Unsurprisingly, growing up as a chubby child with a mother who constantly talked about my weight did very little for my self esteem. I was also painfully shy and began to link my weight issues with my lack of friends, spiralling into a pit of self-loathing at 13. It began slowly with skipping a meal here and there, vegetarianism and going to the gym as often as possible. The occassional dabble with self harm, which turned into a full-blown addiction. My mother began to make positive comments about how I looked, and I became more outgoing and was able to make friends- everything seemed to be looking up for me.

But over time, the positive comments turned into negative remarks about being too thin, which I never thought would be possible. I was right back where I started, resorting to comfort eating and self-harm at 16. I began to notice the weight gain and started to cycle through periods of fasting and throwing up to stop people prying. Around this time, my mother got divorced and I began to support my family financially. The pressure of looking good, performing at A level to study medicine and working were greatly worsened by my mother's extended absences on holidays with her boyfriend.

The stress of effectively being the head of a household at 17 weighed on me to the extent of experiencing debilitating back pain, reducing my ability to go to the gym and work, and dropped me deeper into the pit of despair. By April 2018, nearing exam season, my weight and self esteem were at their lowest. It seemed like the world would not stop producing problems for me, and so I acted in rebellion by taking innumerable paracetamol tablets and having to be admitted to A&E on a Sunday morning.

It was only then that I realised that I had been brewing this issue for 5 years and that I needed to stop for the sake of my mental and physical health. I had never wanted to say that I had a problem for fear of how people would view me. With the help of friends, teachers and medical professionals, I was able to suceed in my A levels and enter medical school with a relatively stable mindset. I was finally able to do something for myself, which I hadn't really been able to do for years.

Now studying to become a doctor as a recovering bulimic whilst managing depression, there are certainly going to be days where I feel like reverting back to old habits; but having spent a quarter of my life on the mental and physical scale, I'd rather be free. 🙂