Eating disorders

Hannah Z

Age at interview: 18
Age at diagnosis: 14

Brief outline: Hannah Z was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 14. She got help from counselling and when she relapsed she knew how to help herself. An important part of her recovery has been campaigning and raising awareness of eating disorders.

Background: Hannah Z is 18 and a first-year university student. She is single and lives in a shared house. White British.

Audio & video

Hannah Z says her eating disorder started around the age of 14, as a way of controlling things going on in her life. Her parents were going through a divorce and both her granddads died within a week from each other. Hannah Z says she learnt to bottle up her feelings and it all came out in a form of an eating disorder.
Hannah Z’s Mum was getting worried and took her to see the GP. The GP suggested she might have an eating disorder but Hannah Z felt defensive and didn’t want people to find out. The GP’s visit caused a lot of arguments at home which made Hannah Z feel guilty about everything that was going wrong around her. During a school trip to Italy things got much worse and afterwards Hannah Z’s teacher contacted her mother who took her back to the GP. Hannah Z was then diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and referred to a counselling service.
Hannah Z saw different therapists over a course of six months, including individual and family therapy. After this time, she felt ready to leave – she wanted more independence and to get her parents’ trust back. Back at home, she wanted to get back to normal and rather than follow a regular meal plan, she adopted a less rigid approach.
Things were fine for about a year, until Hannah Z moved up to Sixth Form. She found the transition difficult and she relapsed. This time she didn’t want to tell her parents but confided in her friend instead. From past experience, Hannah Z knew what was going on and went to see the GP with her friend. She was referred to a specialist clinic but decided to try and get better on her own, with her friend’s support. Hannah Z says she made a conscious decision to get better as she felt she was wasting her life away.
One of the most helpful things for Hannah Z through recovery has been awareness raising and campaigning for eating disorders as it has helped her take control in a positive way. She is an ambassador for Beat (Beating Eating Disorders) and Body Gossip and with a friend has set up their own campaign ‘Hungry For Change’. Hannah Z has just moved away from home to start University and she says she’s coped with such a big change in her life much better this time.


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