LifeFit

Through the Looking Glass – An Eating Disorder in Recovery Part Two

I first met Summer around two years ago after her parents were desperate and seeking help with their daughters disordered eating. After a couple of stints in and out of hospital it was getting to the point where Summer’s destructive patterns were damaging her internal organs. It was a worrying time for all.  More intervention was needed which is where I stepped in as Nutrition and Health Coach, to help supplement the help she was already receiving.   

Summer was stuck in patterns of temporarily bingeing. This was leading to a decrease in the distress (that triggered the action) by offering a way to avoid true feelings. In the long run though, binge eating (with compensatory behaviours) also comes at a very high cost to long-term health.  As long there is a disregard of what the body needs, sufferers will be stuck in an eating disordered pattern which is where becoming mindful is crucial to recovery.  This is the area we focussed on, throughout our 15 weeks together.
Eating disorders are not as cut and dry as we would like.  You can’t just wake up one morning a decide that today is the day to move on. Habitual patterns, cues, triggers, environmental stimuli continue to remind suffers of their insecurities. It’s a hidden world that is much harder to come out of than to fall into. With continual monitoring of thought patterns and creating ‘space’ between the disorder and ‘self’ is the first step in management. 
 
Last month Summer shared with us part 1 of her story 
 

Why I fought for Life 

In part one, Summer shared her story on why she decided life was worth fighting for in leading to the first step to recovery. 

It takes massive courage to want to overcome an eating disorder and to now have the strength to speak out and help others through their own painful journeys, Summer is focusing this post on social media, technology and how it is contributing to disordered eating.
 

An Eating Disorder in Recovery – Part 2

Through the Looking Glass: Who Are We? 

eating disorder

By Summer Edhouse

Time to get your spectacles out goddesses; it’s time to take a closer look at the finer aspects of your life. 

When we really look through the looking-glass… Who are we and what do we represent?

In a metaphorical sense, some days we seem to be laying along a lazy river bed. Next, we’re chasing an imaginary talking rabbit down a rabbit hole and into  a wonderland; the place of your ‘dreams’. Like a magic trick, the rabbit disappears and reappears and sure enough it’s infiltrated life. A magic trick… infiltrated… Nothing remains the same for long. Very much like the magic trick of social media, it too infiltrates life and takes grasp of our minds.

We visualise a world of our dreams… Where we’re the ‘perfect’ weight, have on ‘fleek’ brows, and a ‘tiny’ waist with a ‘big’ bum… Did you say ‘pig’ or ‘fig’?” asks the Cheshire Cat, who appears only after the ‘caterpillar’ has disappeared. (You see – In life a caterpillar becomes a butterfly; in dreams a caterpillar becomes a cat). It’s an alternate reality. My point being, when you’re stuck in this ‘dream’ (your ‘dream’ being trying to achieve the idea of ‘beauty’), you lose yourself – your ‘self’. Before too long, you’re blind to the harm you’re doing to your body. This harm is amplified due to our environment and the resources it allows us access (E.g. magazines and social media). I don’t believe humans are supposed to have one identity but many. Society creates our identity from what seems to be the current trend or the ‘norm’ of society… Who are we? 

Naturally, we want the next best thing… Who doesn’t? It’s ‘nice’ to have the new iPhone, the upgraded Toyota, the smart TV’s, etc. If you will, compare it to Darwin’s theory, ‘survival of the fittest. It’s now a competition as to who has what, how many followers online, how many likes and comments, and the physical appearance of the person. We compare ourselves to the lives of others we see.  Stop for a minute and take a look through your looking glass,with fingers balancing new Iphones in our cupped hands and oversized watch… observe as we scroll using our thumbs as a stylus; scrolling through our instagram accounts that are full of other people’s lives – majority being who we don’t even know, scrolling, gazing at their lives of sipping on martinis in Manhattan, on a yacht in the Greek isles or just the pressed abs of the ‘instagram model’ who doesn’t have an ounce of sweat on her.  Don’t get me wrong – those gals and bois work hard! (GO GALS AND BOIS!) But that is my point… it’s posed! That’s not life, it’s a ‘dream’, an alternate reality we seemingly and effortlessly slip into. It’s truly scary. We have been so conditioned to become dependent on technology, just to confirm that what we’re doing or what our appearance is, is the ‘norm’ of the society we choose. 

