Opening Up About Not Feeling Skinny Enough

Personal

I feel a little scared to write this. I was around twelve when I started weighing myself on the scales. I ran in the morning before school, and straight after school when I got home. I drank a lot of water and I ate as much as I liked because my metabolism was a skyrocket. When I left home at sixteen, I developed signs of an eating disorder. I would skip meals, exercise a lot, eat slowly, document what I was eating, weigh myself several times a day, obsess over my BMI and drink a lot of water to feel full. I had depression, anxiety and a fear of gaining weight.

When you grow up with people telling you that you’re skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, there is this pressure that stays inside your mind to maintain that body image. However, now that I’m in my twenties, my body is naturally changing. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I feel more aware of eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. The beauty standard in Asia is to be very petite, but our bodies are all made differently. After many years of struggling with my weight, I feel the healthiest and happiest now. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, do the things that you enjoy and feed your mind with positive words.

There are days where I still struggle, but I know it’s not my true self. The true voice in myself says that your self-worth comes from who you are as a person, and it has nothing to do with the number on the scales. I don’t want to be defined by my weight, but by what I can bring into the world. The title really speaks about my teenage years. In the past, I went through a period where I was feeling a lot of hatred towards myself. I felt not worthy, and there was an overwhelming amount of worry and fear taking over my life. I felt like even though I was stressed, I could control my weight and what I ate. It’s not healthy, because then you end up neglecting your body.

I was 18 when I was living in Sydney in 2015, and it was a time where I really struggled with my body image. I remember gymming more and watching what I was eating. There was fear and insecurity during that period of my life. I felt incredibly lost. My anxiety was crippling at that time, and I really isolated myself. I was regularly going to the doctor and the hospital, and had a lot of health issues. When it comes to eating, I used to feel quite conscious at times when eating a meal in front of people, unless it’s those I’m very close to.

Our bodies are beautiful, sacred, precious and wonderful things that keep us moving, breathing and living life. I do think that it can be damaging if one compliments too much on a persons body size. When you grow up from a child being told that you’re so skinny and that it’s said as a compliment, it’s something that can really stay entrenched in your mind as you grow older. I know that my value lies in my heart, yet there are days where I stare in the mirror and feel a sudden fear of gaining any weight. It all starts in the mind. A persons weight can fluctuate when dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Everyone has insecurities. We all have something inside and out that we’re conscious of. When I think about where I was previously, it was during a period where I was unhappy, and I felt like I wasn’t skinny enough (which was when I was the lightest). I rarely ate in the dining area in a previous flat a few years ago, because I literally didn’t want my flatmates to see me eating. It’s really been this year, where I’ve felt safe in eating in the dining area. It seems like something so small, but it’s a huge change. Since leaving home, there have been periods where I didn’t eat well. When I had feelings of stress, I felt like I didn’t have any appetite.

We often don’t emphasize it enough, but your health is truly your wealth. Without your health, you wouldn’t be able to wake up and conquer the day. You wouldn’t be able to experience this beautiful life. When I didn’t have a healthy mind, it started to affect my body and I felt weak, unmotivated and a loss of energy. It was during that time where I suffered from panic attacks and had very deep depression. Our thoughts are so powerful. When I started being more present, thinking positively and accepting myself as I am, I really felt set free from the cage I’d built inside my mind.

I’ve read so many stories about those who showed warning signs of anorexia, and during those periods where they were the lowest weight, was when they were the unhappiest. Being skinny won’t make you happy. It’s embracing where you are, right here, right now. Accepting yourself as you are. Being grateful for everything that your body has done for you. Being thankful for good health and waking up to a new day. Treating yourself with kindness, love and positive self-talk. I am at the healthiest weight this year. I feel the most energy and happiness this year.

There were feelings of not being good enough. After really surrounding myself with amazing people and being kinder to myself, I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. If you can’t love yourself first, how will you attract the right people into your life? Our life experiences can affect us deeply in how we see the world. But, I really think that we can all heal from hurt, even when it seems impossible. It’s really the simple things in life that give us the greatest joy. We have to come from a place of not judging others because everyone has and is going through something. It’s easy to see things on the surface and believe what we see. The most healing comes from the periods of silence. I really believe that time heals.

