Anxiety and anorexia are incredibly private, personal conditions to try and fight but, unfortunately, your progress can also be massively effected by other peoples’ attitudes.
I know that one of the hardest things I’ve battled during recovery is dealing with other peoples’ comments. When someone says something about my eating, whether its about me having a large portion or maybe how I cut my food up into tiny pieces, it instantly makes me feel embarrassed, guilty, wrong and essentially just rubbish. Even sometimes when your loved ones say something like ‘you’re definitely putting on weight’ or ‘I’m glad you’re eating so much’ it makes me feel even worse, because my brain has been stuck in the mode that putting on weight and eating is bad for so long.
I have been testing out various strategies to cope with this, and what I’ve learnt is that you have to try and re-frame your mental attitude to other peoples’ comments. Don’t assume that what they’re saying is a criticism and don’t automatically take it as a direct attack on you. Most of the time they probably didn’t mean to aim it negatively at you and you are probably over thinking it, because of the way anorexia has conditioned your mind.
I have recently been challenging myself to stand up to other people’s comments in small ways, and it has massively increased my confidence. So when somebody says ‘Wow, you’re eating a lot’ I have replied ‘Yes, I really like this food’ or if they’ve said ‘are you really going to eat all that?’ then I’ve said ‘It’s a good thing for me to eat this, I’m really enjoying it’. Whatever I say back I try and include something positive about myself, my food or preferably both and it has made me feel so much more secure and confident in what I’m doing.
Of course all this depends on how strong you’re feeling. I know that I ‘ve had days when I’ve been really struggling and speaking out against what other people are saying has just seemed too much and too scary. At times like this I have found that it’s best to let yourself rise above the comment than address it; take a deep breath, imagine their comment in front of you, imagine the comment flying away out of view then repeat the positive response you would have said to them to yourself.
During recovery from an eating disorder you will have so many mini battles, because food and meals are constantly going to re-occur. Take a confident stance and believe in what you’re doing, you want to get stronger and healthier and happier. Other people may not always understand what you need to do so stay calm but fight back against them if they are saying something that could potentially damage your progress.
Dealing with other peoples comments is such a difficult battle, but it is the only way that you will eventually be able to destroy the negative voices and opinions embedded in your own head. I have let a fear of what other people will think or say hold me back from committing to recovery for too long. I am now starting to realise that I am my own person, I am strong and the only person I need to listen to during this process is myself. Fight other peoples’ negative comments, believe in what you’re doing, you’re doing the right, natural, healthy thing for you and your body 🙂 xx