A recovered eating disorders sufferer is helping other patients through a support group at a Leeds centre of excellence.
Alexia Harrison is working with the Carers Support Group at the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders, based at Seacroft Hospital.
The 34-year-old knows how difficult overcoming the conditions can be.
She said: “My husband and I feel that anything we can do to help the carers of people with eating disorders, be they the parents, spouse or friends, would be really worthwhile.”
Alexia began dieting aged 13, though she is unclear about why her anorexia started.
By avoiding meals, she lost weight and eventually began to starve herself. She even stopped wearing cosmetics, afraid they would make her weigh more.
The day after she finished her final GCSE exam, she was admitted to hospital where she ate in order to go home, but back at home stopped eating once again and also developed bulimia.
It was meeting her future husband, Dave, in her final year at university which made Alexia realise she would have to tackle her problems.
Now married with two young sons, the mum from Wetherby is working with the support group to help other families.
She said: “Today, I feel that I am about as recovered‟ as I am ever going to be. I am happy with my lot, so to speak. I consider myself to live a fairly ordinary life now – to some that may seem a very uninspiring place to be, but after many years of fighting my eating disorder, I love where I am.
“My life changed completely through various therapies, inpatient stays and medical interventions – but so did Dave’s. He shared all my battles in one way or another and feels now that had he been aware of the Carers Support Group he would have benefited from it a great deal.”
The group meets on the first Wednesday of the month from 7pm at the Newsam Centre.
Adrian Walker, co-facilitator of the group, said “Many people are under the misconception that only young girls suffer from eating disorders whereas in reality, up to a quarter of sufferers are in fact male.”