Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Story: "Is Perception Reality?"

This story is about hope. The words don't say, "hope" but the message screams it. She was and is scared, searching and fighting a battle that many, many fight daily. She's winning! This girl will always win, because that's how she's built. She, as we all do, grind and claw our way through personal barriers... but she routinely kicks those walls down with full force. 

As you read, don't feel sad for her... feel happy; happy that she's conquering her villains. Simply by emailing this story, she's won. She's looking in the mirror, being honest, and doing something about the challenges she sees. This type of honesty is what makes people like her special... and 1%!! 

"Is Perception Reality?"

Does anyone else find it odd how we go to school to learn information, and to sculpt our minds…yet very few people actually grasp that the difference between understanding information, and understanding how we perceive that information? Then, there’s the understanding of yourself, as well as all the thoughts which reside in your head? 

I hadn’t given this much thought until I started noticing my own perceptions of things and started listening to that little voice that most choose to ignore. This is where my largest obstacle lives: Within me, in my head - my mindset. 

I have been living, for as long as I can remember, very unhappy and unsatisfied with my body. I've held it all in, letting that little voice sabotage each thought and comment made about myself. This dissatisfaction, however, remained an uncomfortable topic for some years before I decided to “do something about it”.  My “doing something about it” started off as more exercise…then more exercise with more healthy foods. Doing small steps, I heard, was the only way to lose weight, or “get in shape” (as I would tell family and friends). A year past and I still was unhappy and getting more unhappy and desperate. I tried only eating healthy meals and increased exercise to everyday. However more and more quickly, I would get fed up with all this work I was doing, seeing no results, and quit.

It was a gradual change, starting sophomore year of high school, but slowly I began cutting things from my diet altogether. Starting with less obvious things like candy, chocolate, breads, and sugars. I began cutting more things with a caloric value of more than 90 in a single serving. All the while, I was being guided by my thoughts of how much better I could be if I were skinny. I began skipping meals, slowly… lying about how much I was eating. I got good at lying. The easier it became, the more I would not eat. 

Very end of junior year, and into senior year, I still hadn't dropped much weight... which further heightened my desire to look like who I thought I was on the inside. I made a drastic decision: Each day, I wouldn't eat more than 400 calories. If I ate more, it would be considered a binge and I would need to purge myself clean!

I became part of support website, where people would talk and encourage each other to succeed in their quest for a pure soul. I labeled myself as EDNOS (eating disorder not officially specified). I began to believe everything my head was telling me, and started to self-loath. I adopted sayings that would repeat over and over in my head: "Those who skip dinner end up thinner." "Think thin." "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." "A moment on the lips…forever on the hips".  I started missing out on social occasions with friends because they involved food in some way. 

However, all this time my life was slowly spiraling into itself, I had lost a good amount of weight... yet friends and family said nothing! I would occasionally eat with them so they wouldn’t become suspicious, but no one became worried. I felt mixed feelings about fooling them. I felt a bit victorious because they hadn’t caught on yet, but at the same time, a deep depression, thinking they knew but just didn’t care. That launched a whole new motivational urge for me. If they didn’t care, then I didn’t care! I lived like this for a long while. 

In the middle of senior year, I started working out with a class of women. The instructor was highly qualified and also a working nutritionist. She had noticed how tired and unmotivated I was during class, and asked what I had eaten for dinner. I was caught off guard and said I had not eaten yet, but was eating after class. She believed me, but only that once. Each class from then on, she would ask me what I had to eat that day. After a few weeks she figured it out. I began working with her as my nutritionist, and she gave me a very strict workout and meal plan, guaranteeing I would see results after 3 months. I could soon stop punishing myself for failing. 

After a few weeks of eating relatively normally again, I instantly felt physically better. More alert, focused and had energy. However my mental side still hated me for eating so much. Still, I went through the three months and saw no change. I was very frustrated and fed up with everything. I gained back every ounce I had worked all those years to take off. I was sad, but I understood that I had to eat even though I didn’t want to. I strived to eat as healthy as I could. 

I decided that I was going to make a new plan: Eat enough to get me going, eat healthy, workout and smile. I am old enough to know better, but also too young to always care. I am 18 years old and a first year in college. As cliché as it might be for a teenage girl to go through this, I would recommend not brushing it off as a “phase”. It messes with my mind every day. I wake up to the mirror, I often face meals like they are the enemy, and I fall asleep feeling full. I had grown to love the feeling of emptiness, and the feeling of hunger. I now live relatively on my own and have to admit that I do occasionally slip up. I, once in awhile, will visit the old websites of “thinsperation”, or skip a meal here and there. But it’s a work in progress. 

I am still unsatisfied with my body, but I’m working at it! That’s all I can do, right? My mind is a different matter. I have to force myself to enjoy what I see in the mirror, or purposely tell myself I look good, but I’m doing it. I look back at two months ago and see a difference in my attitude towards myself. As long as I’m moving forward, it doesn’t matter how small my steps are... as long as their pointed in the right direction. 

~Anonymous college freshman 


LauraLynne said...

VERY powerful. thank you for sharing - I think that a lot of those thoughts and feelings are common regardless of your body size or shape. The intense guilt, the daily battles - all common. I'm glad she spoke up. She speaks for a lot of us.

Rettakat said...

"This is where my largest obstacle lives: Within me, in my head - my mindset."

You and I think TOTALLY alike on this, about our mindset being most important.

Our stories took opposite directions... you went thinner and thinner, I went bigger and bigger. Yet we both are turned around, heading back to "balance", and to health.

In the end, we are the same INside.

I love that you have the wisdom and courage to tackle this early on, instead of waiting. :-)


Bendigo said...

Reading this makes me wish I could have had that clarity at that age...You put the ball in your my son would say..Good Game

Better Man said...

I agree with LauraLynne, this a very powerful post, one that I will be passing on with your permission. Please let me know if I can pass this on? Thanks

Dayne Gingrich said...

Pleaase pass this on!

I started Your Stories in order to have others touch, inspire, and/or teach.