One minute I was busting moves with my friends, the next I’d collapsed on the floor. But how did I get so fat? By Sorcha Doyle, 21

The familiar ‘ping’ sound of a message blared suddenly out of my laptop speaker. I clicked back onto the AskFM tab I always had open in my browser.

It was a fun app where friends from Facebook could send you anonymous messages. My whole school was addicted to using it, and I was no different.

Every day I came home from college and spent hours scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, periodically clicking into the AskFM app to check for messages.

The noise rang through me and I felt a jump of excitement as I wondered what would have been sent. A fun little question? A flirty comment from a secret admirer?

I excitedly opened the new message and my heart sunk as I read the words on my screen.
‘You’re fat and disgusting.’

My eyes stung with tears as I slammed my laptop lid shut. It wasn’t the first time I’d received a message like that.

Bullies hid behind their keyboards and typed venomous messages to me all the time, picking on my size.

I usually tried to be funny, responding with a sarcastic comment and sharing it on my Facebook profile to laugh it off with my online friends. But behind my comedic acting, the cruel words hit like heavy punches.

I’d always been a big kid, but as the taunts and jibes from school bullies continued into my late teenage years, I found comfort in food.

I could scoff a whole oven pizza for breakfast, and go throughout the rest of the day gorging on massive chocolate bars and family sized bags of crisps.

After one particularly bad week, I found myself shovelling down five different takeaways over one big bingey weekend.

Surrounded by empty Chinese food containers and pizza boxes, I was disgusted with myself, but I couldn’t stop.

Fat and depressed, some days I could barely bring myself to get out of bed.I missed days of college, the struggle to get up proving too much as I snacked from the privacy of my bedroom.

My parents were worried sick and when they dragged me to the doctor months later, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

I felt isolated and huge - food had become my best friend.

Then one night, in June 2015, I forced myself out of the comfort of my own home and went to my friend’s birthday party.

She’d rented a nightclub, and whilst I felt huge and miserable in my size 20 dress, I pushed myself to go for the sake of my friend.

I chatted and laughed with my friends, and after a few drinks, the nerves slipped away and I began to relax as we hit the nightclub together.

I was throwing my best shapes and having fun on the dancefloor when my knee suddenly gave way.

I stumbled over in shock and squealed in agony as I collapsed to the floor with a huge resounding thump.

My friends surrounded me, worried, and tried to lift my huge frame off of the dirty nightclub floor. But struggling against my weight, I wasn’t going anywhere.

I clutched my knee as I was rushed to the hospital, crying both in pain and with embarrassment at the scene I’d just caused.

As the doctors examined me, the questioning quickly turned to my weight.

‘What’s this got to do with how I look?’ I asked, insulted. ‘It’s not just about how you look’ they explained gently, their eyes scanning over my body. ‘Your weight is affecting your health.’

I was in utter shock and couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The doctors told me that I was so big my legs could no longer support my weight, and they’d buckled under the strain of holding me up.

I felt mortified.

I was only 19 years old, and had always thought of my weight as a superficial issue - something for the bullies to pick on. I never dreamed it would affect my health.

But staring down at my 17 stone body, I knew what they were saying was true and that something had to change.

I was given a prescription for anti-inflammatory tablets to try and help my poor knees hold up my massive frame and was sent home on crutches.

I was 19 and taking nine tablets a day because I had got so fat, and it felt humiliating.

My chins wobbled as I sobbed to my dad that night about how impossible it felt to lose the weight.

‘You can do this darling’ my dad squeezed my hand tightly, and it gave me hope.

I wiped away my tears, took a deep breath and started to think rationally about the huge task I had ahead of me.

I looked around and found a slimming club that would change my way of thinking about food.

All through the bullying and taunting from cruel people online, I’d sought comfort in food. Whilst people on the internet would hurt me with their nasty comments, food had always been there to make me feel better.

I’d focus on how good food tasted instead of the things people were saying - living in ignorance was bliss.

But waddling towards the doors of my first slimming club meeting, it was obvious that thinking of food as my friend had gone too far.

I needed to change my attitude towards food, and the leaders at UniSlim did just that.

I learnt that food wasn’t something to seek comfort in, but more that my body was a machine and food was the fuel to keep me going.

Eating became an activity to set me up for the day, rather than to cover up my emotions with. I could still enjoy the odd treats, but began to realise that everything in moderation was the way to go, rather than gorging on anything I could get my hands on.

I stuck to eating healthily, and slowly but surely, the pounds began to drop off.

I spent the first week at university on crutches, embarrassed at depending on them to get around all because I’d eaten too much and let my body get out of control.

I struggled through, hobbling slowly around campus until my knee got strong enough to support me without them.

My healthy eating was already helping me lose the weight, and I found I was recovering quicker than expected as a result, the strength in my knee returning fast.

As soon as I could, I threw the crutches down and walked straight to the gym to sign up and move the weight loss on further.

I exercised as often as I could, and combined with my healthy meals, the weight fell off of me.

Getting used to healthy food and finding the energy for working out was hard at first, but when I started seeing results, I felt more motivated and determined to do it.

I weighed myself every week at the slimming club, and couldn’t believe my eyes as the numbers dropped lower and lower.

I used to be scared of the scales, but I found myself excitedly nervous as I approached them each week, knowing that my hard work was finally paying off.

A year after my dreaded fall and making the life-changing decision to get fit and shed the weight, I went clothes shopping with my friends.

Walking past the drab clothes of the plus size range, I thought back to the 19 year old me who cried in the changing rooms as she tried to tug the zip up of a size 20 dress.

I shuddered at the memory, remembering how miserable I was back then, fat and unhealthy.

I looked around and browsed, selecting a few pretty items and taking them into the changing rooms.

I took a deep breath, and removed a gorgeous red dress that I wouldn’t have dreamed trying on before from its hanger and slid it over my head.

Pulling up the zip with ease, I looked in the mirror and nearly cried. Staring at the size 12 dress fitting my new body perfectly, I beamed with pride.

I looked amazing.

After gazing in the mirror and twirling repeatedly, I bought the dress and practically danced all the way home.

I’m now a healthy 12 stone, and down four dress sizes from when I collapsed in the club.

I’ll never go back to the lifestyle I had before, and after shedding four-and-a-half stone, I couldn’t be happier at the change I’ve made.

When my legs buckled as I busted some moves on the dancefloor, it was so humiliating - but now nothing will stop my dancing feet!

Sorcha was horrified when her legs gave way beneath her on the dance floor but we helped celebrate her slimming success by selling her story to Take a Break magazine. If you've lost weight and want to share your story, contact us here to find out more.


Leave a comment

© 2023. Website designed and built by Reach Solutions