What I Learned About Self-Love After an Eating Disorder
For most people, self-love is something that we do subconsciously throughout our lifetime. For instance, we treat our self to a spa day, go see the movie that we’ve been dying to see, wind down with yoga, journal, read…Basically anything that makes us happy and feel good.
Speaking from the point of view of a recovering bulimic, self-love was anything but easy.
I won’t be going into extreme detail with my experience of being an active bulimic (I would constantly be binging/purging) or my journey in EDIOP (Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program) in this article. However, I will be sharing my experience with finding the light in myself when I had hit rock bottom.
As a mid-twenty year old woman, I still struggle daily with self-love. And some people will never understand that. But what you all need to know and learn to accept is: recovery is a lifelong process.
Recovery is a choice I make every day when I wake up. There is no such thing as a “recovered anorexic” or “recovered bulimic”. As much as we’d like for this mental illness to be solved with some pills and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it just doesn’t work that way.
I am a highly sensitive human being, which can be seen as a positive or negative trait. And for most of my life it had always negatively impacted me. As I found out in therapy it was actually the cause of some of my problems that led to my depression, anxiety and eating disorder.
Going through this experience I have learned to accept my sensitive qualities. I am compassionate, empathetic and have an indescribable need to love, not only others, but most importantly myself.
After completing EDIOP almost two years ago, here are some key facts about self-love that I use everyday:
Despite what any one may tell you, being selfish is the best thing you can do for yourself. No one is going to look out for you the way you do. You know your wants, needs, likes and dislikes. Never feel bad for choosing you over others.
Some days can be tougher than others. And trust me when I say you will struggle with appreciating yourself for a long while. But then there are days where you just wake up and look at your sleepy face and disheveled hair in the mirror and think, “Damn, I’m cute.”
Find your passion
I had become a robot, completely emotionless. I had isolated myself from my surroundings so much that I wasn’t really living. I didn’t know what I really enjoyed. I had been accustomed to liking what I thought I should like. I found this to be one of the best gifts my eating disorder has given me. The experience of finding myself, once again, and accepting all that I am.
Trust your instinct
Every emotion you feel is valid. End of story. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Comparison is the thief of joy
How amazing is it that no two people are completely the same? You are one of a kind. No one is you, and that is your magic.
Check in with your body
After being disconnected from my body for the longest time, it was extremely hard for me to become one with my body. This whole concept may be a little hard to grasp. But because of my eating disorder, I had purposely separated my body from my brain. Meaning I no longer felt things, my brain was just making sure I went through the right motions. Reconditioning myself to care for not only my mind but my body as well was such a weird experience. But I’ve learned so much by just being aware of my body.
Take a deep breath and remember: I am not perfect. I will make mistakes. But it’s okay.
My body is worth it
Sometimes throughout the day I catch myself staring at a part of my body thinking, “Oh my gosh, you need to go back to the gym asap.” But then my voice of reason chimes in reminding myself of all the things I’m capable of doing because of my body. I can maintain two jobs, take Daisy (my dog) on play dates, workout (when I feel like it) and countless other things I take for granted. I am able to do all these things because of my body. So instead of being so critical towards your body, appreciate your body and all that it allows you to do on a daily basis. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are.