Quarantine Blues

Quarantine Blues

I think a lot of us can say that we went through a lot of ups and downs throughout this quarantine. I know for me, in the start I was doing good: staying productive, reading, and doing some much needed self care. As the weeks passed by, however, I started to feel more and more upset by everything that was going on in the world. It was so unusual to see how everything changed within a matter of days.

Over the months, I have tried a lot of things to stay sane and feel happy. I went through a good amount of periods where I wasn’t feeling too good about myself and my life, coming out of those phases really taught me a lot about how to be mentally strong and healthy.

I think the most important thing I have learnt is that whenever I feel a low mood coming on I don’t try to change how I’m feeling. In the past whenever I had days where I felt sad and demotivated I would try my best to put on a happy face and just ‘push through’ the day. What would end up happening later is that all those neglected feelings would come back in the form of a breakdown where I would cry for hours and hours on end and end up feeling worse. I find that when I just accept that I am having a bad day and try to not be too harsh on myself, I feel that I can easily move on from those feelings and feel better.

Talking about how I’m feeling whether it be with a friend or a family member also helps so so much. It took me a lot of time to finally learn that it was okay for me to talk about how I was feeling, rather than bottling up all my emotions. This is another reason why I recommend seeing a therapist because my mental health has improved substantially ever since I began my journey with therapy.

Meditating is definitely the best thing that I started to include in my routine this year. I’ve been feeling more calm and happy and my anxiety has reduced a lot just by setting aside 5-10 minutes everyday to meditate.

As some of the restrictions are starting to lift off, meeting up with friends is a good idea and is something I am definitely looking forward to. I recently took a long drive to see my friend who lives in another city. It was so good to see a close friend after a very long time and I definitely came back home feeling happy and relaxed.

In the end, it’s important to remember that a lot of us are experiencing loneliness and difficulty with our mental health during this uncertain time – you are not alone. It’s essential to always take care of ourselves and make time to talk to our family and friends, whether it be through text, a video call, or even in person. Working on our hobbies and having a list of things to do in the day are some of the things that we should try to do daily just to be busy and not feel bored and unhappy.

Anorexia

Anorexia

10th Grade

I was beginning to come to terms with the fact that something was wrong with me. My body was changing – for the worse, yet the only thing that mattered to me was the number on the scale. I paid no mind to the fact that I was starting to feel less and less energetic as the days passed along, everything seemed tiring and dull, even talking seemed like such a weary activity that I would just be silent and never actually participate in a conversation. I was in the worst stage of my eating disorder at the age of fifteen. I would walk down the hallway in school and get stares from everyone because I was so sickeningly skinny. People were coming to my friends and asking them if I was okay.

I wasn’t.

Many times I would think about how I could actually improve – start eating like a normal person and not worry about the way I looked. These thoughts would come and go and, sometimes, I would act upon those thoughts and take an action. I would go out and eat an actual meal…but then the guilt would consume me and I’d start to feel terrible. I would think of myself as a failure “how could I have done that to myself?” and for the next few days I would be even more strict with myself. I was trapped and I didn’t know how I could get out of the damaging cycle.

Lying seemed so easy then and I was getting better at it day by day. I was lying to my best friends, lying to my parents, lying to my teachers; they were all so concerned about me but I just couldn’t stop myself from going down the wrong path. I was frustrated and tired and I even though I wanted to change the voice inside my head would always win and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of helplessness.

Overtime things only seemed to get worse and I was unaware of how badly I was harming myself. As my weight continued to go down, I began to lose all of my strength. My skin was pale and dry, my hair was falling out, my nails were brittle and I didn’t look anything like a 15 year old. I was starting to become more and more irritable and bitter as the days went by and I was no longer the bubbly, happy person that everyone knew me as.

