A beauty queen has told of her struggle against eating disorders after claiming for years that her painfully thin appearance was natural.
Russian model Alena Shishkova, 30, has now revealed that she suffered from anorexia and bulimia for the past eight years.
Alena says her body began to fall apart as her obsession with her looks and weight took over her life.
Her weight had plummeted to just 45 kilogrammes by the time she finally sought help from professionals.
She told her 5.8. million Instagram followers how she faced up to her problems.
She said: “The problem was real. And it had been there for a long time.
“To be more precise, there were two problems — bulimia and anorexia.
“But I wanted to heal first and then comment on something. I spent eight years solving these issues.”
Alena told how she started making herself vomit not only food but water as the eating disorders took a cruel grip on her life.
Then – when her condition caused her face to swell with water retention – she was horrified when social media followers said she had been using fillers.
She continued: “Swelling on my face became a phobia that comments under photos only fueled.
“Accordingly, I don’t have and never had fillers in my cheeks. All of this is a side effect of disrupted bodily functions.
“And I wasn’t trying to lose weight; on the contrary, I constantly tried to gain weight, but I would vomit what I ate and drank to avoid swelling.
“I was dependent on diuretic drugs. Don’t be surprised, without them, my kidneys weren’t working at all anymore.
“My health worsened, and it affected my quality of life. I didn’t want to socialise, to appear in front of others more than necessary.
“I took fewer photos (which used to be unlike me), appeared less in live broadcasts.
“Because I knew that my appearance was being critically evaluated everywhere and always. To put it bluntly, everyone had something negative to say.
“My physical and emotional strength had completely left me.”
Alena revealed that her health became so bad that she began passing out and suffering seizures earlier this year.
She explained: “In April, the situation became critical. I was already fainting, having seizures.
“And if I wasn’t posting stories, I mostly just lay down. I decided to seek help from the Centre for the Study of Eating Disorders.”
Pictures taken at the residential centre show Alena’s spartan room and what seem to be her individual, carefully portioned meals on plates sealed with clingfilm.
And her body weight had slipped to around the average for a 12-year-old girl.
She said: “I went there weighing 45 kg [99 lbs] at a height of 176 cm [5ft 7in].”
Now, the model says she is feeling better and on her way back to a normal life.
Alena said: “As a result of the treatment, I gained 15 kg [33 lbs], but the weight distribution was very uneven.
“So, I needed the help of a surgeon; they redistributed the fat from one area to another, restoring my proportional shape.”
Now, the model says she is undergoing rehabilitation in a bid to ditch the unhealthy lifestyle.
She added: “I’m doing well. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months, and I really want to get back to an active life.”
The model says she has decided to open up about her issues in hopes of also inspiring others who suffer from similar illnesses to seek out help.
Alena said: “I decided that maybe my story can help other girls.
“Because such issues, as it turns out, are quite common.
“They’re just hidden, people are afraid to talk about them, don’t know how to cope on their own, and for years, they don’t seek help from specialists, ultimately damaging their health and lives. Their lives.
“These problems do exist. And solving them independently within the family without the help of specialists, psychologists, and specific clinical conditions is practically impossible.”