Chelsie, 17, from Cardiff is a young carer who has suffered from depression and anxiety throughout her life. While at primary school, she started to develop negative feelings about her looks and slowly started to slip into an eating disorder. Here she tells us in her own words how her life has changed.
I first realised I had an eating disorder in Year Six. I felt that I was not as pretty as everyone else in the school and I stopped eating in an attempt to lose weight and gain control.
Not eating had really bad effects on my health. I often became light headed, couldn’t concentrate and barely had any energy. I had constant black bags under my eyes.
The trigger of my eating disorder is not easy to explain. I was bullied at primary school but not to a bad extent. I knew deep down I was becoming depressed. I wanted to have some sort of control and I used my eating habits as a way to control my negative feelings about my body.
It became very obvious to people around me that had a problem. I was referred to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which absolutely terrified me. I was scared that I’d lose control which was a scary thought for me.
I had dedicated my life to losing weight which made me feel in control. I didn’t realise that my eating disorder took over every aspect of my life. I wouldn’t go out with my friends and I isolated myself out of fear that people would make me eat.
Although my health went downhill and I could no longer participate in PE lessons because I was extremely weak, I didn’t think I needed help. Instead I was constantly thinking about how I could get away with not eating the next meal.
It wasn’t until I was hospitalised for the first time that I realised I needed help.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, which lasted seven years. It was quite strange because it had started so young and I didn’t quite understand what a huge problem it was.
I still struggle with my eating disorder to this day but not in the same way I used to. I continue to have support and help and YMCA Cardiff is a great help as some is always there to listen to me. It has helped me be more at peace with myself.
I know that many other young people struggle with eating disorders and to anyone who’s going through it, reach out for help, you can defeat this battle. Remember that you are beautiful no matter what. Your body doesn’t define who you are.