TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia. Please prioritize your wellbeing and click off this article when necessary – we have lots of other articles you can enjoy too!
At resilientHER, our motive is to uplift and spread love for female and non-binary athletes. As we strive to maintain their health and fitness, what is evermore pertinent is our mental wellbeing. In order to raise awareness about mental health, address its stigmas, and highlight individual voices, we will share anonymous mental health stories from any of you who choose to tell your story! Struggling with mental health is a heavy issue that spans over all backgrounds, cultures, genders, and ages– no matter how big or small you think your obstacles are, you are valid and your story is important. Mental health is not something to be ashamed of and you are most definitely not alone. Through your stories, we can cultivate a safe space for anyone to share their voice and, perhaps, find others whom they can relate to and connect with.
I have a horrible self-image when it comes to my body. There were days where I thought I looked okay, but most of the time, I saw myself as fat, and the fact that I had skinnier friends didn’t help. I was at my lightest during my sports season, and I was pretty satisfied with my weight. But when my sports season ended, I exercised less due to no sport and no time. As a result, I gained weight. As the numbers on the scale slowly grew, so did my anxiety. It had gotten so bad to the point that I started throwing up in an attempt to get back to my lowest weight. Eventually, I got myself to stop throwing up, however, I started vigorously exercising and restricting certain foods. Even though I still struggle with my reflection, I’m learning to accept my body the way it is and exercise to be healthy, not to be skinny.
During the months of quarantine, I was constantly seeking images on social media regarding physical appearance. Furthermore, since the gyms were closed during this period, I could not practice the skills needed for the sport that I play. Thus, these actions led me to exercise every single day and restrict the food that I would eat throughout each day, which I thought would help me eat healthier. At first, I thought I was doing this to keep myself in shape for when gyms could be reopened for clinics, camps, and tryouts. However, when I started certain behaviors, I saw the (negative) effects starting to impact my mental and physical health. Even though I am still struggling through my recovery, this has still brought me so much passion for mental and physical health awareness.
Growing up, I was always taller and physically more mature than other people my age. Many of my peers would poke jokes at me, calling me “too big” and awful nicknames. I would get other comments on some physical appearances I couldn’t change, but as a young developing female, the only thing in my control was my weight. I ended up restricting myself and having an eating disorder. This complicated my whole life as of now (in which I am in recovery), but I feel as if people fail to realize how people grow up differently (as one person might mature faster than another and how it’s perfectly okay).
I have ADHD and an eating disorder which makes it more difficult to eat, as adderall suppresses your appetite and having an eating disorder complicates your relationship with food. Being a growing teen and someone doing sports most of the year, nutrition is crucial and I had complications (injury, weakness etc) year-round which made it difficult to concentrate or just do anything.
It is completely okay and normal to struggle with mental health and self image. It’s not something that can necessarily be fixed by trying to push it to the back of your mind. Although expressing ourselves is difficult in a society that stigmatizes mental health, we can hopefully continue to support one another and prioritize our mental well being. By sharing stories, we can start conversations and encourage other people to do the same. It takes so much courage and no one should feel pressured or forced to share anything they don’t want to tell. Hopefully, as you continue to use your voice, you will inspire so many others to do so as well.