Orley Andreasson, Sweden


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Hi, my name is Orly. I’m 24 years old. I am from Västerås in Sweden.

I’m a member of the Patients Council and I’ve been obese since I was a child. My school life affected by obesity when I started third grade. Every single day I went to school, I got bullied.

I got so low self-esteem. It took me around, I think, one year to destroy all my self-esteem. And then, when the suicide thoughts come in mind, and it destroyed my entire school, because I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to attend.

I did some things that people don’t think is really good for you, but I did it anyway. Every morning when I woke up, I did something that I’m not proud of, but I did it to get away. I did go into the school bathroom, and I started to eat soap, so I can puke, so I can go home.

Because the sickness, the fear I made for my mom, she didn’t believe I was sick, because she knew I was supposed to flee the school. So I went in there, I took the soap, I ate it, but I couldn’t puke inside the bathroom because no one saw me. So I went into the classroom, and then I puked, and then they sent me home.

When I had my issue, when I was really bullied, when I had the big problem, when the suicide thoughts and everything came in, we started to look to the school nurse to, like, could she help me? What can I do? And she didn’t have anything that she can do. She just said, try to lose some weight. But the suicide thoughts, it was not on her table.

She couldn’t do anything about that. So they sent me to the next person, to a therapist, and this therapist started to talk with me, and said, oh, I can see that you feel down, you’ve got no friends and everything, but you need to lose some weight, so I send you to the dietician, because she can help you with that. So I went there, and the same thing goes there.

Oh, you have the suicide thoughts, and you’re adopted, so I need to send you back, and you need to see a psychologist. I mean, everything in that moment was just like, we didn’t have any answers, we didn’t know anything. And for me, like a child, I met a lot of people, I talked about how bad I felt, and it didn’t help me, because they couldn’t find a solution for it, because there weren’t any solutions.

I mean, my mom, she looked for an understanding, and she wanted me to have some friends, she wanted me to feel like a child, and not sitting in meetings every time, to speak about my problems. The support that we looked for, we didn’t find it, because all the support and the things they said, it’s like, you’ve got to change, and you’ve got to do something with the weight and your obesity. And my mom, she was so frustrated even getting any support or anything, so she started to look for something herself, she started to look for other parents that had the same issue, a child with obesity, and she found a lot.

And they were so ashamed, these parents, because they always got so much pressure on them, because it’s so easy to take away the food, and everybody said, you should just get your son to exercise, and your daughter just do that, because it’s so easy. So my mom met with his parents, and they started to talk to each other, and started to support each other, and what we did, the children who were there, I was really young when I went there. We started to play, and we set up some rules, because we didn’t bully each other, and after a while, we started to do it regularly, and we started to get this organization up, and this organization called HOBS, it’s still active today.

HOBS, it’s the name of the organization, and we’re working in two different things. We work with the adults, and the question here in Sweden, how we should treat each other, because it stands for health at every size, because it doesn’t count as long, if you’re big, if you’re small, as long as you focus on the health. I’m a lecturer, I travel around, and I talk to schools, I talk to dieticians, I talk to doctors about this matter, to be a patient, to be a child, and to feel down, so we’re like, we try to, we give support to people that need to talk about bullying, and talk about these things.

