I began modeling when I was 16 years old. I had been scouted in a bar in the city where I lived, Limerick, on the West Coast of Ireland, my home. It was a brilliant journey in parts, I worked with a reputable agency, and we strutted across catwalks all over the country, for award ceremonies and all sorts, as well as gracing the pages of many a local newspaper. Yet inwardly I was struggling with bulimia.
It was an illness which had begun perhaps a year or so before, and only after starving myself no longer proved an effective method, as those around me wanted me to eat. I agreed with us both it seemed.
This illness, which had me starving myself for days, living on coffees, teas laden with white sugar, and Hubba Bubba, which I made certain I puked up in case the negligible calories add even an inch to my waist, made life barren. I mean, I had amazing friends and people who loved me and took care of me, and to this day it is their kindness to which I own my reparation, as well as my own desire to heal. Yet, this destructive force took its toll on my life to the extent where I found myself terribly unhappy to the point of feeling suicidal and depressed.
It literally took me 10 years to turn my life around completely. I would say that it is a process of healing. Being an artist helps, as we can use our vulnerabilities in our art. For me, this has culminated in self-publishing my autobiography in January of this year, entitled “If Only You Knew,” as well as pursuing my heart’s desire, which is a career as an actress. I also returned to university to complete my psychology degree, which I wanted to do since I was a child. I have also traveled lots and, most of all, am no longer afraid of life, and people.
I don’t consider myself healed per se; there are definitely days when I struggle not to be angry with myself for having eaten a meal or being hungry. I don’t know that healing is actually the point, as we all carry wounds and scars, internally, and externally. The joy is that, for the most part, my life is excellent, and I am very happy and often joyful at being alive – even on difficult days.
Nowadays, I share my experiences and help guide others who struggle at home, with food, and with life’s challenges in general. This is partly why I published my book, and also partly why I have come to value myself as a human being again.
I have read that we ought to live for one another, and I agree in the sense that we must live because we want to be alive and to give to ourselves, and to others too. I don’t believe I was born to spend my lifetime struggling. I want to have fun, enjoy life and keep learning how to better love myself and others. Of all lessons, this for me is the greatest and most important, for we all need help and care.
Being intrinsically flawed with foibles and quirks is exactly what makes us humans so beautiful – in my eyes, at least. I am glad not to always be seeking after perfection from myself or others, for it means that now I am free to embrace the journey and learn from my mistakes as well as share my support for others doing the same!
Rather than being ashamed as I once was, I am now grateful that, when I fall down, I have people around me who will help me up again, often while we both giggle! Some of these people have known me for years, and no matter what I threw at them, or how depressed, angry, self-destructive or just difficult I was, they may have stepped away, but they have always come back. To me, this helped teach me self love and to truly value the support and guidance of people to whom I can turn whatever time of day it is, and however I am feeling. More than anything, even when in my darkest hour, I have desired to become this person for others, and finally feel strong enough, to do just that!
I have learned through my struggles with bulimia, self-harm and self-destruction, that the experiences which we have are intrinsically valuable, and that once we are able and willing to share these with each other, we can find joy in their having happened through the connections this sharing forges among and between us.
I just want everyone to know that, no matter what happens, you can make it through if you keep trying. When you get tired, just remember that this too is part of life! We all suffer, get tired, feel remorse, fall, and rise again!
My first autobiography (one of three) “If Only You Knew” by Johanna Thea, is available to order through Amazon UK & USA. I hope that you enjoy it, and that sharing my experiences helps you as much as reading about others has helped me through the years.