doodles

I’ve been at this page for the longest time right now, hovering between wanting to write something and wanting to just slam my laptop shut & simply go to bed. I’m feeling a sort of change within me. I can’t really describe it, and that’s what’s killing me. I want to know what it is, but I can’t quite place my finger on it. There’s a strange sense of loss of direction in me. I had thought Kyoto would help clear the mist though it seems I was mistaken. I feel a need for something different.

I’ve changed a lot since 2014, but now I feel a need for something more. I want something more

I’m about to explode from this uncertainty.

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Sogenchi Garden at Arashiyama in Kyoto (May 2015)

wise words to think about when you have a major slip in recovery

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2 days I went through something that triggered a range of thought patterns and behaviors that were most prominent on the height of my eating disorder 3 years ago when I was 21. Usually when I experience a trigger, I slip and I take 2 or 3 steps back in my recovery, but then I’m able to bounce back from it within the hour. This particular trigger however, was much more severe. I didn’t take any steps back. Rather, I fell into a bloody pithole and I’ve been struggling to get out of it ever since.

Sharks are pulling at me. My arms are flailing madly. My mind is overwhelmed.

I was criticizing my body. I was in distress. I was thinking that I needed to lose weight by the weekend. I started thinking of restricting and going on diets, wanting to exercise a lot more, and even contemplated taking diuretics. I was almost tempted to do so yesterday; I was staring at the bottle that’s being kept in the kitchen, playing with it. fiddling it and reading the pamphlet over and over again. After about 5 minutes I abandoned it and went back to my room to continue packing. What’s scarier was that I never took diuretics and/or laxatives during when I was severely struggling. Never. In the past I never dared take diuretics and or laxatives yet now here I was, just suddenly picking it up and wanting to consume them. I had wanted to get skinny so much yesterday that I went to a new extreme of wanting to consume diuretics / laxatives after my meals. This was a new behavior. Very new. I myself was so surprised at how easily the thought of taking it came to my mind.

What had happened to me? Why am I becoming like this? This isn’t me. I don’t know this person. 

I lay in bed at night with my heart racing. I was panicking and thinking of how fat I was. My body felt incredibly big and I didn’t like it. On the one hand, I was attempting to reason the ED voice, but the other, Snix told me to just screw it and do whatever I wanted to get skinny.

I went from practicing mindful eating and learning to love myself to suddenly wanting to starve and restrict, wanting to take laxatives, fearing feeling full and exercising as much as I can to get skinnier.

Something had seriously gone wrong.

I tried changing my thoughts and reading self-affirmations online. It didn’t work.

But so so so thankfully, my bestie said something this afternoon that struck a chord in me, and I want to share some of her words with all of you:

‘What do you think you’ll achieve if you indeed become as skinny as you wanted to be? What is this thing that’s so important to you? You are everything great too, dear. You’ve got a family, a healthy body, a great exercise regime, freedom to eat whatever you want and go dancing whenever you want, so many coo ass friends to chat with, a spiffy blog, a sense of humor etc etc. Why, I don’t understand, out of all these things, being skinny is important to you? Is there something else that’s really the problem?  Do you want other people to smile at you, hiding their fangs, telling you you’re sooooooooo skinny, sooooooo pretty, soooooooo enviable? Because I don’t think you do. I think you’re happy with what you have, but the Devils are telling you you need more when you really don’t. “

If you’re struggling right now, ponder over these words.

What is this thing that is so important to you?

self-comparison: celebrities vs. peers

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I’ve been going through this phase recently where I started wanting to become thin. Or rather, thinner than I currently am right now. I know what has brought this on, and I can sense the disconnect between two opposing forces. One that pulls in the direction of dieting to lose weight and be skinny, and another force pulling in the opposite direction that knows the possible consequences of such obsessive thinking about weight loss and ideals.

One of the reasons that boosted this increased desire to diet and exercise (and not in the healthiest of ways) to get a skinny body comes from self-comparison. I read a few fashion blogs once in a while, and the reason I read these particular blogs is because the fashion bloggers have a body type that is more or less similar to mine. They’re not thin/slim (like many fashion bloggers I see online), but they’re curvier (though not plus size) & its actually always nice to look at fashion blogs by curvier bloggers because its always nice to look at the fashion choices of girls with body types similar to yours. It serves as a guides of sorts that gives you an idea of how to pull styles off that are suitable for your body type & inspire you to  wear certain clothing types, especially clothing types you never really dared to wear because I always found my body too flawed to wear it, such as sleeveless tops in my case as I’m usually quite insecure about my arms to wear them.

