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Sleep therapist Olivia Arezzolo focuses on her eating disorder as she recovers

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Olivia Arezzolo is candid about her struggle with anorexia – after struggling with the eating disorder for six years

For years, Olivia Arezzolo was a slave to her eating disorder – constantly struggling with her feelings of extreme hunger and ‘not being allowed to eat’.

The 31-year-old, from Sydney, said she was convinced she would be happier if she “got just a little thinner” and “go through another day without eating.”

Speaking to FEMAIL, the sleep therapist said she was living with a “cyclone” in her head — as her anxiety, eating disorder and extreme hunger struggled for attention.

“Sometimes I even just took alcohol, even if it has more calories, so that I would get a little drunk and forget that I was hungry,” she said.

Most days she exercised intensely in an attempt to get even thinner or to forget the ever-present hunger pains and thoughts about food.

“If I survived a day of eating, I could order whatever I wanted, provided I never left the restaurant or meal full,” she said.

“If I felt full, that would be wrong. It would be really bad.’

Olivia didn't realize how bad it was until she saw these photos of herself on the beach of Bali, taken in September 2019

Olivia didn’t realize how bad it was until she saw these photos of herself on the beach of Bali, taken in September 2019

Olivia has revealed how far she's come in the past two years with this photo

The young woman couldn't believe how skinny she was

Olivia, pictured left, has managed to gain some weight – but more importantly, she’s addressed her underlying mental health

Olivia’s first brush with anorexia started when she was just 15.

Her parents separated and she was devastated. She also struggled because she felt her pain went unnoticed – so she decided to stop eating.

“I remember well, I wanted to be thin, I wanted to be starving,” she said.

“I thought if I was that thin, they should pay attention to me. They should see the pain I was in. You can’t help seeing that when someone gets so unwell.’

At the age of 19, Olivia was in the hospital. She had achieved her goal of complete weight loss and was so skeletal that she almost died.

The recovery was long and slow, but over the years, Olivia began to feel normal again.

“I didn’t think about food, didn’t worry about when I ate or what I ate, I had really good years,” she said.

When she was 25, things started to fall apart again.

“I was in an unhappy relationship and I felt so stressed at work, I thought if I could lose a little weight, be a little bit thinner, I would be happy,” she said.

“I lost weight and then I would plateau and then lose weight again,” she said.

She is currently in Turkey where she continues to focus on her mental health and is gaining weight slowly

She is currently in Turkey where she continues to focus on her mental health and is gaining weight slowly

But by the time she was 27, the situation was dire.

“People asked me if I was okay, my family took me aside and asked what was going on and I would tell them I was fine,” she said.

This time she didn’t want to be seen, she didn’t want to be a burden – and the idea of ​​her family and friends having to take care of her was terrifying.

“I didn’t want my friends to be afraid of me or people to analyze everything I was eating,” she said.

She revealed that she had a few drinks to forget her extreme hunger

She revealed that she had a few drinks to forget her extreme hunger

She also feared losing her credibility as a sleep therapist—a reputation she had worked tirelessly to build.

“I was worried that people would question my professionalism or me as a person…that could be really problematic from a business perspective,” she said.

But it all came to a head in September 2019, when she saw photos of herself enjoying a day at the beach in Bali.

“I looked like a bag of bones, I couldn’t believe I looked like that,” she said.

“Although I realized things were going bad, I wanted to heal in my own way. I went on many retreats but I was mentally in a bad way.

“It got to the point where I thought if I didn’t get help, I’d end my own life. I knew after a previous attempt when I was a teenager that I didn’t want that, that I was just trying to escape the intrusive thoughts.’

Olivia said she thought she would be happier if she continued to lose weight, but her mental health deteriorated

Olivia said she thought she would be happier if she continued to lose weight, but her mental health deteriorated

In February 2021, she sought professional help.

“I started therapy because I saw it was one of the things that helped me the first time, and we worked on slowly improving my mental health,” she said.

That helped her understand that it was normal to be open about her struggles with her loved ones, which led her to be more public about them.

“I realized it was okay to write a book, be on television, be a leading sleep expert while going through my own health crisis,” she said.

“Because my eating disorder didn’t affect how successful or unsuccessful I was at work — it wasn’t relevant there.”

She also went to the gym and worked out endlessly trying to escape her thoughts

She also went to the gym and worked out endlessly trying to escape her thoughts

She was also afraid to post about weight gain or mental health improvements in case she got worse.

Once she got started on social media, she realized how important it was for her to share her “darkness” so that others would feel more comfortable with their own darkness.

“I realized how moving my story is, I’ve never had such captivating content,” she said.

In one post, she focuses on the eating disorder that has ruled the last six years of her life.

“Hey anorexic, fuck off with these twisted beliefs and let me really enjoy my life. Good attempt to mislead me…. You almost fooled me,’ she said.

‘Thinness does not equal happiness.⁣ Just as heaviness does not equal happiness.⁣ I unsubscribe.⁣’

'Thinness does not equal happiness.⁣ Just as heaviness does not equal happiness.⁣ I unsubscribe⁣'

‘Thinness does not equal happiness.⁣ Just as heaviness does not equal happiness.⁣ I unsubscribe⁣’

Olivia’s followers continue to ask for guidance, which gives her the confidence to become the person who starts the conversation around ‘feeling good’.

The sleep therapist’s work can be done anywhere in the world, something she takes advantage of.

She is currently in Turkey where she continues to heal.

Part of that process is continuing to gain weight and “being OK with it.”

She believes she is now in a beautiful space and a “completely different person” than the one who would wake up every day hoping that “it would all end.”

“I want other people to know that they can do it too, that they need support and that they can get through it,” she said.

Olivia has 37,000 followers on Instagram, where she plans to continue sharing her impressive recovery.

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