Hey there my fellow warriors! We all know what time of year it is, it’s back to school time. This can be a very scary and nerve racking time for most people, and even more so for people struggling with ED. For me, it used to be much more difficult, but now I feel more comfortable. One of the reasons for this change is because
I am relying on what God thinks of me instead of what others think of me.
But, for some people that may not be helpful. So, let’s walk through why you may be nervous for school, and how to help you not be quiet so scared. Going back to school can be triggering for many girls and boys with ED. It was for me. You go back to this place that may not have good memories for you. You go back through the doors and you’re scared of what others are going to think of you. Summer is over, and the whole time of “beach body” is finished. Which is a relief, because the idea that a certain body is meant for the beach and others are not is completely absurd and culturally driven.
I felt as if I was supposed to arrive at school looking like a supermodel. I was supposed to have my hair done, makeup on, and a beautiful body. Which, our culture tells us that the only beautiful bodies are skinny bodies.
In order to change this view, we have to fight it ourselves. We have to take action. Walk into the hallways the way you are: tall, big, curvy, tiny, thin, athletic, short, scrawny, whatever you look like is perfect. Your body is beautiful. I know the feeling of wanting to change your body so you look like what others may think is perfect, but trust me the people you should want to impress should like you for you, not for how your body has changed. And what I mean by this is when you start recovering from ED your body changes, drastically. You gain weight. No way around that one, but like me, where I am at in my recovery, the weight has not distributed much in my body. The weight I have gained stays mostly in my stomach area. This is hard. Very hard. The stomach is something hated on by our culture so much; if it sticks out just a little it is seen as ugly. Which makes me self-conscious at times and almost uncomfortable in my own skin. For a long time, I was the opposite of having a flowy and soft tummy. But knowing what I have put my body through I understand why my stomach feels the need to protect itself.
I put my body through so much, and it came to the point where I had to ask it for forgiveness. I had to tell my body I was sorry. Sorry for everything. My body is wonderfully made to keep me alive. I tell myself “the more of me, the better”. This helps me get through my bad days. Knowing that God created my body by hand, and his perfect hands make no mistakes. I wreaked havoc on his creation, and its about time I work to heal my body. My body is amazing, especially my stomach. My stomach, or abdomen area, houses so many important things, so many vital organs for my survival.
When we go back to school it is so easy to get swept up in the stress and fall back into our safety net of disordered eating. It is one less thing for us to worry about. But we can not do that because our lives are on the line. We have to stay vigilant to everything we do. We have to check in on ourselves and make sure we are sticking to our meal plan, or whatever we need to so we are accountable to our bodies. We have to eat. That is a hard thing for someone with anorexia. Which is what I had, and am trying to recover from. Such a simple task becomes so hard. It becomes so easy to overthink food. We think about calories, macro and micro nutrients, and ingredients. Not that there is anything wrong with knowing what you’re eating is, but there is harm in becoming obsessive and letting that knowledge dictate what you can and can not eat.
You need to go into to school not letting what others may think phase you. Because if you have gained weight, it means you’re winning. Your small victories mean something. So keep going, take small steps and win the battles. And this is one of those battles you are going to win. Walk into school confident. You do not have to impress anyone. You are recovering, and that is messy. That does not look like how our culture may say it does. It looks like bad body image days, bloating stomachs, late night cravings, big meals, stretch marks, thick hair, skin that does not bruise as easily, and it looks like returning happiness, returning life. I was scared that when I went back to school people would think I was bigger, and that they would no longer like me. But, that was my ED talking. And trust me, anything ED says is a blatant lie.
When I got to school I realized that spending my time thinking about what others may think about me or how I may look to them, takes up way too much time and in no way adds to my happiness. In fact, it makes me feel bad, it makes me feel like I am less than enough. But I am more than enough. I am everything I need.
It is so easy to get caught up in what people around you are saying. Girls and boys a like are often critical of themselves physically. All around the hall I can hear them saying they are fat, they have too much skin, they eat too much, they don’t work out, they are ugly. When I hear this I have to make sure I am not also buying into these lies about myself. I have to be purposeful in not listening to these comments and also recognizing when people say these lies that they are creating a culture that fat shames, and sees “ugly” as less. When in fact, every single individual is beautiful and that radiates from the inside, not from how the look.
School is always hard, but I have to make the choice to not let certain things affect me in a negative way. I have to change a place that used to bring me so much anxiety, into a place I enjoy and am thankful for. Most students never truly understand just how lucky they are to have an education. And when kids and teens don’t take advantage of the resources that so many other children in other countries do not have, it is in some ways shocking to me. God blessed me with the chance to attend an amazing school, and I have to make the most of that blessing and to pursue my passion with the blessings I have been given.
The goal for today:
- When you are getting ready for school, and you look in the mirror, instead of picking out that one feature you do not like, choose one that you love. Look at that part of yourself that you love and that makes you feel beautiful and take the time to appreciate it and the parts that you aren’t so ready to accept as wonderful.
- During school, find something about someone else that you think is beautiful. This doesn’t have to be physical, but it can be, and give them a compliment. Trust me this will somehow make you feel better; when you see someone else smile because of you.
I hope your school year brings change. I hope that change is good and healing for you and your body.