A Birmingham woman who battled anorexia for six years has revealed how the eating disorder took over her life.
Victoria* was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 13 years old. Since then she has had four admissions to mental health units and several admissions to hospital.
The 20-year-old told BirminghamEastside how a year after recovering she was now beginning to understand the true impact it had on her life.
“I never thought I wanted to recover,” Victoria said. “It happened by accident.
“But recovery happened so well. You don’t realise how life is without the eating disorder, it is such a relief. It’s just a weight of your shoulder, ironically.”
During her struggle with anorexia, Victoria ended up with several health problems.
“I had heart failure, I was about to go into cardiac arrest,” she said. “I also had osteoporosis, it was quite scary but at the same time it didn’t bother me, because at that time didn’t care about dying.
“Things were exhausting, my thinking was changing and I had constant thoughts of wanting to lose weight.
“I thought the perfect girl was sporty, intelligent, had a perfect life and family, was healthy, not extremely underweight but healthy.
“But obviously, I lost control.”
Victoria’s anorexia began as she started to cut out foods she considered unhealthy, eventually leading to her skipping meals completely.
Her extreme weight loss then led her to first admission to a mental health unit.
“It was extremely competitive living with patients in the unit,” she said. “The patients would try to compete with you with things like, who was doing the most exercise in the day.
“It was a horrible atmosphere.”
Victoria spent a year at the unit during her first admission. Her last discharge was in May 2014.
“I feel so happy and free,” she said. “I feel empowered. Just knowing that I’ve been at my lowest of my lows and managed to get out of that.
“There is a certain atmosphere and idea that you should be a certain way, but it’s how you interpret it and how you cope with that certain pressure.”
Victoria is currently studying psychology at the University of Birmingham and hopes to become a clinical physician.
“In a way, I don’t really regret what I went through as it has made me so strong,” she said. “But If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to worry about the little things, because it will only cause my own unhappiness.”
*Victoria has asked that we not publish her surname.