Gorgeous model Jay Camilleri – and supposed new boyfriend of Sam Smith – opens up to GuysLikeU about struggling with an eating disorder and coming to terms with having depression.
To look at him, you’d think life for handsome Jay Camilleri was pretty peachy. With a successful modelling career under his belt, he leads a pretty cool life, one that many young guys would absolutely kill for. But behind his dashing looks and confident swagger, openly gay Jay has been battling demons, struggling with not only an eating disorder but living with depression. Here, the cocky model opens up about how he is trying to seek help…
So have you always been happy about your body.
Not at all growing up I was not the slimmest of children, at one point I reached 15 stone. I was very unhappy and it made me rebel and be naughty because I wanted the attention taken away from my size. I hated being big, but I couldn’t stop myself from snacking constantly, I would just eat and eat and eat.
What has always been the part you’re happy with
Haha! Well that would be telling, but my ‘little’ man has never had any complaints
And which part do you wish you could change?
I wish I could change my stomach even now I hate it, I would love to be slim and toned again, but I hurt my back which means I can’t work out as much as I used to, but I’m currently looking for a PT that can tolerate me. I also hate my teeth, they have always been a massive thing for me, but I’m spending some money this year and getting them done in Budapest, so hopefully that will be one issue less to deal with.
What was it like when you were a teen – was there something in particular that really bugged you?
Teen life was strange. I was always comfy with my sexuality. I came out to everyone and then got a girlfriend I think it was just to be annoying and confuse people! I thought I might have been bi, but it turns out I’m a fully fledged gay man! It wasn’t the sexuality part that got to me, it was the weight that I hated and it made me do a lot of bad stuff. That’s not me excusing my past behaviour on it, but it was my way to be seen other than the fat gay kid. People started to see me as the naughty one, and once that started it never stopped.
Why do you think that?
The thing that bugged me was no one saw that I was struggling inside. I’d love to go to schools and talk about that kind of stuff, you know, to be like a liaison between teachers, families and kids, to give kids someone to give them the courage to speak out about their issues and to be heard because I’d have loved someone like that.
When you were spotted to be a model, did that boost your self esteem?
Well, you see, I wasn’t scouted, I worked for it. I walked into agency after agency, rejection after rejection after rejection. I’d change my look and go back. The last time I went I got offered two agencies in one day. I was so happy.
Wow, that’s impressive.
It boosted my self-esteem I suppose in the way I had achieved my mission, it didn’t stop me wanting to be slimmer, or mend my relationship with food.
When you got into modelling, were you told you had to shape up?
Not at all, my agents were amazing actually. They were fully aware of my eating disorder and kept a constant eye on me, they even threatened to drop me once because I lost weight. They were golden! Agencies have such a bad reputation for that, but my booker was incredible.
Was it easy to be a model in terms of body image?
Not really, it was something I had to grow with. For instance if I was shooting I wouldn’t eat for days before hand, to make me look slimmer. It was crazy, if I had to do a topless shoot I would panic for days, and if they sprung it on me I’d get all freaked out. Everyone used to say why are you getting into modelling when you hate your body, it’s like putting yourself in the firing line. But it was my way of showing I could to all the people who doubted me and that meant more to me than being embarrassed. I hated looking at myself semi naked because It made me feel sick, but in the back of my mind I knew that if they were publishing these images they must look OK, even if I hated them myself.
You say you had an eating disorder – when did that emerge?
My disorder started when I was 16, I started going to clubs and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. At first it wasn’t intentional, I’d go out for a few days and realise that I hadn’t eaten at all, then it become a challenge, like ‘right, last week was three days, now try four, now five.’ It was a private competition with myself, and I never lose. When I was eating at my parents’ house, I’d just chuck it all back up. I saw the weight dropping and I just couldn’t help it! But I liked it.
How long did this last?
I don’t think it ever goes away, even to this day I look in the mirror and hate my body. I think about how easy it would be to drop back into the cycle. You know, miss a day here and there, then your body starts to drop weight. The more you lose, the more addictive it is because (even as I’m saying this my mind is going shit your not happy why don’t you just do it) it’s a constant battle with myself because I hate myself currently but if I fail to stay on track, I’ll fall back into that lifestyle.
Did you feel you had control on your life by relying on an eating disorder.
One hundred percent. I felt that being in control of my weight meant that I was in control of my life. What I failed to realise was that the disorder was controlling me.
