- Sara Mann
The Camera Adds 100 Pounds.
Happy Saturday Everyone!
A subject that pretty much everyone is talking about lately is this crazy pandemic. We have adjusted to working from home, wearing masks, zooming, and giving air hugs pretty quickly. It’s weird isn’t it?
One huge change for me during this time of Covid is that instead of getting up Sunday morning and heading to church, I now “go” to church by turning on the TV and sitting on the couch. To be honest, there are things about this I REALLY love. I can wear whatever I want, my dogs can finally cuddle with me during a sermon, I can pause it to go to the bathroom (or grab more tea)! There is ONE thing however that I have THE hardest time with.......watching myself on TV.
As many of you know, and for those of you who do not, I play keys in our worship band. I’ve been doing it for a while now and that in itself made me overcome a lot of insecurities about my body while recovering, being in front of people, dealing with panic attacks from being on stage and needing to be “perfect.” I actually blogged about it, and you can read about it HERE.
Since church has now moved over to streaming on the TV, the band (aka me) records worship on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and then it “airs” on Sunday morning. Can you see my dilemma yet? What this means is, that when I sit in my lovely pajamas, sipping my peach tranquility watching our church service, I have to watch MYSELF play keys. The horror.
Have you ever watched yourself on TV? It’s weird.
To take it a step further, I’m a recovering anorexic who has overshot my normal weight by.....a lot...who has anxiety and suffers from extreme body dysmorphia. Therefore, when I see myself playing keys during the worship portion of our service, it’s a bit of a problem.
I try SO hard to not let my eating disorder thoughts take over, but if I’m being honest, the struggle is real. Instead of concentrating on worship and the music, I find myself tearing what I look like on TV apart bit by bit. The constant thoughts that play in my head, and even out loud sometimes to my husband are, “Do I really look like that? I swore I wasn’t THAT big looking. That outfit was a bad choice. I look HUGE. OMG this is embarrassing. Why the wide angle lens?” You get the idea. While I should be lifting my voice in praise, I’m cutting myself down.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never been able to see myself correctly in photos or on video. Body dysmorphia is a very real thing. There have been times that I have seen myself in a photo, had a panic attack because I looked “gigantic” and then three months later looked at the same photo and realized it wasn’t that bad at all. When I was at my lowest weight, I still thought I looked huge. Now I see those photos and I see how skeletal I was. It’s a painful realization when you are aware you don’t see yourself right, but also have the anxiety of not seeing yourself right. This hasn’t changed since gaining weight. It’s hard to understand for those that have never dealt with this problem, but I always see myself as bigger then I am and it’s REALLY hard. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m nuts.
The problem here is that it I don’t keep this in check, I start to trickle down the road of putting off meals, eating less at lunch, making my mind up to work out even harder, and spending my day ruminating on when my body will get back to it’s set point. My anorexia can just seep sneakily in if I don’t tread carefully.
So, what do I do? I mean, I’m still recording worship. I record again this coming Wednesday night. I can’t just stop doing it! I love it! I refuse to allow my eating disorder to again strip me of the things in life that I love and enjoy, so I’ve had to brainstorm and figure out ways to deal with the fact that I’m on TV on Sunday mornings.
First and foremost I try and be as present as possible. I try and engage in the songs, concentrate on the lyrics and enjoy the music. (Guys, our worship band is SO good, I will be putting a link below so you can check it out if you feel so moved!)
If my mind is just too overwhelmed by ED thoughts to be present I will speak out loud the negative thoughts going on in my head to my husband and he will help me through checking them.
There are times that I close my eyes during the worship. I can’t judge what I can’t see right?! I allow myself to hear and sing, but I do not allow myself to see and be critical.
Sometimes I use the handy dandy ED coping skill of sticking to the facts. Here are some facts that I typically remind myself of when I start to stress out on a Sunday morning. I have body dysmorphia and I know I do not see myself correctly. I am a photographer, I know how lenses and cameras work. From that angle even a pencil would look big. I am there to play keys so that others can worship, not to look amazing. It’s not about me. I am healthy, I am recovering, my body IS losing the overshoot weight. God loves me and loves the fact that I am playing keys for Him and so others can also connect with Him through music.
The last coping skill I use to help me is leaning into my values. When I am playing keys, I feel joy! God gave me this talent, I’m using it and that’s awesome! Playing with the other band members is so much fun! I love them! Being able to worship through music is a gift that I’m grateful to have been given. Leading others in worship is more important then how I look on camera. It just is. God brought me to this point in recovery exactly for a time like this, to remember that I am so much more then my size. I have worth in serving Him through music and so that during this weird time of Covid, our church can go on as “normally” as possible!
I recorded this past Wednesday night. It will air this Sunday on fellowshipcleveland.com, youtube and facebook at 8am, 9:30am and 11am. I will sit there and watch it. I will have thoughts of how I hate my body and then I will overcome those thoughts with better thoughts about how much the lyrics to “Break Every Chain,” and “Who You Say I Am,” are literally part of my recovery anthem.
Even though the camera, in my mind, seems to add 100 pounds, I’m also reminded each week that anorexia didn’t take my life. I’m there, on TV, playing keys and worshiping, alive and LIVING!!
- Sara -