Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
I hope you are all doing well. Today I have it on my heart to write about body image and body acceptance. For those who have been following my blogs and my journey the last couple of months, I wanted to touch on my weight. Let’s talk about it. So as many of you know, last year I got Covid. Since then, I have been trying to figure out my medications to help with my Long-Hauler symptoms. It has been miserable, to say the least. I was on steroids, a new heart medication, and Lexapro. All three of these medications can lead to weight gain. While being on these medications, I gained weight uncontrollably without changing my diet or lifestyle in the slightest. This was a shock for me because I have always had the privilege of being in a thin body. I always was tiny and super active and that never really changed. In high school, I fought eating disorders that I didn’t even know were disorders until looking back on it. I had extreme body dysmorphia and always thought I was fat, even at 105 pounds. Something that has always been a trigger for me is the feeling of being out of control. When things got out of control, one thing I always held onto was the way I looked and my body. I was proud of being thin and I felt like that was something that I deserved with all the other hell I have had to go through. It was vain, but it was one thing that I felt was “good enough” when so many other aspects of my life made me feel like I wasn’t ever “good enough”.
I always have attached my worth to how I look. It’s kind of crazy how you can preach one thing when it comes to others but then when it comes to yourself, you feel such a different way. I never judged people’s actual true beauty on how they looked. I always evaluated people based on their hearts. But when it comes to myself, I evaluate myself on how I look. I know in my heart that what matters in this world isn’t how you look but how you make other people feel. It’s about your heart and the good things you do when no one else is around. It’s about your intentions and actions. And if you’re wondering, no, I haven’t fully accepted myself as I am. I think what makes this situation so hard is that I had no control over my weight gain. I was doing nothing different and my complete body changed. All I was trying to do was heal. I was just trying to heal and this was the result. It is heartbreaking when you have no control over the changes happening to your body. I almost feel like I was in grief. Not only did I feel like I was grieving my health, I was also grieving the loss of my body; and in many ways, my identity. Somewhere along the way, I intertwined my identity with my body. I may sound like a mess right now talking in past and present tense-but many of these things I am still wrestling with. Just like so many other illnesses and struggles, it can be an ongoing battle.
Loving yourself and your body is always easier said than done, but you can at least try. I mentioned this in a blog a couple weeks ago, but I once heard an interview with Demi Lovato on body acceptance. It shifted the whole way I thought about self love and self acceptance. She said that she doesn’t love her body everyday. She said that she has tried over and over again to love her body but she doesn’t. She’s always working on it, but she doesn’t love it. She said that although she doesn’t love it, she accepts it. She thanks her body for all that it gives her. She accepts that her body is just the shell that holds her heart and who she really is. And let me just tell you, that stuck with me.
I then saw a video about how when you die (Morbid, I know, but stay with me), people aren’t going to say, “But she had such a great body” or “she was so skinny”. Because guess what, although we think that how we look is the mark we leave on the world, it isn’t. The mark you leave on the world is so much greater than how you looked or your body. The mark you leave on your world is your heart. The mark you leave is how your personality made people feel. When you think about it, the least important thing about the legacy you will leave, is how you look. So why on earth do we care so much about it? I know social media has a lot to do with it. I know so many people make us feel less than, even though 90% of what we see is fake or retouched.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no harm in wanting more for your body or how you look. However, we do NEED to stop letting it consume us. The only person you should ever be comparing or competing with is yourself. And even then, my sweet friend, give yourself grace. We are all growing and learning. We all are coping differently with the traumas that we’ve been dealt. And as long as you feel like you are doing the best you can, then that is what truly matters. And no, your beauty is not defined by your appearance, but defined by your heart.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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