Eating disorders affect people of all ages, from children and teenagers, to parents and grandparents. They include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and more. Even if you have never experienced an eating disorder yourself, you probably know someone who has. Overcoming adversity is one the biggest things that I struggled with three years ago when I first developed bulimia nervosa. For so long I refused to accept it to myself and lived in denial. Surely feeling guilty after eating was normal, right? This could not be further from the truth and ultimately made me have such a warped and unhealthy mindset about food.
Finally, one day the penny dropped when I realised I had not had a period for three months and burst into tears. It genuinely took me over two years to understand what I was doing was not right for my mind or body.
There is a stigma of loneliness surrounding bulimia because you carry this big secret around with you every day, terrified anyone would find out and your vulnerability exposed. I remember watching an interview with Princess Diana who openly talked about having bulimia as a young adult so confidently and with no shame. It was shortly after this I decided to tell my friend who hugged me tight and assured me that I had made the first major breakthrough – talking.
How you feel inside is just as important as to how you look on the outside and I feel that many women go through these emotions by themselves, fighting a rigorous battle of “Am I worthy? Do I look good enough for this Instagram picture?” Which can be a dangerous path to more problems. If there is one thing I’ve learnt on my journey, it is to open up and be honest with yourself. It seems petrifying initially, but once you hear yourself talking about the issue, you realise it is not your dark little secret anymore and it does not define you or your value as a person.
Sharing a personal story about yourself online is not something that should be considered lightly and it has took me nearly two years to do so myself. The reason I have is because I want to reach out to as many of you as possible who have ever been impacted by bulimia or struggles with your own body identity and to make sure that you know you are not alone in this. I started to tackle my disorder in small steps by becoming less obsessed with numbers and rewiring my mindset after each meal I ate. As a person, I have always been into fitness and attended classes at my local gym since my late teens, but in early 2017 I found weight lifting through social media which completely changed my attitude towards my health in more ways than I could have imagined. At 24 years of age I am no longer consumed with guilt, anxiety or fear with what I am about to eat at the dinner table. Instead, I exercise with weights, eat a nutritious diet, and above all, I am happy with what I see in the mirror.
This is my journey – tell me yours?
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!
I want to shed some light on diet culture and what it drove me to do to myself for eight years. I will never get those eight years back, but what I do know is that I will never put myself through all the self-inflicted pain it took in order to look a certain way.