From quite a young age I became very body conscious as most young girls and boys are these days. The situation was heightened by being in professional sportswomen as I was made aware by the coaches and nutritionists to be mindful of my weight.
With lots of emphasis being placed on my diet, plus the constant weigh-ins, my relationship with food changed dramatically. Two years quickly passed by and despite thinking that I had my eating ‘habit’ under control I slowly began to realise that in actual fact it was starting to control me… like an addiction. I finally admitted to myself that I was bulimic… I had a mental illness that had taken over my life.
With the burden of perfectionism, high self-expectation, competitiveness, repetitive exercise routines, compulsiveness, drive, tendency towards depression, body image distortion, diet and weight obsessions the pressure on athletes is immense.
Some days I felt mentally drained, miserable and found it difficult to cope. It became a complete roller coaster of emotions. I had no energy, players and coaches would speak to me during training sessions but nothing would really register.
I would eat or sometimes skip breakfast, I would train, eat, purge, train, binge, purge: a sequence that periodically became my daily routine and it was exhausting. I have since suffered major issues with my teeth, an effect from the acid from my stomach which resulted in thousands of pounds in dental fees. I took laxatives on a daily basis and suffered continual chronic stomach cramps.
It took a long time for me to be able to talk about the challenges I was facing. I told my partner at the time, although I felt embarrassed and ashamed it’s the best thing I ever did. He suggested I tell my family and my close friends and I’m not going to lie, my initial reaction was a resounding “NO!” but then I realised that in telling that one person, I felt like a weight had been lifted.
Suddenly I wasn’t alone. I called my parents and told them I was coming home. Telling them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but after doing so I started to feel like I was ready to face up to this illness and start fighting it. It is not easy and it’s a long road…but reaching out to people will help.