‘Okay, if I’m going to make the most out of this week I’m going to need to open up to someone soon’, I wrote in my journal on Tuesday evening. I’d been at Escape Haven in Canggu for a few days and was having the time of my life, but I had something I really needed to get off my chest.
As soon as I’d arrived at the retreat, I knew it was a very special place. Everyone was there for a reason, and the staff were ready to embrace us into a week of relaxation, joy and healing. When I’d booked, I’d simply been looking for a week of trying something new and a bit of pampering, but on arrival I realised the universe had brought me there for a deeper reason.
In the very first yoga session I was overwhelmed with the flood of emotion I felt, something which I continued to experience every time I turned up on the mat. I loved connecting with my body and was totally inspired by our wonderful teacher, Laura. To me, she has an indescribable energy about her, something which the other girls on the retreat wholeheartedly agreed with. I’d booked to have a private yoga session with her on Wednesday in order to broaden my knowledge and improve my technique, but I realised that if I was going to let anyone know what I’d been dealing with for so many years, it would be her.
And so, on Wednesday morning, I handed Laura a note describing my struggles with Anorexia and Bulimia since I was a teenager.
I had to write it down, because I don’t think I’d have ever gotten the words out if I’d had to speak. Besides a couple of close friends, no-one had ever really known about my story, not even my Mum. I never thought I’d be able to tell anyone, but in all honesty I was so tired of everything I was feeling. Tired of feeling the need to exercise all the time, tired of feeling like I’m bad at everything, tired of feeling constantly guilty, tired of feeling fat, ugly and worthless. I was desperate to move on with my life, but I think deep down I knew I’d never be able to do that until I shared the secret.
And now I have. First with Laura, who was completely amazing throughout both the yoga sessions we did. She was better than any therapist I’ve ever seen, despite turning up to the session originally planning on doing some technique work! We covered so many things, of course including yoga and meditation, which I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Practicing yoga is the first time I’ve ever felt totally at peace with my body; I feel strong, powerful, focussed, calm, happy, energised, and sometimes graceful even!
On the final night I opened up to a few of the girls on the retreat too. Again they were wonderful, they listened with genuine care and showed me so much love when I was done.
When I got home, I told Mum everything. It was so scary, I was worried she’d be angry at me for hiding it from her. All I’d ever wanted to do was protect her, I didn’t want her worrying about me especially as I wasn’t even living at home when I was ill. I didn’t want to let her down. Of course, she wasn’t angry, she too showed me so much love and support, as she always has throughout my life.
Since, I’ve let other family and friends know, and now finally, anyone who reads this. I was Bulimic throughout college and the first year or so of training. I had therapy which I didn’t think really helped at the time, and thus developed Anorexia when I was 22. Although this time it was a shorter period, when I started eating again the negative thoughts still stuck with me and ever since my self confidence has remained at rock bottom. I don’t remember ever actually liking what I see in the mirror, or thinking I’m good at anything.
But in Bali this all began to shift. I didn’t go there to ‘find myself’, a saying which sounds so cliché – but I really did. Before Bali I was feeling stuck in my own head, and pretty lost. Now I know in my heart what I want to do with my life, and on top of that I’ve made myself a promise that I’m going to learn to love myself. It will be hard as it’s a very alien feeling to me, as it sadly is for lots of people, but I think life must be so much more fun when you’re not spending it constantly putting yourself down – and I’m so ready for a life filled with genuine joy and laughter!
Why am I telling you all of this?
Well yes, for one thing I think it will help me in my recovery. But more importantly, I want to share my story in the hope that it will encourage anyone out there who’s going through a similar thing to get help. Speak to someone, be it a family member, friend, or professional. Please. You don’t have to struggle through it alone. Even if you feel like telling someone would be the worst thing in the world, I promise it won’t be.
I want to help break the taboo around mental health. So much great work is already being done, I want to be a part of it. I plan on writing more about everything soon, but for now thank you so much for reading this.
And super special thank-you’s to Mum, Jenny & Lucy, Laura, Ruthie, Erica, Sharon and Ruth. I love you all xx