As the time of my GCSEs came around, I decided to make a change and I began to eat more food simply because I wanted to do well on my exams. I was still eating very little for a girl of my age, but it was certainly a huge improvement for me. I was beginning to get some colour back on my skin and my energy levels started to increase. I was on the right path.

I knew I had to make this change for myself because I didn’t want my scores to be affected as a result of my eating disorder since it had already harmed every other area of my life: I didn’t have any energy or strength and so I performed worse than ever in my golf tournaments, I was bitter and mean to all my friends and family since the topic of each of our conversations always revolved around how sick I had become, and I was no longer interested in any of my hobbies as the only thing that was of importance to me was food. I knew that if I didn’t perform well in my exams, my future would be harmed and I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Something switched during that period of time and I was no longer concerned about food as much as I was about writing the biggest exams of my life yet.

And that is how my journey through recovery began.

A Healthy Relationship With Food

A Healthy Relationship With Food

I have never known what it’s like to eat like a ‘normal’ person. I have days where I go out to eat with my friends and family and I wonder how they’re so relaxed and unbothered when it comes to ordering an item off the menu. I have spent hours thinking about what I will eat for my next meal(s) and have spent an exceedingly large amount of energy thinking about which diet I should follow next so that I can be skinny and finally be ‘happy’.

My journey to lose weight was in the ninth grade where I created a weight loss plan for myself. I followed a strict diet and exercise schedule religiously and surely enough the weight came off. However, it was only a few months before I started to become obsessed with weight loss and exercise. I denied myself the pleasure of eating my favourite foods, I’d skip dessert outings with my best friends, and I tried my best to avoid dinner parties because I wanted to skip a meal. From the outside, I was getting thinner and thinner by the day, but mentally I was falling apart.

Anorexia is a serious disease that affects so many girls around my age. We starve ourselves, weigh ourselves 5 times a day, spend ridiculous amounts of hours in the gym, and barely eat anything. It’s a serious mental disorder that causes so much pain to not only ourselves but also to our family and friends. I know that I missed out on three years of my life that I could have spent making memories and doing the things that I loved, but instead I wasted it by counting how many calories I’d eaten that day and hating myself because I should’ve spent more time exercising.

BED is something that I still struggle with and I have just recently started recovery from this disorder. I say ‘recently’ because all my previous attempts at recovery were unhelpful since I believed that recovery meant starting a new diet and losing weight. There has been a lot that I have learnt in the previous year about forming a healthy relationship with food and I believe that I am finally understanding the reason why diets don’t work.

In the end, it’s not about the way I look in the mirror and it’s not about whether I fit into a size 0 dress. My appearance and weight will continue to change and that is something I need to accept. What matters is that I am healthy and strong, what matters is that I listen to my body and it’s cues, what matters is that I take care of myself and learnt to love and accept myself for who I am. Any kind of change that I want to make for my body should come from a place of love and care, instead of a place of hate and shame.

goodbye, Ed

goodbye, Ed

9th Grade

At the age of thirteen, I was becoming aware of the way I looked. I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to fit in.

So I created a plan for what I was going to eat and I began to follow it religiously. At the time, I was also training for golf whilst eating as little as I possibly could. Weeks passed by and now I was starting to lose some weight. I was actually getting stronger and healthier, I was feeling confident and feeling good about myself. So the results began to show and I started to receive compliments from friends and family. I was proud of myself. I wanted to be better and lose more weight.

Lose all of it.

So that’s how it began. Over the months, I began to eat as little as 300 calories per day, I was exercising vigorously and eating as clean as I possibly could. This is when everyone began to notice that something was wrong. Now I was getting really harsh comments from everyone around me –

“You look sick.” Why did you lose so much weight?” You look terrible.”

And I know that some of those remarks were coming from a place of concern and worry, but it certainly didn’t change anything. In fact, it only made me feel worse about myself, and feeling this way made me eat even less.

