I have never been happy with my body. Ever. I don’t think there’s ever been a time I’ve looked in the mirror and not picked out something I don’t like about myself.
I have always struggled with my image and have had body dysmorphia for as long as I can remember, which slowly turned into bulimia.
I was bulimic for three years. It was a struggle, but not just because I felt I was suffering alone, but because when I eventually spoke out about what I’d been going through, nobody believed me because I wasn’t stick thin. That’s the thing with eating disorders, people only associate it with anorexia. They don’t seem to realise that people of all sizes can struggle with eating disorders; that bulimia and binge eating disorders are very, very real.
I only stopped making myself sick after vomit got caught in my chest cavity and my lung collapsed. It was very scary, enough to make me want to stop sticking my fingers down my throat.
Instead, I started limiting my calories. I’d reward myself when I got through the day on less than 600. It wasn’t healthy. I lost weight, to the point I was stick thin, a size 6 and the lowest weight I’d ever been.
Going from a size 12 to a size 6, I still looked at myself and thought I was fat. I would stand in the mirror and poke at my belly, sigh at my legs and feel like I was going to cry. I thought I was hideous. There was a little while where I would cover my mirror with a blanket so that I didn’t have to look at myself.
It turned out that I hadn’t lost all of the weight because of unhealthy eating – though I’m sure that didn’t help; but because I was actually suffering with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. I’m not going to go into detail with this post, if you’d like to read more you can find it in various posts within the ‘invisible health’ category.
Due to the ulcerative colitis attacking my colon so severely, I had to have it removed, and I was given a stoma bag for 10 months.
While it was great to feel healthy again, I piled on the weight. It was as if my body had missed so many nutrients that it was indulging in sucking up as many as it could. I quickly gained two stone, going back up to a size 10.
A size 10, a very healthy weight, I still felt fat. In fact, I felt huge. It was somewhat shocking to watch as my once stick-thin legs levelled out to chunky thighs (I’ve always been bottom heavy, thanks genetics), and my hips got wider.
After 10 months with a stoma bag, I had it reversed. It didn’t go to plan, and I was sick for 11 days. I didn’t eat for 9 of them. Therefore, I lost a lot of weight again. I told myself I’d try to stick to this weight but my mental health got in the way (hello bipolar disorder, BPD, OCD and health anxiety) and I was put on a load of different weights that made me eat excessively and gain a ton of weight.
I am now back up to a size 12 and the biggest I’ve been in a long, long time.
Size 12 isn’t big. I know that. But there’s definitely a startling difference between how I used to be.
I still haven’t accepted my body. But you know what I’ve learned? I will always wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat. I look back at my size 6 body that I thought at the time was chunky and think ‘Wow, I was way too thin’.
I look back at my size 10 figure and think ‘Wow, I wish I looked like that again’.
And now, though I’m not happy with my figure, I’ve decided enough is enough. I am going to stop hating on my body.
You know why?
Because my body has been through so much. It has fought for me. It has fought to live.
It has been through horrendous surgery. It has fought pneumonia, a collapsed lung, a chest drain, a removed appendix, inflammatory bowel disease, a nearly-perforated bowel, a bowel removal, a stoma bag and a reversal. It’s also consumed a whole load of medication.
So you know what? I’m going to give my body a break. Because it deserves it. I’m not going to get anywhere hating it, and so I’ve decided to start embracing it.
Sure, I still want to change. I’m still going to the gym and I’m trying to change my diet (she says, as she delves into a packet of Haribo), but right now I’m just going to feel myself.
For the first time in a long time, the past 5 weeks I have been posting full-length body photos. Something I hated doing even at a size six. And I love the photos. I feel good in myself. I don’t look at myself and hate what I see.
I know I’ll never be fully happy with my body. But I’m going to be comfortable with it. I’m going to start accepting it.
It’s the very least it deserves.