During the later months of 2017, I became fixated on losing weight. My main focus at the time was excessively checking food package labels, and looking for food which included zero, or very little saturated fats. This then led to an unhealthy relationship with excessive walking and morning exercise.
At this time, I was also working a full time 9-5 office job in a contact centre. I would always make sure that I was either standing up or moving around, giving myself very little rest or reward. Friends, family and co-workers started to comment on how ‘thin’ I was looking and trying to give me food to eat at social events or at work, which I would then later throw or give away.
This went on for around 5 or 6 months, before going to see my GP after my partner and family kept ‘nagging’ me to go. Which at the time I thought that I was fine, and everyone else had a problem and it would be a waste of time for everyone involved.
As time went by, and with the help of my local eating disorder clinic I managed to get the help and therapy that I desperately needed.
I remember my GP at the time of our first appointment, prescribing me ‘high calorie shakes’ in order for me to try and gain weight, but I wouldn’t take them. In-fact finding out now that I was DAYS from being admitted to hospital for having severe anorexia and having to potentially feed me by a tube is terrifying, though at the time I did not feel or see this.
Later, while being on the waiting list for over 14 months for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) unfortunately, COVID-19 happened and soon after the first lockdown which I found very hard like allot of people, I was in the restoration phase through my own hard work and family support, however I really needed the medical professional help in order to go forward.
In August 2020, I had the opportunity to move to South Korea- a country that I had never been to before, which led me to feel both excited and nervous. I realized in the first lockdown that I needed a break in my daily routine and grind, and packed my backs and went 2 weeks later for a Working Holiday visit. Later, in December 2020 , I had my first CBT appointment! It was really good to start the much-awaited therapy and it really got me thinking about the ups, and many downs that I had from 2017 until then.
In fact, it was very deep and emotional having to relive some dark memories, and really home in on the habits and cycles that I had lived and breathed for all of that time, though I knew to move forward it was something that I needed to do.
I felt confident and went with it - having realised that a lot of industry does not want ‘size zero’ models
While doing CBT therapy, I had found an entertainment agency in South Korea to sign me as an actor and model, which led me to start working in the industry, something that I had thought about many years ago when I was young, but never pursued due to the ‘perceived body image’ that was connected with the industry.
But this time, I felt confident and went with it - having realised that a lot of industry does not want ‘size zero’ models or actors and in fact most of the time, they cast for ‘healthy’ looking models and actors. I felt ready for the challenge.
Now in 2023, having worked in the industry and been connected with some big campaigns and clients, it has led me to re-live some of the ‘anorexic’ thoughts I once had, but also it has led me to realize that I need to learn to be happy and confident with who I am as a person, and accept how I look as well as accepting that everyone’s body shape, appearance is unique to that individual person.
Now I have come to the end of my CBT appointments, and have I started to find ways to self-monitor myself, in order to continue a successful career as a Model and Actor. My CBT sessions were vital in order for me to move forward and find happiness, and my mentor was really understanding and supportive the entire was through.
My message is that, no matter how low you may feel at the time, or perhaps in denial like I did, better things will come and there really will be light at the end of the long dark tunnel.
-Contributed by Lewis
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