Good morning fitness nation. I come to you all today with a very different post. A very dark post.
We have all read about depression and anxiety, and how many people fall into it. We saw Robin Williams die because of it. It can be a very scary place, and its excruciating to try and understand it. There are a huge number of other invisible illnesses which are similar, like OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and even eating disorders that you cant always see on someone from the outside. What happens when a few or more of these are all wrapped up inside the same body though? I am going to do my best, to describe what it feels like to be me, but not the happy, outgoing part of me; the dark, sad, part of me that gets locked away because I am afraid of her.... Ashamed of her.... Tired of her.
I love being motivational. I love every minute of lifting up the spirits of others, and helping others shine within their own bodies. I thrive off of the compassion and sunshine that I have for others, and sometimes, I give so much to others, that I don't have any compassion left at the end of the day for myself. When the sun goes down, the monster comes out. This is the other part of Sarie, that is sad, and confused. She feels inadequate, and angry. This is the part of Sarie that was put on an anti-depressant at 8 years old.
As far back as I can remember, I have had body image issues. As an 8 year old, I remember going to the pool with my family, and looking around, wondering if I could get from the table wrapped in my towell, into the water, before anyone saw me in my swimsuit. I wondered if I could walk all the way into the pool, and simultaneously slip off my towel, and then throw it back over to the table, so that no one would see me. I remember these thoughts, clear as day.... and I was a CHILD! I didn't even have boobs yet, and I felt FAT. What kind of world do we live in, where a CHILD is more worried about her body, than splashing around in the pool on a hot day?
As an adult, it only escalated. I had learned to lock away these feelings, and ignore them. I gained weight because I did not know how to handle my emotions, and I ate because I was sad and I was sad because I was gaining weight. The cycle began, and kept up until I topped out at 240 pounds. My weight was the elephant in the room... Nobody dared mention it because that was like pulling the pin on a grenade, and all of those years of bottled up feelings were just BEGGING to be released.
I had that "AHA" moment, several years later, and as a result, I lost weight. I studied and studied and studied everything I could find on nutrition, and the body, and metabolism. I jumped with my eyes shut, head first into this idea of obtaining perfection, because I was grasping threads at the idea that it was attainable. I felt better, I looked better, and I appeared better overall from the outside. Unfortunately, I still had years of bottled up body image issues that I was refusing to handle. The closer I got to my goal, the happier I looked on the outside, but the heavier I felt inside. I would stand in front of the mirror at night, and wonder why I was still NOT PERFECT. Why was there still cellulite on my thighs? Why did I still have saddlebags? Why did my thighs still touch in the middle? It felt like a slap in the face to have come so far, yet to still not be "perfect."
I began obsessing over things in my head. I was officially MORE unhappy than I was when I was obese. My body image was devouring me from the inside out, and I couldn't swim my way out of the whirlpool of my own emotions no matter how hard I tried. I was terrified of myself...
I would DREAD the nighttime hours, because that's when "she" would attack... Telling me that I wasn't good enough to be a role model, and that I didn't look the part. I would cry in front of the mirror, and wonder why everyone else thought I looked so good when I couldn't see anything but body fat and cellulite. I was BEGGING for it to stop. By day, I was rational, and logical, and by night, I was someone else entirely. The few people who I mentioned my insecurities to, would always respond with "Oh, but you look great" or "you look fine" or something of the sort which would light an unholy fire of fury in my veins. I wasn't looking for a pity compliment, I was trying to express my feelings and hope someone would simply understand them rather than invalidate them, regardless if they made sense. So I stopped talking. I was my own worst enemy, and critic, and I was destroying myself from the inside out, all because of body image issues that I couldn't handle on my own. Do you know how hard it is to ask for help when YOU are the one people look up to? I was in denial, because I didn't want anyone to be able to tell me that I wasn't a good person, or that I wasn't cut out for this role of being inspirational - which again, I LOVE. I was so afraid that asking for help would mean that I would lose everything I had worked so hard to build. I was terrified that everything I had come to love, would crumble, so I kept locking my darker self away, and pretending I was fine.
The truth is, I'm not fine. I am ME, and that is all I ever will be, and all I can ever expect to be. I am BOTH someone who has had great success inspiring others, and someone who occasionally needs to BE inspired. Being able to talk to someone about body image issues has taken far more than the weight I've lost off of my shoulders. I am human, and I struggle with a few of those invisible disorders above... But they do not make me any less of a REAL person. The things I post are TRUE, and honest, and they come from the part of me that thrives and loves and smiles. The other part of me is being worked on, because I decided that it was time, enough was enough. I decided that it was silly to think that asking for help would make me weak.
The reason for this post, is not to dissect my inner thoughts or ask for attention, but rather to simply prove that what you see on the outside of someone is not EVERYTHING. You only see what they WANT you to see, and sometimes people NEED compassion and kindness even when you would never have guessed that. Be an ear when someone needs one, because its HARD as heck to open up when you aren't even sure what you're saying. Many of the feelings we have inside don't make sense, and a little love really goes a long way. For now, that is all. Be kind folks, and have a blessed day.