N.B: Since I posted the original “Body Issue” blog in December 2009 (which starts below) my story has reached and helped over 239,632 people to date. When I originally wrote this blog post it was nothing more than a personal account to help me overcome years with living with an eating disorder, it really helped that I had a personal space to write it all down in a blog. For many years I felt ashamed of my deep-rooted secret. But writing it all down has been a weight (excuse the pun) off my shoulders and too never be ashamed, I don’t ever want to be called a victim because that I can assure you I am not.
Due to the mass amount of interest in the original blog post, I’ve decided to update it as best as I can so its been renamed the 2012 Edition, to keep it relevant and up to date. I’ve also been inspired to take time over the next year to write maybe a few more blog posts all relevant and linked too this blog story. I’ve (bracketed) in parts of the original post below where I feel another blog should be written explaining a more in-depth account of the events and issues that have happened in that point in time, I want to keep this post relevant to the issue of my eating disorder and not getting distracted by other events that lead off from it. I’ve battled dark points in my life that I’m not proud of, but I have no regrets as I have dealt with these demons and suffered the consequences (what goes around comes around and all that malarkey.) No one is perfect, we all can mistakes, it really is easy to judge someone than to understand a situation but life is all about learning and those lessons learn’t make me the better person I am today.
THE BODY ISSUE – WRITTEN IN 2009 OVER 222,063 HITS THE NEW 2012 UPDATED VERSION
Madonna is my idol and to this very day is still my idol! Everything I wanted to be, strong-minded, independent sassy and the body to die for. Everything I did and still do in life always had the Madonna, edge to it.
As a Child I was very skinny, I always had tonsilitis and was a very sickly child. Even my dentist asked my mother if I was deprived child, my teeth were so rotten that most had to be taken out! To be fair to my mum, she always cooked healthy food, and never encouraged sweets, my teeth were a mess due to the excess calpol and medicines I was always taking due to my terrible tonsil’s.
When I reached my teens my hormones started to rage, I put on weight very quickly, years later I found out this weight gain was due to having polycysitic ovaries, part of the problem of PCOS is increased weight gain. Not good when your trying to be a cool teenage, I always felt the plump girl in secondary school. Luckily I had my idol Madonna to look up to. Madonna in the like a Virgin days always looked sexy and fun, Madonna has never been fat but she was a lot softer in the early days pre gym and muscle arms.
FACTS In 1987 Madonna had started to lose weight for ‘The Who’s that Girl Tour’ and by 1990 ‘The blond Ambition Tour’ Madonna was honed and toned. Around the early 1990’s Linda Hamilton was the star in Terminator 2 her athletic muscle arms were also an inspiration. Madonna and Linda Hamilton had now become my body image idols.
I had suffered a lot of very personal issues in my mid teen years ( i.e my father nearly dying when I was 13, I turned into a rebel I experienced under age sex, suffered sexual and emotional abuse combined with a fear of alcohol that has affected my entire life, so eventually I’ll write an in-depth account about all this in another blog as not to go off on a tangent from this blog) by the time I left home to go to photographic college in 1992, at the tender age of 17, I was a very vulnerable young girl. It was at this time while at college, that my eating disorder really began. I was one of only five girls on the course, because it was a photographic course the girls were always getting asked to model for the other students on the course. I can recall exactly what trigger started my eating disorder just a simple stupid comment made by one of the guys on the course, I remember him distinctively telling me I had a fat gut. In the grand scheme of things it really does seem so pathetic but when you are a young vulnerable teenage with lots of deep-rooted issues that comment changed my life for ever!
The next day I joined the college gym, I planned my new eating regime, cut out red meat ( even still to this very day I’ve never gone back to eating red meat) Breakfast was between 7am-7.30am, if I missed this half hour slot I wouldn’t have any breakfast. Lunch would be an apple, and dinner would be no later than 3pm if I missed this deadline I would fast all the way through to the morning. I began to develop serious eating issues, which led to being diagnosed with Anorexia. I powered on working the dumb bells till eventually after a lot of hard work my arms became like my idols.
