Summer is here.
Okay, let’s face the facts. Global warming means summer has been here for a hot minute. Literally.
It’s a time of barbecues with family and hanging out in the park with friends. It’s a time to go to the beach, drive to the mountains, and simply just be outside.
For someone with an eating disorder, summer is one of the most difficult times to be alive.
I’ll start by saying that I am finally in a place of recovery where the following things I share might linger in in the back of my mind with the occasional push to the front row. I am control of my recovery now, but for some, they might still have a ways to go.
There was a long period of time where I thought I had seasonal depression. In the winter living in colder places like New Hampshire and Colorado, I believed the only reason I was sad was because it was frigid and gloomy out. I couldn’t go for a run or jump in the pool. I couldn’t hang out with other people because heaven forbid I go outside because the snow was obviously going to make me melt away.
But then summer came along. Each year the sadness would trickle into spring, spring into summer. Next thing I knew I was sad all the time. But why? Wasn’t it just seasonal depression?
The answer was a hard f*cking no.
So, why is summer incredibly difficult for someone with an eating disorder?
It’s a time to be with others.
Eating disorders are isolating. It forces someone to retreat within themselves because people won’t understand or they might feel like they are being a burden on someone else. It’s a lonely time of pushing others away instead of pulling them in. When you look around and see groups of people enjoying time with the ones they love, it makes you see how lonely the disorder can really be.
Now I push myself out of my comfort zone. I have shared my story of recovery and have written myself a permission slip to say it’s okay to ask for help. It’s cool to be vulnerable and authentically yourself, the good and the bad. I punch social anxiety in the face and put myself in situations where I am able to put my recovery to the test. The best part is that I always end up feeling better afterwards because I realize the world didn’t end. That it actually attracted more of the type of people I want in my life instead of me pushing everyone away.
It’s hot as hell which means wearing less clothing.
Where I am now in my recovery, I actually really love my body. But it didn’t always used to be that way. Summer time used to be incredibly intimidating.
Gone were the days of hiding my body under an oversized sweater and baggy sweatpants. No more wrapping my bones with a giant bubble made of cotton. It was a time for shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits.
Let me tell you, I didn’t want bathing suits. I wanted waterproof mumus.
There was a shame associated with my body. A mental comparison as I saw other people rocking their crop tops and cross fit bodies. I am so grateful now for where I am in my recovery; a place where I am madly in love with the curves of my hips or the spider veins in my legs. I love the imperfections, the stretch marks, the calluses, the scars. I love them all and I have no shame in it. But like I said, it wasn’t always there. It was something I had to learn and practice daily with myself.
Everyone is exercising all the time.
Orthorexia is a disorder where someone over exercises and has an unhealthy perspective on physical activity. It’s not unusual for this to go hand in hand with another type of eating disorder. The more time I spent outside was more of an excuse to “get my 10,000 steps in” for the day. More like 50,000 steps. Or go for a two mile run. Or more like 15. To go for a quick hike. Or more like hike 10 miles, take the stairs, do another hour long workout session at the gym, followed by another hour long hot yoga flow.
I used everything as a means to burn more calories because as the media likes to rub in everyone’s faces, “get your summer body ready!”
I was exercising all the time without providing myself the extra nutrition to fuel my body for the work I was having it endure.
Now, exercise for me looks a lot different. I do it to feel good, not to compensate or punish my body. I do it in a way that isn’t over the top and I know when it’s time to give my body what it needs: food.
Speaking of food…
Remember those barbecues I mentioned? Or how about going out to eat for brunch on some outdoor patio? S’mores over a campfire? Ya, it’s on the brain a lot during the summer. Need I say more? Again, I’m in a very different place than I was even just a year ago. But I’m still human. I still think about it, but I don’t let it control me anymore. Just remember, it might not be as easy for someone else.
There are more reasons why summer time with an eating disorder is difficult, but these three main reasons were some of the more prominent ones for me.
I share this with you because summer is now here. Be patient and kind with others. You don’t know their story. You don’t know what they are going through.
If someone is wearing a sweatshirt on the beach, let them wear a sweatshirt on the beach without commenting on it. If someone is crying in the middle of the mountains alone on a hike, don’t take a video of them to post on your social media. Ya, you read that correctly. This happened to me. Instead of someone reaching out and saying, “Hey, are you alright?” they recorded me on their phone and walked away laughing.
What I am saying is, be kind. We are all human beings trying to navigate this world in different ways.