Happy Sunday and happy Mental Health Awareness Month! Today I’m so excited to share this mega post that’s covering anything and everything mental health. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, it’s all about breaking the stigma. That phrase is seriously overused, but there still doesn’t seem to be much of a change. Mental health issues and struggles are everywhere, seriously… everywhere. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t make you weak, in fact I think that being able to recognize when you’re struggling and being able to reach out for help or treatment makes you one f*****g strong person. Take this week as inspiration to be open and honest about your journey, your struggles. Even if your story helps just one person, it’s all worth it.
My mental health update:
I wanted to start of with a little update on my mental health and where I’m at right now. To be honest, I’ve been struggling a bit the last few weeks transitioning from the end of my sophomore year to summer. Transitions are always hard for me because it interrupts my recovery and treatment routine and forces me to adapt quickly. I was able to talk about this with my therapists before leaving for the break, and I think that’s helped a lot, but it’s still hard. The best thing I can do for myself is continue to be open and honest about how everything’s going. A large part of this is being able to acknowledge when I’m not having a great day or when I’m feeling a bit off. If there’s been anything in my life that’s been nearly as hard as recovery, it’s faking being happy. There’s nothing worse than pretending that I’m feeling great and loving life when I just feel so unbelievably blah and empty inside. Being able to say that I am feeling really anxious or depressed that day has been the best thing I can do for myself. I’ve also had to learn that putting my mental health first means that I have to be selfish sometimes. I have to become comfortable with saying no (which is incredibly hard for me) and I have to be okay with asking my friends and support system for help when I need it. And actually, that isn’t selfish as at all as long as I’m also making sure to support those around me just as much as they support me. I have to remind myself, every single day, that I am worthy. Remind yourself that too.
Body Dysmorphia… What is it?
I’ve been really open about my ED and dealing with anxiety and depression, but one thing I haven’t really talked about is body dysmorphia. It usually goes hand in hand with EDs but also adds another level of complexity to the illness. Body dysmorphic disorder, by definition, is a disorder that makes you focus on certain and specific physical flaws in your appearance. They are often so small that no one else would notice it, but it’s often times the only thing you notice about yourself. It can become so severe that you make drastic changes in your behavior and social behavior to avoid flare ups of these feelings. For me personally, my body dysmorphia would be extremely severe right before a purge, but would subside right after (I’ve learned that this is the eating disorder voice telling me what it wants me to hear). I feel comfortable in baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts that cover up my body and feel extremely anxious when wearing anything that exposes parts of my body. A big part of my recovery, and one of the goals I set for myself this summer, is to become comfortable wearing clothes I want to wear, no matter how uncomfortable I feel in it. BD is one of the aspects of mental illnesses and eating disorders that often goes under the radar, maybe because to some it seems like an overreaction, but it’s just as important/severe as anything else.
Tips and tricks: on days where you’re feeling less than, try these tips out and remember that everything will be okay
- Breathe– Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to slow down your sympathetic nervous system.
- Essential oils– Use different blends of essential oils, either on your body or in a diffuser to help reset & revive your mind. Lavender, spearmint and ylang ylang are my favorites to diffuse every day.
- Get creative– Grab a piece of paper and just start doodling, painting or whatever else your creative juices are feeling. If you’d rather use a device, there are tons of coloring and doodling apps that work just as well.
- Gratitude– Write down three things you are grateful for, right then and there in the moment. This is something you can do right there on the spot or incorporate it into your morning/daily routine.
- Fidget– One of my friends got me a bag of marbles to play with every time I’m feeling anxious, and it’s actually been one of the best ways to help calm myself down.
- Do nothing– Remember that it’s okay to do absolutely nothing sometimes, it’s not lazy, it’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
- Pamper– Take a bath, take a long shower, book a massage or a facial, anything that’s going to help you feel normal and special.
- Move– You don’t have to do anything intense to get your body going, a quick yoga session or even just a leisurely walk in your favorite area of town will do the trick. Anything to get your heart rate up and blood flowing will always make you feel better.
- Clean– Having a clean space can help clear your mind. When your space is cluttered, it’s easy for your mind to reflect your environment. Tidying up and doing a simple clean can help you feel in control of everything, and it’s a great way to get moving a bit.
- Therapy– This isn’t something you can do right on the spot, but I really believe that therapy is a life-changer. Ever since I began therapy, I feel so much more centered on a daily basis. It’s not going to fix all your problems at once, it’s a practice that takes time, but it helps, I promise.
As always, I’m sending an infinite amount of love, support and positive vibes your way. Whatever you’re going through, however shitty your day/week/month has been, I promise it will get better, I promise the light will come. Someone in my life once told me that there is no “light at the end of the tunnel” but simply people who love you bringing a light into the tunnel. Eventually there are so many people shining a light around you that you forget you are in the tunnel. I’ve been playing that through my head constantly the last few weeks, and it’s helped put everything in perspective. Being at rock bottom has allowed me to see beauty and joy more clearly than ever. The light will come, believe me.
Lots of love xx