Eating disorders

Lauren

Female
Age at interview: 23
Age at diagnosis: 20

Brief outline: Lauren was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 20. Through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an outpatient and her parents' support she is now in recovery. Relaxation, making time for herself, and writing and playing music also helped Lauren.

Background: Lauren is 23 and a part time youth worker. She is engaged and lives with her parents. White Scottish.

Audio & video

The first time Lauren remembers worrying about food and exercise was in the summer before her second year at university. She started counting her calorie intake and exercising regularly. Living away from home allowed her behaviour to get more and more extreme. Around this time Lauren was having a difficult time at university and was in a controlling relationship. Lauren describes feeling very down and becoming secretive and isolated. She would watch food programmes and spend hours in the supermarket looking at food.
 
Lauren’s flat mate suspected she might have anorexia and gave her a book to help her. Lauren recognised familiar behaviours described in the book which spurred her to end the controlling relationship she was in. After talking to her flat mate and her mum, Lauren decided to seek professional help and was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
 
Lauren first saw a very understanding nurse and was referred to a specialist doctor. However he had to wait four months before seeing the doctor – a very difficult and upsetting time for her and her family. Lauren felt lost and remembers feeling confused because at the time she could not understand what could have triggered the anorexia. Lauren started CBT and visited an eating disorder day centre as an outpatient. Lauren kept a food diary, as well as noting down any negative thoughts or feelings she had and then took time to rationalise them. Being weighed regularly was a mixed experience; she would feel guilty for gaining weight and equally guilty if she had lost weight. 
 
Lauren had contemplated leaving university earlier than planned because of the difficulties she’d had. But as she got better and gained more strength she decided to continue. Now Lauren describes her fourth year as the best year of her life and she graduated with a first class degree. Lauren says her life has completely turned around; she is now healthy, in control of the anorexia and getting married in a year’s time. She is a Beat (Beating Eating Disorders) Ambassador, doing media interviews, writing articles and giving talks about her own experiences. Music has always played a big part in Lauren’s life and she has written a song about her experience of an eating disorder.
 

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