I’ve always felt the need to be in control. In control of not only myself, but also in control of others around me. If a situation arrises in which a person acts in a way that I hadn’t hoped for, or if something ruins my meticulous plan of how things are meant to be, my anxiety levels shoot through the roof and I go into panic mode.
When it comes to eating and exercising, I am easily influenced by others. This was much more significant in the first few months of leaving hospital than now. Back then, the simple word ‘diet’ would send me into an emotional turmoil and leave me unsettled for the next few hours. I like to think that I am much better now. I believe this is down to the fact than I began to realise that you can’t change what others say, think, or do, but that you CAN change yourself and the way in which you let these things affect you. To this very day, talk about diets/body image/exercising/eating make me extremely anxious. My ears prick up, my heart starts racing and my palms begin to sweat. At first I tried to overcome this by getting up and leaving the conversation whenever I felt uncomfortable, however this proved inconvenient and not a sustainable coping mechanism. What if in 10 years time I find myself in a situation where I’m sitting in a meeting, and there is light mid conversation where someone mentions that they’re not going to have that cookie because it has too many calories in it? I can’t just walk out?!! I can’t avoid being around that certain colleague for the rest of my life because I find him/her triggering! I can’t run away from every little thing that scares me.
So this is when I asked myself. What am I afraid of? What are their thoughts and words and behaviours actually going to do to me?
Yes what they say may trigger bad thoughts in my head, but at the end of the day, nobody is in control of my actions and emotions except me. If someone decides to go on a diet, then let them. It’s their body, it’s their choice and it’s their decision. I can advise them not to if I don’t believe it’s necessary but at the end of the day I cannot control what they do.
Before all of this, I would have begged them not to, get myself worked up about it and then contemplate going on a diet myself. I would isolate myself from that person and I would get angry at them; they’re meant to be my friend so why are they doing this to me? I couldn’t be friends with someone who was on a diet! If they went on a diet that would trigger me and the voices in my head would get stronger and then I would give in to them and go on a diet too and relapse and start the whole downward spiral all over again.
But why does it have to be like that? It’s simple. It doesn’t. Why should I let what others do affect me so much? If they want to just eat salad everyday – then let them eat salad everyday! It doesn’t mean I have to and it certainly doesn’t mean I should feel guilty if they are sat there with a salad half the size of my carb loaded plate. I know that I am a healthy weight, I know that I look after my body and listen to my cravings, and I know that denying myself foods because they are deemed ‘unhealthy’ will never do me any good – there is no such thing as ‘unhealthy food’. All food is healthy in moderation (Pssst next blog post spoiler alert!).
For some people, health and fitness is their thing. They like trying out the latest health fads and sticking to a diet in which sweets and the likes are rarely or never seen. Where going to the gym 5-7 times a week is a ritual and counting how many calories they consume and burn a day is part of everyday life. I just hope that these people truly do enjoy this and don’t ever deny themselves something that isn’t a salad or something ‘healthy’ because it’ll cause them to feel guilty – orthorexia. This illness is one that not many people may have heard of before but is becoming increasingly more common in young boys and girls.
My need for control not only affects my eating but also my family life too. I have always wanted to have close siblings. I would get jealous of other people who were close with their brothers/sisters, who would talk to them on a daily basis and call them their best friends. Out of the three of us, I am definitely the loud and bubbly child. I am also the more sociable one and both my brothers much prefer to keep themselves to themselves. I used to take it to heart when they didn’t talk to me or show any interest in wanting to be close but I’ve realised that that’s just who they are – and probably the fact that they’re boys and aren’t very affectionate anyway plays a part too.
It soon became apparent that I needed to let go of my need for control over others when I realised that I had been getting increasingly angry at my older brother trying to force him to be closer with Adam. I’m one of those people that want everyone to get along and for everything to be happy families. I get frustrated and upset when we’re not close as this isn’t how it’s meant to be in my head. We’re all meant to get on really well with each other and treat each other’s girlfriends and boyfriends like they’re a part of the family. However the fact that Adam and my brother have never really bonded over the past couple of years isn’t because he is trying to be rude and upset me, but the fact that socialising and talking to people who aren’t his friends simply isn’t him. I shouldn’t push him to do something out of his comfort zone and something he doesn’t want to do just because it doesn’t stick to the plan in my head. I shouldn’t try to change him. So I should change myself. I changed my thoughts and need for everything to be in control of how I wanted it to be, and I like to think that I’m closer with my brothers than ever before. At the end of the day, you cannot force a bond or relationship between anyone. I cannot force my brothers to be extremely close to me and I cannot force any two people to like each other. It’s about other people’s personalities and how compatible they are with each other.
If you ever feel hurt or frustrated by what someone has said or done, please remember that it’s you who decides how you let yourself feel. You can let yourself be badly affected by their words, or you can ask yourself: why does their opinion and thoughts matter to me so much? You’re the only person you can change, and you’re stuck with you for the rest of your life! So make you the best you that you can ever be.