I didn’t surf for pretty much three months. It’s awful, isn’t it. The more I put it off, the more anxious and depressed I got about it. I’ve been busy with university, my job, my placement, competing on my horse … Continue reading
Whenever anything isn’t quite right, I either eat a lot or go to the beach. I much prefer doing the latter. Days go by so quickly; it’s challenging to stay afloat. Coping and dealing are two ends of a management … Continue reading
I wonder how people jump off cliffs with their surfboards to get to great breaks. You know what I mean. It’s in almost every surf film. Surfer courageously takes the drop and then joins with their surfboard on their way to their next great adventure together. I really wonder if bravery is something one gets from surfing, or if one is inherently brave to begin surfing.
Are we brave as surfers or just brave surfers?
I constantly hate myself and my surfing because I am anxious, cautious and timid, and my surfing suffers from this. I talk myself out of waves all the time and I have unfortunately been victim of too many panic attacks out in the water to admit to. But people that don’t surf look at what I do and tell me they could never do that. There’s a four-foot wave about to break in front of me. I try my hardest to duck dive and try to get through. A wall of ugly grey water surges up behind me. I’m in the wrong spot (as usual) and I am about to be chucked over the falls. I either pull back (if I can) or I just relax into the tumble of the “hold-down”. Other people wouldn’t even step into the water.
So I suppose that is all I have to think about the next time my anxiety gets the better of me. Just by entering the water, I am already brave. I got this.
Before I started surfing, I rode a lot. I loved competing (though wasn’t very successful with my scatter brained horse). Surfing has helped me heal and live again. This year I started competing with my horse again. Yesterday, we won … Continue reading
Today was my last opportunity until after Christmas to go surfing. Unfortunately, my opportunity dissipated like the waves on a calm sea. I’ve been a bit down lately so I was really looking forward to hitting the water. When I … Continue reading
I remember my first successful surf fondly. I was so eager to stand up that eventually I did, but I also remember feeling as though I stood out for the wrong reasons. Not for being uncoordinated and unbalanced, but because I was older and not exactly athletic. The anxiety I felt when being handed my wetsuit (would I have to change in front of these buff surf coaches?) and feeling weak as I carried the huge foamie to the beach (cue out-of-breathness). It made me want to be “good” at surfing all the more, just to prove to any critics that I could.
Ultimately, BED hit me after my first successful lesson and I got even fatter. But when you’re severely depressed and grieving, you really don’t care how you pull yourself through each day. We all need comfort. Unfortunately, mine turned into an eating disorder that made me even more depressed because I hated the way I looked (and felt). I hated myself enough to stop eating, and that’s when I knew I needed something else to focus on – other than hating myself.
That was when I decided to get healthy and see a psychologist, and go out on a limb and commit myself to surfing by buying my first surfboard. I’ve learned a lot about myself since deciding to surf. I know I have someone inside me that is confident and able to paddle through the impact zone, but also someone that feels confident enough to change into a wetsuit in front of buff surfer dudes (albeit awkwardly). Surfing has given me endurance and strength I never would have found in the world. I have my rough periods; the day the doctor “updated” my eating disorder was a day I felt like I had tinnitus – the words Bulimia Nervosa rang in my ear – in fact they still do because it doesn’t feel right. I am not Bulimic, yet I have Bulimia. I feel very disconnected from this diagnosis. I do not throw up food so how am I Bulimic? Again, the surfing has helped me re-establish my sense of identity and give me a place where I am safe.
Now I am fitter and healthier than ever before. I surf and I workout. I still struggle with eating like a normal person, but the important thing is that I try. I’ve given my psychologist the sack and I’m relying on my own strengths to heal myself, because thanks to surfing, I have power.
My journey is still just beginning…
As much as we don’t like to admit it, there’s a limit to what we can do or how much we can hold inside. I’ve been struggling for the last week or two. I can try to be optimistic but … Continue reading
I read a ridiculously asinine feature on a webpage earlier this week about how all those cool analogies we use for surfing are just rumours. For example, the surfer out there having the most fun is the best surfer and … Continue reading
I first stood up on a wave on January 1st, 2013, on an 8’0 soft-top foam board at Smiths Beach, Phillip Island.
I went surfing again February 5th, 2013, on the same board at the same place. Then my life went downhill and it was a while before I could step out and go surfing again. October 2013, I went surfing again and decided that surfing would be my saviour from the darkness.
