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.
Want to get involved with Jenny’s foundation and show your support…?
The Jenny Wallwork Foundation officially launches with a Badminton Fundraising day on Saturday, 14th November 2015 and a Fundraising Spring Ball on the 20th February 2016 with Olympians and athletes from all over the UK making the journey to support the cause on both occasions.
If you require any details regarding the Spring Ball and the purchase of tickets please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org