One of the biggest blessings is surrounding yourself with people who are uplifting, encouraging, motivating, positive and caring. They bring the best out of you. The people we surround ourselves with are important. Our bodies are a blessing. It’s important to refrain from commenting on someone’s body. I can’t emphasize how much it can have an impact on them. I really believe we have to remind ourselves that we are enough as we are. We truly live in such a visual world. People will constantly judge others based on their appearances, and it’s inescapable that the first impression we have of someone often comes from their physical appearances. But, we have to go beyond the surface and remember that every person we care about, we couldn’t care less about what they look like. I really hope if you are on a journey of healing and having a healthy relationship with your body, that you will realize how beautifully made you are.

When you go through a stressful period in your life or a hard season, know that there are people who care about you. I know that when I went through depression, I often felt like nobody cared and that there wasn’t a way out. But, there are so many people who love you, and often the first step is reaching out to others. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to talk about these things. Those who matter in our lives, are the ones who won’t judge you for your experiences. When I’m reminding myself of what’s important in life, I like to think of the words from The Little Prince: Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. If you are reading this and going through a hard time, know that wherever you are in your life you are enough.

Articles:

Why it’s not Always Smart to Lead with a Physical Compliment

What an eating disorder IS and ISN’T

Top 4 Things Recovery Has Taught Me

The Surface Doesn’t Always Reflect What’s Within

Personal

tumblr_inline_mvl63vvZ4x1reoiz0I’ve wanted to write this article ever since hearing about Kate Spade’s passing, and wasn’t sure how to put it clearly in words. There is so much online negativity and online bullying that I wonder, is this a reflection of how many people feel inside? I remember talking to someone several days ago, and we talked about how easy it is for those who are hurting inside to appear just fine when seen in public. It’s easy to put on a smile. However, the internet now can also be a good and bad place for people to express themselves. It can be a place to share stories and encouragement, as well as a place for people to try tear others down and show their true colours.

It makes me think about how we don’t live in a perfect world, but we have the power to give support to someone in someway, no matter how small. Depression is invisible, in the sense that a person feels the pain so deeply inside, that it can seem hidden from the world. I’ve previously talked a little about my experience with anxiety and depression. I don’t take it lightly, and it’s such a serious topic that it makes me think how our society is at this stage. I’ve thought about this lately, because there is still a stigma attached and lack of understanding about mental health, even though many people will experience some form in their life time.

During my previous semester at uni, I did a report where we could choose our own topic. I chose to do it on youth suicide in New Zealand. It was heartbreaking and took a lot of my mental energy, and there were tears and facing reality. It was something I chose, because it’s something that’s not talked about in daily life, but it’s a huge issue in New Zealand. In 2013 I tried taking my own life, and this is not something I tell many people. Only 2 people I can say know this, and to write this is difficult. When I lived in Sydney, I had to go to the ED, because my panic attack was so bad that I thought I was literally going to die. I had depression for several years since 2009, and it’s been a long journey, but I feel the most content in my life now.

During my late teens I was self harming, and I felt a lot of inner turmoil. Now that I’m older, I realise that many people still view mental illness as there is something wrong with you. There is this feeling that people will look down on you. I really believe in my heart that the most important thing is to surround yourself with loving people, and no matter how long it takes, to learn to love yourself. It took me a long time to be where I’m at and truly love myself, and know that God loves me and my family and friends love me. Also, it’s important to say that your happiness and contentment in life can only be relied on yourself, and no other person.

I’m at a stage now where I think back and think, I shouldn’t of hurt myself like that, but at the time I felt so deeply hurt inside. I get sad when people say when someone suicide’s it’s so selfish. They don’t realise that the person is crying out for help, but feels like they’re drowning in water. They feel like they can’t escape that feeling, and feel there is only one way to stop the pain. They might feel like nobody cares, that the world is so cruel or that they don’t feel a sense of meaning or purpose. Even someone like Kate Spade who appeared to be so successful and have everything, felt empty inside. It really shows that money doesn’t buy you happiness. No materials of a nice apartment, clothing and so on can make us happy. It’s really the relationship we have with our self and others.

