As we all know trying to pick our GCSE’s for our entire future at the age of 14/15 is well in my opinion ridiculous! But still I made my choices then went on to sixth form college to make more choices of subjects for a career that I had no idea of who, what or where I was going to be or do in life. But still I choose my subjects as that’s what society tells us to do. I smashed my first year at college, academically I never had a problem, I usually excelled at what I put my head into. However the 2nd year went to pieces finishing with only 35% attendance for the year as I was more interested in working 2 jobs and earning money. Somehow tho I still left college with A Levels and decent grades. Now the difficult part, telling your parents that you was not interested in more studying let alone going to University to do more studying for god knows what career! I took a year out and worked…a lot! Usually holding at least two jobs consistently. My favourite was the bar work alongside the banking job, plus 4 months waitressing in Spain. However whilst in Spain I began to think maybe Uni should be on the cards. I loved psychology and biology and was currently obsessed with the American series CSI so I bit the bullet and applied to study Forensic Science. I got accepted to all the uni’s I applied for and chose to go to Stoke to study.
I literally lasted 3 months at Uni. I had been bulimic since 14 and it was always manageable but at Uni it got out of control. I can see now that it was a massive trigger being at Uni as it was not where I wanted to be in life but just felt lost at to what my next chapter was meant to be in life. I was tiny but of course couldn’t see that. My binging was out of control and the amount of laxatives I was taking plus excessive exercise took over. I had no interest in studying, I just wanted to be a skinny as possible and work out. At Christmas that year I returned home from Uni and did not go back which was a massive relief. My parents could see it wasn’t suiting me and thankfully didn’t push me to go back but I still felt like a massive let down as I knew I had a lot of potential with this career. I did entertain going to a Uni in London but realised I did not want to study for now.
I quickly got a job in the office world and within a few months I applied internally for a much higher position which I was told I would not get as I was too young and not experienced enough….however I got the job. What I quickly realised though was that the office environment was an absolute nightmare for me. Constant tea breaks, biscuits and sweets surrounded you with birthdays and cake always being available….I can never say no either so it was torture hating myself that I was eating junk now in the day too! I’d chomp away on boxes of dry cereal to distract myself from the office junk but I’d usually give in and end up binging in the office too. Then I’d leave work going straight to my local gym that I had joine
d in Hornchurch. I would take part in all the classes then finish with at least 30-45 mins on the treadmill (I was also doing the same at the weekends with a ton of classes). After 2-3 hours training and feeling great, I’d end up going home to then binge on chocolate and sweets. A typical nightly binge for me: entire box of after eights, family packs of chocolate buttons, maltesers, haribo (star mix of course), chocolate peanuts, chocolate raisins and other family size packs of chocolates that I’d have grabbed in the shops. Easily I’d consume £15 worth of junk a night followed by a cocktail of laxatives and I was now mixing them with Andrew Salts as the worst had happened and I had built up such a tolerance the laxatives had stopped working even taking 20 a night no longer had an effect so my weight kept creeping up.
I had left Uni under 7 stone and now was edging to 9.10 stones. Now I know that does not sound a lot but the gain was quick and freaking me out. What if I just never stopped gaining weight?! I was barely sleeping from the anxiety of it all and the disgust for myself and lack of control but I still could not stop my pattern. I was also always in pain, where the laxatives had stopped working so was bloated and cramping, I still took them in the desperate hope they would kick in. Work and my friends/family had no idea how bad I had become as I hid things so well. I guess people had their suspicions but back then it was not something to talk about. I was also on anti-depressants but kept that to myself too. It was just what my life had become again, just like Uni but worse the weight kept going up this time!
Being in the gym so much my Body Pump & aerobics instructor (and also absolute role model!) spoke to me one day after one of her classes and made a suggestion that set the ball in motion. “Amy you are in the gym so much and clearly love it, have you thought about becoming an exercise instructor?” Well let me tell you, firstly…MY ROLE MODEL….was suggesting I was maybe good enough to teach?? It blew me away and I had hand on heart I had never even considered teaching! And secondly….I had never even contemplated I could get paid to exercise?! Erm YAAAS! Isn’t that the DREAM?! But then I looked at Helen and asked “is it even a career tho?” It wasn’t ever on the list of careers we are shown in school/college etc if you know what I mean, totally brainwashed by institutions that we must work 9-5 and be employed. Helen looked at me and laughed and broke it all down for me. I was sold! I went home that night, found the course that I liked the look of, ££££ later I had booked my ETM Level 2 Diploma and began 12 months of studying and exams whilst working in the office.