We all know what that is, but I think that many of us don’t truly understand what it really entails. Self-comparison is the thief of joy; Don’t compare yourself to others because we all have different body types. When it comes to understanding what self-comparison really means, we take its definition and understanding at but face value.  

In my sophomore year of university I did an independent research project entitled “Is Facebook Making You Feel Fat? The Effects of Facebook on Body Image Satisfaction”. Its well documented that many individuals who view images of thin celebrities and models experience a range of negative effects such as a decrease in body satisfaction and increase in the desire to eat less and exercise more. With the popularity of social media usage in today’s society, I wanted to extend this above mentioned finding to discover whether exposure to a thin peer on Facebook will lead to a decrease in body satisfaction as well.

Anyway, we all know that when we compare ourselves to celebrities or models with desirable body types, we sometimes tend to get jealous of them because we know we can almost never look like them even if we gave in our 110%. Since when can we afford to hire personal chefs and fitness trainers to give us the top-knotch body that we’ve had our eye on anyway? I admit to comparing myself to media figures in the earlier days of my eating disorder, but I also compare myself to other role models; in other words, the model of comparison is people who are more similar to me – friends, the average woman on the street with a regular job who isn’t a celebrity, the women I see on social media.

The other woman. 

Its well known exposure to thin celebrities can potentially decrease body satisfaction, but its also argued, and empirically supported, that people can a bigger decrease in satisfaction when they see a peer with a thinner body than theirs. Psychology purports that while we compare ourselves to celebrities, we actually sometimes prefer to compare ourselves to our peers. Why? Because we’re not celebrities. Its like comparing pasta to pizza. Celebrities don’t lead the same lifestyles as us. We know we can’t almost like them because they can afford to attain the body that they have. They are a standard that we can’t really reach and so instead, we turn to someone who is more similar than us to evaluate ourselves because being on the same level as us means that they are a standard that we can, and in our minds should be able to reach up to.

Do any of you ever feel envious of your friends at times because he/she has a body shape that you don’t? Studies have found for instance, adolescents tended to compare their weight & height to their peers instead of to models and celebrities. Participants had reported feeling worse about their body when they saw pictures of a thin peer as compared to an overweight one. I’ve experienced this myself pretty often. Take these fashion bloggers for instance, when I see at some are skinnier than me, or bustier than me, I get jealous, because being of similar body shape and body size, I expected myself to be able to look more like them. But I couldn’t. If they lost weight, I felt even more worse, because if she can lose weight, then I should be able to, and must lose weight to, because in my mind, we are more or less the same.

Humans have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others because the information we acquire from self-comparison allows us to evaluate ourselves and check for the need for improvement if necessary. We all the best for ourselves. So do I. When I see that someone I know has lost weight I get envious, because if she can lose weight, so can I. But I’m not losing weight. Its not just fashion bloggers. Even weight-loss success stories of peers and other non-celebrities that I read of on social media; I get more jealous of them than those of celebrities, because celebrities are just so dissimilar to me and I live in a world quite different from them. But my peers, and the average non-celebrity out there on the planet are also struggling to get in better shape the same way I am. If they can lose weight, why the hell can’t I?! This most definitely stems from my competitive and ambitious streak. I don’t just want to get better; I want to be the best. I want to help people, but I also want to be better. Is that a bad thing? Well, I suppose in instances like this, it can be a bad thing. Honestly though it doesn’t mean I’m a Regina George who wants to put other people down. It just means I have incredibly high expectations of myself that sometimes overwhelms me and take control of me.

I am starting to mistake self-comparison for inspiration. 

Its not necessarily a bad thing, but when it starts to become overwhelming and motivate you to be skinny to be better and compels you to start thinking about unhealthy things such as crash-dieting, restricting and obsessive exercising, then something is wrong.

 This is what’s happening to me & this is where I sit down and think to myself like I always do when my mind gets too overwhelmed and I’m trying to find reasons for my thoughts and behaviors.