This is why we should all strive to be more understanding, patient, kind and loving. Nobody is perfect, but our daily interactions and the words we say have power.  I know that seeing someone smile at me can really make my day. Never be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to get help, and don’t ever feel embarrassed to feel the way you feel. I remember one year I felt so afraid, I stayed indoors a lot and it was suffocating. I lost so much faith in God and in myself, and I could feel that my life was crumbling because of that. We live in a judgmental world, but the truth is most people are more concerned about their own life. Everyone wants to be loved. When we focus on what we have, we realise that we have a lot. Focusing on lack and failure is what can cause depression to become more and more serious.

Growing up, I often got told “You’re such a happy person, Katie,” because I love to smile and laugh. However, it was also easy for me to smile and pretend I was okay, when I was really struggling inside. This is one of the most important posts I feel the need to write because it means so much to me. It’s really something that I want to say, in terms of reaching out, asking for help and taking action no matter how difficult. Counseling, talking to a close friend or family or someone that you can trust without having any judgment. We live in a superficial and shallow world. I really feel that sometimes. The amount of teenagers who have self harmed, or the amount of youth that feel depressed are so much more common than we know.

I was at work last night, and the last customer was an elderly man. I said “You are so brave, coming out in the cold weather,” it must of been 6 degrees, or at least it felt like it was. He said that as he grows older, he knows that we have to make the most of each day, no matter whether it’s hot or cold. I’ve had many cold days where I used to have a panic attack almost everyday, and cry from anxiety. However, I truly believe that we can all set ourselves free, and live a meaningful life. Depression really puts you in a cage, and it makes you convinced that you can’t do this or that. If you know someone who is going through a mental illness, pray for them and believe they will heal. The truth is, no matter how much we want to help, it’s a journey that has to be overcome by the person themselves.

Everyone has personal things in their life going on, and it’s so easy to see what’s only on the surface in a digital age. We judge quickly, we make assumptions and we live in a visual society. We put too much value on how things look, rather than how things feel. We see things from the surface, rather than from the heart. We all have the ability to be supportive and caring, and it’s important to reach out if you need to, because sometimes those who care about us most might not know how much one might be hurting inside. Negativity robs us of life’s contentment. Everyone goes through ups and downs, and it’s really okay to cry, tell someone you trust about it or reach out for help. Your personal well being and health is the biggest priority. A person’s life is so valuable and precious, and your life matters.

If you need help, please contact:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 – Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm – 6pm weekdays)

• The Lowdown: thelowdown.co.nz – website for young people ages 12 to 19.

If you need a friend to talk to, please don’t hesitate to email me at katiepassionfruit@gmail.com

Art by Midori Yamada

Heart To Heart Talk On Anxiety And Panic Attacks

Personal

627d23a970be0290752204e918d938d7This is quite a personal post for me, but I wanted to share it with you in case anyone reading has also felt this way. I truly believe that this year I have improved in terms of my mental health, and I want to share a snippet of my experience with you. I remember I used to cry every week, every few days. The only way to express this is that it drained my soul. I used to feel a certain level of fear when I knew I would be going out. It felt as if I was inside a giant birdcage, unable to set myself free. I’d have a panic attack several times a month and it was debilitating.

I have far less panic attacks than ever before, and I wanted to share some changes I made in my life in order to take control. What made me want to write about this, was because I recently had a panic attack after a long period of not having one, and I was experiencing suicidal thoughts again. In the past, this would happen too often. I can’t express how important it is to speak out about it even when it feels incredibly hard. This time I realised how much more I love and care for myself, and knew I needed to go to the counselor again since my last time going four years ago. It’s never wrong to seek help or speak out about how you’re feeling with someone you trust.