Looking back at that time, I realize that things were not right since the beginning of my weight loss journey. I didn’t want to be healthy, I just wanted to be a stick-thin figure. My intention to lose weight was coming from a place of self-hatred, I wanted to change the way I looked, not for myself but for everyone else around me. I wanted to be accepted and the only way I thought I could fit in was if I lost weight.

At the same time, it felt good to be in control of something.

A lot of things began to happen to my body and my mindset throughout that year. A lot of bad things.

Even though I toning up in the start of my entire weight loss process, a few months down the line I began to feel weak and tired all the time. It was hard to keep up with conversations. Talking, for even a few minutes, was a drag. My skin was pale and dry. My hair was falling in clumps and had lost all of its shine and thickness. I lost my period (and didn’t get it back for the next three and a half years).

I was, of course, oblivious to all of these changes and paid no mind to them. The only thing that mattered was the number on the scale – and it had to be the lower and lower every time I stepped on it.

To be continued

A Month of Indulging

A Month of Indulging

Since I have so much free time now that we are in quarantine, I’ve been experimenting with cooking and have been trying out new recipes. This week was definitely when I ate a lot of soul-good foods; I was also sick so that meant that I was craving a good amount of comfort foods. By all means, I believe that in May, I focused more on my mental health (rather than my physical health) and indulged in food that makes me feel good. I’ve struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia in the past and I believe that this month of letting myself go was very necessary. Believe it or not, even when individuals are weight restored from anorexia, the mental battle is still extremely hard to fight. So here we are! Let’s dive into the delicious meals I ate during the last few weeks:

Creamy cheese pasta with broccoli: I tried making for the first time ever and it turned out to be a huge success! I also managed to burn the broccoli that I cooked as a side, but it still ended up tasting pretty good!

Peanut butter toast with banana and cinnamon: this is definitely one of my favourite comfort foods and really my all time favourite. It’s easy to make, healthy, and very delicious.

Some good ol’ cereal: this is my top to-go breakfast. Personally, my favourite is Barbara’s Oat Crunch and Annie’s Cocoa Bunnies. They’re both very healthy and taste so good.

Red Sauce Pasta: I didn’t even look up a recipe to make this pasta but I somehow managed to make the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted. I truly believe that I’ve mastered the art of making delicious pasta because this was truly so flavourful.

Burnt pancakes (oops): I managed to burn these pancakes I cooked for breakfast the other day. They still turned out pretty alright.

Veggie burger: I stopped eating meat in 2020 and the transition to becoming a vegetarian has been queit easy for me. We ordered in the Harvest burger from this famous hamburger restaurant called Bandit.

The entire month of May revolved around eating various variations of the meals I have mentioned above. I also made sure to eat healthy nutritious fruits and veggies everyday because personally, I don’t seem to function correctly without my daily dose of fresh fruit and lemon water in the morning.

mental health

Last year was things started to get particularly bad for me. When college started I felt helpless and alone. I was in a completely new place where I didn’t know anyone, I missed home, missed my friends – the last place I wanted to be was in a new environment that was so different from what I was used to.

Depression is different for everyone. Deep down I knew I wasn’t as happy as I used to be but I ignored how I was feeling – thinking that it will get better over time. But it only got worse. As the weeks continued, I started to feel miserable. It was the worst kind of pain I’ve ever felt.

If you know me, you know that I’m a positive person. I want to make people happy and feel good about themselves. However, things started to change and I started to feel bitterness towards the people who wanted the best for me. I stopped feeling like myself. I stopped recognising myself when I looked at pictures and in the mirror. It was as if I was looking at a meaner, evil version of myself. I didn’t have any interest in doing things I used to love. My feelings of hopelessness were constant and over time I started to normalise the sadness I felt.

My psychiatrist diagnosed me with chronic depression and prescribed me medication. I had always been someone who was against taking medication but as things got worse knew it was something I had to try.

