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My Not-So-Perfect Life

I contemplated about sharing this with you. I know some people don’t like it when you air your dirty laundry in public, while others are quick to advise you against it. Personally though, I don’t want to put up a perfect persona online. I don’t want to live a double life, just because I’ve not seen you in person. Who I am here, should be who I really am every day. So, I decided, I want to be human with you. I don’t want to be just that author you follow online, I want to be a person. After all, many of you have been reading my works for years. Some of you I’ve spoken to via emails and social media. It’s only fair that you know who I am and my imperfect life–the facets that often don’t translate through the screen between us.

But before I begin, let me just say I never knew I would admit to this one day. I didn’t think it would happen to me. And when it did, it was so subtle that by the time I realised it, I wondered why I didn’t see what was happening. Thankfully, I eventually saw it. And I’m currently working on beating this demon: orthorexia.

Orthorexia isn’t a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, as it often manifests in the form of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. For a while now, I’ve struggled with binge eating. But when I looked up the symptoms, I found that I didn’t exhibit much of them. After further research, I learned that I have orthorexia: the obsession with healthy eating.

You would think such an obsession is a good thing, right? Well, not until you hear the many stories from the many members of the fitness community. It’s not a widely known eating disorder but it exists. And the health repercussions, mentally and physically, is crippling in the long run. I’m just glad I noticed it before I experienced the full blown side effects. I’m glad I noticed it to begin with. But, what was/is it like with orthorexia?

As someone with orthorexia, I restricted my diet to a point where I didn’t consume sugar, carbs, gluten, and fruits. I didn’t eat certain types of vegetables, because they were considered high on the glycemic index scale. I found myself reading all nutritional labels and googling the nutrition content of natural foods, before I consumed them or omitted them from my diet. Whenever I failed to adhere to my ‘clean’ eating–after binging because the cravings got too hard to bear–I would rebound with more food restrictions and more exercise. It was an endless cycle–binge, restrict, binge, restrict. Yet oddly enough, when people say I was obsessive or too restrictive, I couldn’t see it. I was blinded until my binge episodes scared me into finding out what was wrong. And only then, I saw the problem.

It’s strange how some of us don’t take eating disorders or any mental illnesses seriously. Maybe because we’ve never experienced it and understood what it means to have one. We cannot comprehend what is so hard about eating that piece of vegetable or climbing out of the bed just to brush our teeth. It’s not that we are indifferent–we just don’t have the experience. And often, we think we won’t ever fall into this rabbit hole. We think we’re immune to this illness. I thought I was immune. But I guess… I’m just as human as everyone else.

I’m currently in a recovery phase, reintroducing the foods I previously banned into my diet. I also changed my eating schedule to be less restrictive. I’m giving myself the freedom to include more foods and enjoy the foods I like. I’ve told my friends about this, and I have my mother to hold me accountable–relinquishing control and listening to her advice. And though it hasn’t been easy–the fear, regret, and guilt still lingers–I know I can win this battle.

If you have a mental illness, know you’re not alone. If you think you might have one, quickly seek help and take action. If you don’t have a mental illness, be aware that it can happen to anyone–don’t ever be ashamed or critical if it happens to you or someone you know. We’re not gods. But when we beat our demons, we come out stronger and more powerful than before.

I hope this sharing–as daunting as it is to hit publish–doesn’t come off as an airing of dirty laundry but encourages you to live unashamed. After all, our imperfections make us who we are. We all struggle. We all fall. We all break. But we’re all warriors, overcomers, and fighters too. Whatever you’re going through, don’t give up and lose hope. Let’s conquer our demons together. Let’s stand victorious… and live to tell the tale.

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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Others

 

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Why You Should Stop Playing Defense

Writers do it all the time. No, I should rephrase. Creators do it all the time. It’s almost natural – something we were born to do. And after many bouts of defense, we consider it normal. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s wrong. I do it too. I’m saying we should change our game plan – we should stop playing defense and start playing offense. Because only then, we can win the game.

Recently, I’ve been playing Clash Royale (#NotASponsor). It’s a live mobile game played amongst strangers. The tutorial of the game teaches players how to attack and defend their towers. However, playing defense will not result in a win. In order for the game to end – for a victor to be crowned – one must destroy the opposition’s three towers. The only way to win a game… is to attack.

In games as such, it’s almost considered dumb to merely play defense. How long can you keep the enemy at bay? Why are you wasting troops and strategy on defense? My dad once told me that in a game of chess, you have to think about attacking not just defending. When you start moving in on your enemy, your enemy will stop making offensive moves in self-preservation. Now, you’re in control. And when you’re dominating the game, it becomes easier to win. So then, why can’t we stop playing defense?

When someone criticises our work, leaves a not so favourable comment, or voices their dislike, why do we play defense? Why do we explain ourselves? Why do we make excuses repeatedly, without considering a possible problem?

Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to be defensive of your work. I’m defensive of mine too – I always feel the need to explain myself, my actions, and my plans. But being defensive and never taking a constructive feedback into consideration is a silly move. If we’re constantly sweeping the problem under the carpet, we’re not cleaning the mess. We’re merely hiding it until someone else uncovers it. It doesn’t make anything better. And as creators, don’t we want our works to be better?

It’s time to stop playing defense and start playing offense. Always take a step back and evaluate every comment – good and bad. If there’s an obvious problem with your work, stop making excuses and fix it. If more than one person finds something odd, stop justifying and look into it. Defend your work, but learn to attack issues that are holding it back from becoming better.

Just like us, our work isn’t perfect – there’s always room for improvement. Sheltering ourselves from the truth changes nothing. Protecting our pride will not help us grow. If we want to improve in our craft, we have to start attacking. We have to accept we’re flawed. It is only when we stop hiding our flaws – embracing our weaknesses – that we become strong.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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