A few days ago, Therese published a beautiful post on courage on her blog Beyond Blue. In it, she recounts the stories of two very brave people from The King’s Speech and a 1978 film called “Ice Castles.”
She writes why both films resonated so much with her:
I laughed and cried through the entire film because I felt so many of the same emotions as “Bertie,” second son of King George V, while preparing to give the commencement address this last pay May to Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. I have never been so nervous about anything in my entire life.
I don’t stammer, thank God. But I am on Lithium, which causes me to tremor and feels much like a stammer. When I’m nervous, the Lithium makes me shake even more. In fact, on my first day at the consulting job – where I was somewhat concerned about someone finding out that I was a religion major and didn’t know what change-management was — I was shaking so much that the guy in back of me asked if I was a diabetic in need of insulin and handed me a cup of orange juice. I chugged it and told him I felt much better, thanks so much.
Like many things, public speaking and media appearances never bothered me before my colossal breakdown of 2005 and 2006. Even duking it out with Bill Maher on the ABC show “Politically Incorrect” didn’t interrupt my sleep or appetite. However, my self-confidence—both publically and privately–crumbled to microscopic pieces the months before my hospitalizations. When I emerged, I was a mere shell of my former self.
I had to learn how to do everything all over.
Somewhat like the ice-skater Alexis (Lynn-Holly Johnson) in the 1978 American romantic drama, “Ice Castles.” Because of her extraordinary skill and aptitude (so that part’s different), the young talent becomes a star practically overnight. One night she escapes from a party and skates in her dress clothes. Coming down from a dangerous jump combination, she trips on a set of tables and chairs, hits her head, and is blinded.
These two stories, Therese writes, also tell the stories of people with depression and anxiety, of battling the inner critics that bash you regularly and keep saying you’re unworthy.
The self-doubt and emotional stammering have us frozen at the podium or ice-rink, or office desk. Countless times we have to ignore or drown out the voice within that whispers, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” We forge on, pretending as though we weren’t handicapped, either mentally or physically.
I absolutely think that the same applies to eating disorders. I’ve written before about the vicious, relentless voice of an eating disorder, which sparks self-doubt and tons of negative thoughts. Which sabotages relationships and recovery.
The one that tells you, too, that “No, I can’t do this, I can’t do this.”
But while the voice screams, you don’t listen. You ignore it to pursue recovery, to overcome setbacks.
When the voice says to starve, you pick up your fork and enjoy your pasta. When the voice says it’s better to stay in, you go out with your friends or try to meet new ones. When the voice says you need to weigh yourself every day, you trash the scale.
When the voice says thin is in, you celebrate all shapes and sizes and toss the “health” magazines. When the voice says you’re unworthy, you treat yourself to extra self-care by journaling, reading a great book, taking a walk or getting a massage.
Bravery resides here.
When the voice shouts, “You can’t,” you reply, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Therese ends her post with:
In this way, each and every one of us embody courage in the way Mary Anne Radmacher defines it: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” And eventually, like King George VI, there comes that moment when we will walk away from the microphone proud of what we have accomplished by applying courage to our life everyday, and by rejecting the impulse to retreat in fear. By inching forward, despite our stammering or blindness, we stumble upon peace and self-confidence.
So, today, I want to remind you that if you’re recovering from an eating disorder, struggling with a setback, giving up dieting, trying to accept yourself, working to love your body, you are courageous.
Overcoming the ED voice, one step, one sentence at a time, is brave.
Acknowledge your triumphs. Every time you choose recovery, you’re being brave.
And if you experience a setback, try your best to learn from it and move on.
All those daily victories are what recovery is all about. All those victories add up to something amazing: recovery, freedom, self-acceptance, self-love.
You are brave. So keep going.
How have you stood up to the ED voice? What helps you quiet the inner critic? Please share your triumphs below!