Am I comparing myself to my peers and other regular women? Yes. Does it make me want to be skinny? Yes. Can you please remember that every woman’s body is different and that comparing yourself only makes you more anxious about your body and given your past tendencies of disordered eating, do you want to risk a relapse? No. Do you know all these negative thinking and considerations about crash-dieting are incredibly unkind to your body? Yes. So now what?

Now I just need to just redivert my energies and change my thought patterns whenever I start thinking these kinds of things and whenever I start comparing myself to others. Do I want to get skinnier? I’ll be honest, a part of me does want to. But after going through recovery for a year, I’ve become smarter and stronger enough to know that I shouldn’t turn to all the negative things I did to my body. I need to continue to learn how to learn myself while becoming who I want to be. Its more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny. These women aren’t celebrities themselves but then they I have qualities & strengths that they don’t. If I start comparing myself to them, I’m just doing myself a disservice, disempowering myself even more AND making me feel even worse about myself.

Regardless of whether a person is a celebrity, a peer, a fashion blogger, a woman on the street, remember that everyone’s body type, metabolism and lifestyles are different & self-comparison is disempowering and robs you of your happiness & your individuality. The only thing I should be doing is focus on my own recovery & the only person that you should be better than, is the person that you were yesterday.

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updates

#1

I’ve been under weather the past week, thanks to the insanely bipolar weather that Singapore is going through. Seriously, I’ve no clue what kabooz Mother Nature is unleashing upon humanity but it’d be great if she could stop because my flu is not getting any better. Strangely, it comes every alternate day. Curiouser and curiouser.

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travel

I’m going abroad next week! WHEEEE. It isn’t exactly the post-graduation trip I had in my mind but given my lack of funds to embark on a 3 month journey round the world, this 1 week vacation will have to suffice. And no I’m not going to the U.S, and I don’t think I ever want to go back to the U.S again to be honest, even if its for work. I want to go to other places and soak in other cultures. Jordan, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Scotland, Croatia, Romania, Venezuela, Hungary, Iran.

I’ve been asked, twice, whether my boyfriend will be accompanying me and the answer is  no because since when must a girl’s boyfriend accompany her on a getaway?! The decision to go on this 1 week getaway was incredibly spontaneous. I was just lying on my bed, and reassessing the things that have happened, and were happening in my life then. 2014 was a year of so many changes and I’ve really put in my own fights and tears. I’m tired, I realized. I need a goddamn break. So much has happened and I need to get away from this stifling place and just recharge and come back (hopefully) with fresh perspectives. So with the enthusiasm of a droid, I just got out of bed, went to the living room and was all “Ma I’m going on a holiday”. I was actually expecting her to just say okay and I really wasn’t expecting to have to defend my decision on the very spot. 

Why are you going to Japan? Why must you go to Japan? Are you going alone? Who are you going with? Where are you staying? Do you even need to go to Japan? Can’t you stay and clean out your bookshelf for me like I want you to because there are so many books? How long are you going there? Don’t tell me you’re going alone its not safe for girls to travel along anyway. 

God. Asian parents. Or rather, MY Asian parents. Well, technically my overprotective Eurasian mother. Her fears stem from the fact that she’s never really actually traveled by her lonesome and so she thinks girls traveling alone is a call for death.I didn’t want to bring up the fact that I’ve traveled to New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C & Toronto by myself and I turned out fine. Well I could have run into trouble but I didn’t. 

Anyway I’m going. I can’t wait to just put things behind for a week and immerse myself in a new city, get lost, meet up with my friend & take in gorgeous scenery and recharge. Plus, I’d like to end off this section by expressing my gratitude to my parents for letting me go on this trip because I know without them, this poor broke college college kid wouldn’t have had the funds to go. So. Thanks ma and pop. I appreciate it I really do.

#3

grad

Post-graduation trip aside, I’ve my life to figure out. Sometmes I’m plagued with self-doubt with regards to my decision about not continuing to pursue higher education after my Bachelor’s just yet and working for a year first instead. Strange how I was so firm and unbending when I decided to abandon my initial plans of completing my Masters’ immediately after graduation, but I didn’t bank on the unexpected twist of events that I would experience in 2014 that actually made me realize how fucking tired I am of studying, and why I actually wanted to do a Masters in the first place. I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet, and the reason I wanted to pursue a Masters’ was because I was just following what my mother told me is the right thing to do. I don’t want to just study all the damn time people I want to travel the world and see new things and discover myself and other cultures. So the application period of graduate programs came up, I ignored it, of which I found so easy.

