At the age of eight, I started to see a change in myself. I started comparing myself to everybody I saw. A few years went by to my teenage years. I had acne and it was horrible going to secondary school knowing I had spots everywhere on my face. I was so unconfident. I then was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I did not want to leave the house. This went on up until I was 15. I knew something wasn't right with what I was doing, so I went to the doctor. They sent me to a place called CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), a children's mental health hospital. This is when I got diagnosed with anorexia.
I started going to CAMHS every week, having to write meal plans, talking about what I was doing to myself and everything I had eaten every day, which was barely anything. I got worse – I was obsessive. I would not leave the house. I was in a very bad place and I just wanted to give up because nothing seemed to work!
I was going there for two years until I turned 17. I had to stop going because I wasn't a child anymore. So at 17 with all of this going on and no help whatsoever, I found Beat, this amazing website and charity, full of support and guidance to help me recover from this terrible illness. I used this every day, not just to help myself, but to help others in their recovery too. I lost a lot of friends because of my illness – they thought I was being an 'attention seeker' and did not understand how hard it was for me and what I was going through, but Beat listened to me. I had my family around me and my boyfriend and his family. I didn't need anyone else. They helped me and that's all that mattered – they stood by my side every single day!
I turned 18. I had been waiting all year for this day just because I knew I would be able to go the adult Eating Disorder clinic. I had a letter come through my door for group therapy. I was so happy to be getting somewhere and for me to be even more recovered. The day came for me to go to the Eating Disorder Adult Clinic. I was so nervous. I had to be assessed, I had to have a blood test, but most of all I had to get weighed (that was my fear). When the doctor told me he had to weigh me I ran out the door crying. No way would I get on the scales. After a few minutes to let me calm down he came out to me and said if I did not get weighed I wouldn't be able to be a part of the group. Well, with all the strength in me I stepped onto the scales... this was the scariest, bravest, proudest moment of my life. I did it! I got on the scales.
So every week I was turning up to the group sessions, having to do activities, getting weighed every week, using meal plans and diaries. This helped me a lot – this was the best help I have ever had.
Then one week I got weighed and my weight had dropped a lot, which was not good at all. The doctor gave me two options. One was to have a private session with him every week; the other was to go into the Aspen Centre and stay there until I got better. I made my decision then and there: I went into hospital as I thought this was the best decision for me. They kept an eye on me, they made sure I ate – they saved me!
A few months went by and I was able to come out of hospital. I've never felt so proud of myself as I do for all the progress that I have made. I have started eating more, eating different foods, eating in front of people. I made so many amazing, supportive friends who understand what I’m going through and will always be there for me. Another phobia I had was going out for meals, and this year, 2016, I did: I went out for a meal.
I never ever thought I would get this far, but honestly if you keep fighting this horrible illness you will get there. You will beat this. Just stay strong and keep positive. I believe in you all.