As I write this post, I’m on holiday. I wasn’t too sure if I should be blogging on my time off especially because I’m ill, but there were some things on my chest and by the time I make it home, the topic that I’m going to be talking about would have already started.
So, hello from Scotland!
I’ve been going to the same resort year in year out for the majority of my life. At the age of 18 this will be the last time I’m at this resort and most likely this town as well, what’s a little saddening but I’m grateful for all the time I’ve had here.
One of the beauty’s of going to the same place every year is the collection of photos that I’ve acquired. I have a time line to my life in year long snippets. It’s amazing to see.
However, the the last 3 times I’ve been here, I’ve been fighting an eating disorder. The first, I was in the early stages but hadn’t really lost much weight, then the following year I was having a good shot at recovery. This year, I’m ill with some cold/flu hybrid so have to eat properly, what’s not a bad thing.
Last year, I was a little bit more sick than I am now.
I was obsessed with photos.
More specifically, I was obsessed with getting photos of myself in the exact same locations as the year before.
I wanted a comparison.
I wanted to see how much weight I’d lost.
It’s sad isn’t it? The highlight of my holiday was sitting on my bed with two photo’s of myself taken a year apart, desperate for a obvious loss in weight to feed my disorder.
One location I was most devastated about was taken at a mountain base camp. I’d talked my mum into going down by the stream that was near the ski run. I’d given her my camera. That night I sat and compared images. Let me tell you something, IT WAS NOT WORTH IT. The pain I had gone through that year was not worth the image that stared back at me.
Today we went back up the same mountain, to the same base camp.
I left my camera at the apartment.
When you’re fighting something day in, day out it’s hard to see progress.
I haven’t spoken to you about my recovery for a while. That’s because I hadn’t been seeing any progress. I haven’t felt like I’m getting better and I feel like a failure.
But today has shown me that progress is gradual and you will rarely spot it in the immediate.
In a year I have grown so much stronger. To not want to see a comparison of my body. To know that that’s unhealthy and only feeding my disorder. To recognize how unhealthy that is and to be strong enough to leave my camera.
My mum wanted to take a photo of me today, just for memories. We were close to the exact same place by the stream as the previous two years. I suggested that we went somewhere else to take it.
The lighting is bad, I have no make up on and my nose is red from all the tissues I’ve used, but I’m smiling. I’m not smiling because of the view, nor because I managed to have a cake and a hot chocolate only minuets before (I’m really proud of that though). No, I’m smiling because I saw the first glimps of real progress in weeks.
So why am I telling you this?
I’ve come to realise just how unhealthy before and after pictures are for me. I’ve also come to see this at a very crucial time.
From the 26th Feb- 4th March it is EDAW 2018.
For those of you who don’t know, EDAW stands for eating disorder awareness week.
A whole week dedicated to raisng awerness about eating disorders. Im not 100% sure if this is just for the UK, or if it’s global, but it’s still important non the less.
I’ve never took part in EDAW before and I’m not really sure if I intend too this year other than on this blog or donating money to a organisation called B-eat (I will explain why later). For a moment though, I’d like to deviate off myself and talk about another blogger.
Beauty Beyond Bones has been such an inspiration to me. As a young christian women, I’ve felt ashamed and pretty alone in regards to my ED. I’ve never had the opportunity I’d wished for to hear about another believer facing anorexia or who has faced it.
I have no idea how I stumbled across her blog, but I’ve gone through enough of her posts to feel like a bit of a stalker.
One thing I particularly respect about her blog is the lack of before and after photos.
There’s one image that I’ve come across on her blog of her past. It’s only a head shot. One sides shows her in the grips of anorexia and the other a beautiful young woman who’s recovered. Even this image comes with a trigger warning. But there’s no full body photos and for that I’m so grateful and respect her so much.
If you have the time, I’d really recommend that you check out her blog (you can find it here)
For people who have recovered from an ED, a before and after photos can be a source of pride and so it should be.
If you’ve fought and won, you should be so proud. You should be so, so proud of yourself.
But for people, like myself, who are still recovering and fighting the monster daily these photos can be so triggering and unhealthy.
Remember what I said about my photos on holiday last year?
Well last year for EDAW I also religiously crawled through Instagram, looking for before and after photos of people who had recovered from their ED. However, I wasn’t looking at them for the right reasons. I was using their successes to feed my own illness. I used their photos as motivation to skip my next meal and to bury myself. That’s not ok behavior.
So, just to set the record straight. You will never see a before and after photo off me.
If I’m honest, a part of me says that because I know my weight was never low enough to be valid as an ED. Despite being diagnosed with Anorexia by a clinical psychologist, I will always believe that I was never ‘thin enough’. But the main reason you won’t see it is because I don’t want my body to be triggering anyone else.
I really hope that you all can understand my decision and respect that.
I’m not saying that you should never take a before and after photo if you feel inclined to. You should be so proud of yourself if you’ve won.I’m just saying that it’s not he thing for me.
So as EDAW draws closer, I just want to encourage any of you who are fighting to keep yourself safe this week.
This year I’ve asked asked the amazing person I’m dating to help me handle social media. There could potentially be a lot of triggering material online that week and I’ve asked them for help, especially with Instagram.
It’s taken a while, but I now understand that asking them for help doesn’t make me weak.
Eating Disorder awareness Week is awesome.
Raising awareness is fantastic. All the fundraising benefits people who are struggling.
Letting the world know that we’re not vain, insane or attention seeking is extremely important.
Equipping friends and family members to help someone best who has an ED can make the difference between recovery and death.
So join in, chat to people, encourage one another, just please keep yourself safe.