Image by @natashalipman and @thisthingtheycallrecovery
Note: Talk of body image, eating disorders, weight
So I thought I'd do an honest post as I like to be as honest as possible here on this blog with whoever takes the time to read it, and if you do thank you.
I've written before about how having a disability/chronic illness affects my mental health - having to deal with being in constant pain, the total lack of predictability in my symptoms, what I've lost to my heath and the old me and life that I grieve for. I've also written a little about my history of Anorexia (though not often or in much detail).
Even though my eating disorder is a hundred miles from where I was 10 years ago the battle still raises it's head and my relationship with food and body image is still there and I get my good days and my bad days.
What helped me in my recovering (and I use the word 'recovering' because I will always be on a journey of recovering and I've come to accept that now and for most of the time I am now the one in control) is getting into exercise. Not excessive exercise like I did when I was ill but going to ballet classes, yoga, swimming the gym; all within moderation but it helped me with my body image and relationship with food. And I really enjoyed it, I loved the gym, I loved swimming, I loved ballet and I loved yoga, and I was doing really well.
Since becoming physically ill however the closest I can get to exercise is my physio exercises and yoga exercises from my Yoga for M.E, book. Even a simple yoga class is out the question let alone swimming lengths in a cold pool or a workout in the gym.
Chronic illness has taken a huge knock on my relationship with myself and my body and occasionally with food, though not in a eating disordered way - I just extra conscious of eating a healthy diet, which I've always done anyway, it's just my mind goes into a bit of an overdrive about my body image and how I feel emotionally I hate my body both in terms that there are a many aspects of my body I cannot control and how it functions, or lack of in my case.
My health and lack of being able to exercise and spending most of my time laid down has also affected my body shape/size which really plays on my mind big time and it really gets my mood down big time. My old eating disorder voice sometimes starts to creep in and whisper in my ear at times and I have to try really hard to not relapse. (Like it has been over the past few days).
I've lost my toned muscles, just putting on my ankle/wrists weights for my physio exercises is heavy enough. If I could dive into the swimming pool or jump onto a treadmill or go and do one of my old high intensity yoga workout classes today I would and I struggle still to accept that I can't. I can't even keep my balance standing up.
I'm trying to work on my fitness levels, eat the right things etc but I still hate my body and I don't feel comfortable in my own skin and with the summer weather it's a battle between keeping cool and finding clothes I feel okay wearing. I just want to hind under the baggiest clothes I own. Even in winter finding the outfit for the day is difficult. I suppose you could say I have some aspects of body dysmorphia, but what I feel and what I see in the mirror is real to me.
I never felt comfortable having a mirror on my bedroom, but then when I got my new wardrobes a while back they way they where designed I had not option but to have a small mirror door. It's great for sitting on the floor when I'm doing my makeup, but catching glimpses of myself is torturous sometimes.
As a Christian I know we are made in God's image but I find that hard to accept at times. I know we should be looking more at inner beauty but I still find myself comparing myself to the body and activity levels I had before I became physically ill.
I have to be thankful though that in terms of my anorexia I am much much better than I was when I was in the depths of if and I must celebrate how far I've come in my recovering.
Having a history of anorexia and being physically disabled really don't mix. I know I'm within the 'healthy weight' category but to me it still leaves me deeply unhappy with my body.
I'll also be honest saying that writing this has been upsetting for me, but I want to show you the real me and how my physical health deeply affects my emotional wellbeing and relationship with myself and my body.
A pink background with a red heart with patches stitched on. Inside the heart is white text which reads 'you don't have to love your body'