As the eyes and ears of American society are fixed on dismantling more than 400 years of racial injustice at this pivotal moment in time, the intersection of racial trauma and eating disorders must be part of this broader conversation.
Eating Disorders Recovery
Are you all too familiar with the inner eating disorder voice's monologue which tries to convince you that self-worth can only be achieved with a perfect body? This critical, insidious whisper does not come from you—it's the influence of an eating disorder that aims to control your decisions and undermine your wholeness. But a foundational part of recovery is learning how to both identify and confront the eating disorder voice in your head.
As a college freshman, I was hospitalized for anorexia. It's been almost a decade since then, but no one told me about the pain—and payoffs—of residential eating disorder treatment. I had just embarked on a harrowing three-month process that would stretch, unravel, and change me.
Here is a truth about me that I once believed to be impossible: My eating disorder is not at the forefront of my mind right now—and I love the way it feels. All my mental energy used to be allocated to tracking how many calories I ate, miles I ran, or pounds I weighed. I fixated on these so incessantly, in fact, that I had no stamina and concentration to focus on anything else.
As the United States is ablaze in chaos that has erupted from systemic racial violence, I find myself worried for the mental health of Black men and women because—false stereotypes aside—Black people suffer from eating disorders too.
I've had a home office for over a decade--long before it became a forced norm of the COVID-19 pandemic--and during this time, I noticed how working from home affected my eating disorder recovery. It wasn't a smooth road, but with a few strategies, I learned how to support my eating disorder (ED) recovery with healthy habits.
A change of perspective can do wonders to change your mindset, and this is why, when my destructive thoughts get to be too much, I go to nature to support my eating disorder recovery.
Have you become stuck in the tension of how to approach eating disorder recovery when you don't feel ready? This is a common dilemma—the belief that you can't pursue healing until the motivation, desire, and commitment all of a sudden materialize.
I am exercising less in quarantine—and that is acceptable. In these last few months, COVID-19 has disrupted many of the routines and norms that were baked into my life without question before, and one of those routines is fitness. My motivation to workout seems to decline with each passing day, which is unusual for me, a committed runner with a history of chronic overexertion.
Convincing myself that I feel poised, satisfied, uninhibited, confident, free, and at home in my own body all the time sounds excellent in theory, but I find it does not always work in practice. For this reason, I maintain that body acceptance is a more realistic goal than body positivity. Of course, it would be ideal to stand in front of a mirror and genuinely admire the curves and contours of my reflection, but this just happens sometimes—it's not an outlook I can manufacture out of sheer obligation to praise my body.