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Downton Abbey Actress Reveals Private Eating Disorder Battle

“I felt so alone for so long”

She was easily the most beloved Crawley sister, and now Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil Branson (nee Crawley) in Downton Abbey and now stars in new period drama Harlots, has opened up about her history of eating disorders.

Findlay has struggled with an eating disorder since she was just 14. “I felt so alone for so long and I just hid,” she told The Telegraph. “And then I started talking and held my head up, and instead of saying sorry, decided to tell myself that I matter.”

Jessica Brown Findlay

Coming to terms with the fact that being skinny wasn’t going to make her any more successful, or make her life any better, was critical to her recovery.

“It’s about learning to stand up and say, ‘this is me, and that’s okay,” she says. “I’m not going to be a better actor if I’m a dress size smaller.”

“We can feed certain ideas of what beauty is and what success is,” she adds. “There has to come a time where those aren’t the rules anymore. Then we can have a mature conversation about what that is about and about depression.”

Realising that she could use her voice to help others in her position fuelled Findlay’s decision to speak out. “If you are lucky enough to speak and be heard, it might be something that could be useful to others,” she says. “The more we have brave discussions like that going forward, the easier it is to talk about things, and the less alone we can feel. It’s certainly made me feel less alone.”

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