy. I went to church this morning leaving my bedroom in an absolute state: about six different skirts/dresses and a load of jumpers strewn across the bed and floor. I hadn't even opened one of my blinds so all this heap of fabric was shrouded in half darkness. Why hadn't I opened the blind yet? I had run out of time, because I'd spent so long trying to pick an outfit in which I felt comfortable, pretty. Not ugly. Not stupid.

    But the truth is that those dresses, those skirts, that I came home to pick up and fold and put away, I KNOW that in other times -- even, like, last week! -- I have loved them and worn them with confidence. And therefore I know that it is not the clothes, and not my body -- which was the same this morning as it was last week -- that are the problem. It is my mind. I know that my mind was playing tricks on me. So when I put on the dress that I am now wearing, even though I felt like an idiot in it, I knew that this had nothing to do with how it actually looked.

    That was quite a convoluted story, but do you see what I'm saying? If we can work out our mind's tricks we can have more confidence in overcoming them. "No," we can say to ourselves, "this IS my head playing games. It is not anything else. It is not my body."

    Anyway, here's the real deal. You are made in God's image. That is what it says in Genesis: "In his image he created them." Can anyone made in his image be other than beautiful? There are a million different kinds of beauty -- seven billion different kinds, in fact, as many kinds of beauty as there are people in the world. The mainstream media only gives us one kind: thin, tall, normally white. But how much can we, women, rise above that? How much stronger are we, we three and a half billion women of every size, shape and colour, how much stronger are we than one kind of tall thin white woman?

    According to the Bible, you are more precious than rubies and pearls.

    That's about all I've got to say.

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    1. EMILY THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I also squealed out loud when I saw the enormous comment you'd left :D

      "...you are using your blog in the best possible way, to write strongly and well about important things." THAT MEANS SO MUCH YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

      I'm so glad I got my point across! Yes, it's so frustrating because really? Can't we just love people for who they are and can't we just love OURSELVES for who we are? Why is it easier to love other people than myself? Something is wrong here... And yes, I really need to violently attack people who dictate to others what they should look like with a cricket bat. Because that's so wrong.

      It's actually really weird, because the top 3 chronic diseases for teenage girls are obesity, asthma and anorexia. Like what??? It is a really difficult balance to get sometimes because if you put an ad out to try to get people to exercise more, you can tip someone into an eating disorder and if you tell people they're perfect then other people don't always take care of themselves and you're left in this giant mess. And no one knows what to do.

      URGH.

      Thank you! That's actually a brilliant piece of advice, and totally fits right now. I keep mentioning in my journal that my mind is a battlefield, and it fits that I'm fighting the enemy. And I've never really thought about it like that before, that most days it's my mind changing, not my body, that it's because my mind is so weird and messed up and twisted that it changes the way I see things without me even noticing. (Which is actually quite scary when you think about it.)

      "There are a million different kinds of beauty -- seven billion different kinds, in fact, as many kinds of beauty as there are people in the world. The mainstream media only gives us one kind: thin, tall, normally white. But how much can we, women, rise above that? How much stronger are we, we three and a half billion women of every size, shape and colour, how much stronger are we than one kind of tall thin white woman? " That is so beautiful. That is so PERFECT. It's going up on my Wall, I think.

      Thank you so much, Emily. Thank you.

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  7. Thank you for being so brave and sharing this.

    Eating disorders are scary and tenacious and I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with them. I know what you mean about the tennis match of self-worth and self-loathing. I fight that tennis match with myself more often than I would like to admit. And I wish I could give you answers, but I don't have any aside from the ones you've given, to just fight each and every day, to pray. But even when you can't see it, and even when you can't feel it, I hope you remember that you are worth it, and nobody gets to decide that you're worthless, not even you. Because God has already said you are worth dying for, and no one gets to override that and say you're not worthy of love.

    Thank you so much for sharing. When you need to talk, I'm willing to listen.

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    1. Thank you for reading it :)

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, it means a lot. I hope you can find peace in your struggles as well.

      "Because God has already said you are worth dying for, and no one gets to override that and say you're not worthy of love." Love that.

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