This morning, I stumbled across a lot of old photographs on my laptop that I haven’t seen for a few years. Most of them were taken around 2014-2017, the time when my eating disorder was at its worst. I’ve decided to share a few of them with you.
The photos I’m going to post are photos that I absolutely hated when I last saw them. These photos were solid proof, in my mind, that I was disgusting, hugely overweight and ugly. They fuelled my desire to lose weight and whenever I looked at them, I would be consumed by disordered thoughts.
The reason I’m sharing them with you is because when I looked through them today, it was like looking at different photos. I’ve obviously come a long way, much further than I probably think, and when I see myself in these photos now, I see a happy, carefree girl who is enjoying life.
It’s quite a strange feeling to look at the same photo but see a completely different person.
This is me on my 21st birthday, opening my presents with my family while on holiday. I hated this photo because all I could see was fat. I thought I looked huge. I would focus in on my thighs and how big they looked and then my stomach. I thought the top I was wearing wasn’t flattering and made me look even bigger because it was thick and woolly. Now I’m looking at it and I just see an average-sized woman.
I can see why I thought it was a bad photo, because those thoughts can’t just disappear once you have convinced yourself they are true. But I can’t make myself see this huge, disgusting monster that I once did. I’m genuinely surprised at how different I see this photo now. I just look so normal.
This was taken on the same day but in the evening when we all went out for a meal together. Again, all I could see in this photo was me being overweight. I thought my shoulder looked too round and that my arm was too big. I thought my face was too round because I had my hair up, and usually I wear it down all the time.
Now, I think I look nice. It reminds me of the laughter we all shared that evening and how enjoyable the holiday was. I see myself as an average size, and I think I was being too hard on myself.
This was taken last year before me and my sister headed out for a night out. My sister actually let me borrow this dress so it wasn’t what I originally had in mind. She said it looked really good on me and really showed off my curves. But, thanks to the eating disorder, all I could see was a huge mess. I didn’t like how my body looked and I had a big issue with how my face looked in this photo. The word ‘gormless’ comes to mind (I use that word a lot when describing myself, it’s something we touch on a lot in therapy.)
I still don’t love this photo 100%, but I do like it. I think I’m starting to understand what my sister meant when she told me that it made my curves look good. I would happily wear this dress again.
This was taken as we were setting off to complete the pretty muddy 5K to raise money for Cancer Research. We dressed as super heroes because why not?
I was shocked when I first looked back at this picture because I thought I looked massive. Now I can see that I just look normal. But what’s most important is that when I look at this photo now, I feel happy because I remember how much fun we had, but I also feel proud to have taken part in a great event that raised a lot of money for Cancer Research. That should be the focus, not how I look.
When these two photos were first taken, before I had an eating disorder, I really liked them. It was the first time I had experienced a professional photo shoot and it was really exciting. But of course, the ED got in the way and told me how huge I looked and how ugly I was. My arms were too big, my face far too round, my body far too big in that black gown. I rarely looked at them because I hated how I looked that much.
Thankfully, I now see these photos differently. I see a pretty young woman, albeit wearing a lot of makeup, enjoying a fun shoot. I can finally just look at them and see happiness, without feeling any need to critique my appearance.
Looking back through these photos has made me appreciate how far I have come. If I can look at these photos and like what I see, then I should be able to like what I see in the mirror every day.
I’ve also found that looking back through so many memories has made me appreciate my life a little bit more. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to feel hopeless and believe that you’re doing nothing worthwhile. But seeing all the memories with friends, family, days out, holidays and odd little moments that happen day-to-day has reminded me that my life is full of things to smile about.
I start back at therapy tomorrow morning and I’m now feeling more determined than ever to let this eating disorder go.