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Last Updated: Tuesday February 07 2006 18:19 GMT

I struggled with an eating disorder

Gracie

The number of children suffering from eating disorders is growing, and doctors have said they are treating kids from as young as 10.

Gracie stopped eating when she was 12. She explained to us why the problem started but how she's started to get better.

"Around my 11th birthday, I started just trying to cut out sweets and just tried to eat healthily for when I got older and stuff.

Then it just started turning a bit more serious. I'd chuck out my lunch at school and have no cake and everything like that. And then after a while, I'd stop eating.

Harmless

I just thought at first that it was a harmless diet. I was just trying to fit in with others, so I wasn't stuffing my face with crisps every day.

And then it just turned into: 'I want to be like celebrities' and 'I want to fit in with my friends'.

My mum had explained to me to not become anorexic and just to eat healthily and not to cut out anything. But I forgot about that after a while and just became focused on losing weight.

Misunderstood

I never thought of myself as anorexic. Everybody else was telling me at all the hospitals and things, but I never really believed them.

I was about 33 kilos when I first came into the eating disorder clinic. I thought I looked OK, but I didn't like it.

My best friend was always getting a bit nervous, and she was trying to tell my teachers that I was throwing away my lunches.

And my family were just always scared. My mum was always telling me to start eating. I just didn't think that I had a problem at all.

I wasn't eating anything at all for about a week because I didn't want to.

I'd sit up in the greenhouse in the garden just doing nothing because my parents kept me home from school and said I wasn't going there if I wasn't eating.

I always used to think that no-one understood me at all. I just thought people were trying to guess what I was feeling.

Exercise

I used to spend quite a long time every night with my weights, just powering away for a few hours.

I used to try to do it whenever I could. I used dumbbells for about two hours every night and I would do sit-ups - just to try to lose weight.

I was always cold. My fingers were always blue and all numb. And I would have to sit by the fire because I couldn't keep myself warm.

I used to get headaches quite a lot because I wouldn't drink or anything. And it'd be painful to try to move too much. I could move and walk around but it'd hurt if I was trying to do any strenuous stuff.

Confidence

I am glad I came to the eating disorder clinic because it's kind of helped me get on with my life a bit more.

It still kind of gets in the way because it interferes with school life and things, but it's helped me gain more confidence with it all.

I now weight 48 kilos. That's my ideal. I think I look alright and I feel OK.

The advice I'd give is just try to get some help. You don't want to leave it to a point where it's just gonna get out of hand because it's not worth it. You have to try to get on with your life."

Gracie, 13, Eastbourne


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