Mum tells of anorexia agony

ANOREXIA sufferer Alison Miller hated herself so much she starved to the brink of death.

Rebecca Lefort

ANOREXIA sufferer Alison Miller hated herself so much she starved to the brink of death.

At her lowest point the mum-of-two weighed just four-and-a-half stone and looked like a barely-living skeleton.

The horrific disease convinced her she was unworthy of food and eventually she was admitted to hospital where she received urgent and inspirational treatment from dedicated specialists.

Today, at the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the 42-year-old has told how she beat the illness in the hope her story will inspire others to get help.

Mrs Miller, who lives in Great Blakenham, said: “People have died - literally dropped dead - weighing more than I did.

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“First it eats fat, then muscles, then internal organs, so it can do a lot of damage.

“I was lucky my heart didn't just give up on me.

“It was like I had a mission to kill myself.”

Mrs Miller, who now weighs seven-and-a-half stone and has no lasting health problems, said she was not sure exactly when or why the problems started but thought the anorexia hit her about ten years ago.

“I touched on it in teenage years but it started seriously in my early thirties,” she added.

“I lost my parents when I was young so there was instability in my childhood.

“I was teased quite badly about my looks at school and although I pretended it didn't matter, it did.

“When I first started losing weight people initially gave compliments so I thought that I didn't want to put it back on.”

About five years ago she finally got the help she needed and was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, for a five week stay before returning home and being looked after by SEEDS (Suffolk East Eating Disorders Service).

She said: “Although it was dreadful to go to hospital I knew it was the only way I could get back to my family.

“I saw a glimmer of normal life by seeing other girls who had beaten it.

“I can't thank the SEEDS team enough - they are just fabulous.

“They taught me I'm as good as everyone else, which comes naturally for some people but not for me.”

For help and advice about eating disorders visit www.b-eat.co.uk, call 0845 6341414 or the youth-line on 0845 6347650.

Have you beaten an eating disorder? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Mrs Miller's battle

AT her worst 5ft 2in Mrs Miller hardly ate anything all day, even though she knew she looked worryingly thin and was unhealthy.

Her BMI was just 13; anything below 19.1 in women and 20.7 in men is regarded as underweight.

“I always started the day saying I would combat it, say I would eat a proper breakfast,” she said.

“But I would sit and look at it and cry because I couldn't put it in my mouth.”

Instead she would eat a miniscule amount of porridge made with water, throw the toast she tried to eat in the bin at lunchtime and end up having diet yogurts and possibly an apple, until her teeth got so bad she couldn't bite into the crispy fruit.

For dinner she would eat a meal of less than 300 calories, or sometimes just a pot of vegetables.

Health expert's view

GILL Burgoyne, team leader of SEEDS said she was thrilled by Mrs Miller's courage and determination.

The specialist programme run by Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust supports up to 50 people with eating disorders in Suffolk at any one time, providing them with doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, physiotherapists and other medical experts to help them overcome the diseases.

Ms Burgoyne said she hoped the innovative scheme would be expanded in the future to carry out more proactive work to prevent eating disorders destroying lives earlier on.

She said: “Eating disorders are very complex; they involve factors such as low self esteem, depression and traumatic events.

“So there is not one simple way of dealing with it. We have dedicated staff to deal with all the aspects of eating disorders.”

To mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust will be in West Suffolk College's Australia building to offer advice.

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