Eating disorders

Eva

Female
Age at interview: 17
Age at diagnosis: 14

Brief outline: Eva started calorie counting and dieting when she was 14. It quickly became obsessive and she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Although inpatient care saved her life, she found cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and change in her own attitude the key things towards recovery.

Background: Eva is 17 and a Sixth Form student. She's single and lives at home with her parents. White British.

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From a young age, Eva describes feeling “not fitting in”. She didn’t share the same interests as her peers and felt that although she worked hard at school, she wasn’t doing as well as others. Around her 14th birthday she started dieting and calorie counting. Though she first felt happy about losing weight, she soon started feeling more and more unhappy, quiet and withdrawn. Eva describes “The voice” in her head telling her she was “lazy and horrible”, criticizing everything she did and making her feel never good enough.

 
Over time, losing weight and thinking about food became more and more consuming and “obsessive”. She found encouragement to lose more weight from Thinspiration websites. She started restricting her eating more, recording everything she ate and developing eating rituals. She was also exercising a lot. Eva says she was so unhappy about who she was that she wanted to change everything about herself. Eva had chilblains, problems with circulation, was freezing all the time and couldn’t sleep. Sitting in the car would hurt and standing up for too long made her legs ache. Her period also stopped for a few years.
 
Eva’s mum took her to the GP who diagnosed her with anorexia nervosa. As her weight was dangerously low, she was first admitted to an adolescent psychiatric ward and from there to a specialist unit. She stayed there for a year and nine months. After a few months at home she got readmitted but to a different hospital. Eva says by this time her attitude towards recovery had changed as she was “sick of” having anorexia. Eva says once she admitted to herself that she was ill, and her relationship to food was not normal, she could start getting better. She didn’t want to waste anymore of her life and had 100 percent desire to get better. Eva says that although at the time she hated being admitted to hospital, it saved her life.
 
Now Eva is starting to do things she feels she’s missed out on; going out with her friends, going to parties, shopping and enjoying life. She is currently doing her A-levels and in the future, wants to become a psychiatrist. Eva says she wants “people to look at what I’m like and who I am, not seeing me as my eating disorder”.
 

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