Health and weight

Alex - Interview 02

Age at interview: 17

Brief outline: Alex, 18, is a student. She is in recovery after being diagnosed with anorexia and depression. She has found counseling very helpful and is looking forward to starting at university. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'Brief outline'.

Audio & video

Alex is an 18 year old student who has been diagnosed with anorexia and depression. Alex says she had always been self-conscious about her appearance and had low self-esteem, particularly when she reached puberty. She began binge eating when she started doing 5 A-levels and this, along with her responsibilities at home (her parents have depression) started to get on top of her. Alex felt she was bigger than her friends and began restricting her food intake and exercising, with a view to losing weight before she started university. For Alex, controlling her eating was also a way of putting some structure into her life at a time when she felt she didn’t have any. Because Alex was not eating properly, she found it difficult to concentrate and had no energy, and this was affecting her performance at school and also her ability to do her part-time waitressing job. Over the past 2 and a half years, her weight has fluctuated from around 10 stone, up to 12 stone, and at its lowest point, six stone 10.
A teacher at her school noticed her low mood and that she was often in tears and recommended Alex speak to a counsellor. Alex thought the counsellor was very supportive and found talking to her very helpful, and she also gained some useful coping strategies to help with her depression and her bingeing.
Alex’s mum took her to the GP because she had noticed she wasn’t eating but because Alex was aged 17 at the time, she fell between the children’s and adult’s services. Alex’s teacher noticed the weight loss and asked permission to contact the GP and get Alex referred to a specialist clinic. It took another 4 months before Alex’s referral came through to a children’s service that agreed to take her. Alex says that during this time it was particularly stressful at home, and her two younger brothers were quite upset and worried about her. Through this children’s service, Alex has also been to family therapy along with her parents and brothers. She also takes fluoxetine and risperidone for her depression and anxiety.
As well as putting a strain on her relationship with her brothers, Alex says her anorexia also caused tension with her best friend. Alex says some friends didn’t understand at all, although others did and have been very supportive. Overall, Alex says that things got easier for her when she opened up to people.
Alex is now in recovery and says that working with disabled children has helped to give her a new perspective. Although she deferred her place at university, she is looking forward to going to study psychology.


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