Student whose eating disorder was misdiagnosed runs to give back

Posted 18/09/2017

Olivia Ponsford, of Portsmouth, is running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in London to raise awareness and funds for Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity.

Olivia, aged nineteen, chose to support Beat after she uses the charity’s helplines, message boards and online support groups during her recovery from bulimia nervosa.

Olivia said: “Beat is a charity who is always there for support and guidance through every step of my eating disorder. They have been fantastic in educating me about my disorder, offering support on the phone when I needed it and showing me that other people go through the same thing. It’s always nice to know if I ever need to speak to someone about my disorder, they make sure I’m not alone through it. I think this is something Beat highlights really well through their message boards, phone line and literature.

“Fundraising for me is a way to focus my energy into something positive. When I signed up for the half marathon I was at a place where I didn’t really understand what direction I was heading in as I was waiting for therapy and I wasn’t working. But this run gave me something to aim for and also a way to give back to Beat, because I owe a lot to them for their on-going support.”  Olivia had to wait six months before therapy became available to her and her GP misdiagnosed her eating disorder.

“I really struggled getting help. In March, when I visited my GP, she said that I didn’t look like I had an eating disorder, and I didn’t have a response for the initial referral until I escalated it to A&E in May.

“The person dealing with the referral missed the first page off so the eating disorder service couldn’t contact me and I was left for a while not understanding why I had no help. I was lost on the system a number of times too. The progress I have made is purely from seeing a therapist privately and the support of my family, friends and Beat.

Olivia is also organising bake sales and supermarket collections to help fund Beat’s services.

She is training to run the Royal Parks Foundation Half on 8 October, which passes through London’s beautiful green spaces.

To sponsor Olivia, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/olivia-ponsford.