Mellissa Laycy, 24, battled with anorexia and bulimia her whole life until hypnotherapy cured her.
Pushing my shoulder back, I gave the London talent agent my best pout. I’d practised this pose for weeks in front of the mirror. Come back when you’ve lost your puppy fat, she snapped.
The smile slipped off my face. Puppy fat? I uttered.
Don’t feel despondent, my mum Elaine, 54, soothed. It was 2001 and at 13 I was tall for my age – 5 ft 9 and a size 8 10. People often told me I should model. It seemed like an exciting life and I was desperate to get into the industry. Now my dreams had been dashed.
Back home in Petersfield, Hants, that womans words echoed in my head. Theres only one thing for it, I decided. I cut out pictures of skeletal-looking models from magazines and pinned them on my mirror for thinspiration. I restricted my calorie intake, allowing myself no more than 600 a day. Keeping a notebook to ensure I never went over my quota, I filled up on coffee or diet drinks. Ill eat dinner in my room, I told Mum, before flushing it down the loo.
I learnt tricks to make it look as though I had eaten – empty crumbs from the toaster onto a plate, dirty a knife in butter. I hid food up my sleeves or fed the dog under the table. Exercise became an obsession too. Every morning before school, Id go for a run and in my lunch breaks I’d do laps around the sports field. Youre losing weight, my friends remarked giving me a rush of satisfaction.
Next I wanted to see a gap between my legs, for my hip bones to stick out a little more. You’re getting too thin, Mum fretted, but I ignored her. My teachers at school started watching me at lunchtime and it felt like an invasion of privacy.
I didn’t want anyone to get in my way of my weight loss. After about a year my school uniform hung off my skinny frame. The compliments had stopped and my Dad David, now 72, was as worried as Mum. By the time I was 15, I stood 5 ft 11 tall but weighed just 7 st.
I was so weak I passed out one day walking between lessons. My bones hurt when I lay down so I couldnt sleep. My hair started breaking and falling out. With no insulation I was permanently cold and downy hair grew on my face. My periods stopped. You are damaging yourself, Mum wept. But I didn’t care. As long as I was losing weight…
Eventually, aged 16, my GP diagnosed me with anorexia and I became an outpatient at The Priory in Roehampton, London. I was a size 4 and weighed 7 st. Instead of focusing on getting better, I began comparing myself to the other patients. They are all so thin, I thought, jealous. They must think Im so fat. I received counselling but it didnt help. At around this time, I finished my GCSEs and went to drama college away from home.
Feeling homesick I began comfort eating but, desperate not to put on any weight, I threw it all up. Ice cream, chocolate spread, every kind of junk food I had been depriving myself for years I ate and then got rid of as soon as possible. Swapping one eating disorder for another, I was overcome with depression, but had no idea how to get out of it. One day I started vomiting up blood. Thats when I knew it had to stop. Mum, I need help, I said tearfully on the phone. She booked me into rehab in Southampton so I could be closer to home. The nurses forced me to eat three meals a day, watching me like a hawk.
The bathroom door of my room was kept locked and a nurse would wait and listen outside when I used the toilet to make sure I being sick. It was hell, but six months later, I was much better. I was eating regularly and weighed a healthier 10st.
But only the symptoms had been treated, not the cause.
And soon I was binging and purging again. In early 2007 I was flicking through a magazine when I spotted an advert for Dominic Knight – a Harley street hypnotherapist who claimed he could cure eating disorders. Intrigued, I picked up the phone and made an appointment. Under hypnosis, Dominic made me remember how I was able to cope before I had eating disorders. Using Neuro Linguistic programming, he began to build a desire and commitment in me to change. Three treatments cost me 630. Pricey yes, but it was worth every penny.
I felt a physical shift inside me and I knew my eating disorders were a thing of the past. Food was no longer the enemy. I began enjoying cooking healthy meals and trying different tastes without being sick afterwards.
A year on I saw a plus-sized model on the cover of a magazine. I could go that, I gasped. With my new found confidence, I contacted Hughes Models 12+. ‘You’ll work well in the business’, they said signing me on the spot. Since then Ive worked for Evans, become a regular cover girl and appeared on Channel 4s How to Look Good Naked.
My rejection from modelling agencies as a young teen nearly destroyed me. Now, a size 16 and weighing just under 12 stone Im a successful model and couldnt be happier. It saddens me to think there are so many girls out there who think they have to be thin to be beautiful. I want people to know that eating disorders can be overcome. Im proof of that. Look whos laughing now!
Dominic Knight is the Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master NLP Practitioner who treated Mellissa says: When Melissa contacted me I had every confidence that I could help. She doubted it having tried so many other methods, but I worked from the premise that she was not born with an eating disorder. The way she interpreted her relationship with food had become a habit, and all habits can be broken.
With the art of language I facilitate change by helping a person create their own belief system that they can conquer it. I teach them to love and accept themselves unconditionally and by doing that empower themselves to change.
I then identify exactly what keeps the problem in existence and get the client to understand that they are responsible for the problem and ensuring change takes place.
Most human behaviour is subconscious I hypnotise the client and reprogram their minds to become open to change.
Finally by them rehearsing the positive behaviours repetitively even in their imagination it eventually becomes automatic; like riding a bike or driving a car, you can do it without thinking about it.
For more info go to: http://www.dominicknight.co.uk