By Liana Jacob
MEET the inspiring student who despite enduring sexual abuse that led her to self-harm and starve herself to the point of shrinking to just under FIVE-STONE has since chosen life and gained her weight back to a healthy nine-stone.
Student, Mathilde Jensen (20), was just 13 years old when her mother overcame depression and anxiety, and the two of them went on holiday together to celebrate.
That’s when Mathilde met an older man who went on to sexually abuse her. This ordeal caused her to feel ashamed, and she began to isolate herself from everyone. Within eight to nine months, she lost 2st 5Ibs and her weight reduced to 4st 11Ibs.
Between the years 2012 and 2016, she was hospitalised five to six times, but despite her setbacks her determination to recover pushed her through as she approached 18.
Reshaping her life and reaching a healthy 9st 7Ibs, all helped her to change her attitude to food and made her feel proud. Her friend has since introduced her to pole dancing, which she says was fun and built her self-confidence, but has since moved on to strength training which is her biggest passion.
“My mother had been sick with depression and anxiety since I was a little girl, then she started to feel better when I was thirteen, and suddenly she wanted to be a mother again,” Mathilde said.
“When my mother started to get better in June 2011, we went on vacation to celebrate. I had a vacation romance going on with an older guy.
“I was sexually abused by him, and after that I totally lost it. I started to isolate myself and went totally crazy, and in just eight to nine months I went from 45 kg to 30 kg, and that was first time I got hospitalised.
“I had so many mixed feelings. Every day I had psychosis and I cried so many times during a day, so much that my eyes were always red, and I looked so tired.
“Often, I would end up harming myself; I was cutting myself or hit my head or hands into the wall. But I kind of liked being the skinny girl; I liked the way people were looking at me when I passed them on the street.
“Looking back, I know it was just something my anorexia made me think. Now I know how much better I’m feeling with some extra weight on my body.
“I had just turned eighteen and was about to start my education and I knew that I would never get through it if I remained living the way I was.
“I realised that ‘real’ life was about to start, and I could either choose to live and create my own future the way I want, or I could choose to live with anorexia that I knew someday would kill me.”
While Mathilde, who is from Frederiksberg, Denmark, used to work herself hard to lose weight, including walking for twenty kilometres a day and only eating one meal a day mainly filled with vegetables or fruit, she now has incorporated a steady workout routine five to six times a week at the gym.
“Pole dancing has made me feel more secure with my body; we were wearing almost nothing when we had classes, so I learned to stop wondering about what others were thinking about my body,” she said.
“I only did it for a few months, but strength training is my biggest passion, and that’s what really built my self-confidence.
“Now I’m not working out to burn calories, my goal is to gain some lean mass, so I’m lifting heavy instead of doing a lot of cardio,” she said.
“My eating habits have changed a lot too. I’m eating six meals a day now; I’m consuming around two-thousand calories every day.
“I’m a totally different person now. For so many years I was isolated and only lived by the rules the voice in my head had made. Now I do whatever I want to do.
“I go out with my friends, I can spend a whole day on my sofa if I want to and I can eat whatever I want. It feels so good to be who I want to be.”
The toughest part of her journey to recovery was the first couple of months, when she had to gain the weight. Changing her mentality was the hardest part.
But the reaction she has received from her family and friends helped her power through.
“The first couple of months was so hard. When I started to gain weight, I was so bloated, and my mind kept telling me that I was getting fat,” Mathilde said.
“I knew it was just fluid in my body, but I was still having this voice in my head trying to talk me out of it.
“Most of the time I feel good with myself and my body. But some days my self-esteem is low and I’m insecure with myself. It is not so bad anymore and most of the time my thoughts are positive.
“Everyone is so proud of me. Including myself. Three years ago, we all thought I would lose this battle. Even my parents started to lose hope. Everyone is so happy that I finally can live a normal life and do normal stuff.
“You have to find the strength inside yourself. You must choose life instead of anorexia, because you can’t have both in the end.
“It doesn’t matter that your family or friends are trying to convince you to get well, because in the end it has to be your own decision, and it has to come from you.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/mathilde_rikke_jensen/