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I'm proud of how far I've come – this year I'm looking forward to Christmas

Katy describes what it was like at Christmas whilst struggling with an eating disorder - and why this year, she's excited for the festivities.

This time last year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas I was sick with nerves.  

I was in the grips of an eating disorder at the time and the thought of being around my family with so much food made me dread the big day.  

I used to love Christmas but last year when it arrived, my anxiety was through the roof.

I threw up my dinner straight after eating it. I remember coming out the toilet and my mum asking if I’d been sick. I just nodded and burst into tears. 

My mental health problems started when I was just 10 years old. I used to have obsessional thoughts about death. I thought that my negative thoughts would mean something terrible would happen to my parents. So, I’d sit on my own in silence and try to only think about positive things.

It’s why I think it’s so important that children get help early on to stop future problems from occurring – research is crucial in enabling us to see which young people might need support.

I didn’t get professional help until I was 16 when I received CBT, and it did help in some ways with my obsessional thoughts. But when I reached my early twenties, the first signs of an eating disorder started to emerge. 

I wanted to lose some weight so I went on a diet and started exercising more. But things quickly got out of control - it was a stressful period of my life and my diet and exercise became more extreme.

I used to look in the mirror and think I can see more fat, I need to get rid of it. I was lucky that my parents were able to pay for some private therapy and I began my journey of recovery. 

Slowly, I’ve improved but I still struggle with my eating. On a daily basis, I find myself listing all the food I’ve had and trying to analyse if it’s too much.

I’ve got this list of things that I used to love before the eating disorder and I’m trying to work my way through it. Next on the list is pizza, I haven’t had it in six years. 

I’m determined to get better, I don’t want to put my partner, my friends or my family through it again – I can see how hard it is for them.

But there are still so many unanswered questions about mental health. I’d love to know – how the hell do OCD and eating disorders start? I used to love food, so why does my brain now think in this way?

We also need to get treatment to people so much sooner – or even prevent these conditions from occurring in the first place. Dr Clare Llewellyn’s work really excites me – she’s looking at the emergence of eating disorders when children are young. Her work might mean we can give parents tools to help their kids, detect which young people are at risk and maybe even create drugs that could help.

Although I’m not completely better, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. This year, I’m actually looking forward to Christmas and I’m excited about the food.

Last updated: 21 December 2017

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