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Choosing What’s More Important: My Mental Stability or My Weight

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For eating disorders, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I never thought I’d be this way or weigh as much as I do now. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. How could my athletic body turn into something so big and something so unbearable for me to behold in the mirror. Social media is no help, with ad after ad after ad about weight loss. The images of dieting ads taunt me. They hunt down and attack my self-esteem until my worth is mangled and bleeding in the darkest corners of my mind.

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“You’re fat,” they say.

“It’s not enough to be stable. You must be fit. You must overcome. You must change.”

These words propel me to jump on my exercise bike, and crunch my abs on the floor of my living room over and over again. I make it through two weeks of futile attempts to return my once-athletic body to its potential before my mind unravels.

It begins slowly – the stirring of my mind. The darkness slithers in and wraps around my brain, tightening until I’m once again at the mercy of the thoughts inside my skull. They betray me and it cycles.

Push harder.

No, slow down.

Yes, peddle faster.

No, it isn’t worth it.

Yes, you can do it — you must do it.

I will my brain to deliver — to reach beyond my psyche and conquer my body. I command it into submission. But, despite this mentality, my head defies. It rebels. It rebels with ferocity. It rebels with vengeance. For who could I think I was, trying to force myself to become something I know I cannot be? I will never be fit and stable at the same time. This doesn’t mean my body is unhealthy.

Every time I have check-ups, every time they draw blood, every time they run tests, I am healthy. All my levels, all my counts, all my results come back directly in the middle of normal ranges for all areas that could be the culprit to my weight.

I know the truth.

It isn’t my body.

It is my mind.

As a result of my medications, it is impossible for my weight to stay lower.

Certain people — many people — in my life judge my frame. How could I possibly be healthy? Look at me. Every dieting program, every exercise regiment, and all the “before” and “after” photos demand better. It is not enough. Despite my mind finally being stable, my body is not enough.

But, it has to be enough. Despite the lure of a body I could have, my mind is more important. I wouldn’t even feel satisfied with my body if I came off my medications because the mania or depression would rage. There is no point to demanding of my body that it will change.

Instead of shoving my body where I want it to go, I will be gentle and let it wander. My body goes through so much as my mind has battled itself. I have to give myself grace. I have to applaud my endurance — the drive to sustain my mental health at the cost of my weight. It is anything but easy. Going from a college athlete to what looks like a couch potato challenges every ounce of self-esteem I have left in my heart.

But, I have earned these stretch marks. Life has painted these tiger stripes as battle scars on my sides and I am proud to wear them. The way I am when I am stable must be enough. I will die otherwise.

I came to the conclusion it is better for me to be a stable, heavier woman than a suicidal athletic woman. It really is a life or death decision. My body or my mind. I cannot have both.

Maybe one day this will change. Maybe I will be fit again.

For now, I choose life.

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Originally published: September 10, 2019
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