My Struggle with Body Image // What I Hope To Change

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Trigger Warning: This post will talk about poor body image with vague mentions of disordered habits in regards to food. Please don't continue on if these topics are likely to cause distress.

As bad as it may sound, how I look really has an impact on how I feel. Overall, I'm not a very confident person. I get incredibly anxious around new people, I don't like making the first move when it comes to socialising with people and I often worry to myself that I'm not actually liked by those that say they like me. I feel like I suffer from a lack of confidence not only in who I am as a person, but how I look on the outside. The only time I've really felt confident about myself is when I was, well, "thin". It's conceited and superficial, I know. But it's something I've never been able to change about myself. 

Other people noticed too, I was happier with myself, the normally joking "I'm so cute" was and sounded genuine. I always got a burst of confidence that always seemed to stay but vacated as soon as I gained an amount of noticeable weight. Suddenly I wouldn't want to socialise, I wouldn't want to go out anywhere, I wouldn't want to dress nice. I just wanted to stay in, by myself, wear baggy clothes and hide it all away. This is how I've been feeling lately. I love believe everyone should love themselves for who they are, be happy with what they have, but no matter how I see others doing this (which they damn right should be doing!), I can never seem to force myself to believe that I should feel that way when I look a certain way.

I so wish that I could. 

My body was never an issue growing up. When I was young I was slim, I wasn't overly athletic but I had a massive appetite. It was when I was a teenager that my body started to change and my habits didn't. I became a little on the "fluffier" side as I would put it. I stayed that way all the way until my final year of school when I was so busy trying to get all my coursework done; doing music, art and drama and trying to give them all equal passion took up the majority of my lunchtimes. I did try and remember to have lunch but I would usually try and make up for it when I had dinner. It was never an intentional pattern, it wasn't something I particularly took mind to. It just seemed to happen without me realising. I did lose weight during this year, while I never knew my exact starting weight I think I lost about 7kg or so over the course of the year, just from being so busy. But. I guess in a good way, no matter how much I was picked on for my weight, it wasn't something that upset me and wasn't something I wanted to change. If I could be like that before, why can't I be like that now? 

It wasn't until college where my view of my appearance and how my body looked really took a hit. I got incredibly depressed during my time in college. I was studying music because it was such a love for me, but the more I was forced to study, the more I began to hate it. The more I realised, I wasn't all that good at music, I was just average at best. All of my school friends had gone off, moved away or become too busy for me. Some of the boys that went to college with me weren't the nicest either. One would tell me how bad I was and demanded I play piano for him so he could see how bad I was. Another would constantly tell me how fat I was and how I was going to end up alone with no one loving me because of how I looked. I ended up spending my free classes and lunch time in the canteen, buying whatever out of the vending machine, drinking god knows how many hot chocolates a day. Trying not to cry when I wasn't the only one in the room. Spiralling into a poor, binge eating mindset with food. Having it there as a comfort to the pain I was dealing with. 

This was when I went up to 95kg (15 stone), the highest weight I have ever been. I suddenly hit rock bottom. I despised how I looked. Any photos I took of my face I would edit, I would purposely try and make my face look slimmer so that to my online friends that didn't have to see me irl, they thought I didn't look as bad. It eventually struck me that I wasn't in a good place with my body, my mindset with food. Walking up the hill from the shop was a struggle for me and by the time I go tback to the house I was out of breath. I wasn't physically healthy. So this was where I began a journey that hasn't yet ended to try and improve that.

I suffer from a skin condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa, which causes painful bumps on my under arms, my inner thighs and basically, the top of my butt cheeks and that has always made me insecure, especially when it came to anything intimate and someone else seeing these marks and bumps on my body. Something that is hormonal and I can't do all that much to prevent. It's physically painful to suffer from and also changes how I view my body when I have a flare up.

I could go on about every step of my journey, but honestly I would be here all day describing each and every stage my body has been at and how I felt. So I'm just going to talk about now, how I feel now, where I'm at now. 

