Zara's Story

Why do we develop anorexia? Research suggests there may be an abnormality in the brain,  I believe there can also be a genetic link, sufferers are often perfectionists and have low self-esteem. Eating disorders most commonly develop in adolescence, however it is not uncommon in earlier or later stages in life. Anorexia, for me, came when I was 13 years old. I remember looking in the mirror and criticising every inch of my body, it was then she told me to start a diet.She started as a friendly, helpful voice. She told me if I lost a bit of weight I would be more confident, prettier, funnier, happier. If I didn't obey her she would get angry so I knew always to do what she said. Soon she controlled everything I did. She told me what to eat and what not to eat, when to exercise and how long for, she didn't like my family or my friends, they were distractions from the most important thing- losing weight. Instead of going out with friends at the weekend I spent hours looking at recipes and supermarkets online, memorising the calories of every kind of bread, every biscuit, every type of fruit. I became withdrawn from everyone I loved and felt isolated, alone and really unhappy. Anorexia made me believe she was the only one whom I could trust and made me shout at my family when they tried to help me.I was losing weight rapidly and became very malnourished, I was constantly cold, I felt dizzy every time I stood up, my hair was falling out in clumps and my body felt weak. I was so exhausted I felt numb. Everything felt like a blur. My parents were devastated, they were watching me starve myself, so they had booked an appointment with my GP. Of course anorexia was horrified. She made me shout and scream and I cried as they dragged me into the waiting room. Anorexia laughed at me 'you're not thin enough to have an eating disorder' she said. My GP referred me to my local CAMHS team and a dietician. While we waited for an appointment there my mum, in desperate need for some help, took me to EDANI. There I was able to talk to Jacqui, who had recovered from an eating disorder herself, about how I was feeling. It was nice being able to talk to someone who understood and she made me believe that maybe there was a way out. My Mum and Dad were also able to speak to Ann, whose daughter has recovered from anorexia and were able to attend a carers  evening where they were able to speak to other sufferers parents. The service really helped my family and I during that time, supporting us and making us feel less isolated and alone and I am so grateful. Soon after my first appointment at CAMHs I was admitted into a paediatric  ward. I was there for about a month and it was then I finally saw that anorexia was killing me and I made the decision to recover. I was on complete bed rest and was wheeled to the toilet in a wheelchair.  My therapist from CAMHS came to see me everyday and I was also seen by a dietitian who slowly increased my intake. I remember in the past reading shocking stories about anorexia in magazines, thinking the sufferers were crazy. Why don't they just eat? Now having dealt with illness myself I know it's not that simple. I saw food as a threat and it was so hard to change that belief but with every bit of weight I gained I also gained back a piece of my old self. Recovery definitely isn't a smooth ride, it has many ups and downs but I always remind myself that a life with anorexia isn't a life at all. I am now seeing my therapist (who is amazing and has helped me more than I can explain!!) once a week and am proud to say I am beating anorexia one step at a time! Zara

Eating Disorder Association NI
28 Bedford Street,
Belfast, BT2 7FE
Phone: 028 9023 5959
Email: edani@btconnect.com