I was never considered good looking at school. I wouldn’t say I was bad looking, I just wasn’t “the type” that my classmates considered attractive. I wasn’t particularly bothered by the lack of admirers, or so I believed.
I was a victim of homophobic bullying at secondary school; every day I heard the same derogatory words being hurled at me, every week there were new rumours going around school about me, I was tripped up, pushed over, shoved into lockers, barged out the way, I even had a cold apple (and therefore a hard apple) smashed over the back of my head while eating my lunch. My confidence was gone and I began to hate myself, I couldn’t even pluck up the courage to reply “yes” when my name was called out in the register because I knew as soon as I spoke the bullies would shout “QUEER!” to a class of laughing students.
Eventually school came to an end and in September 2006 I went to a sixth form college that offered boarding for 80 non-local students, I moved into a large house with 30 others and we became a family. But despite finding a new set of friends that seemed to genuinely like me for who I was, the stress of being away from home and the pressure to maintain the friendships I had just gained all took their toll. When the communal area downstairs was closed off at 10:30pm, the 14 boys on our floor would use the room I shared with two others as the common room – they didn’t care if it was 2am and I had to be up at 8am for a full day of college.
I didn’t trust them enough to go to sleep while they were in the room, so I’d stay up until they left, leaving me with just a few hours sleep. The more tired I became the less attention I paid in lessons, which meant I fell behind on work and began to get a bad reputation with the staff. I was so tired and stressed I smoked heavily and drank large amounts of coffee to calm myself down and keep myself awake. But I wasn’t eating.
I was never fat, ever. But I always felt my face was rather “round”. It wasn’t something that had troubled me, but as my new unhealthy lifestyle took over the weight fell off. I had arrived at college in September as a healthy weight but by December my weighed dropped to a dangerous level.
But while many would believe a dramatic weight loss such as that would raise alarms and attract negative attention – quite the opposite happened. People were suddenly complimenting my looks all the time; my eyes, my lips, my skin, my bone structure. People were telling me I should try and become a model, I had people commenting on how popular I was (even giving me the nickname Mr Winchester because “everyone in Winchester seems to know you”) and for the first time ever, people wanted to date me. And the monster that is Anorexia Nervosa found it’s latest victim to control.
I was convinced “my fat face” was what had held me back for all those years, that “my fat face” had stopped my from ever being considered attractive. My measly food intake was slashed and my meal for the day was a Go Ahead yoghurt bar, a Twister ice lolly and a bottle of Coca Cola. I bought those same three items every day for months. I bought other food as well from time to time, usually sugary snacks, which I would immediately feel guilty about eating once I’d swallowed it. It was like having an evil angel and devil on your shoulders, both telling you that you’re going to get fat again, noticing all your flaws and tormenting you for eating that food. I very rarely went for dinner at the college canteen with everyone else, repulsed at the thought of eating a large meal.
In the week before Christmas 2006, my family and myself went on a family holiday to India. We left Birmingham airport at near zero degrees and landed in Goa at a temperature of 30degrees. Being an underweight as I was, I could barely take the heat. I could only sunbathe for a maximum of twenty minutes before I was rushing to my room to have a cold shower.
A week later it was Christmas Eve and time for us to go home. Back in England, thick snow and -5degrees is what welcomed us. If my body could barely cope with the heat in India, it was nowhere near strong to cope with this sudden temperature change. By the night of Christmas Day I was extremely ill; pyjamas, a dressing gown, a thick duvet, a sheepskin throw and a blanket were not enough to stop me from shaking like I was naked in the snow. No matter what I consumed, my body rejected it within two minutes of swallowing it. My body rejected food and liquids so much that when my dad gave me stomach-settling tables, I gagged just at having the glass of water touch my lips. A minute later, I collapsed on the kitchen floor.
I came around a few minutes later after my dad slapped me across the face a few times. He knew something wasn’t right, suspecting I had bulimia, and threatened to admit me to hospital. Luckily I didn’t need to.
Upon returning to college the unhealthy cycle continued until eventually the two resident houseparents who acted as guardians pulled me into their office and said they had noticed the change in my appearance and were worried, offering me the chance to move out of a shared room and into a single room so that I could break the cycle. Feeling this would be unfair on my roommates and the other boarders who had to share a room, I declined their offer but thanked them for it.
Over the next two years I battled the anorexia until eventually I won – well, won enough to control it. Many people believe eating disorders are just a phase, that it comes and goes and people move on, but it’s a constant battle. It’s been four and a half years since I collapsed on the kitchen floor at the peak of it all, but I still have to make a very conscious effort with food. Just like an alcoholic, you’re always in recovery (not recovered) because you’re always battling that evil voice in your head that tells you that you need to succumb to the destructive temptation in order to get you somewhere or be successful in life.
Now I run a successful celebrity gossip website, gaining tens of thousands of visitors each month and a number of celebrity supporters. I was asked to judge Miss Southampton and Miss Portsmouth – the regional heats for the Miss England pageant and further projects are in the works. Dear Anorexia, I don’t need you to be successful in life.