A letter to my 15 y/o self…
Hello you sweet, confused, struggling human. These are the things I wish you were aware of.
First of all, I want you to know that you are always enough, just as you are. I do not want you to join in with the others as they find flaws on their bodies. I do not want you to joke about having to exercise to earn that chocolate cake. I do not want you to ever count calories. I do not want you to think “if only… I would be enough”. Such thoughts will become internalised and torment you for years to come.
Secondly, you will never be satisfied until you start working on being satisfied with what you have got. It is not true that you will feel happy or stop at “X kg” of weight. Even at your thinnest, you will be dissatisfied. The deeper you go, the harder it is to break the cycle; look out for the signs (I know you will become aware of them, even though you will ignore them) and trust your gut instinct.
Thirdly, following the commands of your disordered inner voices will not bring you joy. On the contrary, it will bring you pain. You will sit anxiety-ridden at social events, stressed about exercise you think you need to do in order to work off the food you ate. You will be terrified of love, of eating in front of others on dates, even when eating in front of your own friends at a restaurant. You will burst blood vessels in your eyes, makeup running down your face, mixed with tears. Doing what you are going to do will hurt your loved ones and it will hurt you to see them hurt. It is just not worth it.
Fourthly, once you realise what is going, and finally feel that you would like to get better – be aware of the ignorance around what is affecting you. Some may treat you in a way which makes you feel guilty, or make you feel like you are “not sick enough”. I want you to know that only you know what “sick enough” is. Be gentle with yourself: how would you talk to a friend who was in your exact position? Your parents will support you in seeking out and getting help. Be grateful, and put the work in. Truly immerse yourself in recovery.
And lastly, I know that having the perfect body or the illusion of “being disciplined” will for a long time remain the most important thing in the world to you. However, I know that science will scare you into abandoning the behaviour. Know this: diets do not work – not a single one. They will slow down your metabolism, as you continue to deprive yourself. When you are ravenous, you will overeat, you will feel guilty and weak. Instead of feeling angry, let me tell you that one day you will thank your body for doing its best to keep you going, to save you from yourself.
A few words of comfort; one day, long after having started therapy for your invisible disorder, you will break down crying happy tears because you have had a breakthrough and are ready to truly start letting go of the wicked monster nagging you with negative thoughts. It will not be easy, but you will be excited and ready to start accepting yourself in your entirety.
Don’t forget that you are enough, just as you are.