Monday, February 20, 2017

Overcoming anorexia and bulimia

Rebecca was anorexic and bulimic for 12 years. Her story was featured on BBC 2’s Trust Me I'm A Doctor.

“I've been fully recovered for about two years now. I can confidently say that I am probably the happiest that I have ever been. It feels very freeing, like you're in control of your life now not this voice that is telling you how to behave.

“I was very malnourished and underweight and very sadly I don't think my family were well informed enough to see the red flags before that to know anything about it, to do anything about it. So it wasn't until the weight loss that they actually decided to approach it. My cousin noticed that I would go to the bathroom after each meal and he came up and actually said, ‘you have to stop going to the bathroom after we've eaten’”.

Rebecca works for the charity Beat, which helped her to overcome her illness. She wants families to know what to look out for:

“Going to the toilet after meals. I think a general attitude during meal times is important. Sometimes you could be looking for someone being really hyper and really drawing your attention to them, so that you are not looking at what they eating, because they're not eating it. Other times they might be sullen and withdrawn and not able to kind of cope with the situation. Behavioural changes during mealtimes are a big red flag.

“Some people over exercise as a way of purging as well, so looking for secretive exercise, like someone who is going to their room after meals”.

How to help:

“Approaching it with honesty, but not always seeing the eating disorder, but the person. People can forget that underneath you're still the girl who loves to read and you watch films. People won't ask you what books you’ve enjoyed lately or have you enjoy reading this book; instead they just talk about food.

“When anyone would address it during mealtimes; I found that very difficult, because I'd already decided what I was going to eat during that mealtime. So for example, I remember someone saying to me, ‘you've put absolutely no carbs on your plate’, and that just made me not want to eat anything at all”.

Road to recovery:

“I went to a GP, it was my cousin who drove me there and took me back to make sure that I was going; then I went to a psychiatrist.

“It was all about the small targets at first. At first I increased my portion sizes; I didn't change what I was eating, I just ate slightly more each time so I could still enjoy the foods that I enjoyed. Then that led to me deciding to give myself actual activity tasks outside of the eating disorder itself.”


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