My name is Taylor.
I’m 17 years old, and I’m currently finishing my final year of high school. I enjoy spending time in nature; I love art, dancing, and spending time with friends. I enjoy self-care and mindfulness activities, and I have a positive outlook on life.
But I haven’t always felt this way, and as you read on you will find that there have been moments in my life that changed me in a way that eventually led me to being diagnosed with an eating disorder.
In early 2020, I started running with my brother as a hobby – it was fun, and I loved it at the time. It was an activity we got to share together. But at the end of April of that same year, when my brother moved out of home, things unexpectedly took a turn for the worse.
I continued running after he left because I felt like I’d lost a part of myself, and running was my way of reconnecting with him. At the same time, I was exposed to the superficiality of social media. As I grew a desire to become ‘healthy’, I started looking at models and influencers for that validation, comparing myself to them, and seeing if I could find ways to be like them. Soon after, I started weighing myself regularly. I needed to run faster, run for longer, eat less, and be a certain person. That led to me rapidly losing weight.
I think through the eyes of society, being healthy means to be thin, eat cleanly, and look a certain way. That is heightened and perpetuated through social media. And so, to me, being healthy meant eating only good food, exercising a lot, and ensuring that I wasn’t overweight. Little did I know that being underweight was just as unhealthy.
I felt so lonely.
I started to get cold all the time. I was wearing a lot of layers to school and falling asleep much earlier than usual. My skin started to turn yellow, and my lips were often blue. The scary thing was that I was so focused on looking a certain way that I didn’t see these changes.
It was only when my parents saw me one day and they could see my bones that the alarm bells rang. I was then taken to a paediatrician who diagnosed me with an eating disorder.
It’s all about a positive mindset.
After the diagnosis, I began my recovery, which was a challenge. But soon enough, I remembered what it was like to feel happy again.
One of the most important steps in my recovery was being open and honest with myself and others. Sharing what I was going through made a huge difference and gave me a more positive mindset, and meeting others who shared similar experiences also had an incredible effect on my recovery.
I am also incredibly thankful for the love from family and friends who supported me all the way through my recovery. Having that close support network gave me the motivation to overcome my difficulties.
I still have struggles with my eating disorder.
However, I am proud of myself. Not only have I come such a long way in my journey, but I am now using my experience to help others. That’s why I chose to write a children’s book called Why Don’t I Have That? which focuses on positive body image and accepting yourself for who you are.
I wrote it because I couldn’t stand the feeling of knowing that other young people, especially now with the prevalence of social media and the way that society puts pressure on us to look a certain way, could feel like I did. I hope my book will create change and act as an early intervention tool to prevent others from experiencing what I went through.
My outlook on life has completely changed over the course of my experience with mental illness.
I now know that you can’t lose from investing in the relationship you have with yourself and that your body is your home, so we should take care of it.
Although having an eating disorder was, at one time, my biggest weakness, it’s now my biggest strength. I’ve turned it into something that is going to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Thank you for reading my story.
Did you know 1 million people in Australia are experiencing an eating disorder?
Eating disorders can begin subtly, but can slowly creep in a way that completely consumes a young person’s life, leaving a devastating impact on both the person experiencing the illness and those who care for them. But what causes an eating disorder, how do we treat it effectively and how do we prevent it from happening in the first place?
That’s what we want to find out.
We believe that better research into youth mental health will help provide the answers that we are so desperately looking for so that more young Australians can overcome any barriers they face and find peace and comfort within themselves, and live happy and fulfilling lives.
Please make your donation today and help change the way young people see themselves. On behalf of Breakthrough, thank you for your unwavering support.