I fell into the wonderful world of illustration around this time last year when I was struggling through my mental health; drawing how I was feeling helped me overcome difficult emotions and in many ways was the reason I was finally able to get to the point in my life where I could say confidently “I am recovered.”
Without going into too much detail right now (I’m sure I will end up sharing more on this topic in the future!), my main struggles were learning to accept my body for the way it was and now simply is. Growing up I was led to believe I was the fat kid of the class, because the girls around me made a point in telling me I was bigger than everyone else. I didn’t know myself well enough, nor did I have the confidence to disagree with what was being said about me. My eyes were distorted to see something that wasn’t true for the entirety of my childhood and teenage years.
Until one day in March of 2015, I was sick and tired (literally) of starving, punishing and hating my body. I didn’t know how to get up in the morning and not groan in the mirror at my reflection; it was as though I was hoping to wake up an entirely different person! Awful! But thankfully my body and my mind were fighting back the irrational side of myself; something told me I needed to heal straight away if I wanted to live my life authentically and happy.
It was this reason alone that I began my journey in learning how to accept my body and who I am, the way the universe has made me. Instead of denying parts of myself that I disliked, I learned to either accept them as they were, or if I was feeling particularly powerful, I could even learn to love them!
Every day for months I sat in front of the mirror and recited to myself “It is okay, you are doing great! You look beautiful!”. It was incredibly cheesy and made me cringe at the start, but after a while it became part of my routine.
For much of my life it felt almost second nature to negatively talk about myself, “That was really crap of you Sian”, “You aren’t pretty/skinny/fit/ enough”. Changing the habit and replacing my anti-self self talk took a lot of will power, but it brought about the most visible change in my attitude towards myself and others. I think it was that monumental mental shift I made that helped me transition from self loathing to love. I realised I had my priorities all mixed up; what was the point in living a life where I didn’t even like myself? How can I possibly find love for other things and people if I cannot even accept who I am?
In the end your appearance means nothing if your soul is dying. We all have so much more to give than our physical selves. Until you realise the importance of kindness, courage, intelligence, humour, empathy and thousands of other things that only a strong heart and soul can fathom, life is limited. So go, discover what you have to give to yourself, by starting to listen to what your body is telling you it wants. If it wants food then feed. If it wants exercise, then run. If it wants sleep, then rest. If it wants love, then give.
If you take it one day at a time, you will find love for yourself and the body you live in. Don’t give up!