I started receiving compliments on my weight loss. This spurred me to keep piling on the runs, always going faster and longer — all while subsisting on a diet of salads.
By the time I was 16, I was running an average of 10 to 20km a day, with no proper training, footwear, recovery or nutrition.
One day, 3 km into a casual jog, my knees buckled. Afraid to find out what it meant, I avoided seeing a doctor and also stopped running altogether.
That was the point at which the cartilage in my knees begun to degrade. And I wouldn’t find out for another decade.
I am proof that body dysmorphia and eating disorders aren’t just mental health conditions. They also have a long-lasting, possibly permanent impact on our physical health.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY IS NOT LINEAR
Upon getting diagnosed, I had only one goal in mind: To get back onto the football pitch as soon as humanly possible.
Within a week, I’d completed a bilateral arthroscopic debridement, chondroplasty and meniscus repair with the help of my doctor, Dr Gurpal Singh.
By the second day I was doing pull-ups and had walked over 1300 steps, feeling very proud of myself for being able to move and shower independently.
On the third day, in the midst of making the arduous preparations now required for me to undertake a simple shower, it suddenly hit me that I was just at the starting line, and the road to rebuilding my strength and stamina from scratch is a long one.
I cried again.
It took me a while to process and embrace the full spectrum of my feelings. Hours in therapy has enabled me to acknowledge the beauty of being human: We are complex and messy. The sooner we learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, the more wholeheartedly we can live.
A week after my operation, a vase I’d ordered for a friend arrived — coincidentally enough, with its legs broken. I decided to order a separate Kintsugi set and attempt to fix the vase on my own.
It’s messy and it’s not perfect — but it holds up, and my friend loves it.