Eating disorders


Age at interview: 22
Age at diagnosis: 14

Brief outline: Fiona-Grace has experienced anorexia nervosa and binging and purging since she was 14. With a few inpatient admissions, she has gained most help from therapies based on mentalisation techniques. Also anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication has been helpful.

Background: Fiona-Grace is 22 and a University student. She is single and lives with a friend. White Scottish.

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Fiona-Grace describes herself being a “fussy child”, going through phases of not eating much at all, and also “anxious and perfectionist”. When she was eight, Fiona-Grace’s dad had a heart attack which then made the whole family more health conscious and aware of healthy eating. Fiona-Grace’s mum died when she was 10 and it came as a surprise to her. She says she learnt to bottle up her emotions and only went through the grieving and bereavement process some years later.
More serious issues with eating started around the time Fiona-Grace was 14. She had gotten a scholarship to go to a private school where the environment felt pressurized with many high achieving pupils. She also felt a bit excluded and lonely being the only student on a scholarship. Fiona-Grace describes wanting to lose weight because she felt anxious about growing up, getting periods and her body changing. Her head mistress took her to the school GP who referred her to an eating disorder’s unit, where she received cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and bereavement counselling. After 1.5 yrs as an outpatient she was hospitalised and she ended up taking her GCSEs at the hospital school.
Initially experiencing anorexia nervosa, Fiona-Grace later started binging and purging. The diagnosis was later changed to Anorexia Nervosa Binge-Purge type. In the following years, a few more hospital admissions followed, first with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and later with adult services. Typically she would spend a few months at home then needing to go back to hospital. Fiona-Grace says that during this time, although she wanted to recover from anorexia, she also still wanted to lose weight. During her most recent admission, when she was sectioned, her mindset starting changing. She realised she can’t have it both ways and that she can’t get rid of anorexia and keep losing weight. She decided she didn’t want to lose anything more to an eating disorder and wanted to prioritise her future; to go back to studies, to be able have a career and maybe family one day. 
Fiona-Grace’s says mindfulness and mentalisation-based therapies have helped her with anxiety and obsessions. She also says medication has been helpful, as well as having her family more involved in her care this time around. Fiona-Grace plays the guitar, the violin and sings - and music has always been great distraction and enjoyment for her.


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