Health and weight

Rebecca - Interview 24

Female
Age at interview: 18

Brief outline: Rebecca, 18, is a full time student and is in recovery from anorexia. She is currently pregnant with her first baby and says pregnancy has improved her body image. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Rebecca, 18, developed anorexia when she was 13 following the birth of her sister. She says that although she was thin like a skeleton, she would see fat on herself and used to dress in baggy clothes to hide her shape and would look in the mirror and hate herself. In order to control her weight, Rebecca remembers she simply stopped eating and at one point, was living off Lucozade. Rebecca recalls that this had a lot of serious consequences for her health, she became anaemic, she would pass out, and her periods became irregular. She didn’t have the energy to join in with other kids. The stress of her illness affected her family so much that her parents almost divorced. Rebecca says the anorexia also affected her mental health, she says she lost her self-esteem and confidence and this lead her into depression. Six months into her anorexia, Rebecca says she realised it wasn’t the right thing to do, but by then she was caught in a cycle.
 
By way of treatment, Rebecca saw a counsellor every week for 2 years, saw a nutrionist, and was prescribed fluoxetine. She didn’t find the counselling helpful until she was given a long term counsellor, and then she says she felt able to talk about anything she wanted without having to worry about upsetting the counsellor. She says the fluoxetine worked at first, but gradually became in effective, so she was prescribed another antidepressant at a higher dose. Around this time, Rebecca’s boyfriend at the time took his own life and Rebecca spent 10 days as a voluntary patient in a mental health institution. When she reached 18, services were withdrawn.
 
Rebecca considers her current weight to be healthy for her height. She believes that being under- or overweight can have serious consequences for health and maintaining her weight is important because of the problems she’s had in the past. She also admits she’s worried about putting on weight, because she says her parents are overweight and this causes them to have a lot of health problems.
 
Rebecca is currently pregnant with her first baby (although she was told she would never children because of the anorexia) and admits she was worried at first about how she would cope and if she would develop postnatal depression. She feels the pregnancy has actually put her on a high. Rebecca says she happy with her body now, especially since she became pregnant, and feels more womanly and sexy. She says her body has changed a great deal – making her more curvy – and that’s made her feel good. She says it’s completely different from getting fat, although she is a little worried about losing the weight after she’s had the baby.
 
Rebecca has recovered from anorexia and her depression is improving. She says she wouldn’t be the person she is today if she hadn’t been through the anorexia, but her advice to other young people is not to do it.

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