By Liana Jacob
MEET the aspiring singer who recovered from anorexia so severe her weight went down to a shocking six stone and she had to bring a pillow to school to sit on to relieve the pain of her bones digging into her chair.
Restaurant and bar supervisor, Nikola Palakova (22), who now lives in Liverpool, began dieting at the age of 11 while still living in her homeland, the Czech Republic, in the hope of losing some weight. She started receiving compliments from her peers, which made her feel proud, so she gradually began cutting calories until she only consumed 200-a-day.
After the five-foot-seven singer, plunged to a tiny weight of 6st 2Ibs. People would start to make comments on how skinny or ‘ill’ she looked. Feeling lost, she turned to her mum, who was living in England, for help.
Her mum got on a plane to Czech Republic and supported her while she was hospitalised for two months. After being told by her doctors that she would die within a few months if she carried on this way, Nikola, who was 16 at the time, made the decision to move to England with her parents and change her life. She is now a healthy 10st 1Ibs and a UK size 10 to 12.
“When it started I felt great because I was losing weight and got a lot of compliments, so I felt like I was successful in something,” she said.
“As it went on I carried on feeling great – or at least that’s what I thought then. People were telling me I look ill and too skinny, but I didn’t think I was ill. I was in control and my own little world.
“But thinking about it now, I was lonely, dark and very sad. I argued with everyone, lied to everyone and lost my friends.
“I felt lost, like I didn’t have anyone left and no one understood me. To me I was perfectly normal and proud, but I was ill, and everyone knew.
“I didn’t see it like that, now I do. I was in a horrible, dark place. When I was at my worst I stopped singing completely. I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore.
“When I was recovering my dad would often get angry with me because my voice wasn’t as strong as it used to be, and he’d tell me it’s because I was too thin.
“My voice definitely did change but I’m not sure whether it’s actually because I lost so much weight. But I did lose all of my confidence.
“Everyone was telling me I looked horrible and ill and I was going to die if I carried on. People in the streets were shouting at me and laughing at me for being anorexic.
“I had to bring a little pillow to school to sit on because the chairs were too hard, as my bones were literally digging in.
“I was so cold all the time and started growing more hair. One day I told my mum that I may have lost too much weight and I can’t eat without wanting to die.”
After months of being admitted to hospital, she was informed by doctors that she wouldn’t be able to have children and would die within months if she didn’t recover. This became a wake-up call for her.
“This was my biggest nightmare. I was lonely and lost. I needed my parents,” she said.
“I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to go to the ‘special’ hospital. I quit school and moved to England where I started my treatment shortly after this.
“I feel so much stronger as a person. It’s definitely something I’m proud of. It’s so hard and a lot of people don’t ever recover.
“I also feel like I can help other people who struggle with anorexia as I went through it all. I feel much happier now and I absolutely love and appreciate food.”
The process of changing her lifestyle to include eating and gaining weight was the most difficult for Nikola, who now snacks regularly during her shifts and even has two to three courses for dinner.
“I hated seeing my parents angry and broken. I know they wanted to help. I really wanted to get better, but I also didn’t,” she said.
“My friends and family are all really proud of me of course and appreciate how far I’ve come and understand it was hard and they know I’m a strong person, but we don’t talk about it too often.
“There is a way out. I know anorexia seems like that’s the world you want to be in and you’ll be happier if you lose more weight – you won’t.
“There’s so much out here in this world! So many things that you can’t enjoy unless you recover. It’s a much happier world without anorexia.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/nikolapalak/