But now that I’m actually graduating, I don’t know what to do. What work will I do for a year? I’ve been looking, but nothing appeals to me, and the fact that I’ve been unable too find anything so far sometimes makes me wonder whether it would have been easier to just do a Masters straightaway and fudge everything. But no. I won’t do it. I won’t. I’m going to work for a year, earn my keep and bid Singapore goodbye as I travel to Europe for my well earned break. Self-discovery doesn’t seem to occur while you’re studying in school does it? Plus, t don’t want to ask my parents for money to fund my Europe escapade  because they’d tell me to stuff it. Travel grants and donations are out the question as in Singapore, you’ll get laughed at if you ask people to donate to your “cause” of “traveling to discover who you are” and unlike other countries there aren’t any organizations that willingly fund you and give you hold competitions with $10,000 grants as prize money to go abroad, even if its for charitable work. You want to go abroad, earn your own damn money because we’re not paying for you to do that.

I take comfort in the fact that other graduates likes myself are in the same crisis mode and that its perfectly okay to try around different jobs before settling on a proper one that you can foresee yourself doing for a long time. Its all part of the self-discovery process.

I think I’ll be fine.

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  • I’m currently reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. The only reason I’m reading this book is because I want to see how well (or not) the movie plays up to the novel.
  • Did you know that some women crave cheese and other forms of dairy products before their period comes because they tend to release extra prostaglandins, you know, the hormones that make a woman’s uterus cramp up. I knew there’s a reason why I sometimes start craving cups of cheese and drinking milk because I don’t usually drink milk.
  • My new favorite Marvel movie franchise is the X-men series.
  • Michael Fassbender is quite possibly the sexiest man to exist on this planet (see video below for example). If there’s a clone of him out there, I’d really appreciate if if he could find me.

  • I was eating a snack while looking for another snack to eat.
  • The last academic research paper I read was about the psychology behind women’s sexual fantasies.
  • I am pro-choice but it doesn’t mean I outright and blatantly advocate abortion. It means I believe in women having choices. I shall do a post on this one day.
  • I support gay rights.
  • If it were my last day on Earth tomorrow, the last meal I would take would be a double cheeseburger with lots of cheese, cheese fries and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
  • I didn’t like Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Not one bit.
  • I’d like to get a tattoo someday.
  • I’ve forgotten both my Tumblr password and username.

Meghan Trainor Part 1: what i think about her interview comments on “trying anorexia”

To those of you who aren’t entirely kept in the loop about this situation, Meghan Trainor has unceremoniously rattled some cages because she had made some comments about body positivity and anorexia in an interview with Entertainment Tonight which might not have been the most sensitive towards those struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. They say that pictures speak a thousand words, so in a nutshell, here was what went down:

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Question. Why would you “try” anorexia?

I agree with what Demi Lovato and many other angry individuals have had to say in response: that anorexia, or any other eating disorder for that matter, isn’t about strength. From this comment, Meghan glamorizes eating disorders such that eating disorders are something that require strength and willpower; something that not all people achieve; that only the strong, mighty and powerful will get because they have “what it takes” to get an eating disorder. In another strange perspective, the end goal is something that’s supposedly glamorous and worthy only of the strong. Like Thor and that unearthly hammer of his.

To those who took offense at Meghan’s comments. I understand. I really do.  When I read “tried being anorexic”, I was like ” What do you mean try anorexia. You can’t try anorexia. Anorexia is a lifestyle choice that SHOULDN’T be made at all in the first place. No one just wakes up one day and goes I think I should like to try surviving on 500 calories a day, weighing yourself obsessively and losing your hair and muscle mass? ” Anorexia can kill people. People can spend hours agonizing over whether an apple will make them gain weight, exercise excessively, weigh their food, cut out entire food groups and count calories. You don’t just try anorexia. It is not a dietary option. 

