Growing up, Katie was a perfectionist and experienced severe anxiety. She struggled with body image issues from a young age. She would often see women’s magazines with articles on fad diets. By the age of 10, negative comments about Katie’s weight persisted and distress and anxiety over her weight and body shape increased.
By the time Katie reached university, her need to be perfect intensified. She started to lose weight and would often go to bed starving. As she lost weight, she started to receive positive comments and gained success in the fashion industry as a model.
Overtime, she began to focus on counting calories and walking every day. Weight loss became her focus, and she became obsessed with it, calculating all her calories multiple times a day and tracking her kilometres and calories burnt by exercise.
Katie became unrecognisable to her loved ones, like a different person, void of humour or any emotion, and unable to make decisions without thinking about how many calories she would burn. She started to get more attention from the fashion scene in Perth and received many job offers.
As her success in the fashion industry grew, her physical health declined and even led her kidneys to shut down. After fainting during a photo shoot, Katie admitted that she thought she had an eating disorder and went to her GP to seek help.
She eventually was admitted into Hollywood Hospital for six weeks to be re-fed. Hospital was a positive experience, but after leaving the hospital, Katie struggled with the comments of those around her:
“The hardest part was that I had put on a little bit of weight and people kept telling me I looked great. I hated people telling me I looked well or better. To me, it meant that I had gotten fat and even well-meaning comments were taken the wrong way.”
People assumed Katie had recovered, but she continued to struggle with restrictive eating, exercise and fatigue. She eventually went back to hospital for a brief stay to continue working on her recovery.
“I hated people telling me I looked well or better.”
Katie was determined to overcome her eating disorder and began to focus on helping others with similar struggles. She gained a job that helped to strengthen her relationship with food and her body. Additionally, she learned about the Health at Every Size movement, which led to a change in mindset.
“I was trying to numb myself from trauma.”
She gained a life and a friendship circle. Although the negative thoughts were still there, they became easier to overcome:
“I would never regret spending my 20s battling an eating disorder, as much as it has taken things from me, it was also a way of coping when I couldn’t really see any other way. I was trying to numb myself from trauma.”
Katie acknowledges that choosing recovery every day is hard, and says it gets harder before it gets easier:
“But one day you wake up and go out for breakfast and laugh with friends without a pang of guilt or shame and realise you’re getting somewhere.”
Katie’s story is one of struggle and triumph. She experienced anxiety and body image issues from a young age, but with help from her family and healthcare providers, she was able to overcome her eating disorder. Although she had achieved success in the fashion industry, she knew that her health was more important and was able to take a step back to focus on her well-being.
“…one day you wake up and go out for breakfast and laugh with friends without a pang of guilt or shame and realise you’re getting somewhere”
Katie has worked as a Peer Worker in MIFWA’s Hospital to Home program since 2021.
She now uses her lived experience to walk alongside peers as they take steps along their own recovery journey.
Hear the full story behind Katie’s inspiring journey towards recovery!
Register now to join us online on May 4th, 2023 at 7:00pm at MIFWA’s Online Parent Support Group.
This is an free, exclusive group for family carers, so make sure to secure your spot by completing the registration process.
To learn more, simply visit the following link: