Polly's stark message to those battling bulimia
PUBLISHED: 07:04 12 March 2011
Archant © 2011
A MODEL has sent a stark warning to young girls battling bulimia after years of retching led to her tearing her stomach muscles.
Polly Guy’s teenage life was blighted by the eating disorder and the 28-year-old she wanted to raise awareness of how, even years later, it can lead to serious consequences and even a hernia.
The former City College Norwich student said: “At times I was puking up four or five times a day, from the age of 14 to 20. It started as anorexia and I went to the Phoenix Centre in Cambridge.
“But when I came out it developed into bulimia. For a long while I though I was being quite crafty and it got to the point where I could very easily regurgitate.
“I was able to eat and drink and do whatever I wanted to do. It made me feel like I was in control, but I wasn’t, I was totally out of control.
“The only things I thought it would affect were my teeth because of the acid and I knew that your hair could fall out. But these are things that are easy to cover up and I had my teeth capped.”
Miss Guy, who was adopted when she was four and is now recuperating at her family’s home in Bergh Apton, says she could not pinpoint one particular reason why she first developed an eating disorder, but thinks she may have a genetic predisposition and that it may have been contributed to by peer pressure.
She said: “I really don’t know why, but I know my birth mum had anorexia, but I didn’t know that at the time.
“My family who adopted me have given me an incredibly stable and happy childhood but my early childhood was terrible and most abusive, and you just don’t know how that might have shaped me.”
Miss Guy says she stopped being regularly sick when she was 20, but admits that since she started modelling in her mid-20s there were a few occasions when she returned to old habits out of pressure to look good.
But it was only when Miss Guy recently fell ill with a bug that the stomach muscles weakened by years of retching finally gave way and she was left in agony from a three to four centimetre para-umbilical hernia, near her belly button. The former Hobart High School pupil, who has worked in glamour modelling, said: “I think I must have knackered my stomach muscles out from years and years of wearing them down.
“My stomach muscles are like a pair of trousers with a rip down the seam.
“I have probably spent more years abusing my body than being healthy. I never in a million years thought I could rip my stomach apart.
“It’s pretty rare but it does happen.”
Miss Guy, whose mother, father and brother are all doctors, has had keyhole surgery to repair the hernia and is now recuperating.
Miss Guy, who trained as a chef at City College, said: “I feel so stupid and afterwards when I was on a ward with bowel cancer patients I just kept thinking about how I had only done this myself, when there are people who are really ill.
“All the hassle I have gone through in my life, puking up, starving myself and I thought that if it looked good on the outside it was OK.
“I have now stopped myself from being able to work by my own stupidity.
“I want people, expecially young girls and boys, to realise that you can’t spend years getting away with it.
“You hear quite a lot about anorexia and its side effects, but not many people talk about bulimia.
“It is just as damaging and it’s more secretive. “Young people want to look like people they see in the media, but they need to know that so much of it is false advertsing, because how are they looking like that?”