A young British woman in the throes of a years-long battle with anorexia faced the scary moment when doctors warned her not to get on an airplane for fear that the cabin pressure would send her into cardiac arrest.
Emma Oldfield, a children’s entertainer, from Clacton-On-Sea, Essex, shared that her struggle with anorexia had evolved from simply losing weight to feeling guilty when she did eat enough, which resulted in a five-year battle that concerned her doctors and put her life at risk.
Due to her stubborn eating disorder, Oldfield spiraled over guilt from food and stress before eventually receiving the harsh wake-up call that turned her life around. Oldfield then ventured on her life-changing journey: transforming herself from a woman with anorexia and body-image issues to an inspiring, healthy young lady.
“My eating disorder started around the age of 18 shortly after my mom passed away from cancer,” she told Caters News. “I used food and body image as a way of coping with what felt like my entire life falling apart—I always had body image issues.”
“I began losing weight and through working 12-hour shifts as a waitress, biking to work daily, and not having enough time for breaks and food,” she added.
At the peak of her battle with anorexia, Oldfield’s rib cage was clearly exposed; her dress measurement had dropped to a size 4 during those days.
“This spiraled fairly quickly and I viewed food as guilt and attached negative connotations with the feelings of being full.”
However, after Oldfield’s doctors warned her that she was susceptible to sepsis or cardiac arrest and that the cabin pressure on a flight could kill her, she finally realized that she was losing out on living her life. She then started to make the necessary changes to return to a healthy weight.
It wasn’t an immediate change, though, and it took more than just a single wake-up call for her to truly alter her mindset and start living in a healthy way.
“For me there was no ‘light bulb moment’—I didn’t wake up one day and decide to stop my behaviors,” she said. “It was gradual, it took time, tears and determination.”
Oldfield said that she always wanted a “life without an eating disorder,” knowing fully well that it was killing her.
“It was making me weak and hurting those around me—as well as myself—but my behaviors and habits were so ingrained,” she said. “I just didn’t know how to stop even though I was at death’s door.”
Oldfield committed herself to transform her life; gradually, under the guidance of experts, she started moving toward her new healthy life.
“With the help of professionals and eating disorder services I was able to progress and start introducing new things, adding them to my routine and embedding them before I moved forward with the next step,” she said.
Now, Oldfield wears a size 10 and is on the road to a full recovery. She is both healthier and happier than she was when she was struggling with her dropping weight, depriving herself of foods, and trying to squeeze into impossible body-image standards.
Oldfield has not only pulled herself out of the gravest danger but is also helping others who are trapped in a situation like hers. She uses her weight-gain journey to encourage others by speaking out, refusing to shy away from tough conversations about how to be healthier and happier.
“I will never deprive myself of life again all be it pressures from society, perfectionism, stressful life events, or anything else that might happen. Since speaking out about my battle, lots of people have thanked me for my honesty and hope,” she said.
“I have worked so hard to get to where I am today and I hope my journey inspires at least one person to know the future can be what you make it.”