“Real Life! – ‘How I lost 15kgs in 8 weeks’; ‘Get Bikini Body ready’; ‘How to look great at work – fashion essentials to flatter your figure’ These titles are plastered on the front of women’s magazines. ‘Stay young, retire rich!’; ‘super hero abs’; ‘biggest arms now!’; ‘lose your gut!’, These bold titles highlighted in red plastered on front of men’s magazines. To be ‘beautiful’ or to fit in, you “MUST” portray this image of a flat tummy, you “MUST” have your life together by 25 to be ‘stable’. To lose the weight you “MUST” be calorie deficit, partake in ridiculous juice detoxes and diet supplements – because if you don’t, how will you get there? (Load of BS if you ask me!). Media portrays this image of what it means to be “normal”. Although media is  vastly changing into accepting more body types there is still pressure that if you don’t look this way, or feel this way, you are not ‘beautiful’ or ‘normal’. Media, if not used in this ego-centric way, could actually be beneficial in bring people together.

 I have found myself in so many conversations with my friends comparing their lives to those online. “I just want to have a big booty like her” (remember a few years ago, it was to have a thigh gap. The trend of a flat tummy is still so prominent). “How good would it be to get paid just to post pictures”, “I just want to be Instagram famous so I can travel the world”,  lets back it up for a second… ‘Instagram Famous’. That is today’s current trend; and unfortunately we can’t stop it. What we can do though, is educate  – EDUCATE.  Make it aware that it’s okay to not have your life together at 25. That it’s okay to not have a ‘flat’ tummy or a ‘big booty’ – you are still beautiful. That it’s okay not to be sipping on martinis in Manhattan or sailing the Greek isles in a yacht. It’s not real. It’s an image they have created for themselves and for the world to believe they have it together. An alternate reality. A not-so-authentic self. Take a look through your looking glass, what conversations have you found yourself in? Be your authentic self and don’t feel any pressure not to be. The lives you follow are not real. That’s not saying all those that you follow are not, I follow some great blogs that show their authentic self. But it is still just an image; and it doesn’t have to be yours.

I’m looking through my looking-glass now and I say good-bye. I say good-bye to the 15-year-old Summer staring at her reflection in the mirror and what she sees. The 15-year-old Summer who is caked in two layers of foundation, two different kinds of mascara, eyeliner thicker than my thighs, blush powdered on my cheeks and pencilled thin brows (another trend of 2013). I say good-bye to 15-year-old Summer who is grasping at the skin on her tummy, shaming herself as fat. To 15-year-old Summer who wouldn’t run anymore because her thighs would jiggle and her tummy would wiggle. To 15-year-old Summer who only posed when the lighting was in my favour, to when the angles were ‘good’ and to when she was dressed to ‘flatter’ or ‘reveal’ her body; because that’s what got the ‘likes’ right?

Now, take a look through your looking glass – who are you? I want you to say ‘good-bye’ to whatever part of you thought it was ‘normal’ to look or behave that way. I want you to say ‘good-bye’ to wishing you had a life that wasn’t yours. I want you start living your beautiful, authentic self. Because in the end, that is the only thing that matters. People are going to want to know you, because it’s you! And as simple as that sounds, it’s your quirkiness, your jiggly thighs and your intelligent mind, it’s the authentic you!

Say it with me…

Good-Bye old me.

And now shout it with me…

HELLO AUTHENTIC ME! I’m going to do you proud.

pic via Zarra Ryan (sea.gypsy online)

xx

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