I started to get a lot of attention by some of the lads on the college course telling me that I had the best body on the campus, I was continuously asked to be their photographic model, the weight loss was causing attention and when you suffer with low self esteem like I did it is like a double sided sword! That christmas my mother came to collect me from college, I will never forget the horror on her face. My mum broke down and cried, she told me I looked like a Belsen victim.
That christmas was horrendous for my whole family, I had become so obsessed with my body, that I became so controlled with what I was putting in my body. Christmas day I demanded a saucer with a few peas and a tiny bit of turkey. Straight after eating this very tiny amount, I put my running shoes on and pounded the streets until I could run no more. In my head I thought I was fat, while running I thought of Madonna jogging with her trainer and that vision kept me running.
It took along while to start eating normally again, but the more I ate the more exercise I would do. It became a vicious circle, I felt no one understood me. I felt fat and ugly all the time, it was an emotional battle I just didn’t want to lose control. As I started to eat normal sized portions, I began to purge my food. This is the time I became bulimic. I would eat a whole box of special K a full loaf of bread, and vomit it all back up. Not the easiest the foods to purge. My relationship with friends at college started to strain they all could see I had major eating problems, everyone felt helpless as I would get upset if it was mentioned. It was my secret, deep down I felt ashamed and out of control. I would look in the mirror and all I could see was this Fat Girl staring back at me. The final straw was when my room-mate screamed at me, it really shocked me that she couldn’t cope anymore with my eating disorder, I hadn’t realized in my own obsession with food, I was actually making her poorly too. This is when I decided to go and seek medical help.
I was put under the care of a nurse, who to this very day I will never forget her kindness, even though I was a student living away from home, she took me into her family home and helped me gain some sort of control of mind over my weight issues. With her help and love being in her family enviroment, I eventually started to gain weight and ended up back at my normal body weight. For a short while I found some inner peace within.
Not long after I graduated from college, I moved back to northern England, but it wasn’t long before the comments started. Comments about how much weight I had gained, and how I best not eat too much. The comments were very conflicting, when I was skin and bone I was told I was too thin, when I gained weight I was told I was too fat. I then developed back to Bulimia and secretly was purging.
Eventually by the mid 90’s I stopped purging, my face was getting rather swollen, I also noticed the enamel on my teeth looked thin, inside I felt fat and worthless, I was binge eating to excess, my weight really ballooned. Come 95 I began full-time employment as a photographic sales rep I was the only female sales rep working on a team of men at the firm, I was always on the receiving end of their joking jibes about my weight. Maybe they felt inferior as I was the only female rep on the team but they certainly had found a weak chink in my armor to pull me down. I was constantly called fatty. It doesn’t matter how much I tried to overcome my eating disorder the day in day out comments really hurt, and tugged at myself esteem especially as I was a girl who had recently recovered from Anorexia and Bulimia. Before long I was back on a crash diet. Within a month I had dropped over a stone, and was back at the gym honing my Madonna and Linda Hamilton arms. It didn’t take long before the comments flipped back too oh you’re looking a bit too skinny, you need to eat more!
I soon met my first long-term boyfriend, he liked my body but to be honest he never really said much about my figure. But like in most relationship’s when you become too relaxed you can start to let myself go. But I do remember his sister’s boyfriend telling me I was chubby, and that I bad cellulite. Not the brightest of things to say to a recovering anorexic/bulimic. A few years into the relationship it seemed my then boyfriend had a dodgy past and it was about to come round again and bite him (I will write about this ordeal in another blog) to cut a long story short he put a massive amount of stress on me, and to top it all off I caught him in bed with another woman. Enough to send anyone over the edge.
Because my ex had cheated on me, in my head I thought I was totally worthless, I felt unloved and my self esteem was at all time low. In my head I thought I was obese, like the bigger lady shown in the above picture. I was totally heartbroken, I suffered bad anxiety & panic attacks so much so that I was prescribed anti depressants (I’ll write about this in another blog – battling with depression) I dropped over two stone in weight very quickly, and went back skinny old self again. I took all my hurt and anger out on my body and that’s when I became completely addicted to the gym again. The gym had now become my life!
