A former ballerina has revealed all about the eating disorder she suffered with for many years while under huge pressure to maintain a very small frame.
Kathleen Rea told US News that for ten years, while she was at the peak of her dancing career, she suffered from bulimia, which led her to starve herself as well as binging and purging up to eight times a day.
This obsessive behaviour was due to the dancer feeling under intense pressure to be dangerously thin in order to further her career and be successful within her chosen field.
She has now come clean about this disturbing behaviour in order to tackle the issue of institutionalised eating disorders, a problem which many sports, such as dancing, can be faced with.
Ms Rea finally sought professional help and treatment to tackle her bulimia, however, having suffered from this illness for ten years she witnessed many dangerous and horrific effects during this battle.
While with the National Ballet of Canada, she claims that half of the girls she danced with suffered from similar eating disorders.
At the peak of her career, she measured five foot six inches and weighed 105 pounds, a size she maintained by extreme starvation, purging and intensive dancing of up to 40 hours a week.
Ms Rea told the news reporter: “They said because I had larger breasts than the other girls, they had to see more bones.”
“I spent days and days starving myself, and then I would binge eat, because I was so hungry this famished creature would overtake me,” she revealed.
Her eating disorder soon became obsessive and led to disturbing mental issues, such as detachment from reality and feelings of depression.
“I slept on the bathroom floor because I thought my bedroom was too luxurious for what I deserved. I would sleep with a knife almost ready to cut the fat off my thighs and at that time I was also binging and purging up to eight times a day,” she shared.
After witnessing the stark changes to her physical and mental wellbeing, Ms Rea finally decided to seek professional help and subsequently managed to put on a little weight and regain some much-needed strength.
But, tragically, she claims that her ballet company told her that she had embarrassed the entire nation of Canada by looking “too fat” on stage and was subsequently fired from the company.
Rather than sink further into depression and give up on her dancing talents, Ms Rea, now 42, has channelled this frustration into a more productive avenue.
She is now a psychotherapist, therapeutic performance facilitator and recently published author, after releasing a book titled The Healing Dance, which charts her struggles with bulimia and how she came to being a healthy, happy individual with a desire to help others.
Often it is hearing of real life accounts of eating disorder sufferers which can trigger realisations in people, leading them to seek help as well and overcome these debilitating conditions with the support of friends, family members and qualified professionals.