For the past two and a half weeks, I’ve been in treatment for my eating disorder. This is the second time I’ve been in treatment and I’m sharing this with you all because my lymphedema has played a large role in my eating disorder’s complex development and continues to affect my body image every day – something I think most of you can relate to, eating disorder or not.
When I was in middle school, a peer made a comment that stuck with me to this day: “You wouldn’t look so fat if you didn’t have that cankle.” Cankle. She had spit out the word like it was disgusting, ugly, and ever since then I’ve felt the same: because my leg was fat and ugly, I was fat and ugly. If I lost weight, then my leg would get skinnier and I wouldn’t look fat anymore. If it weren’t for my disgusting, ugly, fat leg, I could be happy.
And so began my distorted thinking about my body and my self, one that would hold such a tight grip that, ten years later, I’m still struggling to break free of. I don’t have a real purpose for this post as I’ve spoken about body image and my eating disorder before, but it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. As I re-enter treatment for my body and mind, I’ve been rethinking the way that I treat my leg. I’ve been so spotty in my lymphedema care, usually ignoring it because I’d just be so angry at it. Now, though, I’m in a different mindset. A more therapeutic one. It’s a part of my body that requires special care, just like the parts of me that have been so damaged from my eating disorder. My body as a whole needs as much love and nourishment as I can give it, and that includes lymphedema maintenance.
I’ve been really good about wearing my compression garments every day and what’s helped me is to think about it as though I’m taking daily medicine: I wouldn’t skip my other medications, would I? Of course not! Yeah, it still gets me down a lot, but when I catch myself getting frustrated with my leg or with lymphedema maintenance, I remind myself that if I don’t take care of it like I’m supposed to it will get worse, and then I’ll really have a reason to be upset.
Our lymphedema isn’t our “fault,” it’s not a punishment or something to resent. It also isn’t something we must live our lives for – rather, it’s something we must adjust our lives to. Instead of being upset that I can’t wear short sundresses in the summertime, I need to get excited about the pretty longer skirts and dresses that are available. Instead of getting angry at my leg, I need to take care of it. It’s a part of me, after all, whether I like it or not.
My current mantra.
Okay, with that being said, I need to get something off my chest: I feel absolutely AWFUL about not regularly posting on here in what seems like months. As some of you may know, I run another blog focused on my eating disorder and recovery, and that usually takes precedence. I do promise to upkeep with this blog more often because you all are so wonderful. I have so much love & thankfulness for all of you – you not only read my blog but also actively comment and help one another, and that’s so amazing and beautiful. I couldn’t ask to be part of a better community!!
(PS: I’ve been working on a logo for the site to appear on merchandise, like shirts, tote bags, etc. Exciting! Below is the extremely rough draft; suggestions and comments much appreciated!)