We got the child organization called I Heart, and I Heart, we’re going to start again, when I was little, with activities for children, and they all can feel welcome, and no bullying are allowed. The stigma here in Sweden, or the stigma I have experienced, it’s often when I go to the doctor, or I try to look like, for an issue, I mean, I have like a back pain or something, and the first thing I said when I come in, I say, I need something to help me with my back, and they always like, they look at me, and they look and say, just, oh, it’s because of your obesity, it’s because you’re big, so you need to start focusing on that, and I say, I’m not here for that, I’m here because my back hurts, and I need help, yeah, start to lose some weight, and then you can come back. And sometimes, when I start to meet people all around, and I start to talk, a lot of people, they get like, really like, wow, you know stuff, because you know, here, the biggest stigma there is, is you’re fat and stupid, and it’s so, so common everywhere, so when I say something, or get an answer in a classroom, where there’s a lot of people, they start wondering if like, did he just say that? Stigma has affected me in a lot of ways, but not really now, when I’ve become older, but when I was younger, and I was bullied a lot, I could just feel everybody’s like, when they looked at me, I just thought what they were saying, you know, I saw how people react when I entered like a food court, you know, I went in, and people started to look down, and you know, they didn’t want to get eye contact with me, or anything, so I just thought down, you know, I can feel what they said, and like, one time, there was a guy who just started to stare at me, and just like, what is he doing, are you doing here? And they started to talk to each other, I mean, all around the table, and everybody was looking at me.

I don’t know what they said, but for me, I felt so down, so I just went out. I’m helping a lot of children today, with my lecturing. I travel around schools, and I talk to a lot of people about the bullying, and the feeling that I thought, I take my example, my life story, and we have a movie that’s based on reality.

We show it to the parenting group, we show it to the doctors, dieticians, we show it to a lot of people, like a lot of parents, and of course, school children, so they can talk about the bullying, so they can talk about the problem of being bullied, and of course, the stigma, and like, what’s important, because a lot of children, you know, they don’t focus on what’s important, like what the food does for you, and everything, so I’m trying to be a good model, a good role model, because I went from suicide thoughts, to lecturing, and to helping a lot of children with this. And I’ve been doing it for a long time now, and I really enjoy my job. My lecturing work, it has really, like, helped me a lot, because I meet a lot of children, and when I talk to them, I can hear their stories, then I can take their stories, and I can, you know, take it to the next level.

I can talk to the people that need to hear their story, I can be their voice, I can help them, and they can help me, because when I was there, I had no one to talk to, I had no one to talk about my suicide thoughts, and the thoughts about my own weight, so it helps me every time I talk to someone about this problem, and a lecturing. A lot of children, they don’t make their own decision about food, and like, what they should eat every day, you know, they get bad decisions, because, I mean, when you’re a child, you don’t cook your own food, you’re eating school, and you’re eating home, so your parents make all the decisions, so I think, like, when you’re really small, you can’t do anything about learning, you should learn a good way, like, have a good measuring, you know, like, not being ashamed for the food, I mean, when you’re older, you get to understand, like, when you eat something, you get bigger, you need to exercise, you need to have a good, like, a good, you need to be friends with the food, I mean, you need to know things, and when you get even older, you start to make your own decisions, so I think it’s really good that you can learn this stuff, you need to have a good way of knowing about healthy food, so you can, when you’re deciding and you’re cooking for your own, you can make good choices. When I’m out lecturing, I talk a lot about the media, and the media’s influence on the children, because every summer, there’s always a picture of a girl in a bathing suit, or a guy, that had just got this body, it took her, like, two weeks to get it, it’s so easy, just so damn easy to lose weight, and a lot of these children, they don’t even know how to read, but they can see the pictures, and their parents just talk about it like crazy, like, oh, it’s soon time for the beach, I need to lose weight, there’s a lot of problems with it, because the children don’t understand, and if you take a magazine, I mean, it doesn’t have to be regular, I mean, just a local, they always talk about weight, and everything, how you should lose it, how easy it is, like, media affects a lot on the children, because they see it, and even if you don’t want to show them, you always put the paper on the table, and they walk by, and they see a picture of someone losing a lot of weight.

The lecturing, and the thing I will do, I will keep on going in Sweden, because Sweden, we really need this, I need to go to the school, and I need to help the people that need to be helped, and I think the problem is that they don’t see this as a big problem, the obesity, and the bullying, so I will be the voice, I will start to talk, I will lecture a lot of people about this, and after that, I have no idea where it’s going, a different country, that would be really great, but for now, we will go in Sweden, and help as many as we can.