But then I thought, does she even know what it means to have anorexia? Where did she get her information from? Where does her current perceptions of anorexia and eating disorder come from?

She’s actually not the only one…

 You know, I myself made a silly comment once by saying something along the lines of “if you were strong enough to restrict your food intake, then you are strong enough to fight for eating disorder”. Clearly I didn’t know that the word “strength” was inappropriate in that particular context even though I myself was restricting and bingeing.  I thought I was helping others and frankly speaking, didn’t really think my words through because what was on the forefront of my mind was wanting to help somebody. Plus, I was just fresh into recovery myself. I didn’t understand what was happening with me, let along any other eating disorders for that matter.

You know what I think? I think that Meghan probably did have good intentions when she made that comment; intentions that just came out sounding wrong because she, like so many other people, just don’t fully understand what it means to have an eating disorder. They know that an eating disorder is awful, but just don’t know how ago about telling it to another person because they’ve never personally experienced it.

When I started becoming slightly more open about my eating disorder and relayed my experiences to some people, I’ve had some them tell me “Whoa, I can’t be like you, I’ve never really had the willpower to go on an extreme diet like that. Not strong enough”. Seriously. They likened going on an extreme diet to willpower and strength. But I didn’t get offended at that. How could I, when I knew that they really didn’t mean it because they don’t understand something they’ve never personally been through? Well sure you need willpower to go on a diet, but not willpower and strength for anorexia or other eating disorders for that matter. The outstanding difference between the former and the latter is that in the former, you can stop dieting anytime you want, and diets as we all know, are prone to failure. People go on diets almost all the time and they give up almost all the time as well. When they reach their goal, they either stop dieting, or maintain their goal weight by sustaining their diet but less than before. When they don’t reach their goal weight or lose motivation, they just give the diet & go back being happier than surviving on salads but hold the mayo thanks. But eating disorders? It can be addictive. You don’t just stop being anorexic like you stop dieting. Its more than the visceral. Its the mental. People with eating disorders tend to have distorted perceptions about their body. They believe their bodies to be wrong and ugly and needs to be changed. Its about control and perfectionism and the need to coform to a particular standard of beauty than it is about health. People can die from anorexia mind you.

Like many people, their understand of eating disorders come from the media: movies and Hollywood and the like. We read about celebrities struggling with anorexia and bulimia and other forms of disordered eating and we read their accounts of their ordeals and the changes their bodies go through. We read about Mary-Kate Olsen telling us her scary diet she was on & we’ve seen Nicole Richie’s skeletal frame in a bikini. On the surface, we know what involves and will list off things such as “severely underweight”, “think that they are severely overweight when they are actually very thin”, but many of us tend to take it at face value as opposed to truly grasping its meaning. Just like myself and my understanding of gambling addiction. I know the symptoms. I studied abnormal psychology and studied the DSM. I can tell you what is symptomatic of anxiety disorder, but I will not ever truly understand the impulse that comes with it. I won’t ever truly understand the anxieties they feel when they don’t gamble. I won’t ever fully understand why they break therir promise of not going gambling ever again. I won’t ever fully grasp their thought processes. I am not them, and they are not me.

One won’t ever fully understand the journey of another person, unless you are walking on the same path. 

That’s why Demi Lovato is a role model for so many people struggling with eating disorders, self harm and body image issues. She’s been there. She knows what we are going through. She can find words the things we don’t know how to express. But Meghan? Probably not so much. Which is why even though Meghan sings about body confidence, I’d rather turn to Demi because the girl gets me. And I her.

So back to Meghan

Neither you nor I know Meghan personally. I don’t know the extent of her disordered eating or the extent to which she attempted eating disorder. As of now I do know she doesn’t completely understand the complexities of eating disorders as much as other people who’ve struggled with it for years, who’ve read up lots about it, who’ve shared their personal stories, who know how to speak about it & approach sensitive issues because they’ve been speaking about it for a long time to others. Miss Trainor’s been on the scene a few good months and I don’t know this for sure, I highly suspect that she wasn’t fully prepared for this interview and probably might not have bargained on sharing a lot of details about her personal life, including the “trying out anorexia” bit. So in all honesty, she probably just should have just kept quiet about EDs because she clearly isn’t sufficiently educated about eating disorders to make a comment. I mean its pretty straightforward. If you know nada about an issue, then don’t comment on it, or throw in a disclaimer: “I don’t claim to know much about eating disorders” or ” I’ve never had an eating disorder so if my comments offend anybody, forgive me.” etc. Communication skills, girl. Communication.

