Trigger Warnings – weight, food, eating disorders.
I purchased Megan Crabbe’s book “Body Positivity Power” when it first came out and put it on the bookshelf in my bedroom until I had read some of the other books on my list. Recently I decided it was time to read it and begin the journey to celebrating bod positivity.
The whole reason I decided to read it was because 00Steve absent-mindedly told me he had fixed the scales in the bathroom. I hadn’t weighed myself or allowed people to tell me my weight for a really long time, knowing it is one of the quickest ways to fall back into my disordered eating. However due to this really heavy cloud of depression I have been barely coping with I had stopped eating anyway. I was either not eating at all or barely managing one meal. I decided to weigh myself and I had lost 1.5 stone in a few weeks because of it.
If I’m honest I was both happy and sad; happy because I had hit what was always my “goal weight” but sad knowing it was because of mental illness. Finding out this number that in reality doesn’t define me in any way, shape or form made me feel like it was time to read the book and get some power back in my court. It is pretty bad though that I needed to see the number on the scales to make me realise I need to start loving myself and that I though now I was at the weight I always wanted to be I should start now, which is most deifintley not the message the book is trying to convey.
You may have read before a post where I have talked about my disordered eating as I like to put it. I say that because I restrict food to regain control when I feel upset, lost, overwhelmed and more often than not as a punishment. I have Body Dysmorphia Disorder too which doesn’t help my eating or how I obsess over exercising when I start.
So now I have done a brief overview we can move onto the book review part of this post and this review is actually based more on how it made me feel as I had to stop reading it several times because I literally broke down and cried, I also threw the book across the room when I finished it. Now the book was really easy to read and overall well written although I did notice she spelt bowels wrong and having a bowel disease I was always going to pick up on that!
I liked the fact that Megan decided to section bits off that could be triggering to people who are struggling because let’s just remember recovery isn’t linear I mean I have been struggling with eating and everything that comes with it since I was about 12 and fast forward 20 years later and I still am; I do have periods of time where the numbers on the scale aren’t what I think about but that’s when the BDD kicks in and it is the shape of my stomach, the way surgery has warped it, how my arms jiggle, my legs are too skinny and I have a flat bum. These are things I try and work on but it really is difficult but no matter how many times we are told we are beautiful it is how we think about ourselves that is the most important thing.
I found the whole book personally triggering which says more about my mental state than I cared to admit to be honest as I thought yes I am ready for body positivity. Throughout the first chapter I thought about exercise and what part of my body I ‘needed’ to tone up. I got to page 39 and had to put the book down and I just cried – who knew that I was holding so much trauma inside that just a few pages of reading someone else’s story helped me release some of mine.
She spoke about all the different things she did in her past when she was in the whirlwind that is anorexia and it reminded me of the things that I used to do too. Like those ridiculous raspberry pills or the fat binding ones (pre stoma) or diet teas that let me tell you with a stoma is a stupid idea as it is just laxatives. In fact before Ra-Ra was born my GP once gave me the fat binding tablets just to try and stop my binging and restricting because he was getting worried. I felt on edge whilst she was talking about her past that she didn’t deem triggering enough to put the little markers around.
For example on page 95 it reminded me of how I had a box I kept under my bed full of the crisps and chocolate I would get in my packed lunch. I would use these as treats (I couldn’t eat fruit as it made my ulcerative colitis worse) and they were found and eaten in front of me which set off more anxiety and in response to that I didn’t eat anything until I got those black spots in front of my eyes whenever I stood up, I couldn’t risk being hospitalised and forced to eat.
I guess when you have a disease that most foods leave you in excruciating pain having an eating disorder becomes easier to conceal, although my friend told a teacher after she saw how thin I had gotten and what I ate at lunch was monitored and I would have a packet of seabrook crisps (cream cheese and chive) a kinder beuno and a panda pop. All foods that look like they have plenty of calories so they didn’t think twice about how little I ate but not enough food that I would feel like a beached whale.
I think what people say to you whether you are in remission or not has a huge effect on you because one of the people who ate the secret snacks in front of me once asked me “Do you ever stop eating?”, I was crushed because I was back on steroids to calm my flare and they increase your appetite. That set my remission way back to the point I began to self harm again.
I have always blamed society on how diet culture is absolutely rife and is ruining men and womens view on themselves and what is deemed as beautiful and growing up in the 90s this was particularly bad. I was surrounded by beautiful women who constantly talked about diets and how they needed to lose weight. My nickname growing up was skinny but I couldn’t have felt further from it but thankfully I hadn’t fallen into the trap I was just teetering on the edge. I refuse for Ra-Ra to be in the same boat, I do slip up at times but I try to not talk about my weight or how I look in front of her. We talk about how women of all sizes are outwardly beautiful and that being kind and a nice person is the most important thing.
Page 163 reminded me of the time my brother changed my alarm from 6 am to 5 am. This meant instead of waiting till my dad had left for work to go downstairs ad have the smallest bowl of special k or the equivalent and doing 500 sit ups before any one else woke up. He caught me doing it but I don’t think he was aware of the extent he just accepted my truth of my brother swapping my alarm.
Every time I got triggered reading this book and didn’t want to eat I forced myself to eat something even if it just was hummus and pita bread. Which is a tool from DBT – opposite action I have been focusing on doing a lot recently in different aspects of my life.
The “Not Sick Enough” chapter reminded me of how to certain people in my life even now don’t think my disordered eating was severe enough to worry. The minute anyone shows eating disorder traits in my mind means it is serious and needs looking at. Especially when people know others have been admitted. A few years ago 00Steve and his older brother had to take me aside and validate my experiences and remind me it isn’t a competition and that I was in a good place prior to that. I have to remind myself that what I went through was real and valid just like what I am going through now.
Megan talks about intuitive eating alongside body positivity which is eating because you need too and doing so in moderation, reminding yourself that there are now good or bad calories or carbs. That all food is equal it just depends on how much of it you have. She also talks about how you can’t be body positive if you are dieting or actively trying to change how you look and that hit a chord with me. Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet because I really haven’t got to that point where I am ready to make that leap as Megan mentioned the Healthy At Every Size movement. That to me is like the starting point to body positivity and reminds me I need to go at my own pace and I will get there eventually.
Loving yourself and having body positivity at any size isn’t easy and isn’t a race, we all have our own river to travel with twists and turns, at one point you can be gently meandering and the next you could be hurtling through rapids clinging to the seat of your pants. Just remember that each and every one of us deserves love from others and most importantly ourselves at any size.