Apples are not Bananas

Lets be real here, we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. Whether we compare the size of our legs or our height. Maybe we compare personality and academics. We ALL do it. But why do we do this? Does this benefit us in anyway? Because honestly for me it just makes me feel much worse.

I met with my dietician this morning and I was talking to her about how I found out my weight during vitals yesterday and that I was kind of freaking out about the increase. I guess I was going into a spiraling episode of comparing my current self to my much bonier/unhealthy self just a few months ago because she interrupted me with an interesting question.

She stopped me and asked me, “Are apples the same as bananas?”

Obviously I looked at her and thought she was whack because the two fruits are not even close to being similar.

I told her no and she began to explain why she brought up this comparison. She began to tell me that we don’t compare fruits and get upset when a banana does not look like an apple because that’s simply not possible. She told me that we couldn’t think of ourselves as fruits because it is impossible to get your body to look one way based on ones bone alignment. It began to make sense to me as she described it in this way.

I love apples and bananas and their appearance means nothing to me. I do not care that they do not look the same because they are both delicious.

So I guess (for an odd way of wording this) we are all delicious despite the way our bodies look.

I am tall. I will never be short and petite like some of my friends AND THAT’S OKAY.

Obviously I am not going to be able to just flip a switch and stop comparing myself to strangers on the street, but at least now I am more aware of how unrealistic and pointless it is to make these comparisons.

I am unique and when my passing comes, the important thing will be how people speak of my character. It is highly unlikely that at my funeral friends and family will discuss my weight and how my body looked.

So as of today I am going to become more cognizant of comparing myself to others.

I am going to use strategies and coping skills to redirect my thinking. When I get these thoughts I am going to write it down and rip it up because it is NOT important.

What is important is accepting my body and loving it.

Apples are not bananas.

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The Secret Illness

You know that saying that goes something like “treat everyone with kindness for they all fight their own secret battle.” We say it all the time, but do we ever actually think about it? Do you ever think about how your best friend could be depressed or anxious and hiding it all from you?

One of the most mind-blowing things for me to think about is how there are so many others who suffer with mental illness and we do not even know about it. SO many people have a struggle, yet almost every day we see perseverance in this struggling friend. We would never think he or she could be mentally ill.

I was talking to one of my professors the other day. See, I had a major panic attack in her class. It was really embarrassing for me because it made me feel like I was failing at recovery. I went to my professor’s office to talk to her about it and I went into more detail about my history with mental illness. This conversation was so meaningful because my professor said she would have had no clue that I fight myself everyday. People know me for my outgoing personality. I always have a smile on my face. It is hard for others to fathom that I suffer so much.

It’s kind of scary in a way to think about how good I was at hiding my mental illness. I got through high school with very little people knowing I was sick. (Even with missing a month of school for IOP!) And I will NEVER forget that one day senior year in English class, when my teacher made a comment about my cut wrist in front of the whole class. It took him a moment to realize the major mistake he made.

Think about the stranger you sit next to everyday on the train. Or one of your co-workers that you kind of know. He could be suffering and maybe that smile you give him is the highlight of his day.

Think about the ones you loved. We never really know how much someone is struggling until they crack. But what if we took more focus on how our loved ones actually are. Then it would not escalate to the point of danger.

It’s scary to think that people can hide their demons so well.

Everyday, my alarm goes off and I dread getting out of bed. I know that for the next 12 hours I am going to have to be a ray of sunshine, running all over the place, and pleasing others. It’s a lot of work, but it makes me feel good most of the time, so I keep doing it. Sometimes I’ll admit I do need a break. That’s when I hit snooze a little bit longer and stay a little quieter.

Every time a meal comes along I feel full just from the anxiety. I do not think I will ever understand how people get excited about meals. I still do certain behaviors, but no one knows that my weird eating habits are unhealthy.

When it’s finally time to sleep at night I am wide-awake with voices of all the things I  think I did wrong running through my mind.

Mental illness is unpredictable. It’s not a fun thing to live with. Which is why we need to show more compassion to those we love.

We need to be more inviting to companions we do not yet know well. Exchange a smile; genuinely show care about how someone’s day is. Make an effort because you never know what someone is going through. Mental illness can be silent, but deadly.

What NOT to Say

There’s a lot of things people casually say without being aware of how triggering it can be for some people. Now, I cannot speak for everyone suffering with an ED, but I can tell ya that these 5 sayings really trigger me. Words carry a lot of meaning and when talking to someone you know who is in recovery, some things said can easily be interpreted the wrong way. 

So here are my top 5 “do not say ” 

1. “I haven’t eaten ALL day.”

Do you want a trophy? Because lemme tell ya. There is no reward for starvation. Our body NEEDS food. It needs the energy. There really is no excuse to not eat during the day. There is always time for food. Think about it. Carry a granola bar in a bag if you know the day will be busy. You can easily break it apart and eat it throughout the day. Or make a smoothie. Liquid meals count as eating.

2. “You look SO much better now!”

I know people are just trying to make conversation, but when in recovery mode this can cause setbacks. We are eating, but we still deal with the ED thoughts in our head. Healthy still equals fat. Change is scary. I do not like people pointing things out about my body. Yes, I am glad that I am looking healthier, but sometimes it can be hard to take in.

3. “I wish I was anorexic.”

Okay well, this one should be OBVIOUS. This is equivalent to wishing for a death sentence. Seriously why would you wish for this disease. It is not a fad, stage, diet. It is not cool, it is not something you can just become. It is a lifelong disorder. We recover but we are just in remission. I know I will always have weird relationships with food, but I know I will at least be stronger at fighting Ana.

4. “I didn’t eat so I could enjoy this meal.”

This is normally said when going out to meals. If I hear someone say they didn’t eat for the meal then I start to think to myself that I probably should have restricted too. I cannot be the one consuming more calories than other people. I need to be the one in the room with the most strength (Ana thoughts.) so when people say this it sends me on a tangent. If your body is hungry, eat. Who cares if you’re going to Olive Garden later…you cannot restrict just because you’re going out to dinner!

5. “I worked out so I can afford the calories.”

Eating is not something you buy. It’s something you do. If you want a cookie than eat it! We should not feel like we need to earn the right to eat a cookie. Moderation is good. If you want a cookie EAT IT. Enjoy it. Workout because it makes your body feel good. Don’t work out because you feel you need it in order to eat.

Eating disorders are confusing and in my mind I love to twist the meaning of words because well that’s what this disease does to me. It’s similar to talking about any disease. There are things we are aware to not say for others but eating disorders and mental health is not talked about nearly enough. So if you know someone struggling try to avoid stuff like this. Recovery is a tough and long process.