by Grace Carter |
Struggling with my body image has been an issue in my life for quite some time. I think it’s natural to have thoughts of wondering if strangers judge you for how you look. I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t be concerned with others’ thoughts about me because that is none of my business, but I acknowledge that it is difficult to ignore this fear.
I started to become obsessed with how I appeared to other people in elementary school. I felt self-conscious about how people viewed me physically and socially. The smallest comments about my image would cause me to over-analyze every aspect of my being.
I did not develop an eating disorder until college, but I definitely had the constant worry that everyone around me thought I could benefit from losing 15 pounds. Those thoughts gradually took over my life, thus causing me to have a mental illness: anorexia.
I started to avoid eating in order to lose weight during the summer before my freshman year of college. I had never done this before, but I was incredibly pleased with the results. I felt so much better when I looked in the mirror, and that satisfaction was absolutely addictive. People were complimenting me as I started to slim down. No one questioned how I did it, so I never felt guilty about not eating.
I was finally confident about my weight and body image for the first time in my entire life. So I was obviously devastated when I gained back all the weight I had lost. I felt like I had failed. Once summer came around, I decided to avoid eating again while I was back home from my first year of college. I actually planned it in my head. I told myself I knew the strategy to lose weight, and that was to ignore food at all costs.
At the time, I had no idea what this was doing to my body. I learned at the end of that summer I indeed had an eating disorder. I decided to get some information on the effects of eating disorders and was horrified by what I read. I had no idea the damage I had been doing to myself. When I acknowledged I had anorexia, I was saving my life.
To this day I have a hard time dealing with my relationship with food. I experienced anorexia for a relatively short period of time, but unfortunately it is something I will have to deal with for a while. Along with anorexia, I have also overcome bulimia, binge eating disorder and depression.
I fight a constant battle with my mind telling me I am not good enough each and every day. Whenever I am able to shut down the thoughts in my head telling me to stop eating, I consider it a major victory.
Through my experience with an eating disorder, I have become a major advocate when it comes to acceptance and self-love. I actively try to keep a positive attitude when it comes to my body image. Doing so can be very difficult, but I am doing much better with these issues because I am able to be open about my mental illness.
We all struggle. Let’s struggle together.
Grace Carter is a senior sociology major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Grace is a member of Active Minds, a group on campus dedicated to educating our community about mental health and demonstrating that people are not alone in their mental health struggles.
Active Minds Podcast
Active Minds' Zachary Grall interviews Grace Carter on body image
Mental Health Resources:
UP Health and Counseling Center: 503-943-7134
Multnomah Mental Health Crisis Line: 503-988-4888
Active Minds: email@example.com or Facebook.com/activemindsatup