Eating disorders: 'It was horrendous and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone' - Shrewsbury mum
At the height of her daughter’s struggle with anorexia, Shrewsbury mum Lydia had to take extreme steps to protect her.
She had to lock away food so Kate, 18, couldn’t water it down before it got to her plate. She set up monitors to stop her from exercising endlessly.
“It was the worst time of our lives,” said Lydia, tearful at the memory of sporty Kate’s toughest battle. Two years ago Kate, then 16, was diagnosed with anorexia by the CAHMS after being referred by a GP.
The tell-tale signs were there early on – Kate was busy with her sporting commitments, and would eat quickly after school – but her parents had little knowledge of eating disorders.
She was anxious. Her parents only saw her eating snacks, not full meals. She had a perfectionist streak. They were, in retrospect, all indicators of anorexia.
Eating disorders - special investigation:
All this week the Shropshire Star is looking at the devastating impact of eating disorders on people's lives:
- Eating disorders: Telford mother's fight for an inquest into her 16-year-old daughter's death
- Libby Rose: Telford mother's heartbreaking tale of daughter's battle
“If I’d have seen a check list we would have ticked them all off in hindsight,” said Lydia.
After Kate’s diagnosis in September 2016 she kept losing weight.
“Looking back I wish we’d have been more aggressive straight away, but I didn’t realise what we were dealing with,” said Lydia. “In the January we had a wake-up call. We pulled her from school and I went off work.”
For five months, Kate underwent refeeding.
“It was horrendous and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” said Lydia. “The only thing that is going to make them better is food, but they’re terrified of it.
"To see your daughter in such distress over something that we all have to do every day is horrible. Kate would get so distressed she would head butt walls, kick cupboards – we’ve had to get a new kitchen since.
Kate needed constant 24-hour monitoring at home as she would constantly exercise.
“We ended up have a baby monitor video camera on her 24 hours a day so that she couldn’t exercise in another room,” said Lydia. “In the end the only place she wasn’t on camera was in the bathroom. It’s not nice for a 17-year-old girl, but we had to do it.”
Eventually Kate began putting on weight.
“We did start to see a reduction in the anorexic behaviour,” said Lydia. “Life starts to get a little easier after that.”
* Lydia is part of a group who support each other through living with someone through eating disorders. If you would like to join them then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass on your details.
The names of the people in this story have been changed.
Help is available:
- The sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the better their chances of recovery.
- Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s health can contact eating disorder charity Beat’s Helpline, 365 days a year, via phone on, email, anonymous one-to-one webchat or social media messaging here.
- Or call Adult Helpline - 0808 801 0677; Studentline - 0808 801 0811; Youthline - 0808 801 0711.