Negativity: A Mind’s Wildfire

Body image issues can’t be cured over night. They can’t magically slip from your mind or get swept away in the passing breeze. It would be a dream to believe that to be possible, but the thought alone is unrealistic. For so many people who’ve battled eating disorders (or even those who haven’t gone down that path), a negative body image began to take hold before we were even aware what it was. It can start with an offhand comment, a misguided joke, a sudden realization, or something more serious such as being bullied. Whatever the origin of the negative self image, it isn’t only an opinion. It’s a disease. It can intensify at lightning speed and can leave you infected for the entirety of your life. Granted, its effect is more detrimental to some than it is to others, but for something so widespread, it’s power is greatly underestimated. It isn’t merely about appearance and skin deep concerns, the disease of a negative body image cuts much further to the core.

If you feel that you’re not the right weight or body shape, your self worth takes a hit. You tell yourself that you aren’t worth as much as you could be, but if you changed what you wanted to about yourself, you would be worthy. Like the switch of a light, once you hit a certain number on the scale, you will have worth. You’ll be desirable, appreciated, respected, exactly who you’ve always hoped to become. The trouble with that notion, however, is that the voices that live in our minds have echoes. Those echoes ring loud and relentless, and most often we’re powerless to stop them. They’re chain reactions of the initial self-deprecating thoughts we scarred ourselves with, only adding to our open wounds. They’re poisonous, the most surefire form of self sabotage known to humanity. The negativity keeps you in a chokehold of doubt, reminding you that you’re not good enough, so as a consequence you shouldn’t be confident. If you feel that you’re too big, you believe that you need to make yourself small. Keep your opinions quiet, shrink who you are as a person to deflect attention from your flaws. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling that you’re somehow lesser quality, then portraying yourself in a way that makes others believe it too, which only makes your fears validated in the end.

It’s no secret that the list of things that I would change about myself grows longer everyday. If by some rarity I’m not obsessing about my weight, I’m picking apart who I am as a person. I resent that I have a tendency to procrastinate, that I isolate myself from people, that I always seem to have more to do than I can manage to get done. I am frustrated that I would much rather shove away my emotions and feelings than address them like I should. I regret being far too kind to those who deserved cordial at best, and I straight up hate that I make myself an easy target for being used simply because I can’t stand to let anyone down. I also avoid conflict like it could literally burn me.. that’s a weakness people just love to exploit. A negative self image isn’t restricted to only pertaining to your outer appearance. Under the surface, the true catalyst of it all sometimes hides. While most of us generally have something about ourselves that we’d like to change, underlying resentment and internalized negative emotions can amplify the issues we see on the outside to be more pronounced. Perhaps without all the hidden baggage, we’d look in the mirror and think that we needed to lose weight or find a workout plan to get more toned. With the hidden baggage though, it turns into a storm of calling ourselves fat, lazy and unlovable, or worse. It’s like a hurricane: the desire to change is the storm itself, the negativity is the warmth of the water. Piling more and more negativity on only serves to raise the temperature, making the storm more powerful. With self image, negativity doesn’t take long to spiral into hatred.

Knowing that what eats away at us from within is one thing though, fixing it is another. It’s incredibly difficult to analyze what your own internal issues are, especially if you’re like me and run at the slightest mention of a therapist or psychologist. I’m far from having all the answers, but i will share that the key i’ve found is to keep it simple. It’s not about fixing yourself in record timing, like you would a car. It’s not about waking up one morning with the sudden realization that your self hatred the day before is gone and you are content in your own skin for the first time in decades. It’s about progress. Instead of allowing your only thought when you look in a mirror to be that you wish your legs were slimmer, remind yourself that they’re strong too. When you take a selfie and criticize the fullness of your face, compliment yourself on the way your eyes glow. Actively refuse to allow the majority of your thoughts to be negative and I promise you that over time you’ll find the weight on your shoulders that much lighter. While negativity is the fuel to the fire of body image issues, positivity is the extinguisher. It won’t stop a wildfire overnight, but through time it’ll slow the blaze.

Sending love, positivity & hope to all! šŸ™‚


A Fruit Loop Warning..Ā 

In the latest installment of chaos and calm, I bring you chaos.. 

Earlier this week, I felt powerful. I felt that I was in control, on a good path, and ready to finally break the pattern of all summers past.  I felt that I was finally taking the first steps to find the ever-illusive balance I so crave. The feeling I had was like getting in a car and heading down the highway, knowing that you’re finally on your way. In my case though, I didn’t have anywhere to be – I just was looking for the path that would lead me to an eventual destination of contentment, a place in life where I am no longer at war with myself.  

