FROM SELF-HARM TO SELF-LOVE: Media star reveals her secret life of mental illness and addiction in gritty first book

· ITV ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ bellydancer pens gritty memoir documenting her secret life of addiction, binge-eating and bulimia that nearly killed her

· ITV ‘This Morning’ Presenter Eamonn Holmes describes new book as ‘a sad, gritty and brave tale of addiction’ that also ‘offers hope that there’s always a way out.’

· An ambitious mum-of-two and self-proclaimed workaholic describes how she found true success and recovery through her journey from self-harm to self-love

· Yorkshire influencer Sophie Mei Lan says she was at her ‘heaviest’ when her eating disorder was at its worst · ‘Eat. Sleep. Control. Repeat.’ documents Sophie’s life of abuse, self-harm and addiction to finding recovery through self-care, therapy and fitness to live a life of ‘true success’

An eating disorder patient, who was one of the worst medics had ever seen, explains how she was actually at her heaviest when her disorder was at its worst. TV personality Sophie Mei Lan, who shot to fame on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent with her bellydancing skills, said that it was easier to get medical help when she appeared ‘frail’.

As bulimia took control of her life, she gained weight, which made it difficult to get the support she needed. Initially, Sophie, originally from Sheffield, but who now lives in Wakefield, was ‘too heavy’ to get help, even when she appeared frail. Things got worse when she began to gain weight. At death’s door, but, according to her GP, looking ‘healthy’, Sophie’s family were forced to campaign for her, so that she could access the professional support she desperately needed, after they witnessed the devastating impact her eating disorder had on her life. Single mother Sophie, 32, says, ‘Not only did I have to cope with an addiction that was destroying my life, I had to deal with the fact that my appearance did not fit the stereotype of someone with an eating disorder.

‘My face was swollen, and my body had lost lots of weight quickly, which made me appear skeletal, then I gained more weight than ever before. I thought I was in control, but actually, my bulimia was in control of me.’ By the time she saw a specialist nurse she’d become completely consumed by her disorder. ‘I felt like I’d been left to fester by the system. Not only was I failing at life.

I was also failing to fit into the healthcare system.’ Sophie said that she was ‘extremely lucky’ that the nurse she saw at Sheffield’s specialist eating disorder service understood how severe her illness was despite her ‘healthy’ BMI.

She added, ‘I have an addictive personality; I put my all into everything, whether it’s a positive or negative coping mechanism. When I was deemed too heavy to receive help, I fell into a darker pit of despair. I felt I had to harm myself even further.’ Sophie began documenting her rollercoaster journey to recovery, which included her struggles with mental illness, self-harming and her addictive behaviours, through vlogging, blogging and making documentaries. She danced in order to express herself when she felt unable to communicate her feelings. Towards the end of her journey, she was approached by a publisher to tell her story, in a bid to show others that no matter how bad things can get, there’s always hope. Sophie says, ‘The hardest challenge for me was overcoming the shame I felt about my past and my secret double life. I could be performing on TV one minute then the next, harming myself in my hotel room. I never thought I’d ever recover, but with a lot of support, I found my way out of the dark place that cast a shadow over so many years of my life. ‘I’ve always believed that I’ve experienced what I have to tell my story and help others going through the same. I’m lucky to have a platform that allows me to do this.’ Sophie quickly discovered that penning her memoirs wasn’t as easy as she’d thought.

‘It was a dream came true when I signed my book deal. However, I realised that my journey was still not over when I began reflecting on how far I’d come and also how far I still had to go.

But, after three years of grafting, tears and more therapy, I was finally able to finish my debut book, ‘Eat. Sleep. Control. Repeat.’, in lockdown.’

Her book received high praise from ITV’s This Morning presenter, Eamonn Holmes, who penned the foreword for the book. He said, ‘Eat. Sleep. Control. Repeat.’ is an amazingly insightful, gripping read. It just goes to show that we never know what is happening behind someone else’s closed doors.’ The book is available from www/hallgoodbooks.com priced at £9.99 (includes a free gift). Read Sophie’s blogs on mamamei.co.uk, watch her vlogs on YouTube.com/SophieMeiLan and follow her on social media @mamameiblog

———— ENDS ———-

NOTES TO EDITORS: FOR INTERVIEWS, CONTACT: DIANE HALL [email protected]

More about ‘Eat. Sleep. Control Repeat.’

