This year the topic is body image.

The girl in the picture above is me at 15.

I had just won my first TaeKwonDo Italian Championship, and without being fully aware of it, I had just started a long journey as an international competitive athlete.

‘You have the mind of a champion’-I remember my coach and instructor telling me.

As my fearless, determined and glory fuelled mindset started developing, so did also my eating disorder.

The obsession with perfection became a life-death situation: either perfect or nothing.

And that body was never perfect, so were not my athletic performances or my A grades at schools or anything else around me.

It was a silent and secret battle till I reached my 20s.

At that time, I had perhaps devoured 100s books on eating disorders but the shame of revealing my condition to people-besides my best friends and my brother- was still very powerful. The idea of showing my vulnerability and admitting that I, a high achiever, an athlete, a professional, apparently a happy person, was just surviving into her own body, was unthinkable.

Then, one day, while in the bus, I looked at people around me and all I could see were serene faces and their lightness of being. I thought ‘Maybe it’s possible to live differently’.

And I started questioning: ‘Do they have the same thoughts and obsessions I have? Do I really want to live like this for ever? Do I have options?’

And I did have options: talking. Opening up. Sharing. Asking for help.

At the first appointment with my therapist, I remember her saying: ‘You must be really intelligent to be able to build such a thing in your mind. But you are not alone.’

I discovered the power of social network, the power of information and knowledge, the power of giving a name to emotions.

The power of moving forward without letting the past define you for ever.

I was the only one in my program who was considered to have recovered, and with that I changed my life completely, including leaving my home country and saying STOP to competitive sports. I discovered the joy- and the option-of enjoying my body and doing exercises without pushing it to the limit.

Eating disorders, like other mental health problems, perhaps, never leave you completely. But you start seeing the positive role that they have had in your life, rather than feeling you have been a victim.

You realise that it’s possible to build resilience and to come out of difficulties stronger, perhaps also more knowledgeable.

But the main point is to acknowledge it and free yourself of the weight of bearing a secret.

We are not supposed to look like anyone else, but just ourselves.

#mentalhealthawarenessweek2019 #bodyimage #eatingdisorder #coaching #storytelling #truestory #resilience #kokoroconsultancy #mindset #mindofachampion #sports #mentalhealth #feelings #nurturingyourkokoro #openingup #itsoknottobeok #talking #wellbeing #wellness #freedom #courage #perfection #athlete

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