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Self-love and Acceptance

To love your body for what it is and what it does for you is something that many people struggle with. In fact, I have only met one person who is okay and happy with themselves in my entire life. This is something that pains me because as a beautiful and talented human species, we should love ourselves for what our bodies are able to do.

Self-love. The act of loving your own person without question or judgment. Acceptance. The act of knowing what your body is capable of, and understanding what it is not able to do, and being okay with that; whatever that is.

For me, self-love and acceptance of myself have been a major struggle throughout my entire life. I never liked how I looked or what I wore or how I was. I still don’t. I look in the mirror and cringe at the fat that hangs from my stomach because I can’t control my binge-eating disorder.

My relationship with food has never been a good one. Ever since I was little, it has been a constant battle between eating the right foods and having control of the portions on my plate. It has also been a humiliating experience. Family members telling you to stop eating because you’re getting fat, family members taking food away from you because they know you’ll eat it. Family members saying you got bigger and need to lose weight. Family members always saying something about your weight or the food your eating or telling you to exercise or looking at you funny and lying to you about how you look. Yes, I have had it all.

I’m crying as I’m writing this because it is so painful. I have so much self-hatred for my impulsivity and lack of control with food. I have such a hard time admitting to myself and others that I need help with this. Although, just because I need help with it, Does NOT give people the right or the ability to say something to me about it. Those words that those family members said stung like acid in my eyes.

I know I have to accept myself the way I am at some point but I don’t know when that will be or how it will happen. I guess I’m just going to have to play the waiting game on that one. For now, I think I’m going to focus on self-love. I have a book about it, so I’m going to make an effort to read it and try to follow some of the suggestions that might be written in this book. I have yet to even crack it open and look at the inside cover. Not a good start but I’ll get there at some point… At least I hope I will.

To love yourself is a beautiful thing. I wish I could love all of me, but so far, I have only just started accepting minor imperfections of myself. I won’t go into details but accepting these imperfections is a HUGE step for me. I am so proud that I am able to be okay with these little perfect mistakes that are part of me and make me who I am.

Below are some photos that I believe are a fantastic start to spreading awareness about body positivity and self-worth.

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.” – Wear Your Label

I have shared these images previously on social media to convey a message that it’s okay to not be a size zero. It’s also okay to have cellulite and stretch marks. It’s all okay. And if you are a size zero and everywhere in between, I want you to know that it’s okay too. You are beautiful at any size. I am not a size zero, and I will probably never be a size zero, and that’s okay! I have friends that are a size zero, and I love them with all my heart. I also have friends that are not a size zero, and I also love them with all my heart.

For me, self-image is a large part of my insecurity, depression and social anxiety (thanks for that, BPD). But even though I don’t like what I see in the mirror, that does NOT negate the fact that I have beautiful qualities. The same goes for you. You are beautiful even though your eyes and your brain are trying to tell you that you’re not.

SO DON’T LISTEN TO THEM. THEY’RE BOTH LIARS.

Listen to me right now, at this very moment, you are the oldest you have ever been. You are also the most beautiful and developed that you have ever been. Do NOT let your mind wander to negative self-talk. Control your mind to think good thoughts about yourself and do NOT relapse. This is where the real work comes in. Loving yourself is hard work! Put in the time and do whatever you need to do to feel okay with yourself. You will not regret it, I promise.

Xoxo

-E

May is BPD Awareness Month

Spreading awareness for myself and my fellow BPD sufferers. Stay strong ❤️🎗


-E

Because I am Continuing

To all of you who have diligently followed my everlasting journey with me, thank you. You give me the courage and the strength to write in an expressive way so others may understand the daily struggles of someone with a mental illness.

To those of you suffering, I am with you. I understand, and I am here. I am fighting for freedom and sanity along side you and I will not give up. I will support you with all of my beings; from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

To my loving family, thank you for every sacrifice you make for me. I am forever in debt to your kindness and gentility towards me.

