A 24-year-old blogger has revealed how an addiction to make-up and obsession with her appearance led to her being sectioned – before she completely turned her life around.
Amy Robb, from Northern Ireland, appeared on ITV’s This Morning on Monday to discuss her path to recovery after first experiencing problems with her mental health as a teenager.
She told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that her addiction to make-up was so bad, she refused to let her boyfriend see her without a full face of slap and got up at 4am to spend at least an hour perfecting her look.
“I struggled with really bad acne for over ten years so I was putting on make-up to kind of hide from that,” she said.
“I was [due in work at six am] so I was up by four or, if my acne was even worse, it could be a quarter to four.
“It’s absolutely absurd looking back now that I was spending an hour and a half on my face but that was just my routine and I didn’t even bat an eyelid.
“It really infuriated me that I was spending all this time putting make-up on but it’s just what I thought I had to do.”
Amy explained that sometimes she wouldn’t even take her make-up off at night, she’d sleep in a full face of products, then do a touch up in the morning.
“I felt so unworthy and disgusting without it that I would have avoided mirrors without make-up on,” she said.
Amy said she’d never go make-up free in front of her then-boyfriend and if he did catch her au naturel, she’d hide her face from him.
In an interview with The Sun, she explained: “I’d go to bed in it if my boyfriend stayed over. But I wouldn’t usually be able to sleep, as I’d be so scared the make-up had rubbed off and he’d see me without it.
“I wore extra-thick foundation, fake eyelashes and dyed my hair peroxide blonde. I looked like a Barbie Doll – slim, with big blonde hair, really tanned and all made-up.”
The blogger said she began to experience difficulties with her mental health at the age of 16, when she was diagnosed with anorexia.
“I would say my anorexia was a whole range of issues, really, probably the stress of school with exams and just being around friends with everyone wanting to look slim,” she recalled.
“It would really just reinforce it when people said, ‘Oh, you look like you’ve lost a bit of weight’.
“I went into a downward spiral and I was obsessed with weighing myself. The more the scales the went down, the more it became my life.
“My whole life was stripped from me and I stopped socialising.”
Amy attempted to take her own life at 17 and was sectioned for the first time.
On her release, she won her battle against anorexia but went on to develop trichotillomania, which is a condition where people feel compelled to pull out their hair, and her make-up addiction.
Holly explained that Amy’s depression then peaked and after attempting to take her own life again, she asked to be sectioned.
She was released but the treatment she received wasn’t working so she began to get worse, resulting in a third suicide attempt a few months later, which again saw her being sectioned.
Amy said she knew being in hospital wasn’t right for her and she was eager to be sent home, explaining: “I went into a mixed ward and I hadn’t left the house for months. I didn’t want to be around people.
“I knew I had to be away and get myself better. I was finally released and able to work on myself.
“I started blogging in March when I felt ready to go out and face the world again.
“I wasn’t putting make-up on, I was working on me and figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do with myself. I felt like I knew then, that I had a purpose with the blogging and everything.”
Viewers were told that Amy didn’t have a simple or solo diagnosis: her trichotillomania was a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and the make-up addiction was a sub category of body dysmorphic disorder, which causes people to have a distorted view of how they look.
She also suffered from high anxiety.
Amy revealed she didn’t receive much professional help when it came to her recovery and instead did it by herself.
“I have always been very self-motivated,” she said, adding she started a “gratitude journal” to remind her of the good things in life.
“I started writing down three things every day that were positive and making a gratitude journal that focused on the positives, I’m a believer that positive mental attitude will get you everywhere.”
This Morning viewers were quick to praise Amy’s honesty and bravery in recounting her story on air, showering her with compliments.
One wrote: “Amy looks incredible without the make-up! So sad that people feel the need to change the way they look as a result of social conditioning.”
Another said: “WOW! Unbelievable How Beautiful Amy Is Without Make-up On! Stunning! Beautiful!”
And a third added: “That girl Amy is absolutely beautiful. Very pleased she is now comfortable in her skin…Sad how some can get so affected xx.”
Good luck, Amy!