I know depression has been a hot topic lately, and Since it’s national Anxiety and Depression Awareness week, I’m dedicating this evening to raising awareness through fabulous reblogs. Because caring for one’s Mental Health is a critical part of a multifaceted approach to health and wellness, and because working towards mental wellness is an important step in Redefining Body Image.
but mostly because I’m too depressed to write anything….
Ugh….these are unhelpful words
Why doesn’t our culture teach us to say caring things like
“I know it seems like nothing is wonderful and everything hurts; but it won’t last forever and you are so much more than just frazzled nerves and leaky tear ducts. You’ll be a lot happier after I remind you why I love you, it’s okay that you forgot”
*I meant this for my personal blog, but it clearly resonated*
Whenever anything or anyone ever asks me about my “fitness regimen”, I am quick to say it doesn’t exist.
But, in a way, it does.
This past week, I technically worked out a number of times; It consisted of dancing (by myself) in sporadic bursts of time. Hot, sweaty, and smiling.
I went on a couple of walks, too.
I spent most of my evenings stretching, painting my nails, doing light yoga and exercises while watching whatever, and smoking cigarettes if I felt like it. (For some reason, I haven’t been smoking much lately. Today I’ve had two.)
Somewhere in there I did some strength-training and pilates that I made up along the way, which escalated into testing myself to see how long I could keep my legs lifted, parallel to the ground, with my back to the floor.
The answer was: not long. But I kept lifting them up again anyway, and my muscles became warm and happy for it.
One week can not accurately encompass all of my life habits, but as an average: I’d say it’s about right.
The anxiety I live with every day is dense within my body. It saturates my muscles and nerve-endings so much that it seems I can feel it surge and recede like jolts of electricity.
Sometimes, my body is sore from anxiety’s effect. My muscles twitch, sting, and ache due to internal forces rather than outward physical exertion.
The burn of physical movement and the ache of anxious muscles, together, is bittersweet.
So I focus on that feeling, on myself, when I move my body to music. I feel how my fat sways and gives way as I bend, jump, and stretch - and it empowers me to move more. I test my flexibility and feel as the tension dissipates. I am aware.
I am so aware and in touch with myself in these moments of radical self worth and solitary movement that I actually forget what “fitness” is.
I don’t need a set of rules to tell me how I should or shouldn’t be moving my body in a healthful way.
I know that whatever I am doing is what is right for me because I have learned how to listen to my body’s cues - and we’ve decided to set our own goddamn rules.
Why do I feel this sudden urge to try a fucking ‘cleanse’? Why does it sound so appealing to me when I know it will make me insane?
Like, I have owned the fact that I am not a normal person. I can barely feed myself properly day to day without making it more difficult than it needs to be. I can’t afford the expense of a ‘cleanse’ (literally and metaphorically) nor do I think it would even really benefit me in any way at all. I can rationally acknowledge this, at least.
But I see cleanses EVERYWHERE, SO OFTEN - all these thin, glowy-looking, able-bodied, mentally-sound motherfuckers keep preaching on about HOW AMAZING THEY ARE where ever I look. And because my feeds are so inundated, I think the bullshit has finally seeped into my brain.
I’ve got people in my life who dedicate hours and hours of their day to cooking, packing perfect little lunches in bento boxes, going on and on about “natural” and “non-processed” and “organic” everything under the sun.
It must be so simple, right? To do all the right things, eat such virtuously “healthy” foods and nothing else, spending weeks drinking designated shakes and foods to “remove the toxins” in our bodies.
If it’s so easy, then why does even the thought of pursuing it break me?
Will I ever be able to eat something without feeling guilt or shame?
Must our diets be so tied to our morality and sense of worth?
Must it really be so fucking complex?
My roommate has been here for me every step of my recovery. It’s been interesting- when I began recovery, she began her weight-loss journey. She is the reason that I’ve made it this far.
Anywho- we both get really annoyed at fitblrs and blogs that post really harsh things like “NO EXCUSES” or “DO THIS, DO THAT” sort of mentality.
