Before the eating disorder, What was you life like?
My life was ok, I wanted for nothing, but when I was 6 my parents got divorced. This changed me as a person dramatically as I grew up I got severe separation anxiety, mainly from my father and my home as I had a fear something bad would happen that I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t go on nights out, go on day trips, or stay away from home even if it was around the corner or at another family members house.
In my teenage years I decided to go to a private counsellor and things started to get better. I got a boyfriend who I went on nights out with, stayed at his house and felt safe with but when that came to an end when I was about 18, I couldn’t cope at all. I lost my confidence totally, my anxiety came back and I felt out of control. I decided to try and fight it by doing things out of my comfort zone but I ended up making myself ten times worse. Therefore the only thing I felt like I did actually have control of was my eating.
I thought, if I controlled my eating, I’d lose weight and if I lost weight, maybe my boyfriend would want me again and people would like me more.
I also have a beautiful sister who I have always looked up to, she’s been the brains, the beauty and the one who had all the boys after her and a ton of friends. I never saw her unhappy, she was a social butterfly without a care in the world and i wished I could change somehow to be all of those things myself.
Looking back, I realise that none of the above mattered. People loved me for me, I had my quirky ways, and I was unique and people loved me for me… I simply needed to find happiness within myself and no one else could help me with that.
What were your hobbies & goals/ambitions?
I didn’t have goals. I always had in the back of my mind that I would do anything to be as amazing as my sister but I knew I’d never get that.
I have always been a tomboy, got on better with boys that girls, loved being outdoors, had a passion for cars, and played volleyball for my county and national league.
Was there a certain trigger that started it off? Or do you think lots of little things contributed?
I couldn’t tell you exactly what triggered it but I think it was a mixture of:-
* my parents divorce
* my breakup from my boyfriend
* trying to be everything my sister was
* lack of confidence
* not liking myself
When did you start to notice you may have a problem or was it others who noticed first?
I started doing slimming world to lose weight healthily however it didn’t come off quick so I started limiting what I ate and exercising more. I used to get very anxious when eating things that I wasn’t cooking myself and I’d count every calorie I ate and google how much exercise I would need to do to burn that food off.
When I was about 21 I’d lost about 2 stone, looked slim but still healthy! I liked what I looked like, I just didn’t know how to maintain it and therefore got worse and more restrictive because I was terrified of getting ‘fat’. Which I now know I never was.
After my 21st birthday, I had 100% lost my brain to the eating disorder and id eat a carrot for lunch, an apple at 4pm and a big tea at night with my family so they didn’t think I had a problem.
I remember one day waking up and looking at myself getting changed in the mirror, I felt knackered and my mood was very low but this is when I knew i needed help. I couldn’t stop staring at myself it was as if the weight had dropped off me over night. I looked gaunt, my legs were matchsticks and my bones were showing all over.
I didn’t feel like I could ask for help. After my parents divorce I took it upon myself to always try and make my father happy. I didn’t want to burden him with my problems but one day when it all got too much for my family and a huge argument took place and my father zoomed off on his motorbike, I realised I had to ask for help.
That night I asked my father and step mum to take me to hospital.
While in hospital they weighed me…. now I weighed myself regularly so thought I knew what I was going to weigh however, I’d lost 2 stone in 10 days. I was absolutely gobsmacked as I’d started to eat more food with the encouragement of my family.
I didn’t know at this point that I had gone into something called ‘refeed’ which is where my body starts to eat itself.
What where the emotions/ thoughts going on during this time?
I was numb, angry and aggressive. I wasn’t me anymore. I’d totally lost myself. I answered to my brain only but my brain wasn’t my friend, it was my enemy I just didn’t know how to fight it.
Did you try and console in anyone or was there a certain shame/secrecy surrounding it?
I was ashamed … I always cared for others. I didn’t want them to care for me.
I kept my day eating secret, lied a lot and exercised in secret and while my family were asleep.
What was the breaking point?
I felt drastic, I had no energy, my legs felt like they were going to snap when I was walking and my father and I had a massive argument which broke my heart. So I eventually went to my step mum and begged her to help me.
What was your lowest weight/size?
5 stone 4
How did that make you feel?
I hated what I looked like. I just didn’t know how to get better without getting ‘fat’ and I’d made food a huge fear of mine. If it wasn’t a carrot, an apple, a miller light or a crunchie, id have a melt down.
How did recovery start?
I was admitted to hospital, put on several drips, and dosed on medication. My family fought to get me a place in a specialist eating disorder care unit but I became too ill having mini heart attacks and my organs started to fail so I get rushed to a more advanced hospital. I stayed here until I was well enough to go back to the specialist ED unit. I was in hospital for just over 6 months.
What was the hardest part of recovery?
Being away from my family
Being pushed around in a wheel chair
Not eating normally – having to follow a refeed programme
Seeing others suffer and have different issues that I was fine with
Looking back, how does it make you feel?
It was 6 years ago now and I can honestly say It doesn’t feel like it ever happened but when I talk or think about it I still cry. It breaks my heart mostly that I put my family through what I did.
I’m being honest, I didn’t want to live because I couldn’t see a way out, but thanks to my father, step mum and absolutely incredible sister … I fought back and I get more than better … I became me again!
What would you say to someone going through it?
I would tell them that they have to want to fight it themselves because no one can fight it for you and trust me it’s a hell of a fight BUT I did it, so you can too!
How would you tell a parent to deal with a child in this situation?
That’s a hard one. I don’t think there is a way for them to deal with it because the child will always find a way to rebel from them or lie.
I’d just tell them to make sure they support their child for as long as it takes!
What are the misconceptions about eating disorders?
I lost all of my friends bar 1 because they all told me I was a freak. I wasn’t a freak, I had an illness, I needed help.
What do people do or say now that annoy you or maybe even trigger old thoughts?
I do ok now, I can laugh about things and joke around etc but I would say diet talk gets to me.
I will always have the eating disorder mentality, I have just learnt to manage it better so it no longer takes over or ruins my life.
5 years from now where do you see yourself?
I’d absolutely love a family. I’d love it if my body, after everything it’s been through could gift me with that.
I’d love health and happiness for me and my all of my family.
How has this changed your life?