Eating disorders


Age at interview: 17

Brief outline: Nico has experienced depression and problems with eating and body image for a couple of years. He is doing a lot of voluntary work to improve the care and lives of other young people.

Background: Nico is 17 and at college. He is in a relationship and lives at home with his parents. White British.

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Since the age of 14, Nico has experienced depression, which at times got very severe. He attempted suicide and was admitted to hospital for six months under the Mental Health Act. Nico describes his stay in the hospital as a scary experience and he was also on a lot of medication. He made a special bond with a girl staying in the unit and their mutual support made all the difference to him. He also says he had a brilliant psychotherapist who was “a life saver”.
After discharge, Nico felt isolated and insecure being outside of the hospital. Soon after, he met his current boyfriend. Gradually, he started feeling less good about himself and insecure about his body. Nico wanted to lose weight and went for days without food, only to put on weight at the end of it. He also started making himself sick which led to a daily cycle of bingeing and purging.
Over time, Nico has learnt to manage the urge to binge and purge and it now happens much less frequently. He says counselling, although more focused on dealing with depression, has helped him learn to think about food differently. Rather than having “an eating disorder”, Nico prefers to describe himself as having “problems with eating and his body”. Nico has various strategies to help distract himself, such as music, walking his dog and writing a daily diary. Particularly, he has found volunteering a constructive way of putting his experiences to good use. He volunteers with different national charities to help other people and also works as a part time play worker with children and young people with learning difficulties.
Nico says he is very “zen” at the moment; he has a lot of support from different people and he is feeling more and more confident to try out new things. He is currently seeing a CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) counsellor and will gradually transition into adult services. He says the most important thing for someone going through emotional difficulties is to feel continual support and love from people around them.


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