Last year, we were delighted to interview author of Born to Be Awesome, Samantha Babooram, on the blog (you can read it here).
This year in honour of our International Weekend of Self-Care campaign, we’re excited to have Samantha back again for another interview. Read on to learn more about her story, journey with an eating disorder, and all of the lessons about self-care that she has learned along the way.
Samantha’s Journey with Disordered Eating
“Growing up I was a very shy kid. I was the only non-white child in my entire school and was aware I was different from a very young age. I didn’t have many friends, was labelled the class geek and fatty, and was taught by my teachers that showing any form of emotion was stupid and weak, and that I had to be perfect all the time. If I didn’t get top marks, I simply wasn’t good enough. Despite having the most amazing parents and family, I had no confidence at all and pretty low self image as a child.”
“When I was 13 and hit puberty, it freaked me out big time! I hated it. I hated my body changing, I felt so disconnected from it and it made me hate myself even more. My family had just emigrated to Australia too, and I didn’t want to be there – I was so unhappy. I didn’t know how to express how I was feeling, and I couldn’t handle all these changes. I felt like I was losing control, so I tried to get some back the only way I knew how – by controlling what I ate.”
“That was the start of my eating disorder, which I battled with for 9 years, from the age of 13-22.”
“I hated myself and my body so much. I thought I was the most horrific looking thing on the planet, and would avoid mirrors at all costs. Seeing my reflection would make me want to cry or make me feel physically sick. I hated myself so much I would starve my body as punishment, even though I would get real hunger pangs and feel ill and weak.”
“Sometimes I’d think that I should maybe eat an apple or something, but then there was always this big loud voice telling me I shouldn’t, that I was worthless and didn’t deserve to.”
“I also became hugely addicted to exercise. I’d do 1500 sit ups and 3hrs of cardio every day and spend 2 hours hooked up to an electric muscle builder as well (yknow those ab belt things?!) I would push and push myself, I’d feel exhausted and feel pain but just keep going. I hated my body and myself, and used exercise as a form of punishment for being so disgusting and worthless. My entire life for those 9 years was taken over and ruled by this self hate cloud and crazy workouts!”
“Things started to change when I was 19 and my friend was tragically killed in a car accident. It made me realise how precious and short life was, but there I was still wasting mine being controlled by self hate and exercise.”
“I decided to see a counsellor who helped me realise 1) that I had a problem and 2) that if I wanted to get better, it was up to ME to see MYSELF differently.”
“It took a few more years to get there, but at the age of 22 I just had this epiphany that if I wanted to make all my singer-songwriter/change the world dreams a reality, then I had to stop this. Like REALLY stop this, as I couldn’t work on my dreams if all my time and energy was spent hating myself.”
“So I made the decision to get better, to get free, and I started on that journey! Now here I am, 15 years later, free as a bird, loving and embracing every part of me, and living a life helping others to feel the same.”
An Interview With Samantha Babooram
What does self-care mean to you?
“Self-care to me means listening to your body and giving it what it needs. It’s about protecting and nurturing your mind, seeking out peace and joy, and putting your own needs first for a change!”
What are your self-care strategies?
“Looking after my body and treating it like the incredible creation it is. This means eating right, resting, getting enough sleep, working out HEALTHILY – that kinda thing.”
“I do lots of dance classes and choreography which I LOVE. It ignites my soul and makes me so happy. I also have at least one day a week where I switch my phone off. Not having anyone else’s demands on you is so free-ing! I also practice gratitude daily, and try to surround myself with nature whenever I can, it’s my happy place for sure!
On the flipside of that, what types of self-care activities do you not like?
“Don’t know why, but I’m not really a fan of massages, bubble baths, candles, or that kinda thing!”
Looking back at your experience with an eating disorder and low self-esteem, how has that shaped your approach to self-care today?
“I guess I spent so long hating and mistreating my body that it’s made me extra careful with it now and made me look after it so well. Also, I was always soooo hard on myself and hated myself so much, I’ve learned to be extra kind to myself now too. Every day I thank my body for all it does for me. I try to make up for all the lost time, yknow?!”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with low self-esteem, what would it be?
“Aw man, just one?! Can I give 2 pieces instead haha….?! My first piece of advice would be to practice gratitude or affirmations. It’s so hard to do, especially when you don’t like much about yourself. But even if just once a day you look in the mirror and say things like, “ I am enough, I have a great smile, thank you thighs for helping me walk”, that kind of thing – it really helps. It was definitely a big part of my recovery and freedom and still is.”
“My second piece of advice is to limit your time on social media. They call it your “ feed” for a reason – because what you look at is what feeds your mind and soul. If you’re constantly “eating” images of some random person’s idea of perfection, beauty, success and happiness, (which by the way is usually super edited, and what they WANT you to see rather than what’s actually happening in real life), it will continue to feed those critical voices inside your head. So watch what you’re “eating” online for sure.”
About The Lily-Jo Project’s International Weekend of Self-Care
This blog article is a part of The Lily-Jo Project’s International Weekend of Self-Care campaign which takes place in August. To learn more about this campaign and access additional self-care resources, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/internationalweekendofselfcare.
Further Resources on Self-Care
If you found this article helpful, check out these additional resources and support.
- Mind’s article, Recovery and Self-Care for Eating Problems
- The Lily-Jo Project’s resource pages on Eating Disorders and Low Self-Esteem
- The Lily-Jo Project’s article, Hindsight is 2020 – Lessons learnt from 20 years of an Eating Disorder
- The Lily-Jo Project’s article, How to Self-Care When Battling Anxiety: Mari’s Story
- The Lily-Jo Project’s article, How to Self-Care When Battling Depression: Alexis’ Story
About Samantha Babooram
Samantha Babooram is a writer, illustrator, children’s motivational speaker, and mental health advocate. Her book Born to Be Awesome features a collection of lesson plans designed to gently teach children how awesome, valuable, and one of a kind they are.
Born to be Awesome is available online from Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Browns Books. You can follow the links on Samantha’s Website here: www.borntobeawesome.co.uk.