At 18 I developed anorexia. I had never felt at home with myself, had two skinny sisters and ‘puppy fat.’ I was dieting by 14, and being a late developer, felt left behind by my peers. Then when I left home for Drama School in London, I was thrust into an adult world I couldn’t cope with.
To make myself feel better I went on another diet. It started innocently, of course, but in a short space of time it turned into an obsession – with food lists, weighing myself, not eating, everything you do as an anorexic.
You know what you’re doing when you’re anorexic even if you’re in denial. When people started saying things to me, I made the decision that I wanted to live and not die. But of course ‘living’ means ‘eating’ and when I started to eat again, I was unable to eat without guilt. Anorexia quickly developed into bulimia and then bulimia turned into compulsive eating. I found myself at 28 still not free. It had been 10 years and I hit breaking point.
I realized that my eating disorder was not going to change unless I did something drastic – even though I couldn’t think what that would mean.
So I did a very risky thing – I said a prayer! Many times I’d prayed for God to help with my eating disorder, but this was different, this was a prayer of complete surrender. I literally gave God everything – the eating disorder, what I would look like, what I would do, the dreams I had – and I made recovery my priority. And from that moment on, everything changed.
I reached out for all the help I could find and implemented huge changes in my life, putting myself in the uncomfortable position of going through recovery. And it was painful. I had to lift the lid on why I had an eating disorder in the first place. Everything was stripped away, exposing a person who didn’t like herself very much. But slowly, while immersing myself in a thriving church community, I started to rebuild my life. It took a few years, but I changed and grew, and I came out the other side of my eating disorder completely free.
Since then, I have had a burning desire to convey the message of freedom to others, as there is normally such hopelessness about recovery. And in 2003 I set up New ID. New ID has seen thousands of attendees and it has been an amazing privilege to share in peoples’ lives as they, in all vulnerability, take small steps towards freedom!