This issue is something that has been nagging at me for a lifetime – literally. I can’t seem to remember a time when I didn’t feel insecure or unhappy with myself. For me, it was being body-conscious. After being enrolled in dance for most of my life as well as a number of years doing both youth and alternative modelling, the language of dieting was one in which I was fluent. As early as 10 years old, this became a much more serious problem. I won’t get into the gory details now, but suffice to say, it was horrible. Now, at 22, things are moderately better. Though it doesn’t seem like some great achievement, it is.
So today I wanted to talk to you about some of the steps I took to become a happier, healthier person.
Who and What do you want to be?
Recently I realized that I want a lot from life. I want to be a surgeon, a wife, and a mother. I want to be an intelligent adult and have something to contribute to society and the medical field in particular. Before that moment, being “skinny” was so much more important. It dawned on me that giving every last scrap of my energy to counting calories and obsessing about the way I looked, spending hours criticizing myself… it was completely unproductive. There is absolutely no way I could possibly stay drained in such a way and still become a brilliant doctor or a loving parent. Nope.
Find something you’re passionate about and let it propel you. Figure out what makes you feel alive, and then just DO IT. It may sound like a Nike commercial, but it works. For some people, it’s hard enough just getting out of bed. Never mind finding the motivation to change. Once you start focusing on what makes you feel happy and peaceful and unconcerned with what you’ve eaten that day or how other people perceive you, anxiety is a lot easier to manage.
Watch the negative self-talk
Be careful how you speak to yourself. The voice inside your head can be the most unrelenting presence and is usually the harshest. Pay attention to the thoughts you have when you look at yourself in the mirror, when you’re getting dressed, when you’re out in the world. If you call yourself ugly over and over, then you have no choice but to believe it. It is extremely difficult to do, but you must be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re a beautiful human being. Tell yourself that you are loved. If this is too hard at first, simply tell yourself “You’re okay.” In the same way that saying negative things can strongly impact your self-worth, so do positive things. Reinforce good feelings and stop wasting time putting yourself down.
Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are all very shameful problems. When you’re affected, you often believe you don’t need or deserve help. I know that I personally felt very stupid for asking for assistance. You don’t need to be in the hospital to be truly sick. If your quality of life is suffering because of negative feelings you have the right to heal. Talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with. It is also immensely helpful to speak with someone you feel might have an understanding of what you’re going through such as a counsellor or health-care professional. As soon as I opened up to my doctor about how I was feeling, my world changed.
If you don’t feel you have anywhere to turn, please phone Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
For more information and to get help for Eating Disorders visit http://www.nedic.ca