Thursday, February 21, 2013
Sometimes I feel the life that I have been living is a lie. It seems perfect from the outside looking in. I am an honours student who competes on a varsity team at university. I volunteer each week with para- and quadriplegics and aspire to practice medicine. However, I and a few others, know the truth.
It all started back when I was in a fourth grade. I grew faster than all the other kids, and as a result went through puberty early. I was told that I was 'too big' to wear jeans by a family member. I remember being confused when I saw girls much larger than me wearing denim. That was the first time it dawned on me that I must be 'very big'. To this day, I dread shopping for jeans.
I transformed into an athlete at some point between grades five and ten. It was a long process marked by countless hours of cardio and weight-lifting. I played every sport imaginable - basketball, hockey, cross country, curling, nordic skiing, track and field, rugby, soccer and paddling. I competed on five sports teams for my high school each year. In addition to that, I was a focused competitive club basketball player in the winter and paddler in the summer.
I was no stranger to injury during this time. The list of injuries is endless: patellofemoral syndrome, ACL sprain, broken ankle, 3rd degree ankle sprain, stress fracture, iliotibial band syndrome...the list goes on and on. I was a victim of over-training and had an uncanny ability to push through my injuries until they escalated into major problems. My biggest enemy was myself. My weight fluctuated during this time, and I did not like it. My body image and self-perception deprecated. I started experiencing bouts of depression.
I thought that university would 'cure' me, and at first it did. I was distracted with the new atmosphere, a new varsity sport, and new courses. In fact, on the outside it seems that I have handled the transition to university well. I am almost finished my second year. I have excellent grades and have proven myself as a force to be reckoned with on the varsity rowing team.
What people do not see is the girl who goes home each night, locks herself in her room, and weeps silently. People do not see the girl who is preoccupied with her body image and food. People do not see the girl who struggles to get out of bed each morning. People do not see the imperfections that seem blindingly apparent when I look in the mirror. Truth be told, I am tired. I am mentally and physically beat. Sometimes I wish I could just take a break from reality.
Be careful what you wish for. I recently sustained a stress fracture to my rib because of over-training on the indoor rowing machine. I have been forced to put my life on hold. I have been instructed to stop rowing, runing, weight-lifting, or anything that causes pain. The problem is that EVERYTHING causes pain, except spinning. I have started spinning 10-12 hours a week. However, this is not enough compared to what I was doing prior to my injury. I have been gaining weight, and suffering more than ever from depression.
I have recently discovered the root of my problems regarding body-image and depression. I am a people-pleaser. For some unknown reason I feel that each person has certain expectations for me, and that I must fulfill them to be successful. However, it has become blatantly clear to me that I have set these unrealistic goals for myself. I am literally driving myself crazy in my quest for success.
So here I am, on February 21st 2013, declaring a change for the better. I will learn to love my body. I will learn to have a positive outlook on life. Most of all, I will find my place in this world, and learn how to enjoy each and every minute of my life. Join me in my journey, one step at a time.