Currently, I'm weighing in at 72kg. This is a 13kg increase from my 59kg I was last summer (keep in mind I'm 159cm as well, I'm a wee person). A weight I'm not overly happy with, a weight I don't feel confident at. A combination of poor mental health, laziness and stress has lead to that and has lead to the struggle of losing it. But I don't just want to lose the weight, I don't want the focus to only be the number that I constantly tie to my body. One that I'm going to try and put less focus on. I am checking my body measurements as well, but I'm trying to teach myself to learn that those numbers aren't the end all be all and I shouldn't have to meet a certain number on either a scale or a measuring tape.

My image of how I see myself has decreased the most since I've had my daughter. I've accepted that my body was going to go through a whole heap of vast changes being pregnant and giving birth. I had a C-section which makes my little pooch I already had even more prominent. I know my body did something amazing and I'm thankful I was able to, but some of the changes to how it looks has had such a negative effect that I often hate to look at myself. I can get on board with the stretch marks, those actually don't bother me at all. I've always had them in some shape or form. My stomach is probably the area I'm most self conscious about and I know I'll never have a ~flat stomach and abs~ but I don't particularly want that, but I don't want what I currently have. Having a kid wrecked my boobs too so I don't particularly love them either (I honestly just want a boob lift??). I know my body doesn't change how I love my daughter or how my daughter loves me. Or how my partner sees and loves me and finds me attractive. But in my own eyes, what I see is far from attractive.

I want to improve my relationship with food. See it as fuel for my body, see it as fuel for me mentally. Whether that food is "healthy" or not. I want to stop seeing food as a comfort blanket when I'm down and find other ways to deal with my negative feelings. Because I usually feel much worse afterwards which causes a constant circle mentally for me. On the other end, I have in the past seen food as the enemy, something I was scared to eat and at times would refuse out of fear. When I know I need food, my body needs food to keep going. This is my main focus as I feel it's the worst part of what makes me struggle so much. I've never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I know myself some of the habits I have had in place throughout my adult years so far haven't been the healthiest. 

I want to move more. I'm lazy sometimes, I'll admit. Since I've been at home all the time after being made redundant I move a lot less than I used to. I'm barely walking anywhere and barely finding the time and energy to do some form of exercise. So, I just need to find the will to do it. I hope I'll find another job soon and end up having that as an extra thing to keep me active while finding an exercise I really enjoy. I actually really enjoy basketball and badminton but there's not really anywhere I can do that unless its in the summer. My mum has a treadmill at her house so I'm hoping to use that a couple of times a week and perhaps for when the colder weather kicks in, I'll invest in a stepping machine as I walk far less when its cold. I love doing weights as well and I'm quite lucky my body builds muscle quite quickly and without too much effort. So, hopefully with more regular and consistent effort I'll make a change.

If I try to make my both my mind and body as healthy as I can, practising a balanced approach to food and to try and get intuitive eating down. Maybe those two things combined will have the biggest effect on how I feel about myself. I've considered an anti-inflammatory due to

I know for me personally, a physical change and reaching a physical aesthetic goal will help drastically too. I know how bad that may sound, but this is for me, myself.

I know this will be a long journey and maybe perhaps I won't ever come to fully loving myself 100%, but all I can do is try. Try things to improve it. Things that make me mentally feel better and make me feel better about the body that carries me about my day to day life and lets me be here to look after my daughter. To be around the people I love so much. I just hope that in time these things will come. I'm just going to enjoy the journey as I go and not be hard on myself any times I feel like I'm "failing". 

I've considered tracking my progress here, while a large part of it would be tracking the physical, I would like to keep a little diary of how my feelings towards myself change over time. Documenting it may help motivate me to make the change and stick with the changes. Only time will tell.

Just please remember, if you have read all the way, my negative views of myself are never ones that I would channel and project onto someone else. I make judgements of my own appearance but won't do it to another, so I hope that my words here haven't offended or hurt anyone as I know it can be a touchy subject for people, myself included.

Do the things that you feel benefit your health mentally and physically if you find it possible to do. But do it for you. Don't do it for another person or for any other reason than you, how you feel and how you view yourself.

I'm doing this for me, to be my happiest most confident me.

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