Alice Dalrymple is the Co-Owner of the Bristol Food Tour and a food and body positivity blogger at Alice and Peanut Butter. We reached out to Alice after a suggestion from Gina Love, another writer and artist, and requested that she share some of her personal story and struggle with Pink Things in this time of high stress and anxiety. Read on for more on Alice, and how she learned to cope with anxiety herself.
When I was younger, I was always called a worrier. I would bottle up everything that was on my mind and then promptly burst into tears and need to work out a solution to the problem before I could go to bed. Bear in mind, this happened when I was around 7 years old, so my issues definitely were not earth shattering. But I could never shake the constant tight knot feeling in my stomach. I describe my anxiety as the feeling you get before you go into a job interview -- except it's all the time. It wasn't until last year, after a stint in two high-pressured management jobs following graduation, that I had a mental health crisis and was diagnosed with high functioning anxiety.
I have always been a high achiever -- very social and very busy. These traits are praised in today's society and it has been hard to understand that underneath all my confidence, I am a really anxious woman. In reaction to my anxiety, I have always tried to control anything in order to make myself feel calmer. It started with my daily schedule -- meticulously planning every minute of my day -- and then started to involve my food intake and exercise regime. Slowly, but surely, the anxiety took over my life. I quit my job and took on a small role with an arts charity, was put on medication, and sought counseling to help me process my mental health condition, my issues surrounding my body/food, and why I was finding it impossible to relax when I had any downtime.
Recently I have been working hard on loosening the grips of control I was holding so tightly and embrace a more relaxed approach to life and my relationships with my body and food. Through a lot of hard work, I am at a place now where I feel secure in my body. I no longer feel the need to diet or over exercise and it is so liberating. It hasn't been an easy road, and if this is something you struggle with, I recommend the following steps:
1. Purge your social media of any people or accounts that make you feel not worthy (I'm talking fitspiration).
2. Realize that a diet is not the answer to happiness. Diets love to sell you on the idea that they are the quick fix to all of your problems when, in reality, positive change comes from within and not your dress size.
3. Finally, allow yourself freedom around food and give yourself permission to eat what you want, when you want to eat it. Food should not be labeled as good or bad. It is just food and you do not need to feel shame or like you need to earn the right to eat certain things.
Before therapy, I'd never really linked my anxiety with my issues surrounding food and my body. But, ultimately, it all comes down to control. In reality, life is messy -- you can't plan for every moment, you can't plan for how you are going to feel this afternoon, tomorrow, or next week, and you have to relax into that unknowing. There are so many things that we can focus our energy on instead of our dress size. Women are on this Earth, not to be small, but to take up space. We should concentrate on the wage gap instead of our thigh gap. We should be celebrating our sisters and uniting to use our voice. It is our power and it's time for us to fight back.