Eating disorders


Age at interview: 17
Age at diagnosis: 14

Brief outline: Rob was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when he was 14. After a few months' stay in hospital, and with the help of his counsellor and support from his parents, he is now recovering.

Background: Rob is 17 and a student at a music college. He is single and lives at home. White British.

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Rob was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when he was 14. He’d always been quiet and gentle in nature and felt out of place in the competitive unaccepting environment of his secondary school. He’d also experienced depression and low mood for a long time. He felt school placed a lot of pressure on him to do well and he felt increasingly different to the others. Rob started isolating himself and he was also self-harming. His tendency to control extended to eating less and exercising more, which lead to “a self-enforcing spiral”. He describes how he was trying to deal with “super critical, negative and relentlessly horrible series of intrusive thoughts”.
His mum took him to the GP and Rob was eventually admitted to a hospital ward and later on transferred onto an adolescent psychiatric unit. Rob describes the unit as very supportive and he had a very good therapeutic relationship with his counsellor. Rob says the unit offered him a fresh environment to tackle his problems. After discharge, Rob found going back to school for GCSEs too hard as it was all intertwined with him getting ill. He’d always loved writing and, before he turned 16, managed to get a place at an Open University Course on fiction writing. After completion, he signed up for a music college and says it has “bizarrely” all worked out really well despite how hard it is once you fall out of the standard educational path. He says he can now see a way forward.
Rob does volunteering work for mental health charities and is a B-eat ambassador. He says he is still battling with negative thinking and a low self-esteem. He says he would’ve never have believed that he could come this far and although the eating disorder is still a part of him, it doesn’t dominate his life in any way. He talks openly about his experiences and says he’s come to accept that “I am who I am and I am important, with or without the eating disorder”.


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