I would plan my whole routine around when I was going to exercise. I would train in the morning then in the evening, seven days a week. I had no time for a social life as my whole life was exercise this exercise that! I actually became less strict on food, while I was exercising as I soon realised I could eat what I wanted. The obsession for running also started, I would have to run at least 5 miles a day, if I didn’t I would get angry and annoyed.
A few months later I got back with my ex boyfriend, probably not the best things to do, but I felt body confident for the first time in years and I guess deep-rooted mixed up feelings were still there, I also felt I had something to prove. I know now being much older and wiser, you shouldn’t have to prove anything to anybody only to yourself. but at that point in my life it’s what I had to do and learn from. I was still working as a photographic rep, but in the evenings I started a part-time job in the city centre as a barmaid and also a club dancer, meaning I had to wear more revealing clothes, my confidence was at all time high with the amounts of male attention I was receiving. Looking back I was projecting out to the world “Hey Look at me, Hey I need attention” and that was the problem. It was around this time I came across a photographer who took photographs for the glamour model industry.
The photographer whom I had known through working as a photographic rep had obviously noticed this new confidence I was projecting out and asked if I had ever considered doing any professional glamour modeling. It all seemed so perfect, I was still deep down seeking revenge to hurt my then boyfriend who had cheated on me, and to be told you were good enough to be a glamour model, I think anybody would secretly admit thats a huge compliment. At that moment in time I had no idea what I was embarking on into, but what I did feel was it seemed the perfect chance to shine, to be a somebody.
My journey into the world of glamour industry began part time in early 1998 but by the April I lost my full time job because someone at work had seen me do a strip tease on one of the adult TV channels, and the boss was non to pleased. The boss called and dismissed me from my regular job. Before I knew it the Sunday Sport had run a double page spread on my story and from that moment on my whole life went on an over drive roller coaster ride into a dark abyss of the NON so glamour world (To be blogged about) I quit the glamour industry after the summer of 1999, it really had taken its toll, I was fed up of living a lie with my family over my profession. I had a dream to be a somebody and this was NOT the somebody I wanted to be. The Glamour Industry is not a good place to be especially when it’s all about using your body, again I had developed serious body issues that I had to yet over come again. The Glamour industry is a very jealous place, it can be very bitchy and lonely, I soon learnt there is another side to the glamour Industry lets just say its a not so glamourous side a degrading abyss! (as before be blogged about). To keep slim I was offered diet pills, which ended up making me very agitated & moody this really was not a happy time. I hit a deep lonely depression and I felt disgusted with myself even more. What started out as a compliment and some sort of stupid revenge to my then ex boyfriend ended up being a thorn in my side, had I realized that many years later that fateful day of doing my first glamour shoot would be the thorn in the side for the rest of my life! I call this era the dark days (one day I will write an in-depth account about my days in the glamour industry it really is an epic in itself and this blog is not the time to divulge into the dark abyss of glamour world so for now I want to keep this blog relevant to my actual eating disorder) but what I can tell you, it was a lonely degrading dark time in my life I had to have various sexual abuse councilling to come to terms with it all, I had no idea how much it would upset so many people around me including my own family. Still to this very day over 12 years on I’m surprised at how my glamour days is still used against me as some form of whipping post to try and pull me down. I’ve even had to put up with nasty cryptic comments on twitter by a certain individual who can not let go of the past and move on, I’ve even tired to make a peace. (A blog in its self about on line bullying ) People are always so quick to judge than to understand. Some people really need to get over it and move on and stop playing the victim, I’ve had too or it will just mess your head up! I guess thats there problem not mine! Life moves on and thats exactly what I did move on…….