And finally, to my own self, keep going. The light at the end of your dark tunnel is just around the corner.

-E

Labels

Labels. What defines them as acceptable? What makes them tolerable in our society? A label is a defining term that is used to describe someone or something. It’s a word that people can identify with because it’s a generalization of a certain group of people, a look or behavior or belief. A label can be useful, but for mental illness, it can be degrading, demeaning and hurtful.

In the last 6 months, I have accumulated some pretty harsh labels: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Depression. I know, scary right? I never even expected to be hit with one label, let alone three. Three mental illnesses trapped inside my body, making me feel this inexplicable feeling inside. Three mental illnesses…

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The Labeling Theory is how people identify with their own self-identity. This self-identity could be influenced by the terms used to classify them. This theory was popular back in the 1960’s, and 1970’s; modified versions of the theory have been invented as well that are still popular today. “Labeling theory is closely related to social construction and symbolic-interaction analysis. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960s.” (Wikipedia, 2017)

I find that associating with my labels helps me to identify my problems, but it doesn’t teach me how to fix them. I mean, the whole point of recovery is to get better right? Solve the problems, get back on track, that sort of thing. Having a label that doesn’t do anything to fix the problem is kind of pointless don’t you think? I’m all for wearing my labels proudly and showing the struggles I have overcome, and wearing my labels comforts me sometimes, but I somehow still end up unable to function some days. How do I deal with that?

My labels do nothing for me, really. I find that they make me worse. I wear them proudly on the outside, but on the inside they make me cringe. I hate having labels. I hate being those labels. I hate when people use my labels to define who I am. That is something that I will NOT tolerate. I am not a label or a bunch of labels. I am a person. A person of value. A person who needs some help. A person who desires to be happy and loved.

I got off track there a bit, sorry. Back to my discussion on labels. So labels tend to be words that can seem general to others, but to those of us who actually identify with those labels, it’s not so nice. We overthink and stress about being the label we are given, and it drives us crazy. We don’t want to, but we can’t help it. It’s our natural reaction to being worried about what people will think of us when we have to have the “mental health conversation.” Especially with someone, we may be interested in having a relationship with. Warriors, you know what I mean. Happens EVERY time.

Having a label can lead to other things such as stigma and discrimination. “The lives of people with mental health conditions are often plagued by stigma as well as discrimination. Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017) SEE? Proof that having a label can affect how others treat people with a mental illness.

Here is another longer and more detailed description that explains the effects of stigma on a mental illness. It correlates to having a label because the label is what gives people stigma in the first place. “There are significant consequences to the public misperceptions and fears. Stereotypes about mental health conditions have been used to justify bullying. Some individuals have been denied adequate housing, health insurance and jobs due to their history of mental illness. Due to the stigma associated with the illness, many people have found that they lose their self-esteem and have difficulty making friends. Sometimes, the stigma attached to mental health conditions is so pervasive that people who suspect that they might have a mental health condition are unwilling to seek help for fear of what others may think. Experiences of stigma and discrimination is one of their greatest barriers to a satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017)

So what is the point? What do we need labels for? NOTHING. GET RID OF LABELS AND START LOVING PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE, NOT WHAT A LABEL SAYS THEY ARE.

Now, I hope you’ve all learned something here because I have. I learn new things about mental illness every day. I learn about how many people have had it for so long, how many people developed a mental illness so young, and many other things. It’s mind-blowing for me to try and understand all of it. I wish there was a way to consume a lot of information about one topic at a time but the only way to do that is to read. One page at a time. So I guess I just have to keep reading and talking to other people who want to share their stories with me.

One significant thing I have learned that I can leave you with is that from having a mental illness, or rather, three mental illnesses, is to NEVER look at the labels. Look at the substance, the human substance. The human substance is worth more than anything. People are worth so much more than their mental illness and their label. A label is just a word. Do not be afraid of those of us who have a mental illness. Chances are (100%) that we are more frightened than you are.

