Eating disorders

Sara

Female
Age at interview: 20
Age at diagnosis: 16

Brief outline: Sara was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 16. Through outpatient and inpatient treatment and with her family's support she is now recovering. She does a lot of voluntary work to improve young people's mental health services.

Background: Sara is 20. She works part time and is about to start University. She is in a relationship and lives in a shared house. White Scottish.

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Sara was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at 16. Through outpatient and inpatient treatment and with her family’s support she is now recovering. She does a lot of voluntary work to improve young people’s mental health services.
 
Sara started dieting around the age of 16. She says it’s difficult to know how and when but gradually the dieting starting to turn into restricting food, skipping meals and doing more exercise. Sara approached a school nurse, who after just weighing her mentioned the possibility of anorexia. Sara went to see her GP and she was referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) for outpatient counselling and she started seeing a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) regularly.
 
Sara was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. She says for her the diagnosis was mainly a way to access the help she needed. She was not given any information about eating disorders and she wishes someone would’ve sat down with her and explained everything to her. Sara received counselling as an outpatient for a while but straight after she finished her GCSEs, she was admitted as an inpatient, first on the general children’s ward and later into a young people’s unit. Sara had to agree to have a nasal-gastric tube to feed her and she was initially on bed rest under constant observation. Sara says she got a lot of emotional support in the unit and she was totally focussed on getting out. A landmark occasion for Sara was when she got the NG tube out so she could go and collect her exam results from school.
 
After discharge, Sara went gradually back to school. She saw her CPN for another couple of years and her mum was mainly responsible for her food. Over time, Sara has also suffered with depression and obsessiveness. She says now that she is over the anorexia, she still battles with depression and self-esteem issues. 
 
Sara is doing a lot of voluntary work to improve future care of young people in her local CAMHS. It has helped her in recovery to be able to turn her experiences to something positive and proactive. She is about to start her studies at University and in the future, she would like to work with young people.

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