The power of connection
“I promise you that the same stuff galaxies are made of, you are. The same energy that swings planets around stars makes electrons dance in your heart. It is in you, outside you, you are it. It is beautiful. Trust in this and your life will be grand.” – Kamal Ravikant
For many years, I kept my struggles with eating disorders as private as I could. Only a couple of close friends knew about my struggles with anorexia and bulimia throughout my late teens and early twenties. Despite technically recovering from the most recent fight, I still carried with me every day a deep-rooted hate for what I saw in the mirror; I dreaded seeing photos of myself and still felt guilt associated with certain foods.
When I booked myself into a yoga and surf retreat in Bali last year, I really was only going with the intention of having some fun and chilling out – think 'Eat, Pray, Love' vibes – but I came away with so much more. Having only used yoga as a way of stretching previously, I’d never known about the amazing effects it could have on mental wellbeing. From day one on the yoga mat, I felt emotions brought up that I’d kept pushed down inside for so long. Whilst the physical practice made me feel strong, powerful and graceful, the spiritual side of it made me feel confident, capable and focused.
I have never felt more connected and at peace with my body before.
I hadn’t opened up to any of the other women on the retreat about my past, but felt able to with the yoga teacher during a one-to-one session I’d booked with her. We did some work on positive affirmations, which has been key in my recovery since returning home. Every time I have a negative thought about myself, I blast it away with lots of positivity. I also meditate now twice daily and practice yoga frequently.
Most importantly, I’ve opened up to my family and friends about my history with eating disorders. I think deep down I knew that until I did this, I’d never truly be free of the demon. On the last day of the retreat I built up the confidence to share my experience with some of the women in the group. They were all wonderfully supportive and encouraged me to talk to my family when I got home. For years I’d been scared of ruining my relationship with my amazing mum by sharing that I’d been hiding something from her for so many years, but if anything it’s just brought us closer together.
Sharing my past has helped me begin the process of becoming truly free from my eating disorder. For so many years it’s had a hold over me, threatening to expose itself. Now everyone knows, it’s not such a huge deal. I know that if I ever start going backwards, I’ve got so many people around to support me. Now I can focus on self-love, and sharing the message so that hopefully I can help others too. I still have a way to go, but I finally have real confidence that I will be free some day.
We are all beautiful, as is the world around us. The ability to connect with ourselves, with others and with nature is an incredibly powerful tool to harness. When we are at peace with ourselves, we can become more compassionate to others and create more positive energy, which we can radiate every day.
So a little advice if you’re currently struggling:
- Connect with others. Reach out. Talk to someone, be it a friend or family member, or someone further removed from your personal circle like a doctor. It sounds cliché, but a problem shared really is a problem halved. I didn’t believe it for years but I wish I had taken this advice sooner!
- Connect with your body on a deeper level. I have done a variety of sports over recent years, running being a main focus, but as much as I enjoy them I still put a lot of pressure on myself to perform better. Practicing yoga has been an entirely different experience for me, as moving my body feels amazing, but it’s not competitive and the focus on mental wellbeing has played a vital role in me finally learning to connect with and accept my body just as it is. If you’re looking to start yourself, YouTube videos may be a good taster, but I’d highly recommend going to an actual class, even if only once a month to start with. That way you’ll have guidance from a professional so that you’re conducting a safe practice, and you may find it beneficial to chat with the teacher and see what styles will be most beneficial to you.
- Be kind to yourself. No matter where you are with your eating disorder right now, you’re doing your best. Recovery is possible and it’s so worth it. Find beautiful moments in every day, no matter how big or small they are. Reach out, talk about what you’re going through, and don’t be scared of setbacks.
I believe in you.