How Do I Love Thee?

Can anybody find me….somebody tooooo…looovvvveee!?

How about yourself? It’s something we all forget to do, love ourselves. A lot of people don’t want to anymore. They feel they aren’t worthy of love, especially their own. We feel ashamed and disgusted in ourselves, but we really shouldn’t. We are human. We make mistakes. It’s time to stop beating yourself up.

How do you even love yourself? How can we even like ourselves? What if all we feel is hate. We hate our growing body. We hate being in hospital, or in school, or anywhere. We hate our life. Instead of saying this, say the opposite. I love my life. You may not believe it, but every time you say I hate my life, you have to say I love my life.

Think of reasons why you could love your life. Again, they may not seem true to you right now, but maybe they did at one time. And maybe they’re really small things, but anything is good. I love that I have a cat. I love that I have a sister. I love that I have black clothes. I love that Disney movies exist. I love that Hot Topic is around. I love that I have shoes. I love that I have feet. I love that I have eyes and ears. You get the point. List anything and everything. Don’t just think of them, write them down. Keep them to look at when you’re really low. It’ll remind you that there are a few good things in your life. It’s worth the time you have to take.

Another thing you should do is compliment yourself. Say “you are beautiful” when you look in the mirror. Stop yourself from saying hurtful things. Write messages all around your room or house reminding yourself of how strong and amazing you are. You all are, and you all deserve these compliments. In fact, they aren’t as much compliments as facts. Each and everyone of you has something to offer the world, do not forget that. You are special. You are important.

Some people think to love yourself you should wear tight clothes, other say baggy. What do I say? Nothing is out of boundaries. Wear whatever you want. I wear a tutu and suspenders sometimes. Knee high socks, hair bows, mismatched patterns, I have no limits to what I wear, and neither should you. Respect your body. Accent the best features of yourself (I’ll bet you all have a great butt). No shame. No regrets. If you want to wear makeup, wear it. If you don’t want to, don’t. It is all your choice. This is your body, clothing and other styles are a way to express yourself.

When you’re learning to love yourself, you have to push boundaries. Get out of your comfort zone. Be crazy. Be loud. Be you. I had a really hard time accepting myself. I thought I was horrible, worthless, ugly, fat, all the everyday things. But I also wasn’t myself. I didn’t like who I had become. It seemed to be me, but it didn’t look like me, or act like me. So I changed. I wore something crazy that I would’ve worn years ago, when I was happy. I felt this spark. I felt this new confidence. I was confused. I thought how could this be? I should be embarrassed. But I was proud. I took a leap, accepted the challenge, and got a little piece of me back. Maybe you were outgoing before, but then you became very introverted. Be daring. Talk to someone. An easy thing to do is get an online email penpal, or text someone. The next step is to talk to someone in public. Then maybe even say hello to a stranger. Take small steps everyday to get yourself back to who you were.

COMMON THOUGHTS

  • I do not deserve love
  • I am ugly
  • I am worthless
  • I am fat/overweight
  • I am horrible
  • How could anyone love me?

These are all myths. You deserve love. You are beautiful. You are worthy and meaningful. You are lovely. You are terrific. I love you, no matter who you are.

But some people ask this “Who am I?”. It’s a big question, but very important. To love yourself, you really have to learn who you are. Separate yourself from any illnesses or issues. You are not your problems. You are that creative, beautiful, smart, courageous, lovable boy or girl. Identify your values. Take a few minutes or hours to just be with yourself. Write down the things you love, love to do, and any other favourites. Really investigate into your soul. It sounds cliche, but sometimes cliches are right. It’s time you discovered yourself once again.

What do you do when other people are bringing you down? Think of the phrase Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Think No Evil. Learning to love yourself is when you have to take off those rose-coloured glasses and see who you truly are. Then I want you to take those glasses and fold them. Fold them again. And keep folding them until they become ear plugs. But these ear plugs in. These will guard you from the words of others. Turn something not so great, into something helpful. If you don’t have these glasses, or are not ready to take them off just yet, invest in some good quality ear plugs. The words these others have to say are not worth your energy. You are too important to listen to anything that is unkind. These people are not right for your life. (Now this is a metaphor, but I have found many people wear these glasses without noticing, myself being one. I have found that the ear plugs have helped me quite a bit when it comes to what other people say. I have the deluxe brand, so it filters out all negative things, and only lets me hear the important and helpful things. This doesn’t mean you should ignore people, it just means, don’t take their hurtful comments seriously. They mean nothing.)