-E

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Sources:

My Biggest Trigger

People always say to stay away from your triggers. People always say not to run back to what broke you. People always say to stay away from danger. But did people say that sometimes the danger you should stay away from would be the people you shouldn’t have to stay away from? Did they tell you how painful it would be to struggle between wanting to stay away and staying close to them because that’s all you’ve ever known? Did they tell you anything at all?

I don’t want them to be a trigger for me. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want it to be this way, but it is. It has to be this way. I have not come to fully understand this until now. My biggest trigger is my mom and dad.

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Detachment from your primary caregivers is the one thing that can ruin a family. It sucks the life out of every member of that family and takes its dreary toll on them over the years. I mean I could tell you about how much it sucks but I won’t. The words ‘detachment from your primary caregivers’ should be frightening enough.

Being Borderline has made my family’s life hell for most of my life. My detachment has made my family suffer through so many years of trying to understand where they went wrong or how they could help me more. This, in fact, is somewhat untrue because my family has helped me in more ways than I can count. Their love and devotion to try and understand me have been present since day one. They also didn’t go wrong. They did the best they could with what they knew, and that was it.

Being detached from the people you love is definitely a difficult thing to be because, the farther away you are from them, the harder it is to connect with them. That familial connection is so important. For my family, there is a minimal connection. We fight daily about the smallest and biggest things that mean nothing and everything all at the same time. I mean really it’s quite the war.

This war amongst my family members and myself has been happening for as long as I can remember. I was detached from my parents and siblings even as a child. I just did not have a bond with them like I did with my grandparents. My grandmother and grandfather were the centers of my world, and they still are. We would spend every second together; laughing, playing, singing, cooking, doing chores, gardening, swimming, going on adventures, learning; basically everything. As Julia Child’s husband would say, they were “The butter to my bread, the breath of my life.”

The ‘Golden Years,’ as I like to call them, were short-lived. Seven years. They lasted for seven years. Once my grandmother passed away, my grandfather and I were never the same. I bottled up my pain while he freely let it show. I don’t know how he did it, but he found peace. I wish I could say the same.

In any case, the dynamic between my parents and my siblings has suffered a great deal. I am…detached, for lack of a better word and for the sake of using the correct terminology. I have yet to understand why this detachment still exists, but I do know that the reason I was detached as a child was that I was so close with my grandparents. I know this hurt my parents a lot, and I have so much sorrow inside for what they have suffered, but I do not regret and will not apologize for the wonderful times I spent with my grandparents.

I’ve noticed just now as I’m writing and re-reading what I have already written is that I am telling a very skewed story here. I mean, yes I had a great time with my grandparents, but there were also wonderful times with my parents and siblings once they were born some years later. I can just see the joy and love in my mother and father’s eyes as we play a family game or do something together as a family without arguments. Those moments make me happy too.

I realize now that I’m rambling (sorry), about my crazy family life. I guess I’m just hoping things get better so that we can get back to laughing and having fun as a family. I miss those days. I miss being able to share my happiness with my grandmother; my grandfather and I get so lonely without her sometimes. We miss her so much. So much…

Some days, I feel as though my family is too broken to be fixed; too hurt and destroyed to be glued together again. Other days we are soaring through the day on good terms and having the time of our lives. Well, at least this is how I feel and see things. I hope my siblings and my parents see this too.

If you or your family life is in danger of being torn apart by a member of that family who has a mental illness, please seek help. Our family has looked into it but has not decided on anything yet. This is from someone who is the only family member with a mental illness and the only family member who is seeing a social worker and a psychiatrist. It’s a way to alleviate some of the pressure and the pain off of the shoulders of yourself and your family members so please, go seek help if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. Do not feel less than anyone because you did. You need to do what is best for you and your family, not anyone else.

