GIVING IT AWAY, NOT THROWING IT UP –
June 8, 2021 – The 29-year-old told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday that she kept the reality of her dwindling health hidden to the point where, when she finally divulged her big secret at 19, her mother said she had no idea.
‘Mum was shocked. During that whole time, she only thought there was something wrong once but didn’t realise what it was,’ Ms Riley said. At 19, she thought opening up about her struggles would open the doors to recovery, but what the teenager didn’t know what that Australia didn’t have the help facilities she was looking for. A month of searching online for treatment centres revealed a range of ‘beautiful’ ranches and properties in the US and Europe where people with eating disorders would live while they recovered, but there was nothing like that at home. ‘I thought I was being brave and courageous when I said I had bulimia out loud – that admitting it was the hardest part – but I was wrong,’ she said. With no help or end to her condition in sight, Ms Riley overdosed on medication.
She spent three nights in intensive care before being transferred to the mental health ward and, eventually, into an eating disorder ward – where she spent the next year and a half going in and out of hospital while receiving treatment. ‘I needed to push past all the fears I had developed about food and realise the world wouldn’t explode if I ate something – the disorder makes you believe things that don’t make sense,’ she said. When asked what triggered her disorder, Ms Riley said she wasn’t entirely sure, but explained she did competitive gymnastics as a child, she was a talented dancer, and she witnessed domestic violence as a child. Even though her family managed to escape the violent situation, she believes she was trying to process the situation in her early teenage years.