Saya Holden was 14 and struggling with depression and anxiety when she turned to strict dieting as a way to manage her roller coaster of emotions. With the constant feeling of stress and pressure with school and relationships, eating seemed like the only thing she could control. At a young age, Holden struggled with her appearance and compared herself to other people, resulting in a constant obsession with her body weight. Holden said that anxiety and depression brought on her unhealthy eating behaviours which later led her to be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
“It was probably one of the worse times of my life. I had it for 5 years so it was definitely my lowest point.”
Holden had to undergo 5 years of physical, emotional and mental treatment at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for her eating disorder. She first turned to restricting certain foods out of her diet and found that the weight loss she experienced gathered compliments, which encouraged her to lose more.
“I ended up getting too sick and they said my case was too severe and too dangerous so I needed to go to Sick Kids. That was my last option for full impatient treatment.”
After some self reflection, she recognized her extreme dieting habits were the cause of her poor health and realized that she needed to recover quickly before her disease could get any worse. Holden explains that social media was a big component that impacted her views about her body image. Many of the other girls she met at Sick Kids Hospital would use social media sites to compare themselves to models and celebrities which fed into their mental illness even more.
“Social media is a crazy thing now and the perception of this ‘perfect’ image and ‘perfect’ body just ate me alive. Tumblr was a huge thing with eating disorders because there was blogs about anorexia.”
As hard as it was for Holden, she got through her treatment at the hospital and recovered from the trauma that was inflicted on her body. While she is doing better, Holden remains aware of her situation and continues to work to find a balance between working out and living a happy, healthy life.
She is now at Laurier University studying Psychologist where she plans to help others who are suffering from the same disease as she once had.