So why is she getting so much flak when she’s not the only one?

For the record, Meghan isn’t the only celebrity who actually said she tried being anorexic:

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That’s right people that’s Kat Dennings.

She’s our feisty Max Black in 2 Broke Girls and she herself had said that she had “tried being anorexic for 4 hours” before needing some bagels in her interview with Philadelphia back in 08’ which you can read here. I tried Googling to see I there was the same kind of public outcry that Meghan is now receiving, but I didn’t. No blog posts, none on message boards. Her’s quotes been immortalized on Pinterst and Tumblr though. So why Meghan and not Kat? Why didn’t anyone glitter bomb and throw roaches at her? I don’t really know. My guess is back in 2008, she wasn’t a very well known celebrity, and campaigns for body positivity and eating disorder weren’t the rage and nobody really paid any attention to mental health and body love. That is until celebrities started singing about it. Mary Lambert and Selena Gomez and Colbie Caillat and John Legend and Nicki Minaj all started singing about being beautiful and embracing your beauty and curves and all your imperfections. Only then did the world start paying more attention to self-love and our distorted perceptions of beauty.

Meghan sung a song about body positivity which has gotten super popular and she’s got many people loving her right now. She’s a media figure. A public role model for everyone everywhere. Her songs are playing everywhere. On the radio, in the supermarkets, even in my gym. Everyone’s just listening to what she has to say. And sing too. Her words are in the spotlight and because of her role as a celebrity, this means whatever she discusses and sings will be scrutinized and/or taken as inspiration. My own momma herself called me stupid for getting an eating disorder and commented that only stupid girls get eating disorders because they only care about themselves, but since she’s not a global media icon, her words went unnoticed except by me. So unlike my mum, Meghan has to be extra careful and sensitive about the things she says and sings about because everyone is listening.

So what now?

Well I don’t really know what now, but based on the comments I’ve read on message boards, blogs, Twitter & Instagram, you have people who continue seeing her as a role model, people who request that she retract her statement & issue an apology for her comments, & also people who just don’t care about her. My opinion? Like I said, she probably shouldn’t have said anything about eating disorders to begin with since she hasn’t a clue about the intricacies of eating disorders. But let’s also throw in some sympthaty and think about the fact that she was affected enough to actually not want to not eat to lose weight. She’s similar to many of us who are struggling with body image issues and eating disorders. She just hasn’t a clue how to go about discussing it. So I suppose an apology or a clarification would be sufficient to appease our angry souls. We want her to admit she’s been careless with her remarks and promise to never cast eating disorders in such a casual “oh let’s give this a shot its like a challenge” manner. You know, when I’m told, or hear of comments about body image and/or eating disorders that are just a little misguided, I post something like this:

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Yeah so follow me on Instagram too ? 😀 😀 

 So, maybe Meghan could do just that. Selena Gomez does it. When the media glamorizes eating disorders or focuses on unrealistic beauty standards, she tweets informational things or posts motivational messages on Instagram. Awareness & education are key, ladies and gentlemen. In the mealtimes, hating on Meghan won’t really do anything really. Sure, you can boycott her music but let’s give just a teeny bit more time and see how her approach to issues body image and eating disorders to develop. People make offhand comments without meaning to so all right I do think it’d be appropriate that she issue an apology; a clarification of sorts to explain herself because after all, she still is somewhat glamorizing eating disorders and making them out to be a fad diet with no negative repercussions.

If she continues making the same crazy remarks of anorexia as some diet fad, then by all means, I’ll join you in sending her cockroaches in her mailbox and glitter bombing her. You and I are aware of it, but we can’t be sure of other women, men & young adolescents and children who are unfamiliar with eating disorders & eventually end up thinking that eating disorders as “something that you can try”, only to find out that “trying” to eat ice and vegetables was just what it took to set the path for more disordered eating in the future. Meghan, honey, if you ever read this, and the other blog posts out there discussing this, you might want to do something about it.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know.