Do you strive for a successful career and a fulfilling life? At what cost? Would you risk your health to achieve your goals? Journalist and TV personality Sophie Mei Lan depicts her ‘rags to riches’ story in this searingly honest, compelling and inspiring memoir. She shares with readers how her obsessive personality—a trait of many successful people—caused her to brutally abuse her body as she tried to ‘have it all.’ It certainly seemed as if Sophie had achieved her dreams, as she forged her own path in the media and entertainment world. This was as medics described her condition as ‘one of the worst’ eating disorders they’d ever seen. She managed to mask her struggles as she created award-winning documentaries for mainstream TV, ran successful businesses, and whilst dancing into the final rounds of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. In ‘Eat. Sleep. Control. Repeat.’ Sophie describes how the abuse and bullying she suffered during childhood ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of severe anxiety, depression and a psychotic disorder. The fallout came as she juggled her career and battled to be a good mother to her two young children. As ambitious and driven as ever and a woman of many talents, Sophie today champions fitness and good health. She’s a firm supporter of people who don’t fit the societal norm as well as an advocate for improved, more accessible mental health services. Sophie’s story chronicles her journey from self-harm to self-love. She shows just how far removed people’s ‘media-perfect’ lives can be from what actually goes on behind closed doors… HEALTH IS WEALTH!

More about the book in Sophie’s words: ‘Eat. Sleep. Control. Repeat.’ is my debut title. It documents how I went from having the ‘worst’ case of an eating disorder medics had ever seen, to working as a mental health, wellbeing and feel-good fitness blogger/vlogger; as well as this focus, I also run my own businesses, I dance and I freelance as a broadcast journalist and presenter. The book follows my journey from being groomed and assaulted as a young girl, to self-abuse and self-harm, which manifested into a severe eating disorder. It’s not a pretty tale that comes with a fairy-tale ending, it’s gritty and honest and shows that recovery can mean a lifelong battle. My life may have looked glamorous to the outside world, but it was far from that in my attic bedroom where I lived in squalor. I wanted to show the true reality of living with addictive behaviours, such as an eating disorder, and how social media often shows only half the story. I hope that my story, whilst brutal, will help people feel less ashamed of their damaging habits and controlling traits, and that it empowers them to seek help, so that they can live as holistically healthy a life as possible. Book dedication: To all those who struggle to fit in but strive to succeed in holistic health and happiness. You may feel a misfit, but it is because you stand out from the crowd. You are a change-maker, which is why people try to dull your sparkle; it’s because they see you shining. They know that your past actually makes you pretty remarkable, that your brokenness makes you even more beautiful. Never dim your light for anyone. Let go of the vampires in your life and make way for all the cheerleaders. Most of all, be your own best friend who loves you unconditionally. This book is dedicated to my support network; you have helped me to survive and thrive. To my parents, siblings and family who instilled the fire inside me and gave me life. To all the healthcare and fitness professionals who keep me physically and mentally strong on a daily basis. To my online community of rebellious souls and my self-help groups, and to my readers…I have experienced the best and worst that life has to offer. I love that you hear me, that you listen to me, and that you give authentic voices like mine power and purpose. To my sisterhood of cheerleading women, whose journeys continue to inspire me to keep dancing along my own wonderfully weird path. Lastly, to the main women in my life, now and for eternity…to my daughters. Live a life of love, smiles and sparkle from the inside out. Peace, love and shimmies. Sophie Mei Lan, a.k.a Mama Mei About Sophie Mei Lan a.k.a Mama Mei Sophie Mei Lan is a multi-award-winning broadcast journalist, vlogger, author, bellydancer, public speaker and business owner who is passionate about mental health, wellbeing and feeling good throughout mind, body and soul. Sophie founded her award-winning Mama Mei YouTube channel and blog as her girls were born, and her posts have amassed more than 20 million views and tens of thousands of subscribers just in the last five years. She is happiest when being true to herself, as she manages her mental illnesses and as she shares her experiences and love for others through dance, social media and videos—ideally, with lots of strong coffee and self-care. Sophie has overcome many things with smiles, sparkles, tears and a lot of therapy. From being brutally bullied as a child to dancing her way through ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent; whilst working as a waitress (sadly, not in a cocktail bar; instead, serving posh chips) and as a dyslexic, dyspraxic university student. Her fields of study include philosophy, Italian and social sciences—which took her a long time, as you’ll discover in her book; her anorexia and bulimia tended to get in the way. Sophie then went on to study a postgraduate diploma in Journalism (NCTJ Accredited), whilst also making films for Channel 4 News and the national media, through her all-female production company ‘Evoke Media Group’. Sophie is acutely aware that what sounds good on paper may not feel good to the person it’s describing. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors and an Inst-perfect life can be a whole lot of smoke and mirrors. She’s learned the hard way that success is completely subjective, and that true happiness comes from within.