After escaping the world of glamour and fast living in late 1999, I really needed to take some time out, I needed to be on my own for a while and find out what I really wanted to do with my life, I spent time writing songs and got myself involved with a music producer and recorded a few tracks, this was actually a good time for my mind. I joined the gym again and before long that deep addiction for exercise and body good was back in vengence, back came the madonna and Linda Hamilton arms……
In November 2000 I got together with my second long-term partner, ironically we had met outside a gym 😉 He completely charmed the naive girl within me and soon he had me blown off my feet in a haze of love & lust, our relationship was a complete whirl wind, looking back It was going too fast too soon, but at the time it seemed so right. I was desperate to be accepted and he was desperate for escapism from the controlling ways he suffering and obviously he thought I was the girl whom he could escape with. Within a week we were both living together it really was crazy love. I believed every word he told me, he had me in the palm of his hand I was blown away with him. By the Dec 2000 a month into the relationship, he wanted to moved away from the city we lived in to start a fresh new life together, it all seemed so perfect, he left his business in the May 2001 and we moved away to a new city in the August 2001. He enjoyed cooking, and was an excellent cook so I was introduced to food I had never tried in my life. It didn’t take long before I got into the comfort of a relationship and my weight ballooned. Again the comments people would make, oh I see your letting yourself go, you had fantastic Madonna arms, what’s happened to them!
I had applied to audition for the relatively new TV show Pop Idol and got my first audition the week after we moved away Aug 2001, I had been trying for a while now to break into the music industry with the various music I had recorded, It seemed a perfect opportunity to do it. I put myself on a very serious crash diet, and shed more than two stone very quickly. Again I had become obsessed with my weight and the signs of anorexia were showing. (I will write in another separate blog about my time on popidol) I got down to the final 70 out of 10,000 but by the time I had got booted out, my health really began to suffer, I was totally exhausted, I felt deflated and my self esteem hit rock bottom again, a few months later it turns out my exhaustion was glandular fever and I hit an all time dangerous low. Pop idol aired in the Nov 2001, my ex boyfriend and I did the stupid thing and dragged up my glamour industry past to try and gain what we thought was good publicity it all back fired when the Sunday Sport ran an article in the Dec 2001 about my past & my ex setting up a website! not one of the cleverest things to do, especially as we caused mayhem within the family! Reality check hit when my mother started to quiz me over my past and sitting there admitting it to my mum face to face was the hardest thing I have ever done! But at the same time it was a relief to get it off my chest (excuse the pun) she still loved me and never judged me, she could see I was a lost soul and I needed help! I wrote a song to compensate this silly mistake, and named the song “No Regrets” an appropiate title. I felt very out of control after pop idol, I felt crushed so much so that I resulted to having surgery, liposuction on thighs, botox and my lips pumped bigger. (I will write more on all this in a separate blog) but a light was at the end of this dark tunnel I just had to reach it somehow!
Come early 2002 I found out I was pregnant with my first child, this was my saviour a blessing and a saving grace the best news in the world. As I mentioned earlier in the blog, I suffer from polycycistic ovaries PCOS. So to fall pregnant was a huge blessing, most ladies with the syndrome have to have IVF treatment some never can have children. PCOS is a syndrome, where a lady doesn’t ovulate each month normally. This is due to having too much testosterone, and not releasing an egg, so the egg turns into a cyst. One of the many side effects of the syndrome is obesity weight gain. To understand and learn more about PCOS please read this link here http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com/pcos.html
I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy as I was at higher risk than normal of a miscarriage. I gained over five stone in weight in the nine months. By the end of the pregnancy I was the biggest I had ever been in my life, which isn’t easy for any woman, even worse when you have suffered with body issues like myself.
I remember going on holiday to Mexico while pregnant, and looking rather like the drawing above by Bruno Bottino. All the other girls around me on holiday were skinny and gorgeous, this did nothing for my self-esteem. I felt insecure, and was convinced that my partner who I was with didn’t fancy me anymore. My hormones were raging, and I was always very emotional or raging angry that total out of control agression. But on a positive being pregnant did mentally change my mind set forever, for once I wasn’t just thinking of myself, I had a life growing inside me, I was determinded after the birth to turn my life around, I needed to grow up, make huge changes and I was going to make that dream a reality and set up successfull business, and thats what I did after the birth of my daughter. (That Dream symbolises change it is the fresh start and having No Regrets” – another blog within itself)
After my daughter was born I presued my Dream and set up my own business, I was also determined to get the baby weight off slowly. I dieted more sensibly got back into regular exercise, by 2004 I was focused mentally, and in a positive healthy place than I had ever been prior to the birth of my daughter and to celebrate this I challegend myself to run my first half marathon.