A good thing to do while trying to learn to love yourself, is gain a passion or hobby. Not only does this distract yourself from any unhelpful thoughts, but it helps you build mastery, help you to believe in yourself and give you more to love. I learned to loom, with the special kits. It wasn’t too difficult (after a while), but I felt really good about myself after I made my first scarf. I was so proud. I saw a little glimpse of life in my eyes again. A little flicker of love flashed before me. And that was just from a scarf. When I painted my first painting, a lot more came. Then even when I went to the grocery store all on my own, I felt this love. I was doing things to help and appreciate me. Sometimes, it is all about you. And that is completely fine.

Don’t hold your feelings in. Don’t hide who you are. Be honest. Some people find they sound like a broken record, or maybe they just think they’re annoying. It isn’t healthy to hold everything in. It will hurt you in the long run. It’ll beat you up from the inside out. Find one person who you can rant to. Tell them everything you’re feeling. Let it all out. If you don’t feel safe telling someone else, write out how you’re feeling, or type it to get it out of your mind. Then I suggest burning, ripping or deleting it. This is more for comfort of not having to relive that exact feeling again. If you need to let it out to someone, I am always willing to listen. Tell me if you want me to give advice, comment what I think or just acknowledge your feelings. I want to help.

My favourite thing is to look at my quirks; to see how I am different. I embrace the little weird things about me. I am proud to say I am different. Every itty bitty thing about you is wonderful. Every unique piece of your puzzle is important and special. Embrace the things you never thought you would. Have a cow lick? Awesome, embrace it. Laugh so hard no sound comes out, embrace it. Have grey hair, embrace it. These things make you who you are.

Remember not to change yourself for anyone. Be who you truly want to be. You want to play the kazoo? Do it. Nothing is impossible for you. Once you know who you are, or what you like, create an identity you want to be, or who you were. Once you know your values, practice them. Be the person you always wanted yourself to be. Not who your family or friends wanted you to be. The most important opinion is your own. So act in a way you respect yourself.

I didn’t love myself for a long time. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying. I saw a decaying face in front of me and I had no respect for myself. I was not happy. I was ashamed of this being I became. For years this went on. Things were looking bleak. Then I started my first real recovery. I still couldn’t look in the mirror; at first. Then I wore something crazy. I wore something I would’ve worn when I was eight and didn’t have my disorder. I looked in the mirror. I smiled? It was weird. I actually was happy with the way I looked. I walked with a spring in my step. You can feel this too.

Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. It will happen. I know it. Love yourself.

A Friend In Need, Has A Friend In Me

Now, I’m not saying this is right for everyone. It’s just something that would’ve worked and helped me, when my friends were trying to help.

How do you talk to a friend who is struggling? You don’t want to say something that sets them back, but you don’t want to be silent and let them crumble. You know in your heart, you have to do something.

What kind of things can you say? What kind of things can’t you say?

