HOCKEY’S poster girl Anna Flanagan may be a picture of health but her fit physique was until recently a dangerous obsession.
The former world hockey young player of the year, who is back living in Perth, revealed she has secretly battled a recurring eating disorder since bursting on to the international stage seven years ago.
“It’s not something I’ve ever shared publicly but I went from eating the perfect diet to become the perfect athlete to obsessing about food,” Flanagan said.
“Initially, it started as anorexia and I restricted my diet but it turned into bulimia.”
Flanagan, 25, is attempting to revive her international career after a horror 2016, when she was dumped from the national team for covering up a drink-driving conviction.
For the first time since she was a teenager, the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist missed a string of international tournaments through suspension and was subsequently passed over for Rio Olympics selection.
Assuming her sporting career was over, she finally withdrew from the limelight and stared down her mental demons with the help of psychologists.
“Don’t feel embarrassed or afraid of being judged about your mental health,” she said.
“Once you open yourself up people will be there to point you in the right direction.,”
Flanagan, pictured at Scarborough beach this week, said going public with her mental health issues was a daunting prospect.
However, she has found smashing the taboo so liberating she will tomorrow assume the mantle of headspace day ambassador.
The charity has posed the question, “What makes you feel better?” and wants people to write down and post a photo of the answer on a placard from headspaceday.org.au using the hashtag #headspaceday.
In shape: Anna Flanagan at Scarborough and, above, as a Hockeyroo.