*some readers might find this distressing*
These were my thoughts when I looked in the mirror at the age of six: "It's true, I am SO fat, its hideous, no one is ever going to love me, I'm so ugly, I don't want to be alive.
I was bullied for my appearance from the age of 4. I was called fat. Ugly. Hideous. Dog. Unlovable. Disgusting. Just to name a few. I went to school and my peers would laugh at me, isolate me and laugh at the extra bits of fat I had around my belly. They would push me, spit on me and call me an alien. Then when I went home, the other children on my estate wouldn't let me play with them, because fat girls weren't allowed. I would always comfort eat, like eating 2 whole packets of biscuits when I was upset, and then I would feel so bad after that I would just want to eat more. I was eating adult portions ever since I was about 8, which seemed to be of great interest of others because they loved to talk about it, but the vicious cycle carried on.
When I was 10, the school nurse weighed me, and I asked not to be told how fat I was. She agreed, and she said I wouldn't want to because I was obese. For the next 2 weeks, I only ate one small meal a day, and I would do 5 hours of exercise a day, until I was so physically exhausted I couldn't move. When I went back to school after the holiday, the head teacher saw me and said "wow, you've lost weight - well done". From that moment on, I became obsessed with trying to be thinner, because that was the only compliment I had ever received from someone outside of my family.
I would go through stages of binge eating, then starving myself, over and over again for the next 6 years. When I was 14 I experienced trauma and abuse, and I started to hear voices, abuse drugs and alcohol, self-harm and I tried to take my own life.
Luckily I'm still here to tell the tale. Through inpatient admissions, therapy, life changes and a strong support network I have turned my life around. I'm currently studying mental health nursing at Surrey University, and I work with multiple different charities to challenge stigma surrounding mental health.
Since starting university I have been attempting to eat healthier and go to the gym as much as possible. But again the comments have started. "Wow you've lost so much weight you look amazing".
I'm writing this blog to ask EVERYONE to please stop complimenting me for losing weight. It's not a compliment, for me it's a trigger. Instead I want you to compliment me on the things that actually matter. Compliment me for treating my body with the care it deserves. Compliment me for overcoming so many of my issues. Compliment me for being healthier. Compliment me for getting to university. Compliment me for being beautiful and lovable no matter what size or shape I am.
Looking back, I wish someone had noticed my unhealthy habits, I wish someone had told me I was worth so much more than how much I weigh, I wish I could see how perfect and beautiful I was. But I can't do that, I can only ask whoever is reading this, to look in the mirror, and try not to pick out the parts of your body you don't like. Look at your whole self, your amazing soul and your bright future. The way you look is going to change anyway, so focus on the permanent parts of your identity. If I was physically with you, I would tell you how amazing you are, but since I'm not, I hope you can love yourself, just like I did.