Undergraduate Emily Nuttall, from Stockport, Manchester, was diagnosed with a rare brain condition when she was only 16 which turned her life upside down.
She had always been overweight but became morbidly obese after the diagnosis and a recluse who used food for comfort.
But then, in the first lockdown last year, something clicked and Emily decided she needed to lose weight for good. Now, eight stone lighter, it’s changed her life in ways she never imagined.
“When I was 16, I got very poorly,” recalled Emily. “All my symptoms were pointing towards a brain tumour but it wasn’t that, thankfully, though the doctors weren’t sure what it was.
“I was walking to school one day and felt really hyper, then I felt like a brick had been hit on my head. I went to hospital and had an ultrasound on my eyes which revealed I had a rare brain condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. I’d never heard of it and was really shocked and scared.”
Emily underwent three brain surgeries and has been left with a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt which helps her manage her condition. She was also diagnosed with chronic condition, fibromyalgia, in 2018 and suffered with debilitating pain as a result.
“I suffered from really bad migraines and also bloated a lot as my brain condition means I retain a lot of fluid,” added Emily. “I was able to do some of my GCSEs but didn’t expect amazing grades, though I got them. It was very hard when I got to my A levels as I was told I was too poorly and was medically withdrawn from college.
“I was depressed and didn’t know where to go; it was a horrible time as going to uni had always been a massive dream of mine.”
All the time, Emily’s weight was piling on.
“I am a very ambitious person even though my weight had held me back. I used food again as my answer; buying sweets from the shop in the morning. I thought food would make me happy and cheer me up, but it made me worse. I became very isolated and depressed.
“I ended up having a year off and worked so hard to be able to do my A levels.”
Emily gained her place at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, reading childhood and youth studies and criminology.
“Even though I fulfilled my dream of going to uni, I spent my first and part of my second year being isolated because weight was always an issue. I still didn’t feel like I fitted in because of my weight.”
When the pandemic hit, Emily returned home along with all the other students. She was watching a film, about to tuck into a big bag of sweets, when something inside her clicked.
“I opened them and something inside me clicked to say ‘you’re not having them any more’. I contacted my Consultant, Mila Beazley. I felt it was my time and wanted to get what was inside out.
“The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan has changed my life. If I am having a bad day Mila is there and I get really emotional talking about it. It’s been life changing.”
When Emily returned to uni, she walked past a friend who didn’t recognise her.
“I had to say ‘hi, it’s me!”
And she has become much more sociable and outgoing since losing an incredible eight stone, reducing from a size 26/28 to 10/12.
“I’m a more outgoing person, I’m not scared to go out any more. I’m still the same person and this is me now.
“I keep a journal and that’s been a life saver as well. I’m looking at going into the police force now. Losing weight has made me re-evaluate what I want to do with my life.”
Emily’s condition will always be with her.
“I do still have bad days with my health, but I enjoy life and get up and am a happy person. I will have my condition all my life but it’s nowhere near as bad. I’m not sitting in bed for three days; I will get up and looking at mindset has helped.
“I go on a morning walk at 5am now and that sets the tone for my day. My walks ground me and I love it. Walking has been a massive part of my journey.
“I feel like I am living a dream now. I want to say thanks to my Consultant for being part of my journey; without her I think I’d be a very different person today and can’t thank her enough for it.”
Emily is thrilled to have won our Social Hero category.
“This award is something I cannot believe. Being a Social Hero is amazing. I’ve become more sociable and on social media I’ve helped others with their journey and something I never thought possible from how I used to be.
“The support on social media has been incredible and it drives me to keep going. I could not believe the response I had on social media. It’s been a very big part of my journey.”