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Surviving an Eating Disorder

This is a personal story from someone with lived experience of an eating disorder as a young person, based in Newham.
Surviving an Eating Disorder

Surviving an Eating Disorder

TW: eating disorder, suicidal ideation, calorie counting

When it started

I remember being in Year 7-8 and starting to struggle to feel positive about my body. It wasn’t helped by some of the people around me – being bullied and called names. Things got worse in Year 9 when I started exercising every night and skipping lunches. It started spiralling to the point where I would skip breakfast and dinner as well – I remember being so hungry and tired all the time.

My parents started to notice when I was not spending my lunch money and shying away from food when I used to be such a foodie and always doing lots of baking. I had been hiding things from them for a while, vomiting what I was eating and concealing food where I could. They took me to my GP and I was referred to CEDS for review and was diagnosed with atypical anorexia nervosa. I did not realise at this point that my symptoms were bad enough to mean I needed to go to hospital. It was a shock to me, but I was determined to get out of hospital so that I could enjoy my birthday.

When I came out of hospital, I wasn’t at a point where I could truly engage in recovering. I stuck to my meal plan in a really rigid way – never eating a calorie more and it became a new way to control how I ate. When I went back to school, I started skipping lunches again which led to a teacher accompanying me at meal times and my mum choosing snacks for me. Whilst I wasn’t in the right headspace to make the best choices to support my recovery, it felt at the time like I was so out of control and cut off from my friends.

I went through a period of emotional numbness where I just didn’t have the energy to fight my mum over what I ate, whilst also not having the energy or motivation to commit to recovery either. I was beginning to feel more depressed and suicidal.


A turning point was during my second relapse, my sister and the professionals I was working with helped people in my family understand how some of their behaviour was feeding into my vicious cycle thinking around food and my weight. My mum began to be more supportive and less restrictive – focusing on understanding how I was feeling rather than my weight. I found professionals who understood me better and helped me work to get better at regulating my own emotions & put my own boundaries in place from things that might get in the way of my recovery. Social media is one – I still steer clear of accounts that promote dieting or unrealistic bodies and follow ones that promote recovery and body positivity.

If I was able to speak to myself in Year 7, I would have engaged with treatment earlier and not waiting till I was so unwell. Even at my lowest point, I felt I was not unwell enough as I was not in an inpatient service and this fuelled my eating disorder even more. I was motivated to become so sick that I would have to be hospitalised. And now looking back on it, I realise how silly that was. If you saw a patient with stage 1 cancer and stage 4 cancer, you wouldn’t say the patient with stage 1 cancer doesn’t have cancer just because the patient with stage 4 cancer is sicker. Now I know that just as I don’t need to compare my body to others, I didn’t need to compare how unwell I was to others. Everyone is at a different stage of recovery and each individual story matters.

My eating disorder used to tell me that I would not be liked or loved if I was over a certain weight or fat, which often gets used interchangeably with ugly in our society. An eating disorder is like a toxic partner in that way – who might not like you or love you because of how you look. The people you need in your life will like you no matter what your weight is or your body looks like.

Recovery will be a continuous process for me and I have accepted that my life looks different to some of my friends right now. I’ve taken a pause from university and hope to get to a better place, reminding myself that taking some time to prioritise my health does not mean I am getting left behind – I’m just taking my own path at my own pace and that is okay.


If you need support with an eating disorder, support is available. Reach out to your GP, or visit

For support with body image and eating, visit our Body Image and Eating module.