This week, my cousin nominated me for the Facebook 5 day 15 + years photo challenge, so I accepted and took myself on a trip down memory lane. In sharing some of my old modelling photos, I was overwhelmed by the lovely comments from everyone and I must admit, they made me feel better during what was a difficult week.
Despite the virtual hug my ego received, the comments highlighted something I feel very strongly about and that is how invisible mental illness is. At the time every single one of the photos I shared was taken, I was struggling with a very serious eating disorder and had been for many years. Although the photos show what appears to be a glamorous life, on the inside I was literally killing myself. Considering what I was doing, I’m lucky to still be here today.
I suffered from Bulimarexia, which is a combination of both Bulimia and Anorexia. Sufferers swing between bouts of starvation and binge / purge cycles by means of self induced vomiting and or laxative abuse (or both). I was doing both. I would purge up to six times a day and then I’d take laxatives at night. The number on the scale was more important to me than anything and my body dysmorphia was rife. I had no idea what I looked like.
Even though I worked constantly as an underwear model throughout my career, I loathed my body. When I looked in the mirror, what I saw was fat. When my agents or clients (or anyone for that matter) told me I had a great body, a voice inside my head said “no I don’t, I’m fat”. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was that I was too big. When I was told I was too thin, I thought whoever was saying it was nuts. It was crazy but it was my truth.
Eating disorders are everywhere. The more I’ve spoken about my own experience, the more people have opened up to me about theirs. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have suffered, or are still suffering, but it’s a lot. Unfortunately, with the increased exposure to media, especially social media, statistics show the prevalence of eating disorders is growing relatively at an alarming rate. It’s scary.
It took me a very long time to reach a place of authentic health and although I’m pretty much there now, it’s still something I have to work at constantly. As most people who have suffered will tell you, it never really goes away completely. It just becomes easier to manage as you get stronger and better at talking back to the voice inside your head that is basically an inner bully. It’s a fight you have to keep fighting because unlike giving up smoking or drugs, you can’t give up eating and lets face it, who would want to?!
It pains me to know how may people out there are going through what I went through. It’s an absolutely insidious disease and because sufferers often look ‘healthy’ on the outside, they usually suffer in silence or in secret. There is not always visibility of there being something wrong.
It also becomes a part of your ‘identity’ and a coping mechanism for life. The irony however is that a sufferer is clearly not coping at all. It is a form of control when a life feels out of control.
I always felt there had to be a reason for my journey though. It had to make sense somehow and thankfully, now it makes absolute sense. My reason, my purpose, is to help others going though their own struggle. As I’ve said before, we are all here to help each other get through this maze of life, no matter what it throws at us. We’re not meant to go it alone.
Just over 3 years ago, I decided to write a book about my story and in doing so, came to understand myself and how it all came about very clearly. When it all came down to it, it made so much sense it was uncanny. My book is currently with my editor, so it’s coming along nicely. I can’t wait to share it with you all when it’s finally ready and in doing so, hope to help millions of people around the world. That’s my dream and I’m dreaming big.
Until next time.
Love & Light Always,