Student suffers anorexia; weight plunged to about 30kilos

Student suffers anorexia; weight plunged to about 30kilos
Date: 30-04-2015 Time: 08:04:57:pm

Like most teenagers, Lydia Davies was excited about spreading her wings at university.

But the chaotic lifestyle of boozy nights out and student house living plunged her into the depths of anorexia.

At her very worst Lydia was eating just 13 calories a day, before going on to develop bulimia and alcoholism.

“There were times when I thought I was going to die but I didn't know what to do - I couldn't ignore the voices telling me not to eat,” says Lydia.

Now 23 and recovering, she has written a book about her descent into anorexia, entitled Raw.

She strongly believes that recovery is possible and feels she is almost there.

“I wanted to explain my deepest thoughts and how I overcame them," she says.

"I hope that others suffering will relate to it, and that other families watching their loved ones will be touched and understand more deeply how an eating disorder really feels."

Until recently Lydia couldn't even look at the photos of her during her illness, but now she is determined to share them.

“When I was ill, I may have uploaded a few, oblivious to how I appeared to other people.

"But now I just feel completely ready to expose myself in the hope of helping and teaching.

"I think that visual images can be stronger than words in demonstrating the reality of such things.”


Recovery: Lydia has come a long way.


While Lydia can now see how ill she was, she admits she had spent her teenager years wishing she was slimmer, frequently comparing herself to her mother and sister.

"They are both naturally tall and slim and next to them I felt so much bigger,” she says.

However she believes the trigger for her descent into anorexia came from a less obvious place.

After a one night stand in her first year studying fashion in Newcastle in 2010 left her with an STI, she felt so embarrassed and ashamed that her self-loathing affected her appetite.

“I felt so self-conscious and disgusted in myself about that.

"It was only my second time with someone but afterwards I hated my body.

"I started trying to eat really healthily to counteract how I was feeling.

"Living in a student house didn't help as I started to feel awkward eating in front of other people.

"When I went home mum pointed out that I was eating less but I didn't give it much thought.

But as time went on, Lydia admits she came to like her by then noticeably thinner frame.

“At the end of first year someone called me skinny and it stuck in my head.

"It made me feel good about myself.

“I went on a girls' holiday to Zante and lived off Diet Coke.

"My friends noticed but I don't think they knew what to do.”

Meanwhile, back at university and away from her parents' eyes her eating disorder developed to the point where she was eating just three tea spoons of asparagus soup a day.

She weighed 4st11lb and size six clothes.


Family: Lydia and her sister Pascale today


“I remember lying on my bed and genuinely believing that if I fell asleep I wouldn't wake up.

"I thought I was going to die.

"But still I would eat nothing.

“One night I went downstairs, my stomach was hurting and my heart didn't feel right.

"I poured a centimetre of milk into a mug and then decided it was too much so I poured myself a millimetre instead before crawling back upstairs.”

Finally after her frightened friends contacted her parents, Lydia started to get help.

“It took five or six doctors for me to get diagnosed with anorexia, when to everyone else it was blatantly obvious," she says.

"One even prescribed me appetite-increasing pills."

But eventually she was diagnosed and five months before graduation Lydia left university, returning to her family home in Reigate, Surrey.



Shocking: Lydia now sees how ill she was


With threats of hospital made and desperate not to be forced to go, Lydia started binging before weigh-ins, only to make herself sick afterwards.

And before she knew it, she'd swapped anorexia for full blown bulimia.

“Some nights I'd tear up the kitchen, eating everything in sight before making myself sick.

"There were times when I looked in the mirror after a shower and was frightened by what I saw, but mostly I was too blinkered to realise.

"I started drinking too, which only fuelled my appetite and purging.

"I would drink secretly in my room, maybe two bottles of wine a day.

"My parents found 40 bottles under my bed that I was hiding.”

Some how though, over the past year Lydia has steadily found her way back from the brink.

“There hasn't been one big turning point,” she says.

“I've just slowly broken the cycle.

"My boyfriend Pablo has helped me to stop too.



"I don't weigh myself but I'm a size 10 or 12 and eat 1500 calories a day now.

“I know I've got long term problems because of my anorexia. I have knee and hip problems – I can feel my bones are weak.

“Even still when I eat out I feel guilty. I still have the anorexic voices, I've just had to learn to ignore them.

"I really want to look healthy, feel health and be healthy.”

Lydia hopes her extremely honest account of her journey will help other young people to recognise their own unhealthy eating problems as well as greater understanding about anorexia.

“Many friends and people I know have shown me great sympathy, following my journey with interest and concern, and not judged at all, and I feel so lucky for this, and am truly amazed by people's compassion," she says.

“Eating disorders are so common now, yet so few people understand them.

"People need to see what is behind the sad eyes of someone suffering with these illnesses, rather than see only ‘bones’.”

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