Posted in anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Self-love, Social Media, vision board

The Dreaded “Tagged” Photo

I preach about self-love.

But let me just say–right now I’m having a very hard time accessing that part of my brain.

So, to begin I’ll let you know my rule when taking pictures: either don’t take them at all, or be prepared to take about twenty until I find one I am comfortable with.

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I want to love my body, whole-heartedly, I really do. But, having body dimorphic disorder challenges that ideal constantly. Generally speaking, I am doing a great job working towards my goal though.

I have a meal-plan, guidelines about what to eat and why. And I am learning more and more about intuitive eating. I try to listen to, and not judge, my cravings and hunger cues.

I am damn proud of all that. I like that I am no longer afraid of bagels in the morning. I love that I can have dessert during celebrations. And I absolutely relish the fact that I never read the nutritional facts of ANYTHING I eat anymore. I look at the ceiling when the doctor weighs me. And I am making great strides in ED urges–haven’t had a lapse in a while. I should be a bundle of positivity and righteousness. Everything has been going splendidly, right? I should have my socks and shoes off and be chanting in front of a mirror about peace and self-love.

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ENTER: FACEBOOK.

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Omg. I look disgusting.

I thought about the night that photo was taken. I was so naive. Seriously, how pathetic? My arm looks fat. My checks are so chubby. Ugh.

I mean, maybe others thought I liked nice. People were talking to me a lot. The important part is that I danced and laughed the entire night—

**looks at picture again**

Oh god, no. I don’t want anyone else to see this picture. I hate it so much. Why can’t I be cute in candids.

Why can’t I be cute like I used to be in photos?

…Like I used to…

^Of course, I’m referring to when I was stuck in my eating disorder. Under complete control of ED.

Do you see how quickly ED can be missed?

My mind immediately thought of an old photo… around a fire, someone took an unexpected shot of me laughing—I was doing the same exact face, scrunched nose, huge smile—but ED made me look so much cuter. And “recovery” now makes me look fat.

These are my harsh words. I feel tempted to erase them. Why would I want to expose such negativity about myself? Especially when I work so hard to show the power of self-love.

Honestly, because it is human to feel this way. It’s human to have moments of insignificance or unworthiness.

But, I also want to share what happens when you face these thoughts and work through them…

I could have easily shut down my laptop. It’s my first instinct. I’m so disgusted with social media sometimes. I could have just said “I hate this stupid photo. Whatever. I just wont look at it again.”

But, what happens when I do that? That image will linger. I’ll be going about my business and I’ll get a twinge of disgust when I look down at my thighs. My body will suddenly be so pronounced, I will feel like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka. And my urges to eat in order to cope with embarrassment will subconsciously surface. And I’ll binge. Or the pressure to work out will be hovering over me. So I will purge with over-exercising. The point is, without facing these ED thoughts about the picture, he’s going to hang around until I give into his urges.

So I looked at the photo.

I’m laughing, I thought…

YES, and I wish I didn’t crinkle my nose like that. (ED chimed back in).

But, when I crinkle my nose it means I’m admiring the people I’m with. 

And that’s what I was doing. I was soaking it all in. MY cousin had just gotten married to a girl that makes him so happy. It was a magical (Disney themed) wedding. My aunt, uncle and mom had been dancing all night—I have never seen them so happy. Rob was with me. He was getting along with my entire family, and everybody loved him. He was looking at me so adoringly. He loves me. He was slow dancing with me, which does not happen often. I was really enjoying my sister’s company—I felt like we were 15 again. I was seriously, genuinely smiling the entire time. In fact,  there was another candid taken of me that I actually liked. Probably hours in between both photos being taken and I was still making that same adorably happy face. At least I liked one of them.

OKAY! we are making progress. I am saying kind words about myself.

Alright. Now we can close up the computer.

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I still felt like a blueberry. But a cute blueberry, that’s recovering—and I’m going easy on her.

I suddenly realized something.

I opened pinterest and scrolled down to an old folder entitled “vision board.” This was created over two years ago. For those unfamiliar with vision boards, I basically pinned all the photos I wanted for my future. And they were chosen PRE-recovery, so some were quite triggering.

And there it was: the photo I remembered pinning two years ago…

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From my “Vision Board” folder

And I remember why I pinned it, too. These two girls are all dolled up at a party:

“I want to go out with my sister, and my friends. I want to be carefree and happy and positive.”

I scrolled down a little more and saw this picture:

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Another “Vision Board” photo

“I want to be genuinely happy. I want to smile infectiously.”

Well, hell, isn’t that what I’m doing in this photo? The one that triggered all these self-loathing emotions…

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The facebook photo I was tagged in earlier.

Oh, that’s right, I want ALL of those things (happiness, family, friends, laughter) but I really need to look SKINNY while doing so.

But ED has those values, not me. And ED was the one who choose those photos to pin for my future.

