One May evening seven years ago I ordered a takeaway and ate the amount I normally would. All day I'd had this horrible feeling that I looked bloated and disgusting, and that feeling increased after eating. I couldn't shake the thought of what I was about to do out of my head.
Eventually I went upstairs to the toilet and did it. I sat sobbing afterwards.
This was the first time I did it, and in years to come, when people formed their opinions of how I've always been obsessed with weight and the gym, it took a long time to realise it was more than that – I had an illness, a mental illness.
For the months that followed it got worse. It would go from one meal a day to every time I ate, even if it was something small. No one noticed as my clothes were baggy and I had my own way of hiding sounds in the toilet, and to me it wasn't a problem – it was part of my life. I knew what I was going to do after every meal.
I didn't tell anyone for a long time. And when I finally did the reaction I got was not one that anyone should receive.
In the December of that year after a few drinks I told my then boyfriend what I had been doing after meals. He didn't respond, and therefore when it wasn't brought up the next day I assumed due to drink he didn't remember.
It was a few months later I mentioned that night, and his response was something along the lines of: "I remember. I don't want to know that."
I felt disgusting, like I'd done or was doing something wrong. I didn't speak about it again, but it still continued.
My health began to get affected, my gums were always bleeding and I was constantly tired. It wasn't until on a hen party with my friends where everyone started making comments about how skinny I was that I began to think maybe I had a problem.
I researched a lot on Google and, thinking that maybe I was ill, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment. My boyfriend again wasn't a great support, but I went anyway.
That morning was one of the hardest I've ever experienced. I sat in the chair and just sobbed my heart out. The doctor helped so much and put me in the direction of counselling.
I told a few of my friends and my boss but it wasn't really seen as a mental illness – more of a “why can't you just stop?” kind of thing. I told my parents and they said they had had their suspicions but thought they would know if something was wrong. I believe now a lot of people didn't know what to say.
The road to recovery was a long one. I didn't have much help and felt I couldn't talk about it, but now there is so much support and understanding about this illness. I got there in the end. It still lies with me and sometimes still creeps into my life but I have found ways to deal.
I want people to know that it is an illness and don't be afraid to talk about it.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
When lockdown came into force – what seems like a whole lifetime ago – I struggled. Like many people who experience eating problems, I felt so threatened by the changes in routine, the limited availability of certain foods, the massive uncertainty of it all