Through unimaginable hurt, Amanda Carn has learned the value of showing kindness to her body and herself.
Maya Angelou once said that ‘we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty’. Amanda Carn is one of those rarities.
Her Instagram feed (@itsme.amandamarie) is filled with fashion, body positivity and wit but above all – honesty.
But it wasn’t always this way. The page was once dedicated to her work as a personal trainer, a career she embarked on after a change in her lifestyle led to a physical transformation that many aspire to – including a young Amanda.
“I didn’t exercise, I drank A LOT, I dabbled in party drugs and I had crippling anxiety and depression which I was on medication for a very long time. I was unhealthy mentally and physically and I despised my body shape,” she says. “I was always sporty and fit during school. I had an athletic shape and I knew I could get back there and inspire others to change their lifestyle like I had.”
This physical transformation instigated her career as a personal trainer and competitive fitness model. But her new lifestyle made it difficult to get healthy mentally. Amanda describes her approach to fitness as ‘all or nothing', an imbalance that would inevitably lead her to disordered eating and body dysmorphia. “I lived and breathed weight loss and fitness. I was terribly unkind to myself and I gave so much of myself to fitness that there was little of me left for family, friends and other experiences,” she says.
The work in itself was harming Amanda who would constantly compare herself to other trainers and question her worth. After years of living and working to strive for a perceived perfect body, Amanda decided to leave it all behind.
In 2014, she left personal training and re-entered the workforce in pursuit of a new career in digital media – a move that has led her to create engaging and meaningful social media content through her business Carn Content. But this seminal year was also when Amanda would go through the sudden passing of her boyfriend of 2.5 years.
“For a long time, I was extremely traumatised,” says Amanda who turned to her network of family, friends and therapy for support. “I started therapy pretty soon after. I remember distinctly one day saying to myself ‘you can either let this sink you or you can rise up’ and I made the choice to rise,” she says.
Trauma has changed Amanda’s life in many ways and is something that she continues to work through. “It wasn’t until my PTSD diagnosis a few years later and subsequent specialised trauma therapy techniques that I start to feel better,” says Amanda. “I now have a new normal. I live with PTSD and manage it in various ways, therapy being a huge component,” she says.
It’s the exhaustion of living with the ‘hard-wired’ PTSD response that is a struggle. But by choosing to minimise stress from other areas such as work and building a more positive relationship with her body, Amanda has reached some form of normalcy.
Despite the emotional hardship, her experience has given her clarity around what is important. “Traumatic experiences force you to reassess your whole life and who you are as a person. You find it easier to release yourself of all the unnecessary BS that we carry around in life… things that were once important become trivial because you have a greater understanding of what is truly important to you,” says Amanda.
One of those important things is building the positive relationship she has with herself. Fostering self-kindness, especially when dealing with trauma is something that Amanda writes about on @itsme.amandamarie in the hopes that it will inspire others.
“I knew so many people out there would relate to my experiences with body image. And also, I wanted to show that there is life after trauma. I like to share everyday life and have a laugh because my trauma does not make me who I am. I hope by sharing that I can give some hope to other people out there suffering from trauma or body-related issues,” she says.
Amanda’s word of advice for people supporting someone through trauma is patience. “Someone going through trauma needs all the patience in the world. There are good days and bad days. They often become withdrawn or can lash out for seemingly no reason at all. Understand that this rarely has anything to do with you and it’s just that person working through their very complex emotions and nervous system responses,” she says.
Amanda sees herself as a work in progress too, “I may not love myself wholly but I am working on a version of me that is more kind and accepting of myself,” she says. The person that we see, baring her truth and sharing her story ‘unfiltered’ reveals a woman that is continuing to transform and grow through life – the good and the bad. It’s fitting then, that someone that shows continual strength and kindness even in the face of adversity chooses the affirmation: ‘I am resilient’.
“I made the choice to rise.”
About the Author
Alegria Alano is a roaming writer and a bottomless pit of curiosity. Most of her time is spent exploring new places, interesting ideas and fascinating people. She writes about what she discovers in a diary, on alegria-alano.com, and more regularly on the gram at @alegriaalano.