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My 'four-legged therapist' has helped me smile through the toughest battle of my life

11th February, 2021   |    By Amber Heywire 2021 Winner   |    3 min read
Heywire winner, Amber – Lithgow, NSW

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 334 673 or e-mail support@butterfly.org.au

Sometimes I just can’t get out of bed.

It’s like there’s a bag of sand on my shoulders weighing me down all the time.

It feels so heavy.

I was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.

I describe it as where you can’t stop thinking about your own flaws and appearance.

It might seem a really minor issue to other people, but to me it’s huge.

In reality I have a fantastic weight, but I always believe I’m fat and have fat legs.

It got worse and worse over time and I started to work out in my room. A lot. I had weights and a treadmill all set up in there.

Social media had a massive impact. I was comparing myself to people all the time.

Scrolling, swiping … scrolling.

It led me to losing a lot of weight … and it just changed me. It wasn’t healthy.

Then I’d get frustrated and disappointed in myself and that would lead to anger.

But I’m getting got a lot of help from my mum and dad and my doctors.

I remember the first time I talked to a therapist, he said, “You are a strong woman who has a full life ahead of you. You’re strong-willed, you can power through anything.”

We shed some tears.

As I’m maturing, I’m starting to realise that I have a loving family who are trying to help me … so I’m starting to let them in and help me.

And there’s someone else that makes me feel like the old me.

His name is Red and he’s my horse.

When I’m riding I don’t have much time to think about myself otherwise I will come a gutsa, and fall off!

I’m focusing on the way my horse is moving below me.

He takes the weight off my mind instantly.

He’s like a four-legged therapist. He’s not perfect, he has wounds and scars just like me.

BUT Red makes me smile, like a real smile — sometimes to the point where my cheeks hurt!

There’s not a lot of time where I can walk around and feel good about myself, but when I’m on the horse … oh, that’s a different story.

And with Red, my family and my doctors by my side, I’m planning to smile a lot more.

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 334 673 or e-mail support@butterfly.org.au


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Eating Disorders
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