I got my surfboard November 28th 2013 but it took me until after Christmas to find the courage to go out and give it a surf. I’d wanted a surfboard and wanted to be a surfer girl for as long as I could remember. I finally had the board and a strange delirium took me over. I had such trepidation about actually getting out there on my very own 7’6 Mini-mal that it took me almost exactly a month before I actually used it.
That trepidation is playing out even now, with my second board, a 6’4 fun board.
On my 7’6, I catch waves. I can steer and do basic turns. But I get out the back on any day over 1.5ft and I get nervous. In fact, I get scared. I don’t even know why. On my 7’6 board, I am not confident to try for waves.
However, on my 6’4, I know I can get out the back without being too pounded by the impact zone. It’s lighter and easier to paddle and turn. So I paddle enthusiastically out the back, even on days when the surf is bigger than I know I should be attempting. It’s 8ft? No worries. I’ll give it a go. Worst that will happen is I’ll get dumped. And I do. Oh boy do I get dumped. And thumped. I mean, absolutely-annihilated-thumped but I am absolutely-fine with it.
I don’t know what it is. I take on a different persona when I ride the different boards. I know I can surf the 7’6 efficiently yet I am too frightened to try. I know I will wipe out efficiently on the 6’4 in big(ger) surf yet I don’t care. I tend to stay in the white-water on the longer board and only try little waves. The fun board has me paddling for waves I know I’ll never make, yet I try anyway.
What is this odd stage in my journey? Do I perhaps need an in-between-size board? Why is it that I have little to no confidence on a more stable board, but have all the charge (and little of the success) I need for the short board?
I do believe I am confused, but I’ll continue to take both boards out. Why not. What harm does it do to try and fail on the shortboard and be confident, while being a nervous wreck but pulling it off on a longer board?
Am I just a conundrum? Perhaps not. They do, after all, say that the board makes the surfer…but does it?
My emotional state is connected to how much or what I’ve eaten. The body is our vehicle, our instruments, our temples – however you’d like to describe it – it’s a thing that we are in. As an eating disorderee, I often find myself unable to join body with self. My body is a thing; a thing I can either torture or nourish.
So I need tools to find ways to connect what I feel to what I see. One is obviously surfing. I metaphorically paddle, get up and enjoy the ride (or the hold-down). But another tool in my toolbox is particular foods.
Food. Sometimes I question why I need it when it just seems to cause me so much heart ache. There are days I am voracious and days when you can’t convince me to eat a vegetable stock cube diluted with hot water. Emotionally and physically, I enjoy the numbness of emptiness and the lack of pain it allows me to feel. But what kind of food can make me feel good about myself? Good food. Here are four foods from my toolbox – food that can cheer me up and that I’ll never let my disorder make me resist again.
1. Bananas. Most eating disorderees* that I’ve met in support communities have the good old banana down as what we call a “fear food”. I’ve never allowed bananas to fill me with anxiety. They make me feel good. Unwrapping them is like unwrapping candy. Phallic symbolism and all, I enjoy eating bananas. I believe it stems from my mother giving me mashed banana whenever I was ill. It’s the Australian equivalent of the “chicken noodle soup”.
2. Pineapple. Pineapple is sweet and brightly coloured. Yellow! Come now, who doesn’t feel happier even just looking at a pineapple with its funky “hairdo”?
3. Oatmeal. I must have been the only kid in the world that couldn’t wait to have oatmeal for breakfast. Monday mornings were oatmeal mornings. I’d wake to the sound of my mother stirring it in the pot, the flame hissing as it licked the edges of the pot handle. I couldn’t wait for my next bowl even as I was finishing it.
4. Tomato sauce on a slice of bread. Since returning to vegetarianism, it’s come to my realisation that perhaps I never liked the Aussie traditional “snag in a bidda bread” (aka sausage in a bit of bread) for the sausage. I think it was for the tomato sauce with the bread!
I am getting better at remembering that I have coping skills and enjoyment in my toolbox, I need to also remember that I have foods that I can eat without fear of a binge. The psychologist tells me that I have nothing to fear from having comfort foods, even though comfort food is a huge aspect of my Bulimia. Refusing myself the foods I feel safe and loved eating is not an affective way to battle through my issues. So I thought I’d share some foods that I love to eat.
What are some of your favourite comfort foods?
*My own personal term. We are all different.