Anxiety Subsides When We Trust Ourselves

Written by: Marcela Sabía, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey on her Instagram, @marcelailustra.

The other day I was faced with a problem that I didn’t know how to approach. I was feeling anxious and lost after so much deliberation and uncertainty. As usual, I called a friend for advice. We talked for a while, and she shared her perspective on the situation. I knew she had the best intentions when giving her input, but I didn’t feel relieved after the conversation.

I felt uncertain about the advice she gave me because it did not align with my values. My friend’s perspective was true to her values but not mine. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I simply mean that we are different people. But I felt so distressed and insecure about the issue at hand that I decided to follow what she told me anyway. My anxiety left my mind clouded and feelings of insecurity surfaced as I told myself that I was unable to sort things out my way.

Days passed, and I felt increasingly agitated by the situation. So agitated that I found myself crying frequently.  Clearly, I was not okay with the outcome. I found myself in my room and decided to take a moment to clear my thoughts. I lit a candle I use for meditation, sat on the floor, and closed my eyes. As I focused on my breath and silently let my thoughts surface, I realized I knew how I wanted to approach the situation. My gut, my intuition was providing solutions, but I had chosen not to pay attention to them or rely on my own opinions. Sitting in my room, with my eyes closed, I realized how desperately I needed to trust my intuition, my mind, and my heart.  

While I think asking for advice is a wonderful tool and can provide a new perspective or help you think more rationally about a situation, I also believe it is necessary that we learn to trust ourselves. If I had genuinely listened to my own opinion, I likely would not have experienced as much anxiety over the situation. But fear and insecurity made me believe more in someone else’s opinion than in my own.

It is necessary to know oneself, to love oneself, and to trust oneself. We have within us a universe of infinite wisdom, and we must learn to draw upon it. We must believe we have an opinion worth sharing and a voice worth listening to.

 

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The Power of Trust in Recovery

Written by: Megan Lawrence, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey at HealingHopefuls.com or on her Instagram, @in.my.own.words.  

Confession: To say that I trust myself 100% of the time would be a lie. With that said, I don’t mean that I don’t work to trust myself every day that I am given. If you are heading into recovery with the mentality that “it is only up from here,” I must warn you that recovery is a journey filled with many ups and downs. There is no guarantee that we won’t face certain urges or cravings ever again, but we can find peace in knowing that recovery is not linear for anyone. What has helped me stay strong throughout my own journey to recovery is being able to trust that I am better than who I was yesterday, and I always have the choice to want better for myself moving forward. When we can learn to trust our actions, thoughts, and intentions, we can recover the parts of ourselves that we once viewed as damaged or broken.

The first step to trusting yourself is by taking accountability for your own actions. Both actions from your past, and the actions you will have to take to recover. Recovery is all about forgiving those who have done harm to you, as well as the harm that you have caused yourself. To heal from this, we must look our pain and suffering in the face, and be able to take with us the lessons we were meant to learn through this process. By taking ownership and accountability for what cannot be changed, we set ourselves free from the person we are no longer, and we begin to trust our choices because we understand what can harm us.

You want the cold hard truth? Recovery is hard. It is really hard, but you know what? I stick with it anyway. I choose to recover because a lifetime solution is always going to be better than a temporary one. To recover, we must get honest with ourselves. Something that I am sure we can all relate to is how accepting the truth is what we were always trying to run away from. No matter what it is you are choosing to recover from, we all got to recovery because we knew we were stronger than our weaknesses. This is important for you to remind yourself of. Recovery does not choose us; we choose recovery so we can learn how to choose ourselves. You have to ask yourself, how far are you willing to run away from the one person that will always know you the best? Recovery is the process of slowing down, understanding how we got to where we are, and learning how to return to the person we are meant to become. We have to trust ourselves and the journey of the unknown that is ahead of us.

There are days where I still struggle to keep my head above water, and it has taken me a long time to accept this as well. By trusting ourselves, and trusting the process of recovery, we must be patient with the unraveling of who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming. I allow myself the room I need to heal, and I give myself the care I never thought I deserved. When we are able to trust ourselves, we begin to put one foot in front of the other, and before we know it, we are that much stronger with each step we take in the right direction.

You are worth it.

 

Featured image by Lee Seonghak

The Beauty Behind Trust

Written by: Alyssa Guiterrez, mental health advocate and blogger at www.feeding-happiness.com.

I still recall the first day I decided I was exhausted from living in the terrible, damaging depths of my disorder. It was the day my nurse at the eating disorder clinic told me, “Alyssa, you are getting tube-fed because your weight is continuing to decrease.” I stared at her as tears formed. As my stomach began churning. As my first began to clench so hard my nails left deep indents in my palms. I have never felt a rush of emotions that occurred when I was told such a simple yet complex sentence. Fear. Worry. Terror. Panic. Stress. Accomplished. Why accomplished? Because the disorder won this time – anorexia took control of my life and transformed me into a living corpse. But I was also scared. I was scared of how far anorexia would take me, how much it would exhaust me. I was scared of the further damage it would do to my body. I was scared of completely losing myself. It was at this moment that I decided to take control of my life. I could not continue to have the disorder drag me and abuse me in a way that drained both my mind and my body. In a way that caused so many wounds internally and externally. But above all, in a way that made me feel as if I had no worth or value. The disorder truly made me feel as if I did not deserve to have a place in the world – that I was not loved; however, I pursued recovery to regain an everlasting feeling of love.  

Ever since I chose this beautiful yet rigorous journey called recovery, happiness has become my companion again. Along this journey, I have gathered healthy coping mechanisms, smiles, and laughter.  I have smiled to the point where my face hurts and the corners of my smile are touching the end of my eyes. I have laughed to the point where my stomach has felt such pain yet delight. But most of all, I have gained the happiness needed to discover confidence in myself and abilities. However, I have also experienced a flood of tears, a series of panic attacks, and a chain of distortions. I remember crying in front of my mom while eating two eggs because I just could not deal with the guilt anymore. I could not nourish myself without the distortions taking place. But now I thank these obstacles. Because as I pushed through them, I found the life I was able to regain. Not only was I able to regain life, but I was able to regain the magnificence of trust and intuition.

One thing that is extremely hard to regain in eating disorder recovery is trusting in yourself and your body. That is, trusting when your body is tired and when it needs to rest. When you need to take a break from the world because of increasing stress. When you need to add more food to your plate because your stomach is not completely satisfied. And lastly, when you need to trust the system, the professionals when they tell you a change needs to occur. To this day, I still suffer from trusting that my body needs more food. That my body needs more nourishment to give me energy. To trigger more life, more laughter, more smiles within myself. I still struggle at the end of dinner when my mom asks, “anyone want more food?” I battle the constant “yes” and “no” that emerge when I am asked such a straightforward question. The feelings of guilt that trigger my anxiety if I say “yes.” The feelings of dejection if I say “no.” But above all, the feelings of sadness knowing that such a simple question still sparks such conflict in my mind.

So how do I trust myself? Most of the time, I listen to the disorder and go against what it says. I listen to its lies, its negative comments, its harsh criticism and replace it with positivity and affirmations. Simply put, I act in a way that I know will anger the disorder. Why? Because everything the disorder says is false. It says things that will only damage the mind and body. It makes an individual do things that will cause extreme pain and tremendous suffering. And deep down, I know I do not want to continue putting my body and mind through torture. I am tired of listening to the lies the disorder feeds me.

When the disorder tells me that if I say “yes” to the question my mom asks that I’ll instantly gain 20 more pounds, I remind myself this is an irrational thought. I constantly have to remind myself that food is not meant to harm the body but nourish it. Food is essential to the physical and mental growth of an individual. When restricting, one loses joy, intuition, and motivation. More simply, one loses their life. That is something I do not want to happen again. I do not want to deprive my body of the nutrients it needs in order to thrive. So whenever my mom asks, “anyone want more?” I listen to MY body. I listen to what it truly wants – nourishment, love, and respect. I have treated my body poorly for too much of my life. Recovery is not meant to gift me back the time, but rather gift me the trust of listening to my body and becoming friends with it once more.

