A Letter to My Body

IMG_20170728_185448_482So often are we quick to say things about our bodies that we would never say to one other. So fast to put ourselves down for what we see as our short comings, and attempt to refute any positivity others place upon us. Ask yourself, would you say to someone you love the things you say to yourself? No longer shall we treat our selves as verbal punching bags. No longer shall we assault ourselves with uncalled for negativity.  No longer shall it cripple us, or inhibit dreams and goals. Take a moment to reflect on the wondrous things we have, can, and do accomplish in the bodies we are in. We all deserve to feel comfortable being who and what we are.  After years of neglect I’ve decided it’s time to rebuild the broken relationship with my body.  I’ve decided it’s time to start healing. For a moment I’ve set myself apart from the skin I’m in, and come to realize what a truly remarkable thing it is, and what a truly wonderful thing it is to be alive.

Dearest you,

As I write this, I have spent 25 years, 142 days, and 14 hours with you. Throughout our time together you never let me fall; you never let me fail. When I was at my weakest you stood strong.  Never faltering to the blows I threw your way. You are resilient. For the past 25 years, I’ve had the ability to love, laugh, cry and dream because of you, yet, I despised you. You make me who I am.  I can never apologize enough for what I have put you through. So, here is a love letter, and an explanation, for you. For everything you do for me, and everything you’ve done. For all of your faults, failures and short comings, and for all of your strengths, beauties and achievements. I’m proud of you.

I used to hate to have to look at you. I’d cringe whenever I caught your reflection out of the corner of my eye.  You repulsed me.  The way your stomach bulged, the way your thighs jiggled, and the way your skin crinkled and dimpled. You disgusted me. The stretch marks that litter your thighs, stomach and chest made me sick. Whatever I could pinch or grab, I wanted to cut away. You were never going to be good enough for me; you were worthless. I wanted nothing to do with you, and I would have done anything to rid you from my life. I denied you the very things you needed.  I denied you health, the basic necessities of life. I hurt you. There were times when I wanted to end your time here on this earth. I hated you for reasons no one ever should, for being who you are. It was never fair to you. It was never deserved.  I punished you, because I never thought you were good enough. I watched you suffer as I abused you. Watched you crumple, become worn and tired. You did nothing but give, and I took from you all that I could. I’m sorry. Those words don’t seem enough, I know, but let us start there. Let us begin to build a bond that will never again be broken. Let us grow stronger together.

I now see that your legs are strong.  They’ve carried you miles and miles, and they will carry you for many more. You move like there is nothing holding you back.  Your stomach keeps you tall, it holds you up. Provides you with the energy to do the things you love. Your skin has scars, beautiful, beautiful scars. They are your story; they make you who you are.  As you grow you become a book that has been read and little worn, bound to have a few tears and wrinkles, but what a beautiful story it is. A story where you are the hero. You will not be confined to a genre.  You are a comedy, a romance, a mystery and an adventure; you are an epic.

Your body was your passport into this world, and with it you will go on the journey of a lifetime. You will not suffer from a destiny of regret.  You will not end up at the end of your life wondering what could have been if you had lost a little more weight, or looked a different way. Your life will be one worth living.  It will be a life well lived.

I owe so much to you. Thanks to you I can feel, not only with my hands, but also my heart.  Thanks to you I can embrace the ones I love, kiss those I hold dear, and hold the hand of a friend. I can feel warmth, both inside and out. You’ve given me the ability to love, possibly the greatest gift of all, even though there were times I didn’t love you. You are selfless.  You provide me with life, and encourage me to continue living when it was the last thing I wanted. Thanks to you I get to see beautiful, vibrant sunsets, and smell the lilacs in the first rain of spring. Thanks to you I can listen to the birds in the quite of sunrise, and bury my hands in the cool, damp earth.  I am able to wade in the waters, feel the cool pebbles beneath my feet. I am able to smell the friendly smoke of a campfire, feel the heat, and hear the crackles. I am able to dance, albeit not well, and enjoy every silly moment of it. Thanks to you I am able to live.

I now see how people look at you.  I see how they embrace your presence. I see how proud your friends and family are of you, and I see how the man who loves you smiles when you look at him. You see that you are loved. I too now love you, and I thank you for all that you have done for me. Thank you for giving me the strength to get through it all. You are beautiful, inside and out. You are me, and I am you. Thank you.

