Eating disorders


Age at interview: 25

Brief outline: Anna has had difficulties with food since she was about 9. She has gone through stages of restricting, binging and purging and then overeating. It has been an isolating experience and made her feel vulnerable around food.

Background: Anna is 25. She is a sculptor and a student. She has just moved back to live with her parents to save money whilst studying. White British.

Audio & video

Anna remembers having difficulties with eating most of her life, and definitely from around the age of 9. She grew up in “a high achieving family”, as one of four sisters. 
Although at home dieting was considered bad, Anna went on a diet to lose some weight. She describes being scared to grow up and her body changing. She also describes herself as shy and, over time, her relationship with food and eating isolated her more from people.
Because of the weight loss, and delay in her development, Anna’s parents were getting worried and took her to a doctor, and Anna was admitted to a hospital. Anna says that other people intervening in her life felt like an “invasion” and she refused to talk to the psychiatrists about what was going on. Although she retrospectively acknowledges why her parents persuaded her to see a professional, at the time she felt like she was being punished for doing something “wrong”. This made her feel very angry and she says she still feels that being in certain places like around her parents’ kitchen in her childhood home can be a trigger.
Restricting gradually developed into bulimia and then overeating. Anna was self- harming and she says she “abused” her body through (not) eating. Anna has gone through different stages of not eating at all, then overeating, or binging and purging and her weight has consequently fluctuated. Anna says she has always struggled to “fit eating with life” and it has greatly affected her relationships at home and with friends. She describes feeling vulnerable around food and often chooses to eat on her own, rather than share with others.
Anna is a sculptor and in her work is fascinated how the body relates to the outside world, partly through food. She says her difficulties around food have affected her work, partly because sculpting requires energy and strength. Through her life, Anna has kept note books and sketch books. She has just started a Masters’ course in Art and says her mind sways between wanting to be positive but not always finding it possible.


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