I have been meaning to write this post for a while now, but never got around to actually sitting down to share my thoughts. That was until yesterday, when i brought up the topic of having exercise/gymrat/cardiobunny as my identity a few years ago. I became known as the “fitness person” and the runner in high school. It became my identity and later on when i started university, and realised that at least half of the people in my program were also interested in working out and known as the fitness person. I wasn’t really different… but also, because of having my identity be the fitness person it also made it harder to rest, thinking that… who am i if i am not working out? Over time, i had to learn that my identity is not in exercise and it doesn’t lie in my illnesses, either the past or present ones. I had to recreate an identity for myself, and see myself as more than just the fitness person or more than just the sick girl. Instead realise i was so much more than that.
What i wanted to write about in this post is getting stuck in the recovery community online. The recovery community on social media can be positive and helpful – you can feel less alone, but at the same time it can also be negative and keeping you sick.
You make friends with other people who have the same illnesses, you become known as the person who has an eating disorder and it becomes ALOT harder to let go and move on. If your whole identity – whether in real life or on social media, is based on having an eating disorder…. what happens when you are in recovery and need to let go? When you are no longer sick…. you will go through an identitiy crisis.
But you need to realise that you are so much more than the sick person. So much more than the person with an eating disorder. And even if you want to connect with people who have the same illness and can relate with you… it is not good to get too attached so that you can’t move on.
Remember that you are more than your illness – you are also your hobbies, the things that make you happy, your goals and your dreams, your thoughts. You need to find who you are – or recreate yourself if you have lost yourself in your eating disorder. I personally had to sort of recreate who i was after my eating disorder as i had lost so much of myself… But also that everything i had gone through had changed me and shaped me into a new person. So in a way, i don’t think i would be the person i am today if i hadn’t gone through everything i did in the past.
In a way, i guess you could say i haven’t truly let go…. because why do i still write about eating disorders or past experience from time to time? Or why do i have “recovered from anorexia” in my bio on instagram…. Is that truly letting go? Some would argue that no, i haven’t let go completely, and i accept that. For me personally (how i think right now, maybe my mind and thoughts will change in the future), but right now i think that i can still use my past experiences to help others. And many who see that i have recovered message me and find inspiration in what i post/write.
I can’t change the past or what i have gone through, and in a way it will always define me. But i no longer have eating disorder/sick person be my identity.
One of the best steps to move forward for me was to let go of my old blog. Sure, there is so much positive on that old blog, so many people i could and was helping and so many good advice posts. But it still took up such ahuge part of my life and still holding onto the illness, even if i wasn’t sick, it was still a part of me as i had to keep going back down memory lane to write advice posts.
Not to mention that i realised that i never get any negative comments about my appearance anymore. Back when i had my old blog i used to get regular comments of people accusing me i was still sick or saying that i was too thin to be healthy or that i was working out too much. Or just overanalyzing everything i did and every choice i made. But now… none of it. And it is great. It may be that i don’t share as much of my personal life, so there isn’t as much to overanalyze and i don’t share as many pictures of myself…. but mostly i think that people don’t define or connect my present choices to my past eating disorder. I.e if i ever choose a salad when eating out i would get people telling me it was my eating disorder – even though i had been recovered for years and they had no idea what i was going to eat later, or that i was just craving a salad.
Finding people who can help you and inspire you can be beneficial in recovery, but at some point you need to move on. You can not have your identity be the sick person – you are so much more than your illness. Your illness is not YOU – no matter what illness you are struggling with.
Learning to find things you enjoy. Recreating yourself. Spending time with friends and family. Stepping away from recovery communities or others who are sick – so you can spend more time with healthy people. Find hobbies and interests and find goals and dreams to work towards.
And it is also important to mention that you can not put your identity in your size either… i.e “the skinny person”. If your identity is your size, it will be much harder to gain (or lose) weight. And if you constantly surround yourself/see images of thin people with eating disorders, not only will your perspective on body image be skewered, it will also be alot harder to gain weight and reach a normal/healthy weight.
People like to put labels on others and group/categorize them… it makes it easier for the brain to just categorize people. But don’t let others define you, and even if you are known as the sick person, or the skinny person, or the fitness person. Remember that you can break free of those identities and you can RECREATE yourself and be whoever you want to be. You get to label and identify yourself as whoever you want to be… if you want to be the artist, or the musician, or the horse rider, or even the vegan. But you can identify yourself as the happy person, the energetic person, the positive person. Your identity doesn’t have to be your illness.
Some posts from my previous blog that may help: