Guest blog by Monica Carbone
My mom has a quote written in blue marker on her mirror in her bedroom. It says: “Wake up in the morning, smile, and mean it”. She used to tell me when I was younger that that was her goal. Back then, I never completely understood how you could smile and not mean it, until I battled my eating disorder, depression, self harm, and anxiety. Now, I’ve made it my goal too.
When I was 12, and for the following ten years, I hated myself. Every time I looked in the mirror, it was like I was in a fun house. I would stare at myself, blink really hard, close my eyes, shake my head, open my eyes, and the distortion was still there. I pinched and pulled and squeezed my body, often crying, and wishing to be different. Wishing to be thin…even though I truly was. My eating disorder was my way of punishing myself for not being perfect, a way to stay in control, a way to deal with changes and incidents I couldn’t quite cope with.
I was secretive, constantly lying and making excuses, especially when it came to avoiding food. I had mastered putting on a brave face, a happy face, and acting like everything was fine when in reality I was crumbling. I was spiralling downward, and after ten years, at age 22, I finally saw that what I was doing to myself was slowly killing me. I got angry. My eating disorder had taken away pieces of my life that I would never get back again, and I had enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I put myself into treatment, and decided to learn to love myself.
It was hard. It was probably the hardest I have ever worked in my entire life. I had to undo years of damage that my eating disorder had caused my body, and especially my mind. I had to really get to the root of why my eating disorder started, and learn to cope in healthy ways. I hated it at first, all the crying in therapy, breaking down, feeling weak, feeling like I was giving up “my best friend” who got me through rough patches. Then I realized that my eating disorder wasn’t getting me through tough times, it was my tough time.
Now, 3 years later, I’m me again. I’ve found things that I love about myself, like my silliness, my nurturing personality, my optimism, my fight. And you know what? None of those things change with how much I weigh. The numbers don’t matter. I matter. My happiness matters. Not everyday is easy by any means, but I work hard so that it becomes a little more natural each morning to wake up, smile, and mean it.
2 thoughts on “Smile and Mean It. A Sure Way to Improve Self-Esteem.”
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I am amazed at the number of middle school girls suffering from eating disorders. A big contributor to this problem is the sexualization of women in the media, particularly reality TV shows. Girls see that the women in these shows are beautiful (usually surgically enhanced) and bootylicious (not necessarily intelligent,) and they try to emulate them. We have to keep telling our girls that beauty comes from within, and reality TV is not real!