Hey, my lovely IIB family!
Today’s post is pure, raw honesty. I’m writing this to get it off of my chest in the aim to make myself feel better. Indira’s Inner Beauty is my attempt at making the world a more compassionate place. I hope that if you’re going through the same thing (or have in the past) you can find comfort and empowerment simultaneously while you’re here.
Trigger Warning: detailed and graphic description of eating disorders.
This is extremely personal, and extremely terrifying. But, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the inspirational stories I read and heard when I was struggling the most. Those inspirational people, although they may not even know of my existence, helped me tremendously. My desire to spark compassion is greater than my fear of what people are going to think of me.
Any college student can tell you that your schedule gets completely packed. Between taking many challenging courses, being involved professionally, having a social life, maintaining your health, and doing all of the adult things that apartment life asks of you, you have little to no extra time. Often, you don’t have enough time for all of this. That’s definitely the case of how I’ve been feeling recently.
Sometimes, when you’re running around on insufficient sleep with a to-do list longer than life itself, you skip things that you shouldn’t. I’ve been having a really good week, but it’s been busy. Yesterday, I didn’t eat breakfast because I woke up later than I should have. I was up working on a paper at the library the night before until really late. So, after my morning commitments I ate a late but filling lunch. Then, when dinner rolled around I wasn’t hungry. I had dinner plans, so I ate something quite small since I wasn’t hungry. By the time that I was getting ready to sleep, my stomach was growling. I don’t like eating during the two hours before bed. So, I slept, and woke up with an even growlier stomach. It was another late night, early morning type of thing, so I skipped breakfast today as well. As I sat in my 1.5 hour morning lecture, I heard my stomach growl more intensely and more often. My reaction is what was prompted me to write this post today.
Before I get into it, here is some context.
I’ve spent the majority of my life struggling with disordered eating. The past 3 years, I’ve put a lot of effort into recovery. Both food and body image have been things that I have had issues with for so long, but they’re things that I have come a really long way with. Through the past 3 years of soul searching and fighting for a better life, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve realized the causes in my life that led me to these behaviors from a young age, and I’ve worked hard to process and accept all of it. I have learned to identify and shut down the voices that tell me I am unworthy (whether they are other people’s or my own). I’ve grown more confident in my body, and I’ve found the desire to take care of my well-being while placing less importance on what I look like.
You must be thinking, “okay, so what’s the problem?”
The problem is that today, for the first time in a while, I fell back into an old thought pattern. My eating disorder went through two major phases, and I didn’t really realize that I was in them until I got out of them. The first was the restriction; the calorie-counting, the meal-skipping, the fear of “being fat,” and the hate of my body. This phase lasted several years. The second phase was the emotional-eating. I don’t think I would call it bingeing because it wasn’t about quantity for me; it was mostly about eating all of the things that I loved, but had deprived myself of. I ate my negative feelings, whatever it meant on that specific day, and hated myself afterwards. This phase lasted about a year.
Throughout all of it, I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. I would never leave the house without makeup, and on the rare occasion that I did, I would apologize to people for it. I lost count of the times that I cried at the sight of myself. After that, I went through a huge body positivity phase that lasted about a year as well. The past year has been a bit of an up-and-down cycle in terms of body image, but I’ve been doing really well with food. I’ve been trying to live by the concept of intuitive eating (let me know if you’d like me to do a post on what that means to me and how I practice it). Now, that brings me to today.
Being hungry made me proud.
In the restrictive part of my ED, I’d feel proud of myself when my stomach growled. It meant I was doing a good job at what I was trying to do. It was so satisfying to feel that deep growl of the stomach that emphasized its emptiness. I felt guilt if I ate or drank something that wasn’t lettuce, celery, apples, or water. I’d feed the lunch that my mom packed me to the squirrels on the walk home from the bus stop. I am a different person than the girl who did that.
The first word I used to describe myself back then was “fat.”
Now, it’s “loving.” I am filled with so much love.
Love for others, and love for myself. I’m not necessarily crazy about how I look, but I’m working towards it. I do, however, really care about myself. I care about my body, and I want it to feel good. Today, sitting in my lecture with my growling stomach, my reflex reaction was to be proud. It took me only a few seconds to realize how bad that was and how little I deserved it.
Having bad days in recovery is normal and should be expected.
The thirty seconds after I felt proud of my hunger, my brain was telling me to keep up the good work. It took a minute for me to stop and remind myself that I deserve to be fed. I deserve to be full. I deserve to be taken care of. I can do all of these things for myself. I do all of these things for myself. I should want to do all of these things for myself.
Intuitive eating (a concept I discovered from ownitbabe on Instagram) involves checking in with yourself and asking “what does my body need?” It may sound so simple, but doing this at least once a day makes a world of a difference for me. I realized that, in that moment, I needed a filling, healthy, and satisfying meal with some water. So, after that lecture, I walked to a restaurant that I like and ordered a falafel bowl. It had the filling falafel, hummus, rice, and lots of healthy veggies. While it’s not necessarily the healthiest option, it was good for me, and it was yummy.
While my brain regressed back to a thought process that I used to have when my body used to feel this intense hunger, the three-years-in-recovery version of me was able to take control of the situation. Stopping and checking in with myself was what it took.
So, what now?
Well, there’s a quote that I really like that I think applies well to this situation, as well as any difficult situation of a similar nature.
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Gustav Jung
I choose recovery, and I choose taking care of myself.
It’s okay to ask for support, though.
One more thing that I want to make sure you know is that having a strong support system of people who love me to lean on is what has helped me find success in recovery. I had to (and have to) do the hard work myself, but having a few people to talk to about this without judgement makes a world of a difference. I have amazing parents, an amazing sister, and a few incredible best friends who wrap me in love and support. I’m endlessly grateful for that and them, and I wouldn’t be able to talk about my recovery without them.
On this same vein, it makes a world of a difference when you stop associating with people who inhibit your healing process. That can mean different things to anyone.
So, here’s what I want you to get out of this.
- Recovery is within your reach.
- You are allowed to do whatever it is that makes your body and mind feel well
- You are allowed to have bad days; recovery isn’t always linear.
- Vulnerability on bad days matters.
- You are not alone.
- You are resilient and strong.
Instagram accounts, songs, and quotes that have helped me today.
Immersing myself with empowering content really pushes me into a better mindset. I hope that my content can be that for somebody who is struggling. Regardless, here are some things that have helped me feel better today.
My favorite body positive/ED recovery Instagram accounts
These incredibly strong and empowering women create content that has truly helped me on my journey.
Body Positive/Empowering Songs
“Queen” by Jessie J
“Video” by India.Arie
“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
Quotes I’ve found throughout my recovery on Pinterest and Instagram
“You are not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.” – Alex Elle
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming it.” – Helen Keller
“I am proud of the woman I am today because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.” – Unknown
This post’s cover image was created by my absolutely talented friend, Nora. She is an amazing artist and an even better human who I have the pleasure of calling my friend. Please go give her art Instagram, @speakartnotwar a follow and some love!
Being this vulnerable on the internet is terrifying for me, but I think it’s the best thing that I can do in the attempt to help empower, guide, and support young girls.
I love you all. I hope you are doing well today – and if you’re not, I hope this helped you out or brought you comfort.
With so much love,