Eating disorders

Rebekah

Female
Age at interview: 18
Age at diagnosis: 16

Brief outline: Rebekah was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 16. She has also had bulimia nervosa and was in hospital for six months. Rebekah is a Beat Young Ambassador. She loves reading and writing and has her own blog.

Background: Rebekah is 18, a student and works part-time. She is single and living at home. White British.

Audio & video

Rebekah is 18, and first remembers thinking she needed to lose weight when she was around 8. She remembers her Mum going on diets and talking about her weight. When she started secondary school, Rebekah used to throw away her packed lunches but pretend that she had eaten them. She found that restricting what she ate was something she was good at, at a time when other things in life were not going so well. Rebekah also went on to binging and purging, which made her feel very lethargic and she started missing school. She found pro-anorexia sites on the internet but realised that these were not helpful and stopped visiting them. When Rebekah left secondary school she withdrew from her friends and stayed in her bedroom a lot, and would ‘do anything to avoid food.’ She said she became secretive and had rituals that she followed with food. She felt very isolated and dropped out of her first year at college. 
 
When she was 16, Rebekah’s mum took her to the GP, but she says she was “in denial” about her eating at the time. The GP suggested she might have an eating disorder and she was admitted to hospital voluntarily. She found it difficult to start with, and compared herself to others. However, Rebekah says she found workshops on body image, self-esteem, creativity and relaxation very helpful. She also kept a diary and was prescribed anti-depressants, and began to feel more positive. Rebekah sometimes went home at weekends, and started to see her friends again and felt able to tell them what had happened. She feels that her six-month-stay in hospital was a turning point for her, and she started to ‘come alive again.’
 
Rebekah thinks that family support and early intervention are both very important in eating disorders. She is a member of a self-help group and finds this very helpful in keeping her from feeling isolated. Rebekah has relapsed since leaving hospital, and finds people talking about diets can be a trigger, but uses rationalization techniques to cope with this. She is a Beat (Beating Eating Disorders) young ambassador, and recommends the B-eat forums and helplines. Rebekah reminds everyone that people of all ages and backgrounds can experience eating disorders as they are much more complex than about being a certain weight. She also feels that she was given much more support for anorexia than for bulimia. She urges people not to lose hope, as she remembers a time when she could not imagine she would get better – and she has.

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