Now I am used to just excelling at what I put my mind to. However this was the biggest challenge I had ever had to face. Firstly I failed my initial Anatomy & Physiology Exam. I was devastated. Thankfully I passed the second time round but the THE PRACTICAL EXAM. Oh My F*CKIN God. I am telling you now, I was absolute SHIT! Like proper shit haha! I realised that yes I can follow instructions as a participant in classes no problem BUT trying to then be the instructor well that is a whole different level. You are flipped to the front, not only are you trying to mirror image your participants but they want you to talk, cue, pre cue and look happy at the same time. HAHAHAHA! I was awful and wanted to quit the course but the money I had spent was all my savings from working so I refused to quit. Eventually (with a lot of practice) I passed.
Sadly shortly after I passed my ETM I had a total breakdown. Work were amazing and they believed in me so much that they signed me off sick with full pay for a minimum of 6 months. I however was broken. My eating had continued to spiral out of control, my weight kept going up, the exercise routine was endless hours after work plus the weekends. The sleepless nights and anxiety were horrendous plus I had decided the anti-depressants we’re not helping so just stopped them without weening myself off them. It all came to a head 12 years ago, April 9th. I fully broke. I have never publicly shared this but I took an overdose of a ridiculous amount of very strong back pain killers that I stole from my Dad’s cupboard as I was living with him at the time. I had been out drinking that night and I was so angry at myself for another binge that I made a decision that night that I no longer wanted to live like this. Is it selfish? Well I can look back now and see the effect it took on my close family and friends but at the time I DID NOT CARE.
I was tired of caring what I weighed and exhausted from my crazy routines of over training and self hate. I had finally made a decision and felt at peace with what I wanted to do. Now the universe decided not to play ball. I had gone to bed that night with plenty of alcohol in my system plus 20 or more of these intense pain killers and slept well easily 9 hours. I should have just slipped away that night. Instead I woke to my dad being very confused why I was still in bed when I was meant to be going out that morning for a friends birthday. I was so disoriented that he realised quickly something was wrong as I wasn’t making much sense plus all the empty packets of the pain killers were dotted around. The ambulance was called and I was forced to go to hospital but I did not want to go at all. They took me in anyway despite my lame attempts to stay home. I was in hospital for 2 weeks. They couldn’t pump my stomach as I had been asleep long enough for it all to get in my system. Instead put on some drip that helped my body break down what i had taken. They explained that I would die in 2 weeks if not of organ failure and that would be horrific. Still I didn’t care. I was numb. It was the most humiliating and shameful experience of my life. My dirty secret was out there for everyone to see. I know some people had an idea of my weird eating habits especially as I would rarely eat a meal in front of people but this was so raw. I blocked a lot of close people out after all of this, too ashamed of what I had done and was making me feel even more alone. My God-Parents took over as no one quite knew how to handle the situation. I had to move to Chigwell to stay with them once I had been discharged. Too be honest it was like moving into a protective bubble, away from my past and meant I could be in a totally different area without the worry of running into any of my old friends and even family. I apologise to those that felt like I pushed them away but I was trying to restart my life and I just found it incredibly tough trying to stay in contact with those that now knew my situation and too be honest a lot of people found it very upsetting that I had done this and were I guess disappointed in me. I just did not want anyone to feel sorry for me as I was in such a fucked up headspace.
My God-Parents were amazing and I am still so thankful they took me into their world. Melanie my God-Mother is a Personal Trainer and Life Coach. Mel guided me with my eating and well being, getting me to set goals, affirmations and also creating a safe environment to allow me to still exercise BUT set me challenges also daily. I used to cry at the dinner table as I hated eating meals with people, and part of my new routine meant that I had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together alongside my training, life coaching and pyscho-therapy provided by the NHS. This new routine soon became the norm, I stopped fighting it all and began to actually enjoy meal times which shocked me! I could not believe how much I began to actually enjoy foods that I usually pretended I did not like to avoid eating them. Turns out I love porridge too haha!
Mel let me settle into my new routine over the first month then she suggested booking onto my Level 3 PT Diploma to help me understand the nutrition side alongside the exercise, especially now as I was using the gym more rather than doing as many classes. It made sense, while I was off work I could really sink my teeth into the studying so I invested into the best course I could find with all the fancy add ons (I later discovered the add ons were unnecessary and overpriced but we live and learn ay?!). Over the next 11 months I began my PT studies and fully resigned from my office job as I knew in my heart that chapter was finished for me.