We all know those inspirational quotes about fear that breed freely on Facebook — like how the only way to beat fear is to face it, or courage is feeling the fear but doing it anyway.
I repeat these sayings to my kids all the time. But when I stop to think about it, the truth of the matter is that I really don't live out what I am asking my kids to do.
I've got lots of fears in my life right now as a 46-year-old mother of three. One of my biggest fears as I move through another bout of depression is whether I will fall back into anorexia. I suffered for years as a teenager and was healed for most of my 20s and 30s, but then I found myself facing the agonising condition in my 40s. How insane to be battling with body image when I should be well over any of that nonsense by now. After over a year of fighting, I dug my way out and have been gaining weight over the last year and a half. So now, being in a place where my body has filled out, I find myself questioning my expanding body.
I'm not liking what I see in the mirror, but I don't want it to allow me to fall back into illness. I've been dealing with it in the best ways I seem to have learned how. The first thing I do when I notice that I don't like something about my body and I hear negative self-talking start is look away.
Out of sight, out of mind.
But I realise that that could be seen as not facing my fear. I've been relying on the belief, though, that when it comes to illness, it's better to stay on the side of safety. So, I've been creative in the way I look at my body. I want to be honest as a writer, but also be encouraging to others who may be struggling. It's a fine line that you walk when you write about mental illness.
One of the ways that I have found to address both my need to have a little exercise in my sedentary life and to be loving to myself and not become obsessive is to at least practice a little bit of yoga. I know it is better to do a little every day as opposed to just being able to do a full yoga practice once a week.
I came up with a plan for myself: one yoga pose a day. I use my Instagram account as a daily diary of me practicing one pose a day. The daily goal captured on camera hopefully inspires others to do whatever their daily "must" is.
This way, I am forced to look at my body once a day, but with a positive lens. So, on the days that I notice that I don't like the way my body looks, I have a choice of either being honest in writing about it for my post or finding a way to deal with the disordered thinking that is coming up.
It's been a manageable way to face my fears regarding my body and also to deal with the fact that I feel like I have no time to take care of myself. I have committed to taking at least five minutes out of my day to foster my creativity, my movements, myself.
Facing our fears can be that simple. Sometimes it is the daily reminder, the daily attention that is needed. How can you use this lesson in life? Is there a fear that you are aware of that you have been avoiding? Can you create a plan for yourself that allows you to deal with that fear in bite-size, manageable amounts starting now, every day?
You don't necessarily need to publicise it on social media; you may wish to keep it private, but putting it out into the world and asking others to help you stay accountable can be a learning experience. And it doesn't mean that you're going to do it forever; maybe it's a one week or a one-month challenge or just an "I'm going to do this until I don't want to anymore" thing.
The important point is that your fear and your recovery is in your hands. Your ability to face that fear exists, is manageable and doable. The sooner you face your fear and find a plan to attack it, manage it, and hopefully one day heal from it, the sooner you will feel the freedom of knowing you have the strength and will to face your fears, one day at a time.