Not only do these thoughts of self-doubt occur during dinner time, but when I decide to exercise as well. I enjoy running and each time I go for a run, the thoughts of “push yourself, Alyssa”, “burn more calories”, “cleanse yourself of that cookie you ate” occur. What do I do with these thoughts? I step back and reframe them. I tell myself instead, “you are doing the best you can,” “you are not exercising to burn calories but rather to feel good mentally,” “stop yourself if the eating disorder thoughts get too loud.” People may ask, “why would you stop?” Well, the truth is, exercise should not be based on appearance, calories, or guilt. It is not healthy nor will it benefit you in the long run. Just as a flower cannot flourish without water, food, and sun, humans cannot thrive if we only take from our body and do not give.

I encourage everyone battling with an eating disorder and on the path to recovery to put trust in their body. Listen to your body when it asks for more food. Listen to your body when it tells you it needs a rest. But most of all, listen to it when it asks for love. You will not succeed nor progress in recovery if you put trust in the eating disorder thoughts rather than the signs your body is sending you. I know recovery is hard. I know some days it absorbs you in a pool of pain and works you until you’re exhausted.

Recovery pushes you to the point where you continually ask yourself, “Is It worth it?” The answer is yes. It is worth it.  It is worth the increasing anxiety that arises when you come into contact with a mirror and you contemplate picking at your body or body checking. It is worth the guilt after eating a slice of cake for the first time in years. It is worth the flood of tears that occur when you begin shopping for new clothes. Why is it worth it? Because once you get past all of these difficult moments early on in your recovery journey, you will be met with the endless laughs, the hardcore smiles, the beauty of life, and the self-love.

Yes, it may cause an extreme amount of pain and effort, but how beautiful is it to regain love in yourself and in life? How wonderful is it to know you’re free from being trapped in the cage with the eating disorder? But most of all, how exquisite is it to undergo the feelings of confidence and happiness rather than taking into consideration the opinions of others and the rigged standards of society?

You are truly free. Free from the disorder. Free from the lies. Free from the harm that the disorder provoked. You are free.

 

Featured image: Alyssa Gutierrez. 

Setting Boundaries: Instagram and Eating Disorder Recovery

Written by: Natalie Dormady, contributing writer.  Follow more of her story on her Instagram, @littlearthlings.  

I followed a link on Pinterest the other day to find a post titled, “Toxic relationships and Setting Healthy Boundaries in Recovery.” I was intrigued – something in me knew I had to read this article. When sitting down to write this post, I intended to write about taking small steps towards trusting myself and celebrating the tiny victories. But after reading the post from Pinterest, I decided to switch gears a little. The article I found on Pinterest talked about setting healthy boundaries in relationships. This resonated with me as I’ve been learning how to trust myself in knowing when a boundary needs to be enforced, but specifically in the virtual world – the Instagram world.

When I was engaging in disordered behaviours, it was hard to see that some relationships were unhealthy and quite toxic to my recovery. At first, I refused to view them as toxic. And yet these relationships were not benefiting me in recovery and instead were triggering my disordered voice. Recognizing they were, in fact, toxic, and I could consciously choose to let them go, marked a first step towards bettering myself and my mental health. Trusting that I was capable, and allowed to, set a boundary was scary and tough. Some relationships I had on Instagram were also relationships I had in the real world. I followed friends from high school, college and family members whose accounts did not allow me to have a safe virtual space. I was more worried about their perception of me than putting my recovery, and myself, first.

My relationship with Instagram has been a bit messy. When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I used Instagram as a place of comfort. Or more accurately, my disorder used it as a place of comfort. I used to follow a lot of accounts that were fitness and diet oriented and accounts also struggling with their disorders. I found a false sense of comfort in seeing that I wasn’t alone. When I would scroll through my feed, I saw and read the very things that fed my disorder. Look this way and eat this way and she’s doing this and why am I not at the gym and they had a bad day so it’s fine if I do…the thoughts were never-ending. My virtual environment was not a safe space for me. For my disorder, yes, but not for me. Once I realized my relationship with Instagram was hindering my recovery, I accepted that I had to, and more importantly, was allowed to, make changes.

