"You look like you've gained weight."
While I'm incredibly thankful to live in a time where discussing eating disorders isn't taboo, I will never forget the first time another woman told me I looked like I had gained quite a bit of weight.
And she was right: I HAD gained weight. I was recovering from an eating disorder and chronic depression.
It knocked the wind out of my sails, and it made me cry for the next couple of days. If I'm being honest, that comment also made me throw up a few of my meals the following week.
Beating an eating disorder is not like running a mile. It's not something you can just stick your mind to doing. It takes years of professional help. You have years of slipping up, re-committing to being healthy and then slipping up again.
You can't just wake up one day and be cured. But you CAN wake up one day, confident and secure, only for one careless comment to upset an entire month of progress.
And even when things are going well, there are the HOURS of questioning, "Well, was there even really a problem? Because I just feel fat now."
When those internal wars of self-disgust finally disappear or reduce significantly, criticizing points of view from the public can take a turn and weigh themselves heavily on your self-esteem.
In a single moment, your ENTIRE sense of worth feels like it's been projected on the wall, like notes to analyze. You start questioning everything again.
No, quitting an eating disorder isn't like quitting a bad habit. It's quitting an entire way of thinking.
No, scratch that: It's quitting an entire way of socializing. It's quitting an entire way of living. The smallest encounter with a trigger can bleed out all your hope.
But while this is happening, there are things you can do:
1. Learn to organize your emotions into two categories: immediate and long-standing.
My feelings get hurt every time someone makes a comment about my weight, whether it's because they find me too skinny or too chubby. Those are my immediate emotions.
Long-standing emotions, on the other hand, are the ones of appreciation for my progress. Those feelings have come with me loving and believing in myself.
2. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on.
People who are happy and content with themselves are not the same people who comment on your superficial characteristics.
Recently, International Women's Day shed a light on #ADayWithoutAWoman, and I couldn't help but consider the fact that a day without women might lead to a day without this horrible girl-on-girl bullying we see and experience as women every day.
As a woman, I want to empower other women because I know how difficult it is to be one sometimes.
Why are we reducing our intelligence down to petty and insulting comments about one another's weight?
3. Celebrate the little victories.
I made it this whole week without counting calories! I made it this whole week without wishing I looked different! I made it this whole week without yelling at myself for weight gain. I am getting up, going to the gym and making breakfast because I am lucky enough to have enough food, and I'm going to work because I have a job. I'm a lucky girl!
But most of all, appreciate this body you were given. No way will every day be easy. In fact, most might suck.
But remind yourself that your mind and spirit are beautiful: Your body just holds it all together.
And there is no one else who could ever be you.