Tasha is the quiet voice underneath it all saying–“No, I really just want the happiness.” ED may have inspired that Vision Board folder years ago, but Tasha controls my actions now, and it was really Tasha who got motivated to write this article. Because I know it’s wrong to be mean to a girl who is experiencing pure bliss in perhaps a not-so-flattering photo.

(By the way, you may or may not agree with the way I looked at my tagged photo. It’s very exposing to announce the judgements I have over myself. Especially  when I want to be an example of self love. But the reason why I’ve exposed them is because people tend to judge themselves too harshly. It is human. But I wish it would stop. And if you experience body image issues, social media is a breeding ground for feeling bad about your “so-called” imperfections)

I have to take a deep breath while reflecting on all this.

I really want to love myself.

But It’s still hard to push out ED’s criticism.

However, I know I’ll get there. Because I want it.

I scrolled through instagram for some positive quotes (using social media powers for good instead of evil).screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-8-59-28-amscreen-shot-2016-10-29-at-9-03-45-am

It helped. But then I read an old text from a friend. I saved it because it initially made me cry, and I knew those beautiful words could help me in moments of self-doubt.

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I read it over and over. And then I remembered all the kind things other friends, my boyfriend, parents and supporters from Renfrew had said to me.

I felt better. I shouldn’t call myself a blueberry, that’s not nice. And I wouldn’t do it to anyone else.

I’m Natasha, and I work very hard in recovery. I work very hard to love myself. And screw anyone that looks at a photo and judges me for anything less than what I am. Including you ED.

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And I hope to look at that photo someday soon, free of ED, and admire my geniune laugher and beauty. Because that’s what I would see if this photo was of another beautiful, strong and happy woman.

Posted in Anxiety, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Awareness, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Orthorexia, Recovery, Social Media, treatment

Feeling Exposed

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Writing is something I have been struggling with a bit lately.

And if I had to blame it on something, it would probably be because my face is now attached to this page.

It was brave removing the anonymous aspect of anonymous blogging. But the more I think about the people who I know finding me, the more I wonder why I did it. First I was excited. Then I immediately wanted to delete the entire account.

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I get those evil butterflies, and chest pains even thinking about people from my past seeing it show up on their news feed. My anxiety sky rockets and ED urges usually follow. Which is why I have to finally face those thoughts and spill it all out on the keyboard.

The point of this blog was two-fold: I wanted to reclaim my love of writing, and I also wanted to use it as a coping mechanism. Journaling had always been therapeutic for me, but blogging turned it into more of a hobby. Its like story telling. I have to write, edit, re-edit, post, and hopefully look back and admire my work. I also thought it was a good way to embrace my passion for eating disorder awareness and recovery.

My blog is for me, but it’s also hopefully a sanctuary for other’s with similar experiences.

I really like exposing my imperfections. Perfect is not reality. We have all been tricked into looking at socail media and feeling that twinge of jealousy. No matter how many instagrams have pulled this shit and posted beautifully “candid” and “sculpted” pictures (Kylie Jenner, I’m looking at you) this is NOT REAL. That’s why I admire recovery accounts. That is why I started my own.

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The idea of my recovery account being found was always a thought in the back of my mind. However, I figured I’d respond with a “pshh, I don’t care, I’m an open book.”

A real tough guy.

After all, I never try to hide my ED. This makes me proud, as well as extremely self-conscious. I know that others can benefit and be inspired by my honesty, but there are some who can judge me. However, ED is a disease of secrecy and the best way to fight it, is to expose it. If someone asks me where I was, I have no problem saying, “I was at Renfrew, a treatment center for my eating disorder.” I also have no problem telling people I have to eat every four hours and I like to take my time during meals. I correct people when they call things “healthy/unhealthy” and try to always take attention away from what myself or others are eating. I openly dislike any sort of judgement pertaining to weight or diet. Hopefully others view this as a nonchalant approach to life—after all, there are far more important things than how we look or what we are putting in our bodies. As much as I wish that was my only motive, I also know I have to say these things to keep ED at bay. He is a sneaky bastard and if I’m not careful a simple conversation about “eating healthy and working out” can lead me to missing the days where I restricted and over-exercised (or lead me to self-loathing and using food as a coping skill). 

Well, someone from work found my blog recently. Which made me start thinking that others have found me, too. This sent me into a panic (so much for tough guy).

I initially felt exposed and somewhat embarrassed. There were a million thoughts running through my brain: “OMG everything I write is so stupid. What if she thinks this is pathetic. What if she thinks this is for attention.  I need to reread everything I’ve written. Who else has seen this?”

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I had to mention it as soon as I saw her. Her big smile and kind eyes made me feel so much better. She was so loving and accepting and I honestly feel closer to her, not as a co-worker but as a human being, and as a friend.

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I know not everyone will react this way. Maybe there will be people who make fun of me. But the people who respect my journey—and the people who can even benefit from it make that the exposure all worth while.

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Therefore, I will continue my non-annynomous blogging. Slowly, but surely. My confidence may waver. But I really want to continue this for all the powerful reasons why I created it. And maybe one day, my dream of helping others and ridding ED from society will have started with this single step to expose myself.img_8858