Today, however, that feeling has abandoned me. I don’t feel one of those “all hope is lost” feelings, which I’m thankful for.. But I did have a setback that felt as uncontrollable as it felt pathetic. I could blame it on having been up for 36 hours (again), or I could blame it on the fact that I forgot to take my daily supplements, or even that I didn’t log in my calories to MyFitnessPal, but I won’t do that. Placing blame for my setback on any of those would only serve to hurt me in the end – that’s what addicts do, and I refuse to do the same. Addicts justify every action with a reason and lie themselves to sleep at night. If I’m going to make it through this recovery, I need to force myself to remain accountable. I’ll accept this day as a momentary setback, nothing more.  I won’t let myself get lost down the rabbit hole with promises to myself that tomorrow’s calories will be 800 or less. I will stop right here and feel the misery inside – not soothe it with empty calories or quantities of food that might as well be labeled “guilt”. I won’t purge. Instead, I will welcome the nourishment the food gives me and be thankful for it. After all, through years of restricting and binging, I don’t doubt for a second that there’s some vitamin in what I ate that can work towards reversing one of the many deficiencies I undoubtedly have by now. As for the overload of calories I know that I ate? Well, those I’ll use to my benefit too – I’ll use them to encourage myself to not skip tomorrow’s workout. 

Tomorrow, I’ll resume to my usual food journaling, water guzzling, cardio smashing, yoga-beginner self. I won’t let this setback derail me, not when I’ve come as far as I have. Progress isn’t linear – it’s up and down, swirls and zig zags and happiness and pain… This is all a part of the process, and I’m starting to learn that. Deciding to have this line of thinking isn’t easy at all. Honestly, it’s new territory for a self sabotaging, self loathing person like myself – but it’s what I have in this moment, and I’m going to embrace it. 

Just as I finished typing this, I looked to my left and found one lone fruit loop that had been left behind from earlier today. For the old me, this could’ve been explained away as a sign that I need the calories to make up for what bulimia has done to my body so far. I could’ve found my feet going one in front of the other, in a direct line towards the enticing ruby red box, plowed through some of it, went on to some highly addictive peanut butter, and then polished it off with a kind bar to “feel healthy”. 

Instead, I took that haunting little fruit loop as a warning. Falling back into an old, destructive pattern is as easy as coming across one lone fruit loop in the wrong mindset. If an alcoholic found a bottle with a shot left in it that they forgot about, wouldn’t it have the same effect? If someone hooked on prescription medications found pill in the pocket of their pants at the back of their closet from a month ago, wouldn’t it have the same trigger? 

Recovery is recovery, no matter what you’re recovering from. Even the smallest, most seemingly harmless of things can throw temptation on the path of your recovery; it’s up to you to find them and destroy them before they destroy you. 

Reflecting: It’s Avoided For A ReasonĀ 

Today, I’ve been in a reflective mood. As necessary as they are, days like this are always very difficult for me. Reflecting requires you to not only look back on your life, but also to where you’re headed – both of which are very complicated and not even in the first few hundred of my favorite subjects to think about. Honestly, the past and the future are probably the two subjects I most ferociously compartmentalize and lock away. Then again, that’s probably what makes thinking about them (when I eventually do) so hard. 
The past is difficult for two reasons: one, because the past is painful. It is vicious and depressing and the sheer volume of all that I’d rather avoid reliving is just so much that it’s overwhelming… Which is how I know for certain that it led to my eating disorder. When you have a past full of pain, it can never be fully blocked out or locked away. It’s like putting it all in a plastic bag. The bag contains it all for long enough; you think you’re able to just push it aside and move on, but eventually and inevitably it starts to leak. Soon, you find yourself moving through your day as you normally would, but your movements are accompanied by random flashbacks and memories. They embed themselves in your mind, stealing your focus and concentration, and the pain demands to be felt. The truth demands to be seen. When you open your mind to feel the pain and see the truth of the past you’ve hidden away, you almost immediately regret it. But, it’s necessary for recovery.. So you fight your way through it. 

Secondly, the past is difficult because of nostalgia. Nostalgia romanticizes the good, illuminating the memories like a scene out of a movie. The negative of the true moment you’re remembering is non-existent, replaced with an over-inflated feeling of contentment and joy. It warps your mind with the belief that life would be better if you could only go back to that moment, the time when time stood still and life was good. There wouldn’t be a problem with this if it didn’t also come attached to the notion that life will never again be as good as it was then. When you get stuck in the belief that it’s all downhill from here, it really puts you in a great mood… in an alternate universe maybe.  

