Health and weight

Olivia - Interview 10


Brief outline: Olivia, 18, is a student and does voluntary work with young people. She is in recovery from anorexia. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Olivia, 18, is a student and is in recovery from anorexia.
Olivia started restricting her food intake when things were difficult at home and school for her. Olivia says she felt like she didn’t fit in at school with any of her friends. Around this time she was also self-harming (this has started in Year 8 when she was being bullied) and drinking a lot of alcohol. She decided to go on a diet in the summer holidays to lose some weight before she went back to school (Year 11) because she had put on a little weight and says she wanted to look beautiful because her friends were slimmer and she didn’t feel very happy with herself. She thought that people would think she looked good and happy if she was thinner – but she says she doesn’t really understand why she would think that. Her diet soon got out of control and she quickly became ill and was diagnosed with anorexia within 4 months. Looking back, Olivia thinks the diet was a way of trying to take control of things in her life that were outside of her control.
Olivia had been seeing a counsellor since she was in Year 8 to help deal with her self-harming. When the counsellor found out about Olivia’s eating patterns, she referred her to a clinical psychologist who would be more qualified to deal with this. Olivia says she built up a good bond with the psychologist. Although she was given CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), meal plans from a dietitian, and the whole family were having therapy together, Olivia says it wasn’t working because she wasn’t willing to help herself at that stage. Shortly after, Olivia left school and her weight became dangerously low (5 stone). She was advised to go into hospital where she stayed for 4 days. Olivia says this was a turning point for her because she was so scared. When she was discharged from hospital, Olivia went home and her parents took control of her meals – following a strict meal plan that had been devised in hospital. Although Olivia found it hard, she was glad she was at home and not in hospital, and she got a lot of support and encouragement from her parents. Although Olivia had to take a year off college, she devised a list of goals as motivation for the following year. Olivia also keeps a diary and writes down how she feels and she finds this really helpful.
Olivia is now back at college and doing voluntary work with other young people. She’s looking forward to the future and has made a new list of goals.


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