International Eating Disorder Day

Yesterday was International Eating disorder Day.

The triggers arrive like they always do… Unfortunately they always do.

I feel naked already and I haven’t written anything yet.

I think this is the most exposed I have been in a long time. I consider myself someone honest, and this is something I have spoken with my students however haven’t share with all of my friends or mainly on social media, but I think is time to speak my truth and use my suffering in order to create awareness about an issue that is more common that we can even comprehend.

April 2016 I discovered that I was suffering from anorexia nervosa. I say I discovered as this isn’t something that I was aware of. I wasn’t eating with the intention to be “skinny” I was just sad and skipping food became a habit. I was 45kg, I was working everyday, at the time, I was working about 13 hour days. And my problem was developed through grieving. 

I cannot explain how guilty I felt and how disgusted I was knowing that I was a lie, I felt that if anyone knew I would not have a job, I struggle accepting that I had a problem, I was sent to the St Margaret's hospital for assessment to see how bad the issue was. That day I felt lost, like I haven’t been in a long time, I felt alone and so but so ashamed.

How the heck can I call myself a yoga teacher that empowers people, a youth leader, and example to many including my friends.

I was at home and I came across a documentary about eating disorder, I ticked every single box with the symptoms, I didn’t know what to do, I decided to call one of my closest friends, a part of me knew that this was bad and that it had to stop as I was killing myself slowly, aware or not, with the intention or not, I was doing it, and I had to do something about it.

Working with people suffering from mental health and self harm and discovering that this was one of the worst forms of self harm made me feel so confused, guilty and ashamed, I think shame was one of the biggest things.

My doctor at the time was incredible supportive when I share to her my feelings in regards guilt and shame because of my work, she made me feel human again, as I feel I was a ghost.

The journey to recover started that day, I promised her and myself that I was going to do all I could to get better as I am was not ready to die, that day I discovered that my heart was deteriorating that made it very real and it was a big wake up call for me.

I was teaching a class in March 2018 when a student made a comment about my weight, she said something along the words, “you’ve put on weight, are you pregnant? She used to be skinny” she said in shock after not seeing me for so long. She left me speechless, I had not idea what to say apart from, no, I am not, I just love eating food.
I felt my heart raising, as the class started, during the class I noticed some of my young students feeling uncomfortable, pulling their tops down and looking themselves on the mirror with shame. I felt that I had to speak up, that was the first time I opened up about my journey with eating disorder publicly.

Because I am a yoga teacher, we think that I have to look a certain way, or have a certain shape, which is why this industry and world can be so disgusting and a bullet for some people.

My main goal was to gain weight and remember my love for food and life, to get myself back again, as I was gone somewhere dark and lonely.

In six weeks after visiting hospital I gained all of my weight lost and some more, I was not healthy as this journey is slow and difficult, I shared with my closest people what was happening, I made drastic changes in my life and routine, the only thing that I wasn’t doing was exercise like I used to before all of this happened, I was weak, literally weak so it wasn’t a great idea to start working out yet, I needed to have a strong heart again, have nutrients and minerals that I was lacking, then the time was going to come.

In that class I was facing one of the biggest battles with anorexia, a part of me agreed with the student that made the comment, my self talk during the class was dark, I kept hearing yes, omg you are fat, look at you, maybe you need to stop eating again, people seem to like you more when you were more skinny, how is people going to do yoga with you if you are so fat, and so on…
Then a louder voice said: don’t you dear! You’ve come too far to fall again, to get back to square one.

That day I made sure I was with friends, the ones that helped me overcome this illness, with love and encouragement, with kindness which I lost somewhere along the way when grieving, we of course did it around food, we had one of my favorite meals.

I started noticing that I wasn’t alone, it is so much more common than I thought, I started reading and informing myself about it as I want to help people struggling, I didn’t know I was suffering, with all the yoga, mindfulness and meditation in the world, I had not idea that I was sick, I wondered how many more are my living example.

I wondered how many girls and boys had a trigger like the comment I heard that put them back to square one. I felt sick, I want change, I know that to create change I have to change myself first, I know that speaking up and speaking my truth will have some consequences, but I am ready to receive any criticism because I know that I will make at least one person aware of the issue, the way we talk to each other, the way we look at each other, the way we expect people to be, we are all in this one together, we keep feeding superficiality, we aren’t fully real, but I don’t want that anymore, this is the real me, yes, I struggled from an eating disorder, yes I do not have the “look” of your regular yoga teacher, because you know what? I am not! I am not your regular “yoga teacher” I am a simple human, learning how to live, learning from my mistakes, teaching my mind and body everyday, making mistakes often and I want to make them so I can grow, I want to lead by being real, by sharing, no, you aren’t alone, I also struggle, some days my mind tricks me, and with love, my own and others I have been able to be on the other side.

Some days my self talk is ugly, some days when I get ready to go to work I look in the mirror and that part of my snaps back, but what do I do? I punch back! I punch back with gratitude and kindness. I can now enjoy some fries and a scone, and a sassy burger without guilt, but with joy.

I am opening up today because I want change, I want people to be aware that my life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies like a lot of you think, my life is sacrifice and resilience, my strength and passion to help people suffering comes from the depth of my own suffering. Comes from a space of healing, of recovery, everyday is a new chance for me to do better than in April 2016, everyday I have a conversation with myself where I have to remind myself who I am, where I have to tell myself you can do this, when shame and guilt arrive I have remember that it is the shame and guilt that build my strength.

Today, from 45kg I am pretty sure I weight about 65 or more or less, is that the “right” weight for me? Maybe no, do I care? Sometimes I do, will I fall into punishment again? No, I will not. I made a promise to myself to become aware of me, to stop giving my soul to others and to check on me everyday, and to use the resources around me when I need to, to ditch fear and shame and ask for help. Asking for help was the biggest thing I’ve done, I am not used to, I don’t want to bother people, I don’t want people to feel sorry, I don’t want my friends to carry my weight when they carry so much of their own, but because of this experience I have learnt that I cannot do it alone, I need them and all the support and help available to me.

I want to wake people up, I want to speak what we avoid, I want us to be ok speaking about mental illness, so here I am, wanting change, by making the first step, I am speaking up, I am opening up, I am full of flaws but my passion saved me, my love for yoga and my desire to help people struggling is what is got me here today, I am relief that this is exposed, I am relief that courage arrive today for me to open up.

The reason I decided to speak up on social media was after speaking up on a class and receiving emails and messages from people sharing how they searched for help after me sharing the story, which empowers me, and dis-empower anorexia! I got my power back! Now anorexia is powerless, now that my friends and some of my students know I know I won’t fall!

If you are struggling, please know that YOU AREN’T ALONE!!!!

If you don’t know where to start, here is a phone number for you to contact 0800 2EDANZ
You can check the website
https://www.ed.org.nz/
Make an appointment to your doctor, tell SOMEONE, someone that you trust so they can hold your hand along the way.

Yoga is been my biggest tool to get better, practicing gentle stretches and getting back into my body was a big mission, not only because of grieving but because I felt guilty and ashamed, today I learnt that even getting up in the morning and stretching my arms above my head and moving my body left to right is better than ignoring my body, YOUR BODY HEARS EVERYTHING THAT YOUR MIND SAYS, and this is why I am still recovering as I am having to train my mind every day! I have to remind my mind and body who I am and who I don't want to be.

To the doctors, psychologist, psychiatrist, nurses, friends, that encourage me to carry on teaching when I was broken and I felt guilty, thank you, you all helped me heal, thank you for showing me the day, thank you for empowering me to heal so I could help others.

Kotte Aguilar.

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Kotte Aguilar