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Last Updated: Monday February 05 2007 06:19 GMT

I recovered from an eating disorder

Bryony

More than 90% of young people with eating disorders like anorexia say they are afraid to talk about their illness.

Bryony stopped eating properly when she was 11. She's talked to us about how she has been recovering from anorexia.

"At the beginning I just started eating less chocolate and stuff and then I stopped having anything like chocolate.

Then it started to be a bit more serious as I began just having very small portions.

I would only eat a set amount of food everyday.

I never really counted calories. I didn't stop eating completely but just ate things like dry cereal.

Thinner and thinner

My mum started asking me questions as she noticed I'd lost lots of weight. Even though she was worried I kept telling her I was ok.

One day three of my friends sat me down and asked if anything was wrong. But I couldn't explain so just told them 'I'm fine' and ran off really upset.

When I got thinner my mum started watching what I ate more closely and when she got really worried she took me to the doctors.

Eventually I'd lost so much weight I had to stay in hospital for six weeks.

Bryony now
Bryony now

In hospital they kept trying to make me eat but I was so confused and just kept thinking: 'No, I'm not doing this'.

But I did want to get better, I just didn't know how to.

That is why I went to stay at Rhodes Farm, a special clinic in London that helps children with eating problems.

Confused

When I first got there I was really upset, angry and quiet. I was really confused about what was happening and thought 'why me?'.

There were lots of routines and it was very awkward as there were so many rules.

We had school lessons during the day and therapy sessions once a week.

There were lots of activities like art and yoga to keep us occupied and we had advice sessions about how to eat healthily.

Everyone had really strict eating plans and we all had to eat our meals together.

It was really hard but I just thought: 'They're eating so I have to'.

And it seemed easier to be around people who understood what it felt like too.

The nurses kept weighing us and when I got to my target weight I was allowed to have visitors and then go on a day trip and then go home for a weekend visit.

After four months I was well enough to go home properly.

I was happy to be back home but it was quite scary as well. And when I first went back to school I felt like the new girl as I hadn't been for so long!

But everyone knew I'd had an eating disorder so they didn't all ask me loads of questions, which I was glad about.

Change

I felt myself changing at Rhodes Farm and now I feel confident I won't go back there.

I'm now eight out of ten back to my old self, the old Bryony!

I think you can get over this illness. It's not just 'oh you're ill and it will take years and years and years to get better'.

Sometimes I do think 'what if it happened again' but I still have therapy sessions and I talk to my mum much more than before.

And if I feel upset or angry I write it down as then I can get it out of my head.

It annoys me when people think that everyone who has an eating disorder just wants to be a skinny model.

Maybe that is the case for older people but it's not why I was anorexic.

Nobody does it the same way. It's not as simple as you think you're large so you decide to lose weight.

People have eating disorders for lots of different reasons.

And I think it is really important to talk about it. Even if it's really hard you should talk about it and tell someone."

Bryony, 13, Exeter


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