I abandoned the mirror – and you should too.

9 months ago when I moved house, I did something that many would call drastic, or unnecessary. While decluttering and sorting through my possessions, I decided to get rid of my mirror.

Yes, that’s right, it’s gone. The only mirror left in the house now is a 20cm round mirror that I use to put make up on in the morning sometimes, and my husband uses it to do his hair. Honestly? I think getting rid of it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my mental health.

I’ve spoken before about my previous history with Anorexia, and how I’m trying to combat that now I have my daughter. I don’t feel that Anorexia is something that ever truly goes away – I’m much better now, but I think the way you perceive your body is forever altered after having an eating disorder. I’ve also written about my struggles with Gastroparesis. which can cause physical symptoms that can be difficult to deal with if you’ve got an eating disorder history, like early satiety, bloating, abdominal discomfort etc.

So, why did I do it?

Quite simply, it was doing more harm than good.

I noticed that the more time I spent per day looking in the mirror, the more unhappy I was with my appearance, and that had a knock on effect for the rest of the day. I noticed that I could spend a whole day in an outfit I was comfortable and confident in, but the second I looked in the mirror and saw something I didn’t like, I’d have to change. I noticed that ‘just a few seconds’ here and there could add up to time better spent somewhere else. I also noticed that the days I hadn’t looked in the mirror were the happiest.

I soon discovered I wasn’t alone. I spoke to a close friend about it who told me she had in the past spent lots of time looking in her mirror at all the things she hated about herself. It broke my heart to hear it, because I think she’s beautiful.

The more I thought about it, the more it ate me up inside. I remembered as a teenager seeing a friend look at her stomach in a mirror and tell me that she wished she could just cut it all off. She was just 13 years old. I don’t want that for my daughter.

Once I got rid of the mirror, I soon noticed a change. I spent more time during the day thinking about how I was feeling rather than how I looked. When my husband complimented my appearance, I began to genuinely believe him rather than tell him that he was just obligated to compliment me because we are married.

Soon after ditching my reflective friend, I had to go clothes shopping as a new medication change had caused me to lose more weight. I thought that stepping into a changing room would be a challenge because I hadn’t looked at myself in a full length mirror for a few months. If anything, the opposite was true. I found that I had a newfound appreciation and respect for the way my body looked.

9 months later, I think I probably have the best self esteem and the healthiest relationship with my body that I’ve ever experienced. I appreciate the things my body can do rather than the way it looks. At the end of the day, I know that God made me perfectly to be just the way I am.

I’m not a perfect person, but I’m learning to be perfectly ok with my body just the way it is.

If you’ve never had some ‘mirror free’ time, or you’re struggling with self image, self confidence, or you just feel uncomfortable in yourself, I’d highly recommend abandoning the mirror for a while. It helped me to appreciate the person I am before the body I’m in, and it could very well do the same for you!

Have you taken any big steps to better your mental health?

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How my daughter helped curb my eating disorder

As my baby got bigger, the more curious she got about food, and the more I had to force myself into a routine of eating meals.Its a challenging, but positive change for me. I also can’t get away with eating too little; dinner time is a family event, which keeps me accountable, in a good way.

I’ve struggled with Anorexia more on than off since I was sixteen (so nearly ten years). At my worst, I was spending time in hospital, unable to attend university, eating less than half an apple a day and then taking double the recommended amount of laxatives to combat that half an apple (or 48 calories, if you’re interested in that kind of thing).

My weight had dropped down to less than 7 stone (45kg), I was dizzy, cold, my hair was falling out and I spent more time asleep than awake because I just didn’t have the energy. I was lying to my friends about what I’d eaten, wearing baggy clothes so that people couldn’t see how slim I was, and excessively exercising to drop my weight even lower.

At that low point, I never would have imagined being where I am now. My beautiful daughter is nearly 14 months old, and dinner time has actually become one of my favourite times of day. There’s something very healing about watching someone so tiny enjoy food so much, because they haven’t learnt any differently.

When my little monkey was approaching six months old and we began to prepare for weaning, I struggled. I’d worked so hard for so long not to measure portions, and ‘keep tabs’ on the amount I was eating, and suddenly I was having to do this for someone else. We were initially doing traditional weaning (using puree) and trialed this for a few weeks, but eventually switched to Baby Led Weaning as it was much more relaxed on the measuring front.

As my baby got bigger, the more curious she got about food, and the more I had to force myself into a routine of eating meals. I won’t lie, it’s been pretty challenging as I have Gastroparesis to deal with too, which medically affects the amount of food I can digest at a time. However, I haven’t been in a routine of eating meals like this since I was fifteen years old. Its a challenging, but positive change for me. I also can’t get away with eating too little; dinner time is a family event, which keeps me accountable, in a good way.

I’m trying my best to model good habits for my daughter. I’m hopeful that she grows up with good relationship to food, and she doesn’t go through what I still struggle with now. Nonetheless, if she does, I hope she knows she can always talk to me about whatever she struggles with.

Have you had to overcome similar hurdles? Let us know in the comments

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#The ups and downs of baby led weaning
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Parenting with a chronic illness