WHAT NOT TO SAY

  1. You look healthy. This could set them back. They may take this as, I have gained weight, I am fat, I need to lose more weight.
  2. You don’t look skinny enough to have an eating disorder. NONONONO. This is unacceptable. Anyone, of any size, gender, race, etc. can have an eating disorder. Ed does not discriminate. Never assume. I saw this as a challenge. If I didn’t look skinny enough, then I had to eat even less. Never. ever, say this.
  3. Why don’t you just eat/Why don’t you just stop purging? (Two common examples, many more could be said involving other behaviors). This isn’t a choice. We don’t ask to have an eating disorder and force ourselves to hate our bodies. Ed does this. We can’t just stop everything and go back to eating properly. It takes a long time and lots of professional help (usually) to get to a point where you can eat and love yourself. It’s like telling someone with cancer to just stop having cancer.
  4. Why are you doing this to us? We aren’t choosing to make everyone’s life harder. We just want an escape and to feel better about ourselves. At the time, we didn’t know any better way to accept ourselves. Don’t act like they are attacking you.
  5. You look terrible. Most of us have body issues already, and this doesn’t help. We want to feel good about ourselves, and this makes us feel like we are completely worthless. We want to feel pretty, not be told we look like death.
  6. If you think you’re fat, then what am I? Don’t compare our thoughts to how we see you. That isn’t fair to us. You increase our anxiety and we could seriously panic, which can cause a lot of harm. We see ourselves different than how you see us, and it takes a long time to take off the blurry glasses. I know I hated being approached with this.
  7. I wish I could lose weight like you/I wish I could be anorexic for a day/I need to lose a few pounds. These make us feel like we are doing something really good for ourselves, and honestly, we aren’t. You normalize the eating disorder, like everyone should have it, and everyone needs to lose weight. If you have been told by a doctor you need to lose weight, an eating disorder is not the way to go. Don’t talk about losing weight around us. It made me feel like I had to lose more because everyone else was going to become as skinny as I.
  8. I binge all the time, it’s fine! (Or something of this manner). Don’t make the eating disorder behaviors normal. No one needs to do this. There are healthier ways to deal with emotions and problems. Do not promote an eating disorder.
  9. Don’t you know how much you’re hurting yourself? Please, once again, we are trying to get rid of pain. This only adds guilt and shame. Don’t be telling us how wrong we are for having an eating disorder. It wasn’t our choice and we have no control over it.
  10. I ate so much and now I have to skip [meal] or eat less today. Nope. No one needs to cut down on food just because they ate a little more. And if you do, by accident or so, don’t talk about it around us. It will make us feel guilty about how much our body needs to eat right now, and we’ll want to stop eating altogether.
  11. You brought this on yourself; you made your bed, now lie in it. Ah, this is my favourite. Well, it’s one I heard a lot and I hate to hear. My favourite least favourite. If you even think about saying this, stop. This is never okay to even think. WE DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS LIFE!! IT FELL UPON US. We didn’t actually want things to get this far. We didn’t know how much control Ed gets over us. Stop blaming us. This is not our fault.

WHAT KIND OF THINGS TO SAY

  1. Let them know they aren’t alone. This is a hard illness. We feel like we’re the only ones struggling with our bodies and we aren’t normal anymore. We think of ourselves as freaks (I am proud to say I am a weirdo and there’s nothing wrong with that) and outcasts. We want to belong. Knowing we have support from you can really help.
  2. Tell them they are beautiful and don’t let them say no. They need to know they are worthy and beautiful no matter how they look. No one needs to lose weight (unless a doctor medically says you should) and everyone should be kind to themselves.
  3. Try to encourage them to seek help. I personally can say I never wanted to listen to this when I was deep in my disorder. After a few years of having no life, I decided it was enough. And I asked for help. I can say the help I received (specifically from McMaster) really made a difference and I don’t know if I could’ve done it without professional help.
  4. Ask them what they need. Sometimes we don’t want to be told what to do. We want to have some decisions in our life. This validates us and makes us feel like you really care.
  5. Let them vent. We all are holding stuff in. And it only causes problems. Let us say everything that’s on our mind. But there are rules when we are being open and talking to us:
  • Be supportive
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Don’t approach us with food
  • Definitely don’t force us to eat or make it your job to solve all of our problems
  • Be patient
  • Be calm
  • Do not say anything that you think will be hurtful (anything from my list, or anything that you even have the slightest doubt about saying. Filter and think before you react)
  • Everything has consequences, chose your words wisely.

