Hayley Westenra reveals 'breakdown'

Hayley Westenra. Photo / Universal
Hayley Westenra. Photo / Universal

New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra has opened up about the "breakdown" she suffered in 2009 after an extreme diet caused her weight to plummet.

The 24-year-old soprano tells Britain's Seven magazine she began obsessing over her meals while on the road touring, away from her family and friends.

"(A) breakdown... That's what I thought I was going through. I told my family, 'That's it, the end.' I saw a picture and I thought I looked full of puppy fat. It's hard when you see lots of photos of yourself. You can say, 'I'm happy with my curves', but as a girl you're going to be a bit self-conscious...

"Food was a thing to focus on. I got into the habit of not eating much. I'd buy fruit, some salad and almonds and be eating nothing really. It's terrible, but you get used to it after a while. I know that's not healthy because I was eating just boiled vegetables, nuts and seeds and it was terrible. I just got into the habit of saying no to things, no to food... I think I would have been a US size zero."

Westenra took a turn for the worse after contracting bronchitis at the end of 2008, prompting her to call off her 2009 tour dates and leading to a "vicious cycle" of scoffing sweets.

"I got really depressed. I convinced myself that I could never go back. Usually if I'm ill I eat healthy food, but (instead) I thought, 'I don't want to go back on stage, I want to eat ice cream and chocolate biscuits.'

"Most of the time I was walking around the house, hoodie up, eating all the naughty things that were in the house. I couldn't help myself. I couldn't stop. It was as if I didn't want to get better, I didn't want to be able to perform. I became self-destructive and it was a vicious cycle. You're tired, you eat really bad food, you feel worse, then you eat more. I wasn't sleeping."

But after the death of two close friends, the star admits she began to re-evaluate her life and career.

"I rediscovered my passion for performance. I realised how important singing was for me. To do a show, to get the applause. New (tour) dates were confirmed and I thought, 'That's it. I'm going to get my act together."'

- AAP

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