Life is not about being the fittest. Life is not about going to the gym on a regular basis. Life is not being fashionable. Life is not about how many reps of something you do a day. No. If you don’t feel like going to the gym for 2 weeks, then who the fuck cares! Don’t go! Your life shouldn’t revolve around going to the gym and eating gold foods.
I completely respect people who carry out a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym and eating right. What I admire about those people is that they are also mentally in check. They don’t have a bad relationship with keeping up with their health.
I’m trying to understand where the line gets drawn between being fit, and being obsessive.
Moral of this scatterbrained post: Don’t feel forced or obligated to do anything.
The thing about being “mentally in check” is that, like, not everyone is mentally sound.
I mean, I am a fucking madwoman. I don’t always know what it means to be “mentally in check” and when I do, I appreciate it and everything, but it doesn’t make me a better person.
The line between fit and obsessive often depends on health.
But health is widely defined as one thing, when it should really be defined individually.
For me, good health means waking up without a migraine and feeling good enough to get out of bed. It means not letting my anxieties control me and doing the things I want to do in a day, like cooking myself food or getting some work done or spending time with my family. It may or may not include some kind of movement or physical activity, that is not always a priority.
Good mental health leads to good physical health, but good mental health isn’t always a given.
Just more thoughts to chew on.
You know when life throws things at you like death and hate and the sorts of things you can’t control and you find yourself back in the land of disordered eating and anxiety and depression and you don’t ever want to come out from under your blankets? Or is that just me?
I’ve been in that space for a while. Visibility is a challenge, taking care of myself is a challenge, owning my body is a challenge. But I continue to dare myself and accept the discomfort, because it means I’m not giving up. I am in control.
I went through a dark period in my life where depression knocked me right off my feet. I ended up being hospitalized at a mental health facility for 9 days. I got discharged and was doing better, but I kept falling into the pit of depression and going back to the hospital. Throughout this process I was using not only self injury but food as a coping skill to deal with my unhelpful thoughts and feelings. I gained a lot of weight in the past year. Starting last summer I began to completely hate my body. I would have panic attacks if I looked in the mirror too long because I couldn’t stand the skin I was in. Never in a million years would I have dreamed of submitting a photo like this. But I have found blogs like this and I am working as hard as I can to love myself, and it is paying off. I can now proudly say that I love my belly, my stretch marks, my thighs, my lack of collarbones, my arms, my scars, and everything in between. This is my body, and I am not ashamed. ♥ http://s-ecular.tumblr.com
Beatrice the Biologist Rocks
So I know this isn’t exactly on topic, but it’s related. My own body image issues were always complicated by my mental health issues, or maybe vice versa; but I can say nearing 30 with my anxiety and depression well mitigated has allowed my body image to blossom. It’s amazing how wonderful it is to wake up and not be disappointed about it, and it’s freed my brain to find beauty in the world, but most importantly, in myself.
This has a few important aspects for me. The fact that we don’t discuss injury to our psyche in the same way we do injury or illness to our body; the stigma of mental health treatment and counselling is such that we often don’t widely admit to mental illness, let alone have common language to discuss it with friends, acquaintances, and strangers.
But also the fact that it’s not socially acceptable to offer emotive care for people struggling with mental health issues. When a person has a physical ailment which hospitalizes them, they receive calls and cards and gifts and flowers; when a person has a need for psychiatric hospitalization it’s seen as shameful, spoken about only in whispers, and no one ever sends flowers. Rarely is it spoken about outside the family or immediate friends, and it’s never discussed without a great deal of stigma.
It’s so taboo to discuss, most lay-people don’t even understand the lexicon and definitions, let alone have any understanding as to how it impacts daily life, what it’s like to live with, or (most importantly) how to support loved ones who are suffering.
I’m gonna continue to do my part to destroy the same and stigma surrounding mental illness by being vocal about my own struggles, and raising the voices of others who are struggling, through my blog The Lame Dame. If you have a mental illness, talk about it; if you don’t, please still talk about it. End the Stigma.