Health and weight

Steevie - Interview 07

Female

Brief outline: Steevie, a 20 year old student nurse, has been diagnosed with bulimia. She attends an eating disorder clinic, has been having counselling and has been referred to a psychologist. Steevie would like to reduce her BMI (body mass index) from 36 to below 25. Ethnic background: Black mixed.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Steevie, a 20 year old student nurse, has been diagnosed with bulimia. She attends an eating disorder clinic, has been having counselling and has been referred to a psychologist. Steevie says that all the women in her family are big and that food was central to her family life. Steevie says that although they were eating healthy meals at home, the portions they ate were too big – and she didn’t realise this until she went to eat at a friend’s house. While she was growing up, her mum was always on a diet and Steevie would usually go on the diet with her as a way of being close to her. Steevie had been blaming herself when the diets she tried didn’t work.
 
Steevie had always been happy with her weight, because she wasn’t being bullied and it wasn’t seen as a problem at home. When she reached puberty, Steevie developed big hips and breasts and this meant she got a lot of unwanted attention from older men. When she got to 15, Steevie says her family’s attitude changed, and they told her she was too big. Steevie started making herself sick after eating after seeing a programme on TV. This helped her to lose weight for a short while but then stopped working. Steevie continued to secretly go through a cycle of binge eating and then ‘purging’ for about 5 years. At first, purging helped Steevie feel in control; but now, she says she’s “pretty much lost all control.” At one point, Steevie gained 6 stone in one year, taking her up to 20 stone. Around this time, Steevie’s grandmother was unwell, and Steevie was told to stop doing all her usual sports because she had a history of breaking bones.
 
When she’s bingeing, Steevie will compulsively eat anything that’s available and she’s missed lectures and trains as a result. The purging also means that Steevie has lost some of her teeth (because they were so badly eroded), has stabbing pains in her ribs, passes out and sometimes her throat bleeds. She also had a spell in hospital with pneumonia and at one point, her periods stopped. Steevie says replacing the food that she’s binged on is really expensive – one week she spent £200. Steevie also abuses diet pills, water pills (diuretics), and laxatives too. Even though Steevie is aware of the health risks of what she’s doing, she can’t stop. Eventually, Steevie’s housemates at university noticed there something wrong and urged Steevie to get help.
 
Steevie, who is 5’7”, says she would ideally like to weigh 8 stone and to reduce her BMI (body mass index) from 36 to below 25 - she believes that if she was thin, she would be a more acceptable person. She says you don’t see images of women who are bigger and happy with their size. She also feels that women are supposed to be smaller than men, and that in her past relationships she felt uncomfortable about being bigger than her boyfriend.
 
Now Steevie is getting help, she says she’s starting to question her behaviour and beliefs and she recommends that other young people get help straight away.
 

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