What it was like for us - Lynne's story
The girl with the eating disorder
I remember being fourteen, rehearsing the Taff-Ely Urdd Eisteddfod musical, and one of my friends eating a “Mars” bar in the interval. I remember thinking to myself, how on earth can she eat a whole “Mars” bar? It didn’t appeal to me at all – in fact, the thought of eating such a sweet chocolate bar in its entirety turned my stomach. Food wasn’t a problem to me at the time! Some years later, food was the only thing on my mind from early morning to late at night; and I couldn’t stuff enough chocolate and other junk down my throat.
How did this happen? I’m not sure. But once it happened, there was no turning back. Food came to save me in a way. By thinking only about food I could avoid thinking about everything else. It enabled me to escape. It also gave me such a thrill – that I could do something “naughty” – and nobody else knew anything, it was my secret; therefore it was special.
To begin with I didn’t binge that often – I remember taking Meg the dog in to the park in the car and stopping in a shop en route to buy 3 chocolate bars. Eating the chocolate whilst the dog ran around and then driving home. I remember feeling repulsive and hating myself and frightening myself at the same time! But afterwards, as with everything, after doing it once it was much easier the second time.
Things worsened for me when I went to college. Leaving home and being free for the first time. It was also a difficult time as I was a mummy’s baby and found it difficult to grow up, leave home and leave mum and dad. I didn’t want responsibility or to be alone.
Luckily for me there was a 24 hour garage up the road and I would persuade one of my friends to walk there with me every hour of every day. When I was looking forward to eating and planning what I was going to have, I was happy and didn’t have a problem in the world. But once I had eaten it all I was empty, hating myself, feeling fat and scared. I tried to make myself ill a couple of times, but I wasn’t very successful and that was painful for me. I bought laxatives once, but I was too scared to take them. To be honest, fear was controlling my life.
I did everything at this time to try controlling what I was doing – trying to starve myself; but once I ate something, then I would binge. I threw food in the bin many times in my temper, then after a few minutes, I’d return to the bin and get the food and eat it. I would steal biscuits and food from my friends’ cupboards at college as my cupboard was empty. I thought, if I didn’t buy food it wouldn’t be there for me to eat. I was deceiving everyone and everything, including myself.
By the last year at college, I had planned in my sick little head that I would be thinner than I’d ever been, and that a successful acting career would ensue. But by the time I’d graduated I was fatter than I’d ever been – over 12 stone - ; I had no interest in acting or succeeding, all I wanted to do morning, noon and night was binge. I hated everything – college, people, myself, and food! And that was the point at which I realised I couldn’t live like this any longer. Food was no longer making me happy; my “best friend” had turned against me, and I had nowhere to run. I had to stop running away, face what I was doing to myself and everyone else. I couldn’t live like this any more, so I made the most difficult decision – and the best one I ever made – I put my life on “hold” for 4 months. I went straight from college to a treatment centre in Aberystwyth called “Tukes”. I faced all my fears for the first time ever. I realised I was ill, that I needed help ; and I asked for that help, and received it.