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I’m really struggling with how I feel about myself and the way I look...

Hope Virgo photo Hope Virgo · 16 Aug, 2020

“I’m really struggling with how I feel about myself and the way I look. I feel like I am really big and heavy and want to be smaller but I do lots of sport so I think that makes me bigger. I feel guilty whenever I eat and try to skip meals to lose weight but it doesn’t work. My friends think I have an eating disorder and I have times where I really feel like I hate myself. What should I do?”

Alana, 15

Hi Alana,

Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. I am sorry for what you are feeling at the moment; it feels really hard and I wonder how long you have been feeling like this? I grew up hating my body, and what I looked like and, like you, did a lot of sport too so I can totally relate to you, but I can also tell you that things get easier.

It sounds like your friends and you might have some thoughts around this and it is amazing that you have spoken to them a bit about this. So firstly, I want to comment on your feelings about your body “heavy and really big”. I don’t know you but I know that when I was struggling I never saw myself the way I was. I also know that sometimes our brains can make our body image really distorted and blow things up. I am sure as you read that you'll be thinking, "yeah, Hope you don’t know me." and yes you are right. I don’t. But I do know that sometimes our brains can be really mean to make us feel worthless. Can you think about a few positives about your body? Write them down. See if the next time you have a nasty thought about your body you can interrupt it.

Do you think about food a lot? Do you feel like it is stopping you doing things? If so I would recommend trying to speak to your GP or an adult about it. I know that might feel really hard but it might also help to name it and help you to get some support.

I totally get what it feels like to hate your body and feel big. I was like that for the whole of my childhood and then eventually ended up really unwell. I thought that not eating was helping me but it was actually controlling me and making me feel worse about life and my body. I know this might seem overwhelming and there is so much I want to say to you as I hear that you are really hurting but I want to share something about me.

I had anorexia when I was a child, it made me think I should restrict and stop eating. It made me hate my body and who I was and I felt so disgusted at myself. If I didn’t eat, the voice in my head made me feel better in the short term. And If I did eat, it made me feel so huge and horrid. It made me feel like a failure and guilty when I was having fun with my friends and slowly I began to withdraw from everyone around me because I felt afraid about how I was feeling. I ended up in hospital for a year when I was 17, and when I look back now, however much weight I lost I was never going to be happy. That voice in my brain always wanted me to do more.

When I was in hospital I never thought I would be happy in my body and yes some days it does feel uncomfortable but I have managed to get to a space where I can trust myself and accept who I am. And you can too!

Hope xx

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