      Love always,
Claire 

#TalkAboutItTuesday: Binging, Purging and Bulimia

A simple bite that turns into a binge. That’s how it all started. I suffered from bulimia for upwards of 5 years, in various states of severity throughout that time. At the height of my bulimia, I would binge and purge up to a dozen times a day; sometimes in very close succession. Anything and everything was fair game. I would eat foods I thought of as indulgent and unhealthy, knowing that I would bring it right back up without any of the caloric repercussions. I would stuff myself until I became uncomfortably full, and then —as simply as it sounds— throw it all up. By simply contracting my stomach muscles in a certain way I was able to bring up what I had just eaten. Often times, depending on what I had eaten, it was painful. My stomach would hurt, my esophagus would burn, and my mouth would become sore. Over time I had begun to learn what foods were easiest to purge. Ice cream and cereal became my go-to binge foods as they were satisfying to eat, but incredibly easy to bring back up. Foods like bread, pizza, or any other dense items were much more difficult, and painful, to purge due to fact that they would often “ball up”. This would make it difficult to move through my esophagus, and sometimes raise my anxiety levels in fear of being unable to void it from my stomach. I would often eat meals with large amounts of water in order to ensure easier purging, as it’s easier to bring up solids with a liquid. I began to find it difficult to eat a simple meal without feeling the urge to over eat. Trying to stop myself from overeating, which would lead to purging, became near impossible for me. Even eating something as simple as an apple would trigger an unhealthy eating pattern. I became afraid to eat, because I knew what it would lead to. I would feel incredibly weak and tired post purging, and often lacked the energy to do much of anything.

For me, bulimia was a way to indulge in foods I wouldn’t otherwise eat. It became a “no consequence” diet.  I was able to eat anything I wanted without fear of gaining weight, but little did I realize at the time, bulimia was costly in more ways than one.  Not only is the cost of bulimia experienced physically, but also financially; it is an expensive eating disorder. I don’t like to think about how much money I was wasted on purchasing food I knew I would just purge. I essentially flushed money down the toilet. I have done irreparable damage to my digestive system and metabolism due to years of abuse, and it will take a very long time for my body to recover from both my anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders take a huge toil on a person physically and mentally, and its effects can be felt long after one begins to recover.

Bulimia is a very difficult thing to hide from those around you. The unexplained absences after meals, the time spent in the bathrooms, and the sound of vomiting often make it difficult to conceal the illness. However, unlike anorexia, bulimia sufferers are often of average weight making it difficult to notice if someone is suffering. It is difficult to determine how many individuals suffer from bulimia, as binge eating and purging often takes place in private. However, it is estimated that 1-3% of Canadian women will develop bulimia at some point in their lifetime, with most women developing bulimia in their late adolescents (Statistics Canada, 2015) Bulimia is an illness that may present at intermittent times over a period of time, or as an ongoing chronic issue. (Statistics Canada, 2015) Often, bulimia sufferers have, at one point in their lives, suffered from restrictive eating, or anorexia. (Statistics Canada, 2015) Bulimia is clinically characterized as periods of binge eating, followed by participating in methods of inappropriate behaviour to prevent weight gain (Statistics Canada, 2015). This includes purging, sometimes coupled with the use of laxatives and over exercising. Many bulimics also suffer from co-occurring disorders, such as depression and anxiety.  I myself, as I have mentioned in previous posts, suffered from severe depression and anxiety.

Treatment for bulimia is similar to that of any other eating disorders. In hospital treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy, and counselling have all been effective in helping people recover. I was medically diagnosed as bulimic and referred to an in hospital treatment program. I decided not to commit to the offered treatment, and instead opted for weekly counselling. While this process took much longer it felt like the right option for me at the time.  Any form of treatment will help an individual establish the triggers and patterns which result in binging and purging behaviours. The tracking of binging and purging episodes may help sufferers begin to understand their triggers, allowing them to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Identifying the feelings, and their causes, associated with a bulimia episode is what I found valuable to my recovery. Over the years I have developed the ability to identify my triggers before they become uncontrollable and overwhelming, and as a result I have established healthy coping methods. Some of my coping methods include meditation, breathing activities, going for a short walk, stretching, and (as silly as it may sound) watching cute animal videos. Everyone’s coping methods will differ, and for some their recovery methods will completely differ. Finding what best helps you is the best method that there is. Remembering self-care is another critical component to anyone’s recovery. Ensuring that you are surrounded by those who will be supportive, as well as creating a safe recovery space are also extremely important. Lastly, know that recovery is a journey, and you’re eating disorder is not a life sentence. You can find happiness and health again, it may just take a little time.

Resources
Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) (416) 535-8501
National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) (416) 340-4156
F.E.A.S.T. Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders

  1. Statistics Canada. (2015). Section D- Eating Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-619-m/2012004/sections/sectiond-eng.htm