It’s been almost 2 months since I started taking antidepressants and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’m starting to enjoy doing things and activities that I stopped liking. Some mornings, I feel excited about the day ahead of me. This is a big change from the person I was a few months ago – someone who would struggle to get out of bed and start the day, someone who would avoid meeting her closest friends, someone who would push people away, someone who would forget to call her loved ones for weeks.

The best thing that I did for myself was to go and get help. I started going to therapy and eventually went to a psychiatrist. I know depression is something that a lot of us struggle with. Some depressive episodes last for a few days but sometimes they can last for weeks and even months. Talking about how you feel with a friend, family member, or a professional is essential and can really shift your mindset.

a list that i made for you

my favourite coffee place in Santa Cruz – verve coffee

Doing little things that make you happy throughout the day actually start to make a big difference in your overall mood. I made this list today because I’ve been going through a few rough weeks, recently, and I haven’t really been taking care of myself, or doing anything to make myself feel better or happy. So here goes, a few things you could do today, or in the coming days to feel better and more positive about yourself and just life in general 🙂

  1. Read a book
  2. Meditate
  3. Go to a café and order your favourite coffee
  4. Watch a movie
  5. Go to the beach
  6. Go for a hike
  7. Workout
  8. Draw/sketch/paint
  9. Listen to good music
  10. Write
  11. Listen to a podcast
  12. Clean your room
  13. Donate your clothes
  14. Drink loads of water
  15. Eat healthy
  16. Make healthier choices
  17. Call your parents and ask them about their day
  18. Call your best friends
  19. Paint your nails
  20. Get a tattoo (sorry mom)
  21. Change your hairstyle
  22. Change your wardrobe
  23. Disappear and get shit done (one of my personal faves)
  24. Play a sport
  25. Take time off social media (instagram SUCKS)
  26. Take a nap
  27. Get rid of the extra stuff in your room
  28. Go for a walk
  29. Stretch
  30. Take 3 deep breaths
  31. Spend time outside
  32. Go for a picnic (I miss doing this so much! @namsy we gotta do this when I’m back home)
  33. Journal
  34. Drink green tea
  35. Wake up early
  36. Take care of your skin (follow a skincare routine)
  37. Make a Vision Board
  38. Go for a swim

Ana

Towards the end of my school year in 9th grade, I started to go to the gym with a trainer and within weeks the weight came off unknowingly. My clothes were fitting me better, I felt stronger, and I was starting to get attention from people all around me. I remember feeling so happy about my body for the first time in my life, I figured that if I worked harder, my results would be better.

After a few months although, I created certain ‘food rules’ for myself that I followed religiously for 3 weeks. My exams were going on during this time and when I went back to the golf club after they ended, the amount of attention I got was overwhelming. People were telling me how I great I looked and that I looked much better than before. I didn’t know back then that I was starting to fall into the traps of Anorexia Nervosa, but fast forward to 4 months and I weighed 40 pounds lesser than I did before. I continued to get a large amount of attention, but this time everyone around me was worried.

During my lowest points, I spent every single hour of every single day thinking about how many calories I’d eaten, planning how I would skip my next meal, and figuring out how I could be more active. I spent most of my time fighting with family members, arguments were a daily ritual, but I still didn’t do anything to get better. In my head, everything was fine and I chose to believe that they were just jealous of me.

I only started recovery towards the end of 10th grade, when my golf coach told me to go to a nutritionist and get help. A month after I went to her, I started to get better, I felt stronger, I was happier, I started to do things for myself and actually began to take better care of my health.

It’s not that I decided to make the change right after I decided to get help. Recovery was an extremely long process and it took me a very very long time to actually listen to what everyone was saying around me.

I remember how terrible my life was when I was anorexic, seriously. It’s like I cared about only one thing in my life and that was to get thinner and thinner and just be as skinny and bony as I could be. I drove myself and everyone around me crazy. I lost 2 years of my teenage life being obsessed about what everyone thought of me.

(pt. 2 coming soon)