THINGS TO DO TO HELP THEM

  1. Help them distinguish Ed from themselves. They are two different beings. We are not our eating disorders.
  2. Once again, let them vent without judging.
  3. Give them a hug.
  4. Have them write down their values.
  5. Tell them to compliment themselves everyday.
  6. Have them write down things they like about themselves, but nothing to do with weight.
  7. Say you are their Ed, and let them talk to you to get out what they want to say to Ed.
  8. Take them to a spa. Show them they can love their body and praise it, even if they don’t feel they’re worthy.
  9. Introduce them to new music and hobbies to distract them.
  10. If you are sitting with them while they are trying to eat, it’s good to eat something yourself, so they don’t feel like they’re the only ones who have to eat.
  11. Tell them to write positive messages on all their mirrors.
  12. Or, tell them to get rid of their mirrors.
  13. Tell them to get rid of the scale (hard to do, but it really is a step in the right direction).
  14. Start slow with them. Introduce new foods at a steady pace, don’t do it all at once. It is a scary thing, but it has to be done.
  15. Delete old Ana and Mia sites from their bookmarks.

Sometimes you want to say you understand what we’re going through. But no book, not even I, can say what anyone is going through. It’s different for everyone. I will say what it felt like for me.

I thought I was being buried alive. Everyone kept pushing me closer towards the hole and eventually I fell in. Every time I tried to climb out, someone threw something at me. Every hurtful word or phrase was another clump of dirt. I was dying. Eventually I gave in and decided it was my time to die. I hit rock bottom. I never thought I would get out of that hole. I knew I had friends with this disorder, but I didn’t believe I had it. Ed convinced me I was just eating healthier and losing weight to make myself look better. I trusted him. At times when I started to feel like maybe something was wrong, I felt like no one was doing anything to stop me. Everyone was letting me overexercise and under-eat. I was alone. It was always dark. I never wanted to see my friends, because they knew what was going on and wanted to help. I was sure I didn’t need help, I just needed to lose another 5 pounds. Then ten, and it never stopped. I had no hope. I wanted to die. I wanted to starve myself to death and leave everything behind. Life was like Hell. Everything was always on fire and I was being beaten down everyday. Soon I stopped going out altogether. My life ended up consisting of me, and a garbage pail (either filled with vomit, or the lunch I was supposed to eat). I wouldn’t even call what I was doing ‘life’. I was not living. I was practicing for after my funeral. I started planning my funeral. I wrote suicide notes. I said goodbye to my friends. It was the end.

I am no longer in that place. I met a group of people who, instead of throwing dirt at me, threw me a ladder. I climbed out. I am almost happy. I can stand up for myself. I have self-respect once again. I want everyone to be able to feel this again, and it is possible.

Please get help if you need it, if you have a friend with this problem, try to get them to read this. Drowning isn’t fun. We need a life preserver. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, I will respect you if you reach out (I respect you no matter what, but this is an incredible step).

Don’t give up, there is hope for everyone.

Do I Deserve Happiness?

This frightening phrase was uttered in group today.

“I sometimes feel happy, but then I’m guilty about it, and think I don’t deserve happiness, so I feel even worse than I normally do.”

Just as a public service announcement; everyone deserves happiness. No matter what you’ve done, no one deserves eternal pain.

Just because you have an eating disorder doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be happy.

If you had cancer, would you question your happiness? Both cancer and an eating disorder were not asked for. No one said “hey! I’d like an order of leukemia or maybe some bulimia on the side!” No, these things just happen, and we may never know why.

Don’t feel guilty for what has happened to you. You couldn’t control it. Ed told you that you were in control, but he was lying. He was in control. It is no ones fault for what you’re going through, especially not your own.

Don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for being happy. Happiness is a wonderful thing to feel! In fact, I want you to feel extra good and give yourself a pat on the back when you’re happy. It means you’re progressing and starting to lose the numbness.

Now, I wholeheartedly support happiness, but we can still have our bad days. Like me, today.

God, get ready for a rant, I had a pretty rough day.

So I went to Ontario Works to apply for government support today and found out 2 very important things. #1. My mom has to financially support me while I’m still under her care, it’s her legal obligation.

#2. The money my dad pays for child support should be going directly to me, not to her to spend on herself.

Now guess what my mom thinks. She says that money is hers and I shouldn’t get any of it. Are you kidding me? That’s not right.

So, I’m going to take legal action. I cannot be with this family. It is only hurting me and delaying my recovery.

Anyone who is in an abusive relationship, please, find help and get out of it. You are worth more than what they give you. You deserve respect and to be treated with dignity.

Please, love yourself and don’t give up hope for a brighter future.