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The Day I Realized I Wasn't Fully 'Healed' in Eating Disorder Recovery

I have looked at myself as someone who has been on a pretty steady recovery path for a while now. I have been so “recovery minded” that I thought negative body image would never come up again for me. But looking at that thought now, I see it may not be the most logical one. As someone who’s struggled with self-esteem for over 10 years, I know I will probably always struggle with this. I think I got so obsessed with the idea of loving my body and not putting myself down that I forcefully painted the bulletproof recovery look on me and on my recovery blog. I can confidently say I do not hate my body as much as I used to. I have finally began to come to peace with it. However, I realized recently that just because I am more at peace with my body, doesn’t mean those thoughts won’t still creep inside of my head.

For a little while now, I have been doing a lot of patient testimonial work as well as running a recovery blog full time. Part of one of my patient testimonial projects is a photo shoot. This particular photo shoot was centered around yoga. Now, hear me when I say I love yoga and I truly believe it played such a big part in my recovery. People have told me I look very beautiful and have a good formation in my poses, and I guess my mind automatically believed them because I felt so wonderful in the poses. It wasn’t until last week that I realized I’ve never really seen what I look like while I’m doing yoga. For the shoot, the photographer had me do at least three different poses so I could find the one I liked the best and have that one be used for the project. After the initial three poses, the photographer showed me the photos. At that moment, I wanted to break down and burst into tears. I hated the way my body looked. I thought that my formation was awful and my mind automatically went to thinking, “If I was skinnier, this pose would look so much better.” Eventually, after a couple more poses, I found a pose I felt like I could at least deal with. I wrapped up the photo shoot and didn’t want to look in the mirror the rest of the day.

As a body positive blogger, I felt so incredibly guilty. I thought if I was really in recovery I shouldn’t have felt the feelings I did. I kept telling myself I’m an awful influence for all my followers and many more negative thoughts. I slowly but surely realized my mind was in a state of judgment and was in what I call, “my eating disorder mode.”

After going to bed early, I felt a little bit better when I woke up and a little more at peace. I felt like I was able to come to terms with the fact I had more work to do with body image than I thought. I also realized that nobody’s recovery is “perfect” and that just because I sometimes struggle with my body image doesn’t mean I am toxic to my followers. I have actually felt that my authenticity of my recovery journey has been most helpful to my followers.

So, although last week I realized I wasn’t “healed,” I also realized it’s nothing to beat myself up over and it is something I can and will continue to work on.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via Maltiase.