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"Celebrating self-compassion" - Poppy's story

Our supporter Poppy tells her triumphant story, from struggling with an eating disorder to posing as a life model...

My favourite folk singer, Laura Marling, playing in the background. Rich medieval tapestries flung around the walls and a throng of eager artists pencils, brushes, and charcoal at the ready. I stand there. My body strong. Two feet planted on the ground. One hand holding a glass of prosecco and the other firmly on my hip. My head is high. My body nude, celebrating my birthday suit!

From the ages of 11 to 19 I never would have dreamed of life modelling. Bulimia had impacted my self-esteem and exacerbated feelings of depression, making me feel as though my life had no value. At the age of 18 I started to realise the harm I was doing. I researched the impact of bulimia on the body, and it scared me into starting to slowly stop.

I felt incredibly alone and heavy with the weight of what I believed to be a shameful thing.

Over the eight years I battled with my eating disorder, I spoke to only three friends about it. I felt incredibly alone and heavy with the weight of what I believed to be a shameful and embarrassing thing. It took me years to tell my family. I would spend every train journey from university to home, drafting letter upon letter explaining what I’d been through and apologising to them, letting them know I didn’t want them to blame themselves and that it was all my fault.

Speaking to my family about this was somewhat of a breakthrough. They helped me to get counselling and have always tried their best to understand my experience. I have also found an amazing group of friends at university, who have offered endless love and insight, always celebrating my achievements, even when I see them as small.

At the age of 26 I feel free of the guilt I carried then. I can talk openly with friends and close family about having struggled with bulimia.

Now I can dance around the kitchen, making French food and listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing about love.

It is of course a journey; I still have days where I struggle to love what I see in the mirror, to value myself in the way which those I love value me and sometimes I am feel exhausted by the work I am still doing to just feel okay. But I now have compassion for myself. I know when to take a break, do something lovely and heart-warming just for me. I also celebrate my life modelling, recognising what a significant milestone the very act of standing naked in front of a group of people is, after eight years of fighting bulimia.

I wish someone had told me that it would get better, so I hope that someone reading this will hear that message. Because now I can dance around the kitchen, making French food and listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing about love.

It’s not easy but you will get there. While I am still working on my confidence and self-love, so much progress has been made in just eight short years. So please do not give up on yourself, there are so many people who love you and will support you. Asking for help is so important and something I wish I’d had the courage to do.

-Contributed by Poppy

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.

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