Did anyone else know you were going through this ?
People started to wonder as the weight fell off but I lived on my own, my relationship with my parents wasn’t great so I was mainly just around friends who saw me exercising a lot. They did question it, but I lied my way through it. People started to notice because I just kept getting thinner and thinner and at one point I think I weighed about 7 and a half stone. I was getting ill a lot, I was unstable. I was destroying my life.
How did you get yourself out of this cycle?
It was actually one of my friends who took me for dinner. Well I thought he was going for food, but when we got there he told me we wasn’t leaving the table until we eat everything. And he wasn’t joking. So that’s where I started to enjoy food again.
How did you turn it around? Have you been healthy ever since?
I try to be as healthy as I can but I do indulge now. But I use fitness first a lot, So am trying to do drop weight and tone up in the right way.
Do you still have issues with food now?
At times, I go through phases, but I’m more in control now, and try to suppress the demon inside telling me to skip meals etc because it’s not healthy.
Are you happier with your body now?
I’m not happy at all but I’m trying, I’m trying to drop fat weight and tone up, so that I can look good and feel good about myself all the time and not just this day or that day
Do you feel a pressure to have a certain body 1) because you’re a model, 2) because you’re gay 3) because you’re single
I suppose all three of those come into play, being a gay single man, of course, there is pressure. You want to look toned and hot. We all do it in the gym, checking out that hot fit guy. I suppose I want to be that hot fit guy people are looking at. Modelling has taken a back seat for a little bit whilst I get back into shape as id hate to shoot now with the way I feel about my body.
Has having an eating disorder have not been helped by the fact you ave suffered from mental health issues over the years?
I suffer with depression, I get very low and very high, which worries me because my mum is BiPolar, and I’ve seen the effects of that on her. When I was growing up she was sectioned several times, and that was difficult as I really needed her there and I think for a long time I resented her for not being there. But my dad took amazing care of us, but no one can love you like your mum, can they? And I’m a proper mummy’s boy. She’s my best friend.
Before you identified the problem, what were you thinking was wrong?
I think I always knew that I wasn’t truly happy, that something was quite right. Now I go to counselling and I see my doctor regularly and I’m on medication to keep it all in check.
How does your depression effect relationships?
Quite badly, actually, it can make it quite volatile. Things had to change.
What were you diagnosed with? Was it a relief to hear it?
We’re still currently going through stuff with the doctors about what it is, but they think it’s kind of ADHD, mixed with depression, so my moods can be volatile, and I can be excitable. The problem is, I don’t know how to channel my energy and emotions and that’s why I’m on medication to try and calm it down.
What advice were you given to deal with it?
The doctors told me to take up meditation or yoga, but I can’t sit still for two mins let alone 30mins! Ha!
When people hear about people with mental health issues, they immediately think people will think we are mad. Did you want to keep your mental health issues to yourself or did you think it was best to share your story so others don’t have the fear?
Defiantly, I’ve been around mental health my whole life, so raising awareness is key to me. I’m not proud of some of my behaviour in my past, but to be honest and to help people understand you have to be open and tell the whole truth. No matter how ugly.
Would you say its best to find out what is going on rather than stifling it
I would suggest anyone who is not feeling 100% and you know yourself better than anyone, don’t be afraid to push for help.
So how is life now – can you manage it?
I manage it all a bit better than I used to but it’s a continuous struggle, but it’s life and you have to get on with it
Do you have slip ups from time to time?
All the time and its frustrating but you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and remember tomorrow is new day.
You did have a boyfriend. Was it hard telling him about your mental health issues in case it scared him off?
It has effected all my past relationships in different ways. I get frustrated and if I feel like someone is pushing my buttons, especially on purpose I do react badly. This is something I am working on in therapy and I am so much better at walking away from a situation now. I was worried about telling him but it wasn’t a problem. He supported me in every way he could. I think you should always tell your partner what’s going on as they might surprise you and being really supportive and help with your recovery if not they are probably not the person you should be with and at least you know!
What signs should people look for?
Like I said before no one knows you better than yourself. If you have mood swings, high to low, lots of energy one day and none the next, you don’t feel quite right, just go speak to someone, a friend a doctor, and family member your not on your own.Asking for help is something to be proud of not ashamed of, it takes a bigger person to admit their faults than it does to pretend they’re perfect.