To set boundaries on Instagram, I asked myself, why do I follow these accounts? Do I like their posts? How do they make ME feel, rather than how do they make my disorder feel? I trusted that I had my recovery in mind. I trusted myself to know that I deserve a safe space. I let go of one triggering account and swapped it for a really funny, cute dog account. I like dogs, and animals, and nature, so if I’m going to go on social media, why not watch and see and read posts that I actually enjoy? The next day I remember unfollowing every account that made me feel invalid or like I needed to change something about myself in order to be accepted. It felt like a rock was lifted from my chest. When I scroll through my feed now, I see videos of dogs doing strange things, wonderful paintings and doodles, mountains and oceans. I’m reading captions that inspire me, rather than the disorder. My virtual space has become a safe place for me.

“Boundaries are part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.”

-Doreen Virtue

We are not obligated to follow anyone. It took me some time to realize this, and I’m still reminding myself and working on it. That’s okay. Unfollowing someone doesn’t make you a bad or mean person, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t like them. You have every right to curate your feed with images and captions that make you feel inspired and happy. Your mental health is so important, you are so important.

 

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Rediscovering Trust in Eating Disorder Recovery

Written by: Zoe Speirs, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey on her Instagram, @boporecoverywarrior.   

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”

– Paulo Coelho

When I first embarked on my recovery from an eating disorder, I remember thinking I could never trust myself around food: to know when to eat, when to stop, how much to have, what to eat, what times to eat, and so on. The constant torment that I no longer knew how to do something so many knew how to innately terrified me. I wanted to rewind to when I was a child and could fully trust my body to know what it needed and when. I was terrified that I would never get back to that. That even in recovery, I would always have one foot stuck in this need to control, never knowing if I could trust my body again.

Sound familiar?

It can feel impossible to actually let yourself trust your body and trust yourself around food. I KNOW how hard it is. It can feel like you’re stuck in this cycle of not being able to let go of the control. So here are three tips that have helped me rebuild my relationship with food and rediscover my brain-body connection:

1. No food is out of bounds. You need to break down those rigid rules that your eating disorder had in place for you. There is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food – food holds no moral value. It doesn’t dictate whether you’re a good person or worthy purely because you ate kale. Nothing bad will happen to you if you let yourself enjoy all food groups. Yes, that includes those homemade cookies your eating disorder has deprived you of.

2. Once you’ve established that you can eat anything, you might feel the need to eat everything you’ve deprived yourself of for so long. I honestly thought I would never stop having the urge to eat peanut butter and brownies. But if you let yourself eat what you crave and however much you need, these intense cravings will start to die down, and you’ll start craving things like broccoli too! You’ve spent so long denying yourself of what you want and need, that your body is trying to get everything it’s not allowed before it’s taken away again. It takes time for your body to realise that these foods won’t be denied anymore. This part is scary, and I completely understand. I was terrified. But if you trust yourself enough to let your brain-body connection rebuild, I promise you things will settle.

3.  So you’ve started rebuilding your relationship with food and letting the brain-body connection re-establish. But what about your weight? This can be really scary, especially in eating disorder recovery. I urge you to throw away your scales and just let your body do what it needs to do. Your weight will settle at your set point – it will be exactly where it needs to be. Here’s one of my favourite affirmations that helped me accept changes in my weight: ‘My body may become bigger in the future, and it may become smaller, but whatever it is right now, is exactly how it has to be’. Your body is just a vessel to carry you, so let it decide what’s best for it.

Trusting yourself around food is hard, but it is so worth it to finally let go and be able to live. However, it’s important to remember that with all this in mind, you need to trust that you are capable of recovery. That although recovery is hard, scary and will involve a lot of hard work, that you are worthy of it. You are worthy of reclaiming your life. You are worthy of practising self-care and setting boundaries to help you through these tough times (and any time really!). Trust yourself to do what’s right for you.

Look after yourselves beautiful people – the road might be bumpy, but with trust, we can move forward.

 

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