I first heard about ‘Learning To Love The Girl In The Mirror’ a while before I was approached about joining the blog tour. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would be a book I was going to pick up as soon as I got my hands on it.
I don’t know if it was the grin on Helena’s face on the front cover, knowing roughly what it was about, or my own experiences- a mix of all three, I think- that attracted me to the book, but I knew I had to read it.
So, as soon as I was approached by The Book Publisher to be a part of the blog tour, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
Quickly, I found the book at my house with a lovely chai tea enclosed for me (my favourite!) and couldn’t wait to sit down with a cuppa to read it.
Front to back, the book was engaging- both in the sense I couldn’t put it down, and the fact it was extremely, and wonderfully interactive.
I truly would stretch to say that this is now the book I guide my life around. It is sacred to me.
My favourite parts of the book
The book opens with a letter from Helena to you. Although you know that everyone is reading the same letter, it feels very personal. It’s directed at you and the lovely author of this book means it.
There were many things I personally loved about the letter in itself, but what I found the best for me was how it was written. It wasn’t patronising, but nor was it too emotionally deep. I do find an issue with many recovery guides, awareness books etc, is that it’s so easy to cause discomfort or be unintentionally triggering. With Helena’s letter, I found it to be sensitive as well as achieving what I believe to be her aim.
I love referring to the negative thoughts as ‘Little Miss Critical’. Personifying something fuelling hatred truly makes you think. You wouldn’t put up with it from a bully, enemy- so why yourself?
I truly love how though there is a focus on body love, it does refer to other things. It’s about full round perfectionism and how it’s soul destroying- and I relate to that. I used to ‘punish’ myself for not being perfect- whether in an ED way, or not.
I also love this:
Quotes, relevant, are hidden between chapters.
As I mentioned before, the book as a whole is very interactive. There’s a space at the back for ‘notes’ (at first I did not realise this!) so you can keep all of your positive affirmations in one place, and that place fittingly being this wonderful autobiography, or as I’d much rather call it, the trinity of self love.
A note on your notes!
A little note on your notes! As I began reading this, I was sort of just enjoying the words so much I thought “I’ll come back to these steps later!” – I wanted Helena’s words to fuel me and push me to self love, but guess what….
You can’t come back to it later. Every. Step. Is. Necessary. Even if you do think ‘I need this daily’ and come back to it every day, please, please- if steps are ones you can do as you go along, there and then, do them there and then. I promise, it will be wonderful for your recovery – AND YES. YOU DO NEED, AND DESERVE, RECOVERY. Even if recovery for you isn’t about a diagnosed eating disorder, and is more to do with disordered eating habits or self loathing.
The ‘gram force
Helena Grace Donald, author of ‘Learning To Love The Girl In The Mirror’, runs not only her Instagram, but a body posi, self love instagram, too – I adore this, and truly live by it.
She also runs girlunfiltered.com
My own reflections and personal experiences
In the intro, Helena reflects on her own experiences with eating disorders. She speaks of deciding to take her life back at age 19. This hit me hard, since I myself am 19, and have been suffering with my Eating Disorder since the age of 13. Back then, I don’t think I could have ever imagined my bad habits- skipping one meal that turned to all, coffee loading for fuel, compulsively exercising and not keeping food down, being the basics- would still be ruling my life at 19.
Health scares (now real, scary issues) as a result of my ED, including fainting spells, weight fluctuation, gastrointestinal issues and heart problems, have bogged me down through my latter teenage years, and as someone who suffers with chronic illnesses already – and other self inflicted injury due to mental health- I do not need, nor want, any health problems. Yet, Bulimia has decided to punish me for punishing myself.
I am not saying I’ve never tried recovery before- I have- but it hasn’t lasted. Truly, I haven’t taken it ‘seriously’, and recovery has only come as a result of me being through a ‘better patch’ and in this ‘better patch’, I haven’t been overrun by the ED… this means I’ve not tried to recover, I’ve just been a little better. When I have tried recovery, it’s taken a matter of hours before I curse to myself and give up.
I’ve been in hospital. I’ve been in specialist appointments. I’ve had sectioning threats, to be countered sometimes with fake ‘recovery’ to make people think it’s okay, and they’ll ‘get off my back’ so I can get bad again. I’ve refused treatment. I’ve tried to get through teen life thinking ‘ when I move out I can restrict and no one will ever know’, and that’s been my motivation to ‘get through’. I’ve been under ‘crisis’ and hospital daycare. I’ve had much more vivid thoughts and experiences I wouldn’t dare talk of now because what I’ve already said may be triggering enough as it is, and I’m not sure I’m yet comfortable. It’s shocking what an eating disorder can do to you, your thoughts- your mind is warped, sick.
Written for a young woman, by a young woman.
If you’re looking for a self-love bible, this is it. I urge you to grab yourself a copy, interact with this beautiful book, and heal your soul. I am so, so grateful to Helena Grace Donald for writing this and can’t wait to continue using it in my recovery journey.