And the future. Oh, the future.. The great unknown. It’s impossible to know what will happen, but also impossible to not worry about it. The what-ifs, the maybes, the hopes and dreams – they all swirl together into the equivalent of a mental black hole. You doubt that anything will get better, tell yourself that nothing will change. The life you’re unhappy with this moment is the life you’re destined to live, year after year, without ever finding the balance or freedom you crave. Or, maybe that’s just me. Thinking about the future for me usually consists of two very conflicting fears: the fear of everything staying the same and the fear of everything changing. As much as I want to change about my life right now (the list is a mile long), I’m also petrified that life will actually change one day. I know it’s inevitable, but it’s uncertain and that’s what bothers me. At the same time, I’m one thousand percent horrified at the thought of my life staying the same as it is right now… Apparently, the future is nothing but fear.  
Today’s been one gigantic mind trip of the painful past, delusional nostalgia, and fear of tomorrow and everyday that follows it. I’m trying to do all that I can to fight back against this eating disorder and the panic attacks and anxiety that haunt me every single day, even if that means digging in deep to everything I’ve avoided for so long. But, it’s hard, it’s frustrating, and I know that it will take a lot of time for me to really work through it all. If I’ve learned anything from today, it’s that I’m more thankful than ever for the magical refuge of sleep… Now if only I could remember a dream every once in a while.  

Hidden In Plain Sight

Last night, my mom and I were watching tv. This would seem like a normal, relaxing way to spend a Monday night, but it only started out that way. Before even an hour passed, one of her offhanded comments floored me. We were watching a show that referenced bulimia, and she turned to me and asked “What is that? The one where you throw up?”
Now, I know that my decision to not tell her is partly to blame for her ignorance, but I’m still shocked that she didn’t even know what bulimia was. I sat right next to my mom, my mind a whirlpool of food, calories, and the exercise needed to burn off the food I ate today without feeling guilt for not purging it, and she was blissfully unaware of it all.

There were so many times I could’ve sworn that she saw through my excuses for recurrent watery eyes and daily sore throats. Having never had severe allergies before, it was a bit of a stretch to suddenly have a terrible, near-constant case of them. I convinced myself that she suspected the truth, especially once my weight seemed to magically decline over the summer and I practically ran from my chair no more than five minutes after eating. But, summer turned colder and winter came and her awareness of my twisted battle with bulimia proved to be just as nonexistent as it ever was.
In this moment, I’m equally thankful and horrified. I live with my mom, consider her to be my best friend, and talk to her more than anyone else, yet she has more knowledge of conspiracy theories and the latest Facebook drama than she does of a disorder that I’ve struggled with for years. It terrifies me because it illustrates how easily bulimia hides. Even if you don’t tell anyone about your affliction, you naturally have this expectation that they are at least aware of it. After all, how can something that consumes your life be so meaningless to someone else? It isn’t as if it’s some wildly uncommon disorder or disease known only to small, undeveloped countries: Twenty-four million people in the U.S of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder – whether that be anorexia, bulimia, or EDNOS. That number is huge, especially considering most of us who battle eating disorders feel like we’re on our own – playing the world’s sickest game of solitaire. Twenty-four million people are battling a war against food, self image, and brokenness within, but society would rather discredit the validity and severity of these disorders by casting them aside as a teenage phase, not taken seriously unless you’re hospitalized or literal skin and bones, used for shock factor and entertainment value on tv.

My point here is – if bulimia weren’t as taboo of a subject, often regarded as our own dirty little secret, would it have as powerful of a grip on us? If our parents, friends, and loved ones all knew what bulimia was, knew that we were suffering from it, and the stigma was gone, would our healing be easier? If we could all regard eating disorders of all types with the same concern and care as we did diabetes or lupus, would the shame of admitting that you had an eating disorder be as ridiculous as being ashamed of having a cold?
I don’t know if our culture will ever transform to allow these questions to be answered, but I do know that knowledge is power. If even a moderate fraction of our world is unaware of bulimia – like my mom is – then that ignorance is only flaming the fire, allowing the unknowns and shadows of bulimia to lure in and trap more of us. I’m certain that bulimia and other eating disorders will not abruptly stop if everyone suddenly becomes knowledgeable of them, but it just might make recovery feel less elusive and out of reach. 

Before I post this, I just want to say that I do realize that this entire blog post is pretty contradictory. On one hand, I want people to be aware and knowledgable of eating disorders, but on the other hand I refuse to tell my mom (or anyone else) about my own personal battle, with the exception of this blog.  This is a decision I’ve made with a clear mind, as an incentive to prevent myself from another backslide or relapse. I’ve been purge-free for three months and I’ve promised myself that if I relapse, I’ll tell my mom. It does not make recovery and healing any easier, honestly.. But it is a hell of an incentive to stay on track. That is one conversation I never want to have. 

The Temptation to Backslide..Ā 

Two nights ago, I woke up out of a sound sleep and felt an immense hatred for my body. My birthday just passed and I promised myself yet again that I wouldn’t spend another year battling against my weight. My weight has always been an unavoidable issue for me, just like it has for so many who have struggled with an eating disorder. I vividly remember being in first grade, staring down at the carpet and realizing that I was the biggest one of the girls in the room. I even remember I was wearing light blue pants with cherries on them, the memory is that vivid to me even now. That realization proved to be the first of many that I’d have through my life – which truly proves how powerful our own self image is. Even at five years old, one of my most vivid memories is the overwhelming feeling of being fat.
I didn’t remember what I drew that day, didn’t remember who I became friends with, or if I was happy… Only that I realized that I was bigger than I should be, and that it was a bad thing to be that way.

Now that I’m 22, that means that I’ve been hyper-aware of my weight for 17 years of my life. I’ve been shamed by doctors, been bullied by classmates, and I’ve been afraid that I’d never see the other side of life – the side where my weight does not define me, where I find contentment with the skin I’m in. I’ve spent hours jogging in desperation to burn calories, took diuretics, restricted calories to drastically unhealthy levels, suffered in silence with bulimia every day and every night, and finally I find myself here..
I’m so much better than I was. I have lost weight, am binge/purge free for 3 months now, am routinely exercising (but not excessively), and have successfully ditched diuretics for good. My diet is at a healthy place – both in calories and in content (vegan). But, I’m still nowhere close to where I want to be… Which I believe to be a good and a bad thing. It’s good because I have a goal to reach, and a challenge to do it the right, healthy, long-term way this time. It’s bad because the temptation to backslide into my old habits is always there; sometimes silent and sometimes screaming.. Last night it was screaming.
I woke up out out of a sound sleep, overwhelmingly unhappy with being in my own skin. I actually wished I could go back to when I was at the darkest point of my bulimia, as terrible as that truly is. I craved the inevitable high it used to give me – the illusion of control. After I’d purge, I’d feel a delusional euphoria from the emptiness I’d created inside. The guilt would follow too, just not as instantly. Instead, the guilt haunted me later – always when I opened my eyes long enough to see. As twisted as it was, bulimia made me happy. It gave me a rush of control, a high of knowing I’d see results. It was the secret that I never told anyone, my drug of choice to soothe my tormented soul. Inevitably though, it evolved into a tormentor on its own. Constant headaches, anemia, throat infections, scary abdominal pain, general weakness and inability to stay awake at random times – it was taking its toll. But, this toll appeared after the results did. I knew it wasn’t healthy, but it was working. It was working more than the diet pills, calorie restriction, and attempts at being a fitness enthusiast ever did. As it drained the power from me, it left the illusion that I was powerful.. That somehow purging the food that was supposed to nourish me made me strong, when I was really very lost and weak. I hate that there’s even a small part of me that misses that part of my life, but I know that recovery is not easy, and I can’t expect it to be. I am proud that I have resisted the temptation to relapse so far, and I am determined to keep it that way too.

Soothe My SoulĀ 

Day One:
To start this all off, I should start simple. I have bulimia. I’ve never said those three words to anyone before – not out loud or even through text. I’ve been bulimic for a few years, but have managed to fight my urges to purge for the past few months. (About 3). I think I was bulimic much earlier than I realized too, falling into other forms of bulimia before
really being submerged in the twisty spiral that is restricting, binging, and purging. Typing these words feels so foreign to me, which makes me realize that I still have to come to terms with the simple truth: I have bulimia. More than anything, I resent the lack of control that comes along with that statement. It’s an admission that my control has surrendered – that I have allowed something to have control over the way I think, live, and most directly, eat. When I was little, I promised myself I would never surrender my self control to any addiction. I’ve seen addiction every single day of my life, seen the brutal ugliness it is firsthand since before I really knew what was going on, and always knew that I wanted nothing to do with it. Addiction (alcoholism, mostly) runs through my family like the plague, like some invislible, unavoidable curse on us all. The problem with all of this though, is that I considered myself safe as long as I stayed away from alcohol and drugs – which I did, and will always do – but never considered the war zone I’d find with a more seemingly harmless object: food.
Now that I’m analyzing exactly what brought me to this point and trying to fight my way through it without backsliding again, I decided to create SupernovaLotus. I consider this blog to be an open journal – a raw, unfiltered view into my recovery. I’m not doing this with the sole purpose of other people reading it, but I hope someone, somewhere does.. It would be nice to think that I could help someone know that they’re not fighting through an issue like this on their own. Bulimia is a very secretive disorder, so I know that there are countless others out there that have been suffering in silence, refusing to confess their struggle to anyone, for reasons known only to them. Honestly though, this blog is one of the few things in life i’m doing for myself – for my recovery, for my future, for my peace of mind. I don’t care if my posts are viewed by nobody in the world or by enough people to fill a small country, I just want to hold myself accountable, make sense of it all and find balance and contentment with the days to come.