Eating disorder awareness week
****WARNING – THIS WILL GET PRETTY DEEP AND IS AN ABSOLUTE ESSAY ****
Body dismorphia and mental health
I want to have this on my site so that anyone going through anything I am going to write about, knows that there is someone out there who has been through what you are going through and has come out the other side.
I am a relatively healthy and happy person but like everyone else I have my inner chimp/demon/monster (mine has a name, does yours?). We all have a mental health; as we all have a brain. I believe we are all on a sliding scale with this, and in a “healthy” (depends what you define as healthy) mind we will have good days and bad days. However we all need to be aware of our own mental health, as this sliding scale can slip down very quickly and without us being aware of it, for lots of different reasons. In many cases we need to get the correct support (e.g. counselling, medication) when it is needed. I will also later write about what you can do to support someone who either has/you are worried has/or battling with an eating disorder.
Want to learn more about eating disorders?
When writing this I wanted to compile some places for people to go to get the correct help or even just learn more so that we can be more aware of our flatmates, families, colleagues, fellow human beings etc. These are at the bottom of the article but there are 2 things I wanted to highlight. 1. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of ANY mental health illness, the reason I write this is that together we can save people’s lives by raising awareness. 2. The figures on men are very skewed as with many mental health issues statistically men are less likely to speak up. Let’s do our best to change this. Let it be ok for your male friends to share their thoughts and feelings, let them know you are there for them, even if they aren’t ready to talk.
“You are a Personal Trainer surely you are super confident in your body and health!”
My story is more common than we think
I have battled with my food relationship and body image for years. It is a journey for all of us and here is a little insight into mine. I know that our generation and the next have more and more to contend with when it comes to body image than ever before. The media and social media portrays more images of unrealistic ideals of what beauty is, or “should be”, and what “healthy” looks like. I copied habits from Bridget Jones Diary but didn’t realise the impact at the time or even why I was doing it when I started tracking my weight. Later I also used to watch R&B music videos and idealise women with 6 packs and gigantic breasts and look my own body then think “why don’t I look like that”. This internal battle is more common than we would like to think and I believe this needs to change. Now I know more about the fitness industry I realise some of these women may have had surgery (breast implants are very common in the fitness industry, I wish women and young girls were made more away of this when looking at unachievable female figures), these women may have been training 7+ times a week etc, or they just had great genes which were different from my own. THIS is one of the most important things I have learned and we all need to remind ourselves.
“Now are you are a Personal Trainer you must be sorted”
I still have days where I look at the mirror and don’t see what others see. I see my “flaws”, podgy bits, bits that stick out or bloated etc etc. My inside monster tells me I am “fat, ugly, not worthy”. Those days are still a battle but I know they get easier with affirmations and positive reinforcements. I also have clients, colleagues, friends, relatives who talk negatively about themselves and their bodies. Especially in the UK we are so used to using negative language e.g. How are you? “Not bad/alright/been better”. We are afraid of being honest, we could say “I am feeling great” but are too concerned our brightness might blind someone. Or we could say “actually I am feeling pretty low today so need some time to myself”. Both of these feel difficult to do. Why?
(I don’t know the answer, I am just putting it out there to the www)
Body image, self confidence and our relationship with food is a journey, the same with any other mental health issue. I was speaking to an amazing and brave friend last week about this (she has been battling with an eating disorder for 1.5/2 years and is now on the road to recovery). What we were comparing it (having an eating disorder) to is grief or a break up, in that you will go through stages. Denial, anger, loneliness, good days, regret. You will have good days and bad but it may be with you forever.
It is ok to not be ok sometimes and know that there are other people out there who feel how you feel and are there.
Let’s rally together and keep the communication open for everyone to have an ear, shoulder to cry on or just someone to sit in silence with if they need.
Here are some links to follow if you are concerned about your own or a friends mental health: