My Story My Struggle
May 4, 2017
I am very honest and open about many things in life but there is one part of me that I have never shared. It’s finally time to confess and tell people about something I have struggled with mentally for a while now. The reason why nutrition has helped me so much and why I need Yoga in my life and I am grateful I found it. Why choose now to tell people? Well truthfully because I feel I am finally pretty much 100% over it and feel I am confident enough that I can now share and help people (I hope) by doing so as I believe there are many people just like me out there who have told nobody!
I’ll start from the beginning. I was overweight as a child, why I am not sure. I had a lot of issues with self-confidence and remember as a young child my dad giving me a book on self-confidence. I can’t remember what age I was but I was on the bottom bunk at my childhood house at the time so I would guess 10-12yrs old. I remember comfort eating sneaking chocolate bars out of the tin in the cupboard and making myself toast and sandwiches between meals. I also remember a sad moment when I was a size 16 around 11/12 years old and saying to my mum that if I was actually 16 years old then that would mean I was slim for that age, thinking my clothes size referred to age which sadly it didn’t. I used to pretend I was thin all the time. My sister and I would play together and I would pretend I was a tall, thin beautiful with a really handsome boyfriend of course!! I had a great imagination as a child because in truth because I was over weight boys wouldn’t look at me and made fun of me instead. I also remember another moment that was quite embarrassing at a friends house. We both weighed ourselves and I was definitely 12 years old because I distinctly remember thinking 12 stone at 12 years old! My friend was 7 stone and then asked me to get on the scales and I was 12 stone!!! 12 stone at 12 yrs old!!! This just saddens me now to think and I remember at the time being devastated and my friend was shocked. I think I had been in denial thinking I would grow out of it. Another outstanding memory I have is getting ready for a cousins wedding and I had to shop in EVANS!! Size 18!!! EVANS!! For any of you that don’t know that is where you had to shop if you no longer fitted into clothes in the high street shops in Maidstone.
Anyway this went on for a while. I was active I did gymnastic, ballet and modern dance from a young age and from 14 years old I started Rugby. It was actually rugby that got me doing cardio and I fitted in because I was big too. I lost a bit of weight doing rugby. Then I went to college to do a dance diploma. Dancing everyday did help a lot but I was still eating a lot too. I was probably a size 12- 14. A friend told me at college that she threw up after eating because she had eaten too much and felt bad about it. This sparked something in me-I thought what a genius idea! I can eat what I want and just throw it up! I remember binge eating then trying it and it was awful. I also thought I can’t let anyone find out about this especially my family. I lived at home and of course it’s hard not to let them hear you. It was a one off and I didn’t plan to do it on a regular basis just now and again. So that’s what I did most of the time and I did it when nobody was at home. I could also binge eat when nobody was around and not get questioned. I was fine most of the time but when I over ate I made myself sick.
I read up on the effects of being sick and it mentioned tooth decay from the acid in your stomach so I came up with a trick of smothering my teeth with toothpaste before I did it and using mouth wash straight after.
Throughout college and university I know that it happened but I honestly can’t remember how frequently. I didn’t think it was a major problem at the time. I learnt a lot about the body and nutrition with my dance degree and I was doing what I loved and was passionate about but I still wasn’t entirely happy with myself and how I looked. Being a dancer meant there was more pressure to be thin. Although at university doing contemporary it wasn’t as bad as dance college tutors did not mention weight it was more the pressure you put on yourself and dancing in front of mirrors all day comparing yourself to others.
After university I went to lots of auditions, taught dance and did my Sports Massage Diploma. Then I got a dance job in Greece- it was amazing. Dance shows everyday, I went to the gym, ate great nutritious food, and rehearsed through the day and did sports with guests plus I was in the sun all day. I was the slimmest I had ever been, looked and felt brilliant. I wasn’t sick the entire time I was out there. When I got back I had to go back to having a job around dance auditions. Auditions were very hard because you get turned down a lot! This affects your confidence and you question yourself, your ability and the way you look all the time. I started to feel like I was putting on weight even though people were telling me how great I looked. Making myself sick was becoming more frequent. I was feeling guilty afterwards for being a liar to myself and to others. People looked up to me because I seemed so confident and happy all the time and I had lost weight after being the fat kid throughout my childhood. I still didn’t believe it was a problem because I wasn’t doing it everyday but it was making me unhappy and depressed at times. But again I had phases of being really happy and confident and then suddenly something would click and I had to binge eat and then I would feel sick at the thought of being fat again and throw up. Then I would feel guilty for throwing up.
I had a long- term boyfriend and I lied to him and took things out on him when I felt depressed about myself. I didn’t tell him for years. It wasn’t until I spoke to a close friend of mine who told me she was bulimic and because she told me I had the courage to tell her that I was too. Finally someone I could talk to about it. She had told her doctor and was getting help and I respected that and thought I am not as bad as you I don’t need to tell my doctor. Shortly after this I realised I needed to tell my boyfriend (now husband). It was going to be hard, I had no idea if he would understand. I plucked up the courage to tell him and thankfully he was very understanding and gave me a big hug- FEW!! I thought he would think I was crazy and weak. I told him that he couldn’t tell anyone and that I wasn’t going to tell anyone either. He was surprised that I didn’t want to tell my sister and talk to her about it but I just couldn’t. The thought of confessing that weakness made me sick- what would she think of me? I told him it was worse when I was on my own or I was feeling low about something and he told me to call him if I ever felt I needed to do it. I thanked him but I never did. When you are in that state of mind you don’t want to speak to anyone and there is no stopping you.
At it’s worst I was making myself sick about 4 times a week but usually had a couple of weeks where I made sure I didn’t do it. I felt it was a weakness and that if I told people they would think I lost weight because of bulimia but I worked hard to lose weight and ate very healthily most of the time but then ruined it by binge eating. I know some extremes where people throw up everything they ate and I never wanted to do that but could understand why people did. I knew I wasn’t as bad as a lot of bulimics out there so I didn’t want to share the fact that I was one. I remember wishing that I could be anorexic because that would mean I could control what I ate and eat less that that would make me a stronger person! Not a healthy thought!! I had people say to me you are so confident and so happy all the time how do you do it? I thought to myself if only you knew. But I didn’t want people to lose faith, I wanted them to think that they could also be positive and confident so I didn’t want that image they had of me to be taken away. I was teaching Pilates and doing Sports Massage I couldn’t possibly be doing this to myself!! I’m preaching health and wellbeing and only taking this on board myself a percentage of the time. I felt guilty because I was and am very lucky. I have a great family who love me and that I get on very well with, an amazing supportive boyfriend, I was doing the exact job that I wanted to do and loved it- so why was I feeling this way. I couldn’t tell people my problems because I thought people had bigger problems than me and I can deal with this myself.
About a year later my mum was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I thought I am damaging myself and she gets stomach cancer- that is not fare! I felt guilty, that was it I had to give it up or at least do something about it! I decided that my health was far more important than the way I looked. But it wasn’t going to be easy. My boyfriend tried to convince me to go to the doctors and tell them. I wasn’t sure what good they would do and said there was no way I was taking anti-depressants or any other drugs that they might prescribe. I remember grinding my teeth and this was becoming a problem. One night I was clenching my jaw so tight and I couldn’t let go. I chipped a tooth and I thought they were all going to crack it was a horrible feeling and it scared me that I couldn’t control it. This was when I finally decided my boyfriend was right I had to see a doctor. This was even harder than telling my boyfriend. Sitting in a doctor’s surgery telling someone you hardly know that you are bulimic. I was shaking and thinking how do you say it- do you just come out with it?? I remember telling him I was making myself sick and grinding my teeth he then followed on with other questions very professionally and made me feel at ease. Following this I had a few counseling session through the NHS that were helpful. From these my doctor and myself realized that I was very level headed and new what I needed to do to get better. It was good to talk it out loud with someone that isn’t related or emotionally attached to you in any way.
I didn’t make myself sick after my mum was diagnosed I made a strong conscious decision of that straight away but the mental struggle was still there and I was still binge eating now and again and using exercise to burn it all off. I found if I didn’t exercise I would feel more depressed and start to feel really fat and the need to be sick increased. When I started to teach more classes’ mornings and evenings it meant I couldn’t get to the aerobics classes I was doing. I liked the gym but it needed a lot more self-motivation, which at times I didn’t have. I decided to get weekly personal training sessions to keep me on track. This really helped because every week I was working hard and it made me go to the gym in between sessions too. It was a good investment in my health.
Things improved bit by it but what saved me in the end was a mixture of nutrition and Yoga. Focusing on my health and wellbeing studying what I was putting into my body and how it affected my mood but also getting to the bottom of why I was doing it. Yoga helped me find what I was feeling and be more connected with my emotions. I was using food to cover up the real problem or facing my true feelings. When I was alone or down I used food to block it out and for seeking pleasure. Although in the end I didn’t enjoy it and I was punishing myself, not self- loving at all! I found it very easy to be positive about everyone and everything around me and gave great advice. But I found it very hard to be positive about myself. This is a very common way of thinking. We are often able to see the good in others but not recognise it in ourselves. This is a pattern we must change and help others to change. We go around in our day-to-day lives covering up emotions with various things such as TV, work, phones, alcohol, food, and helping others. It is so important to help and make time to understand ourselves- how are you doing today? Have you sat down and thought why you feel the way you do and deal with emotions or do you use various methods of avoiding that? We avoid it because it is hard and painful sometimes to deal with. We have to accept that sometimes we have to deal with being sad or angry and find healthy ways to deal and over come it. Nutrition can change the way you feel and yoga can help you connect with yourself and erase past suffering and prevent future suffering if you let it. I will explain this more in future posts.
I now feel that I am happy with myself. I accept the way I look and I accept that the mind, just like the body with exercise and diet, needs continued work, continued reminders of how to be positive. You cannot just exercise once and be toned and strong it needs to be continued. You cannot just eat healthily once or twice and be healthy it needs to become a daily habit. The mind is the same it needs regular clearing and programming and reminding of how to think to be happy. Yoga and meditation for me deal with my mind and nutrition and exercise deals with my body. We need to make time for both and I feel everyone can benefit from Yoga and everyone needs to eat well! If anyone is suffering from any mental difficulties (I think most people are) you need to do something about it and help yourself. Don’t let it eat you up inside and don’t think of it as a weakness. It is not and it is very common! The more people you tell the more people open up and share. So that is what I am doing I am sharing. Feel free to message me or share your own story! Perhaps this will give you the courage to do so.
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