If you ever feel you are having mental health problems, please see a doctor. It’s very easy for someone to throw the term anxiety, depression and having a panic attack around and self diagnose. It’s easy for someone to say “I’m feeling depressed” but they may or may not be just feeling sad. What I’ve found helpful is to write an anxiety diary for one week, to see what makes me feel anxious during the day and to decide what I can do about it. The best thing to do is to see a healthcare professional. They would have a talk with me, let me take a mental health test and ask me questions on my experience. This will clarify many things.

The advice I received from the counselor was very helpful, and the counselor told me that at the core of anxiety, there is always a reason. I found this extremely important, because there are times where I forget that. One of the ways I’ve improved my anxiety these past two months have been going out for long walks for 2-3 hours. I finally bought new trainers recently, after walking in my boots and wearing their poor soles out. This has really helped with my breathing, appreciation for being alive in this world and just learning to face my fears and go outside of my comfort zone. It also releases stress and allows me to think properly.

It’s so important to love yourself and be kinder to myself. We can sometimes be the hardest on ourselves. We can be kind and loving to other people, but forget to be kind and loving to ourselves. This is so true for myself, because I found that negative self talk is the same as talking to someone unkindly. No one deserves to be hurt. The more love and kindness we pour into ourselves, the more we pour out into the world. Our thoughts create our life. Creating a habit of gratitude has truly helped more than I can express, and realising the power of our thoughts and how our thoughts create the life we want to live, makes me realise that we all deserve to live a good life.

Remember to eat healthy and good foods and drink enough water. I can’t emphasise enough how much food and keeping hydrated affects our mood, mind and body. A few years ago I would resist going outdoors even when the ones I love were constantly giving me advice to go outside for a short walk. The more I resisted, the more fear it built. Now, when I go for a walk, it’s natural and I don’t feel any fear anymore. I remember being invited to networking events in Sydney, and I’d always turn them down. I’d miss the opportunity to meet amazing people. We create opportunities for ourselves, when we face our fears. It makes life more exciting to go outside of your comfort zone.

If you ever feel depressed, anxious or you have a panic attack, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to seek help. A few years ago, I was feeling negative and attracting negative people and situations into my life. Remember, your thoughts have so much power. The more good thoughts we have, the more we attract good things into our lives. It reflects the law of attraction and the radiating power of positivity, love and kindness. Surround yourself with good people and be at present in this world with the feeling that makes you feel good. If someone is being unkind, don’t resist or react, just let them be. The way we react to things comes down to ourselves.

I’ve recently been reading a book with these wise words and I want to share some with you. We have so much love to give, and the more that we give, the more we receive. Life is mirroring back to you what you are holding inside you. Take a moment to think about all that nature gives to you every single day so that you can live. And yet nature never asks for anything in return. That is true giving. “A feeling that greater possessions, no matter what kind they may be, will of themselves bring contentment or happiness, is a misunderstanding. No person, place, or thing can give you happiness. They may give you a cause for happiness and a feeling of contentment, but the Joy of Living comes from within.” – Genevieve Behrend (1881-1960).

You deserve all the love, happiness and joy in the world. 

Photography from Mary Salas

Talking About Panic Attacks, Depression & Anxiety

Daily Thoughts

ca8244f8b531f12b31c1080f5198f3de.jpgWhen I think of the words panic attacks, depression and anxiety, it’s something that we don’t normally tell others we experience it ourselves. It immediately makes me want to avoid telling anyone that I feel that way in periods of my life. The reason is that I don’t want anyone to treat me any differently or wonder why I would feel that way. I recently watched a video on dealing with anxiety here, which explains many aspects of anxiety that I think many people can relate to. When she mentions placing ourselves in situations repetitively or have that constant practice, we lose that sense of fear. There’s that ability to go out of your comfort zone.

Over the years, my panic attacks has significantly lessened, but there are still those moments where I feel my breathing quickening as much as I try to slow it down. You feel like your heart is going to pound right out of your chest, and the worst thing is that it’s an incredibly internal feeling. However, I’ve found that the way I can stop panic attacks from happening is to breathe deeply and stay positive. As easy as it is to say that, it’s not always easy. It takes conscious effort and a peaceful mindset. I think this definitely takes practice and time.

