I suppose, the onset of my negative self-talk began in earnest around the very same time when my eating disorder was in its initial stages of development. I'm not sure if my low self-esteem stemmed directly from my eating disorder, or the other way round; all I do remember is that in school, I was steadily immersing myself deeper and deeper in a destrutive sense of bitter self-loathing. I told myself that I was a useless good-for-nothgin and I honestly, hand on hheart, believed it with all my soul. I just saw myself as worthless, on the basis that I thought that I was bad...at everything. I had no talent for sports or drama or music, or any other kind of activities which my peers seemed to excel at. I was never particularly studious..I could produce a decent enough essay or do well in a test, but to do so involved an enormous and exhausting amount of effort on my part: it certainly didn't come to me naturally, and the effect of such toils usually would have the effect of shooting my stress levels sky high.
Still, I grasped desperately onto that one single thing that I had, telling myself that even if it killed me, I had to get good grades. It didn't necessarily change the way I thought about myself - I still despised everything about myself as a person:, my appearance, personality, everything from the way I conducted myself to way I would think and speak and react. These negative, self-destructive feelings leaked into the cracks being opened and filled by my eating disorder, cracks which compelled me to reach out to the hollow, numbing, cloying emptiness offered by restriction and self-depravation: which I mistook, at that time, as my sole and only lifeline.
My identity, or so I thought, was one which was based on nothingness: I saw myself as a complete and utter nobody, a minute, insignificant, dully coloured little piece of gravel, sinking in an ocean of beautiful, sparkling, but cruelly cold azure blue. And above me, on top of that gleaming water, floated all the others: sparkling diamonds and dazzling rubies, beautiful in their flawlessness, untouchable in their unblemishness. How else...how else was a girl like me - so stupid, so ugly, so pathetically and completely hopeless, in every single possible aspect of her person - going to ever have a chance of being like them? To become like them, to be...just..noticed, even, by them. I yearned desperately for everything which they seemed to have: they were so effortlessly stylish, so elegant, sophisticated and intelligent and beautiful. But I was so, so far removed from all of that, with my boring, average school girl look, my shy and childish personality, my apparent inability to hold a conversation of interest to anyone. And then of course, there was my body - my dumpy, plump body, as I now saw it. The only chance that you do have, the little Voice in my head whispered to me, is to become the skinny girl, the thin one. You must and will lose weight.
And that's exactly what I did...that's how the pattern of restriction began. My school years were, for me, a balancing act in which I managed and maintained my eating disorder at a level which would not interfere with my studies; since they, or so it seemed to me, were the only two things that I had, to keep me floundering - floundering, but not sinking - in that cold, cruel, serenely harsh sea.
And then...then, I left school for Trinity. And suddenly, that one single thing which I had, was gone.
I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't study, I seemed unable to do...anything. It was gone, all gone: every last single fragrant. And my self-esteem, what was left of it...dropped like a pebble being flung from a bridge. The voices in my head, screaming became were now so loud, drowned out everything. The tiny, paper thin sraps of confidence I had, were brutally smashed and scattered , borne away on the raging torrent.
And this is how it remained...until that crucial day, when I decided that things had to change...
But it's true to say, almost a year and a half from that day, it's safe to say that my self-esteem hasn't, in all honesty, improved that much. I still strongly dislike myself as a person; I spend much of the time inwardly criticising myself and comparing myself to others, musing over how inferior I am in comparison..and this, of course, does get in the way of recovery, as more often than not, I convince myself that I am not worth it. I know I am not alone in feeling like this - low self-esteem, I am sure, is something which many sufferers of eating disorder share in common with eachother. And so, the challeneg that I face now, of course, is this...how exactly can I fix my negative self-esteem? (well I say I but I really hope some of these ideas might be of some use to you too, or maybe give you some insight, about how address your own problems. <3 xxx
- Keep up the hobbies that I love, and which make me feel good about myself...
- Take up a new hobby or interest...Next year I really want to try out drama or dancing..as these two things I have done before and really enjoyed..and it will be a good way for me to get out there and interact with other people and maybe make new friends..
- Spend plenty of time with the people who I love and who make me feel happy and needed and loved. Also, to try to refrain from spending too much time chasing around people who aren't willing to give you their time nd are just letting you do all the running around.
- volunteering: Doing something which will improve the lives of others: I think this will be a really good way of improving my self-esteem!
- At the times when I am feeling really low and down about myself, often the only thing that I know will make me feel better, is hearing or reading the voice of someone else. But in the past I suppose, I always let the Voice hold me back from reaching out to others..because it convinced me that if i dared to message a friend or tell a loved one how I was really feeling..well of course, they would be extremely irritated, even annoyed, at being bothered by my messages. Now, I know this might seem illogical to some...and to me, reading it now, it does seem like that to. But I know myself..at times, it is a very, very real feeling. But I think it's past time for me to stop letting that Voice bring me down; and to not hold back from reaching out if and when I need it. It's always helpful to remember in these sort of situations...how you yourself would feel, if you were in the other person's shoes. Would you feel annoyed, angered, or resentful, if a friend messaged you and asked you for help?
- Again, I suppose, a essential approach to take when tackling low self-esteem is to use the same talking method similar to that taken with the eating disorder. Because it is, after all, in many respects, another damamging, destructive, highly manipulative voice of our very own making; and it isn't going to magically disappear of its own accord. It;s something which requires an incredible amount of wilpower and strength, in the same way as does resisting and silening the Voice of the Eating Disorder.
I don't think I will ever be able to completely change the way I think about myself - I think it is part of my personality, my But at the same time...I know it is not healthy, to have such a low sense of self-worth, and it's just another contributing facotr to keeping me entrapped within the bubbles created by anorexia and depression. So I really hope that, this cominf new year, will see some positive and progressive changes in me which will enable me to raise my level of self-esteem a bit, which, in turn, I know will greatly aid the recovery process too.
But hand in hand in improving my self-esteem, is the equally important - and difficult - task of destroying the "skinny idenitity"...something which I will talk about a little further in my next post or the one after.. <3 xxx