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This year has taken its toll on us all in one way or another; we’ve all felt the brunt of several lockdowns and the year anniversary of Covid-19.

One thing I’ve certainly struggled with this last year is body image. I’ve touched upon this briefly before but not so much from a personal perspective. One of my triggers for Ben has always been food related but more so because of the social aspect and my emetophobia. Sitting and having meals with people I didn’t feel were my “safe” people yet used to cause me such high anxiety. This resulted in a vicious cycle of starving myself all day just to feel hungry enough to push through the inevitable fear and irrational emotions that came with such a normal occasion.

Lockdown has taken these situations from me, which Ben has thrived upon. I’m a little nervous to say the least about things returning to normal because I’m aware of how a lot of my triggers have been taken away due to the fact we’ve had to stay at home. Home has always been my safe haven and when it comes to anxiety, you’ve got to try and push yourself further and further out of your comfort zone in order to live, truly. You can get stuck in a cycle of staying safe, never wanting to set off the anxiety and have to actually deal with these emotions. But the best thing I’ve ever done is push myself, even if it’s little baby steps like I’ve always said.

Having said that, lockdown has also caused me to put weight on, albeit not loads and not necessarily noticeable to other people but certainly to myself. And it’s made me feel a bit uneasy if I’m completely honest. Now, don’t get me wrong I know I’m still a healthy weight and my body looking a certain way has no impact on the person I am. But it doesn’t stop the insecurities creeping in. I also know that a lot of us are feeling the same way!

However, my reason for wanting to write today is because of a memory that popped up on my Facebook page. It was a picture of me before a night out with my friends, I look happy and noticeably TINY. For longer than I like to admit, I looked at the photo and envied what I looked like. And then it hit me. In this photo I was one of the most unhappiest versions of myself I’ve ever been. I’d just been through an awful break up and my anxiety was off the scale on a daily basis. I was on medication and having therapy and it was only the start of my journey with Ben.

Now I look at this photo differently after this realisation. I look at it and I think back to the struggles I faced, the unhealthy habits and thoughts I contended with constantly. And I have changed so much since then. I was nearly 22 in this picture, a young girl who put so much pressure on herself and questioned everything she did or said tenfold. I’m now nearly 27 and although I still deal with insecurities and doubts about myself and how I look, I also know that there’s a strength in me that will pull me out of any battle I face. I know that without ANY doubt.

We’ve faced a year of uncertainty, stress and fear. An environment Ben would have excelled in and tipped me over the edge 5 years ago. I’ve struggled at times as we all have, and I’ve had to reach out to the people closest to me for support and extra love. But Ben has not taken over my life the way I’d have predicted, he’s not pushed me down into the lowest parts of me again and he’s not stopped me from getting up each day and facing whatever I have to.

So, to the young girl in this photo, I want to squeeze her and tell her that it won’t always be like this. You won’t always feel this way. You’ll have days full of happiness and excitement and days where your mind is calm and unshackled. You’ll start and finish many different therapies and you’ll also help many people in the process. You’ll become a listening ear for those who are where you used to be, and your experience will give them the proof that life really does get better.

As always, f*ck Ben (and f*ck covid for good measure).

2016

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