Unfortunelty in 2006 I separated from my daughters father, and through the stress of our separation I dramatically lost weight quickly, people do say that the divorce diet is always the best way to lose weight quickly. I have to admit in this time I felt body good, I didn’t do a major amount of exercise like before, but I enjoyed my new shape. I managed to keep at a normal body weight and look slim and toned for a while, even though inside I was breaking down emotionally.
By the end of 2007, I was now moved back to my parents house, I guess my new weight gain started due to lots of home cooked meals and just pure contentment being back within my family’s love. By 201o I had gained over four stone in weight I ballooned to a size 18. I was a size 16/18 when I was pregnant. I felt so ashamed buying size 18 clothes for the first time, without having a reason for not being pregnant.
I have to admit I felt so uncomfortable with putting on so much weight. Having PCOS the excess weight gain made my hormones rage, so it was really time to tackle this weight issue again.
In Dec 2011 the family all did a family weigh in thats when the reality hit me that I had gained far too much weight! I had gained 4.5 stone from the end of 2007! I decided from the start of Jan 2011, I started a lifestyle changing diet. I managed to lose an incredible two stone in weight come May 2011 and I was back down to a healthy size 14 which I felt comfortable with. This time around instead of yo yo diets I had done in the past, I lost weight the right way. I took a mature approach of understanding the condition PCOS by educating myself to eat the right GI foods that help ladies with PCOS.
I started to reflected back over the years, and I knew I was in a place where I had found some inner piece within some form of acceptance, and understanding. Living back with my family had certainly helped, along with having councelling to over come other situations in my past and accepting it. Also being a mother Its important to try and set an example for my daughter as she is my life! I do what I can to make sure she never lets any body issues upset her. I’ve incorporated a more healthy attitude to food and exercise. Because I have found some sort of acceptance and inner piece within I have also developed an excellent friendship with my daughters father and his new partner life is certainly a lot easier with less stress.
I feel more mature to deal with people’s silly jibes. I now imagine I have a mirrored shield around me protecting me from all the negative people! I surround myself with like mind positive strong minded spirited souls and keep focused on what makes me happy.
In May 2011 I joined a running club, not only to keep my weight off, but I knew that by joining a running club, I would meet spirited souls who would inspire. Since joining the running club, I’ve took part in races, made great new friends for life and have a new social life. A year on nearly since joining the running club I can proudly say I have managed to sensibly lose 3.5 stone in weight. Also a positive after 14 years of being on anti depressants I am now off them, thanks to the running club. I eat sensibly and my weight has maintained the same give or take a few pounds – this in itself is incredible!
I’m certainly more chilled out, I just have to accept what I got. I will admit that sometimes I do get frustrated that I can’t eat a piece of toast without gaining a few pounds, due to having polycystic ovaries, as my body rejects its own insulin, meaning sugar doesn’t get around the body and I am at a higher risk of obesity. But in the grand scheme of things ‘so what’. I’m more content in life than I ever have been. My weight issues seen to always be issues about being out of control, my life now is more in control in every aspect, from work, raising my daughter, and relationships with people. I am certainly the happiest I have been in years, I actually do feel I am finding out who I really am, its really about a lifestyle change and thats what I have adopted without being obsessed!
I’m not a medical professional in any way, but I hope my story will reach out and help others who are suffering and to never feel alone. Below I have put a list of websites that are relevant to my personnel blog and maybe could be useful sources to help others. I’m only a person who suffers with PCOS, battled for years with eating disorders, depression and has over come sexual abuse.
More information and support about PCOS – http://www.verity-pcos.org.uk/
More information and support about eating disorders http://www.b-eat.co.uk/Home
More information and support about depression http://www.depressionalliance.org/
More information and support about sexual abuse http://www.sandf.org/
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