-E

Shame

She stuffs her face until she can’t breathe anymore. The food is barely chewed, more so swallowed in large amounts and in quick motions to try to finish it before someone sees her eating. She hates when people watch her eat. She feels like they’re staring at her and judging her. The more she eats, the more she craves. The more she craves, the more self-conscious she gets. The more self-conscious she gets, the harder it is for her to accept herself the way she is.

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“Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2017)

Binge-eating. It’s an eating disorder that I have struggled with over the past year now. I was in remission from an episode of binge-eating a few years ago, but I have unfortunately relapsed into my old ways of self-destruction. This is a very sensitive topic for me to write about. It hurts me to the core of my being to share this, but I feel as though many other people who struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder would be able to relate.

I hate my body. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to change it to look as perfect as a model’s. That’s my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in one of its many forms presenting itself inside my mind. But because of this total self-image distortion, I have continuously had a rough time with food. It is my greatest and most difficult vice to get rid of. No matter how much I try, I am not able to get rid of it forever. It keeps coming back, sneaking up on me when I least expect it; especially when I am triggered and find myself crippled by my emotions in an episode.

I cannot tell you how much this hurts me to say, but I have no self-control when it comes to food. I’m cringing at the fact that I just wrote that. This is what I hide behind my smile and my laugh every day. This is what hurts me deeply; slices right through my core and binds me to self-hatred. This eating disorder paired with my BPD has made my life almost unbearable.

I want to get better. I want to be Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) free. I want to be able to not have to worry about what people think of me as I eat in public. I want to be able to choose the right portion of food for my stomach so that I don’t over-indulge in foods that I should not regularly be eating. I want to have a healthy relationship with food.

Some of you may be thinking, ‘All this talk but no action.’ I know. I’m trying my best. Getting rid of an eating disorder is harder than it looks. You can’t just stop; sometimes you don’t even realize you’re in an episode and do it; it’s a mental reaction to pain; it takes years to overcome; many people have it.

IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY.

To my fellow sufferers, we will get there. We will overcome our eating disorders. We may relapse, but as long as we get back on track, we will be okay. Do not be afraid, I accept you and love you for who you are, flaws and all. I am here suffering with you, and I will not let you down.

Xoxo

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Below are some statistics are taken from the National Eating Disorders Association website that gives a vivid description of how severe Binge-Eating Disorder can affect people:

  • “A 2007 study asked 9,282 English-speaking Americans about a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders. The results, published in Biological Psychiatry, found that 3.5% of women and 2.0% of men had binge eating disorder during their life. This makes BED more than three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined. BED is also more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia.
  • When researchers followed a group of 496 adolescent girls for 8 years until they were 20, they found: 5.2% of the girls met criteria for DSM5 anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. When the researchers included nonspecific eating disorder symptoms, a total of 13.2% of the girls had suffered from a DSM-5 eating disorder by age 20.
  • Combining information from several sources, Eric Stice and Cara Bohon found that
    Between 0.2% and 3.5% of females and 0.9% and 2.0% of males will develop binge eating disorder. Subthreshold binge eating disorder occurs in 1.6% of adolescent girls.
  • Research estimates that 28.4% of people with current BED are receiving treatment for their disease. 43.6% of individuals with BED at some point in their lives will receive treatment.
  • BED often begins in the late teens or early 20s, although it has been reported in both young children and older adults.
  • Approximately 40% of those with binge eating disorder are male.
  • Three out of ten individuals looking for weight loss treatments show signs of BED.”

“BED is one of the newest eating disorders formally recognized in the DSM5. Before the most recent revision in 2013, BED was listed as a subtype of EDNOS (now referred to as OSFED). The change is necessary because some insurance companies will not cover eating disorder treatment without a DSM diagnosis. The formal diagnostic criteria are:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    -Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
    -A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
  • The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    -Eating much more rapidly than normal.
    -Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
    -Eating significant amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
    -Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
    -Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months.
  • The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging) as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2017)

-E

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Source: National Eating Disorders Association. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder.