Eating disorders

Elene

Female
Age at interview: 20
Age at diagnosis: 15

Brief outline: Elene's earliest memories of making herself sick are from the age 8 and she was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa at 15. Through working her negative thinking in counselling and the responsibility of a university course, Elene turned things around for herself.

Background: Elene is a final year university student. She is single and lives in shared student accommodation. White British.

Audio & video

The earliest memories Elene has of making herself sick are from when she was 8. All her childhood, Elene’s mum was “preoccupied” with her and her siblings’ weight, weighing Elene and putting her on diets. Elene became “terrified” of eating and started making herself sick many times a day. She didn’t feel cared for by her parents, and felt that she was always being compared to her older sister.
 
Elene remembers always being unhappy and blaming everything that went wrong on being “fat and ugly”. She developed early and had her period at a young age which she also found difficult to deal with it. When she started boarding school at 13, her problems soon became apparent to the staff. Elene describes her life at the boarding school as boring and controlled with very little to do but worry about eating and go to the gym. At 15, she was diagnosed with bulimia. Elene describes things really getting out of control when she “got into trouble with boys, sex and drugs”, also at a young age. Elene says she was “completely reckless” and didn’t care about the consequences of her actions. Having felt rejected for so long, she says taking drugs made her feel “part of a crowd”.
 
Things started changing for Elene when she got accepted to a top university. For the first time, she describes having “something to lose”. Having more responsibilities and heavy work load meant that she had to stay on top of things. She is a very talented classical singer and performing on stage has been the one thing which has boosted her confidence and made her feel great about herself. She currently sees a University counsellor occasionally to work through her negative thoughts and body issues. Elene says she would never go on a diet again “after having been hungry for so long”. 
 

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