Depression is something that many, many people experience, but many people also don’t understand it. I started feeling depression several years ago in and out when I became a teenager. Through time, one of the things that definitely help when depression comes sliding in, is to keep yourself busy. The easiest thing to happen, is that you fall down a hole and feel completely helpless and worthless. Know that that is absolutely not true! There are many times that depression will lie to you, in order to drag you down and keep you there inside the dungeon. Until, you feel it’s almost impossible to lift yourself back up.

As much as our loved ones can be there for us, having a mental illness is a personal journey. We make our own choices in life, and therefore there is this need to make that decision of how we are going to cope with it. We have the blessing of having this life, and so it’s our own choice whether we live it or not. I say this, because it’s rare that many people will talk of depression and suicide, and how connected they are. There are so many people who are feeling completely rock bottom, and we may never guess it. Then when you hear about their passing, it can be truly heart breaking. Depression is invisible and silent.

Anxiety is a daily battle, but it takes time, experience and a change of self. It pushes you to go out and see the world. We can only change what we are in control of. There are things we can do to make ourselves smile, and sometimes mental illnesses tell us we don’t deserve it. But, you completely deserve it. You need to do certain things that make you happy, otherwise what’s the point? We truly need more understanding in this world, and we all have a heart that has the ability to kind. Remember that nobody is normal, no matter how much it looks like it.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

Small Ways To Face Your Anxiety Each Day

Daily Thoughts

4.jpgYou can guess that anytime I write about Anxiety, it’s because I’ve felt some degree of anxiety during that day that makes me need to write about it. Today I’ve felt very low anxiety, and I find that it has been from making small daily habits from reading out loud a prayer every morning, exercising regularly and thinking positively. There is a voice inside of our heads that sometimes trickles in telling us you are not worthy. That’s when we need to replace that voice with our warm and tender voice telling ourselves that you are so loved. Deeply and infinitely.

The small things I do to face anxiety:

1.Go outside for a walk or go for a jog. Taking a walk outside can make you think more clearly and reminds you to breathe gently. Exercising is one of the best ways to deal with stress, because it instantly makes you feel better about yourself, and helps maintain your physical and mental well being.

2.Shop at the supermarket. This may sound silly to some, but I get really uncomfortable shopping when it’s busy and crowded. However, shopping on a quiet day at the supermarket is one of my favourite things to do.

3.Read a book. Reading takes you into another world. It allows you to be more open minded, imaginative and creative. I truly believe that reading has the power to reduce stress. It feels meditative and puts your focus off your own world. It widens your perspective on certain things.

4.Write positive words. Every morning I read a prayer in Mandarin and a prayer in English, and it really sticks in my head, because after a while it gets easier to memorise when repeated constantly. I have positive words of advice written on the wall that remind me I’m only human.

5. Tell yourself what you’re grateful for. Each day I like to reflect on what I am grateful for. Each day is filled with endless things we can be grateful for, yet it’s often that we can forget to do so, because the focus is so deeply on what’s not working out. I find that practicing appreciation, makes you feel more at ease, appreciate each day and love life much more.

6. Clean around the house and de-clutter your mind. After cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the floors and arranging everything back into place, the cleanliness is calming. It also helps with de-cluttering your mind and reminds us to let go of toxic thoughts that do not benefit us in any way.

7. Talk to a loved one. Talking to a friend or a family member you trust will help relieve a lot of the stress that one can often hold if they’re feeling anxious. It can lessen the feelings of being overwhelmed and it can be extremely comforting and often allows you to let a lot of matters go.

8. Eat healthy foods and remember to breathe. I can’t express how much foods affect your mood and your body. Having a healthy diet can make you less prone to feeling stressed and tired. When feelings of anxiety slip in, the breathing can often quicken without one noticing. If you start to feel like you may have a panic attack or are feeling down, try to focus on your breathing.

art work by Oamul Lu