[Valid Atom 1.0] Life With Cake: Eating Disorder Blog: The Abyss of Bad Body Image...Don't Get Sucked Under!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Abyss of Bad Body Image...Don't Get Sucked Under!

How many times in your life have you been having a perfectly pleasant day and then suddenly find yourself drowning in negative body image? In an instant, you feel like X body part has tripled in size even though, rationally, you know that is not possible. Over the course of my life, throughout relapse and recovery, I have had countless moments like this. Every therapist I have gone to throughout my life told me that "body image is the last thing to go" in ED recovery. As a therapist working with ED clients, I endorse this train of thought as well.

Given our culture, I don't know that body image ever fully dissipates. The notion that in order to be successful and beautiful you must be skinny penetrates every media outlet. So, everywhere you go, watch, and read the message is clear. Plenty of women without EDs have moments of "feeling fat" or thinking their quality of life would improve if their pants were just a bit looser. Rationally we know that this is not true, but our minds--ED or not--are not always rational. So, even after years in recovery or being fully recovered, there may be momentary flashes of negative body images.

I would be misrepresenting myself if I said that I don't ever experience body image issues. However, the major difference today is HOW I CHOOSE TO RESPOND. Today when that negative voice tries to disrupt my happiness, I realize that I have a choice. I can choose to listen to it and really get into self-hatred. Or, I can choose to not listen, knowing that nothing good can come out of it. If it pervades and tries to lure me further by giving me a sudden awareness of a certain body part, I have to really ask myself what else is going on? If I am okay with my body one minute, but having issues the next, then, clearly, this is not about body image.

My clients often ask me, so HOW do you choose not to engage in negative body image??? Here are a few actions that work for me:
1.) I recognize that I am having negative thoughts about my body.
2.) I explore possible explanations as to why the thoughts are occurring at this particular moment. Many might think that there are no explanations, and that it "just happens." I encourage you to dig a bit deeper with this. Even if it is ED talking and thus doesn't need explanations, ED is not a separate entity that lives in your brain. It may feel like that, however, you are the only person that is actually thinking and listening to your thoughts.

3.) I MAKE A DECISION NOT TO ENGAGE. More than that, I have to ask myself, DO I WANT TO ENGAGE IN SELF-LOVE OR SELF-HATRED TODAY??? This is what it really comes down to. It might feel like you haven't any choice, but YOU DO!!! I'm not saying it is easy, but you can do this. It is difficult to want to choose self-love when it is so comfortable to emotionally beat yourself up. Recovery from negative body image is hard work, but it is far from impossible!



sakaynah hunter said...

Hi Greta, I am a Magazine Journalism Student at Southampton Solent University, and I am writing a feature on an inspirational person who has battled with an eating disorder and has overcome it. You are incredibly brave and aspirational. I would love to feature you in the magazine I am producing as I believe your story will touch many, and help others who are suffering from a similar condition. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions for the feature. Would you be up for this? If so, please email me at: sakaynah@hotmail.com

Thank you,



Olivia Peaches said...


follow my journey to recovery

Anonymous said...

Refusing to compare ourselves can help with our "abyss of bad body image." Thank you for being honest with your journey--I'm sure you'll help many!


Sarah said...

It's amazing how those low body image moments can feel like they've transplanted you right back into your ED. You're right we can't hep them happening but we can choose how we deal with them. It may feel like the end of the world in the moment but it really isn't. Great post and great blog! Sarah

Melanie said...

It can be extremely hard to overcome negative body images. Your tips are really helpful. I am overcoming bulimia and having a negative body image does nothing to help me. I have found a lot of treatment information at http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-edb. I hope this helps others with bulimia who want to get treatment.

Amber said...

I am also recovering from an eating disorder and related with everything you said. I've heard "body image is the last to go" a million times and it must be true because sometimes it's the hardest part of my life! Glad I found your blog, thanks!

Confident Casey said...

Please join my blog. I am starting a my recovery for the first and true time today and would so appreciate your support, words, and advice -- it honestly would mean the world to me and could seriously help me in times of need.


Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I am so happy I did. I have been struggling with an eating disorder for four years and reading this helps me realize that I am not alone, and that all of these feelings I am feeling, somebody else is too. I'm FINALLY after four years receiving treatment for my eating disorder- today I took my first step. I just wanted to say thank you for creating this blog, and for being willing to share your personal struggles with anyone who is experiencing the exact same things. I read the Abyss of a Bad Body Image, and I always thought it was just me who had body dysmorphic disorder, or that I suddenly became fifty pounds heavier after I ate one meal. I really needed to read this tonight, and again, I thank you for your ability to share your struggles with the world- it helps the rest of us grow tremendously.