"There was nothing about myself I liked"

Over the Christmas period, we're taking a look at mental illness and how the festive season can be a particularly difficult time.

It was just after completing high school that Jade was taken to her GP - by her mum.

Her mum had become worried about her significant weight loss

"Food had completely consumed me mentally", says Jade.  "Everything revolved around food and calories and exercise and you couldn't think straight at all"

"I was walking around college feeling physically unwell, and it sort of felt normal to not feel well".

Shortly afterwards, Jade was told she was too ill to attend college any longer and was admitted to hospital for a year.  Looking back, she still can't identify a particular moment that her obsession with food turned into anorexia.

"It takes time for things to develop. It built up over time. When i look back now, its a number of things that add up together.  I had oily skin, and people would mention it.  That got to me.  Plus the "thinner the better" thing in society.  The thinner you look, the better you are"

As her eating disorder took a hold on her life, the effects were felt by her immediate family and beyond.

"My mum and dad tried everything to get me to eat. The cruel to be kind approach,  being tough, the loving approach.  I remember my dad saying "why?" and i just said "I hate myself.  There was nothing I could say that I liked about myself."

"My grandma hugged me once and pulled away from me a little bit, because she could feel my bones.  She had that look in her eye of complete worry.

It was a difficult time in treatment for Jade. "On my first night, within an hour I was confronted with a tuna sandwich, a yoghurt and a drink.  Going from a plate of lettuce leaves a day to that was just overwhelming.  It took me a week to complete my first meal".

But overcoming her aversion to food wasn't the end of Jade's problems.  Weight gain caused depression.
"It was a whole year of feeling bad, then better, then bad again.  I finally started to feel better. Eventually when things go downhill, they don't go down as much".

"One of the main things in recovery is learning to accept yourself.  You are going to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so you may as well be happy with yourself

Life is completely different now to even six months ago for Jade, who says she is 95% of the way in beating her eating disorder, with the help of mental health support services.

"Without all the help, I wouldn't be hear without these services.  To look back now, I'm a completely different person.  It's amazing to move on and start living a life again".

When it comes to recovery, Jade admits it can be a very long road.  "It seems impossible to recover at the beginning. But it's knowing that you can get there. It seems so impossible, and so far away.  It's down to you at the end of the day. It is possible. you can do it, you have to believe in yourself".

For more help with eating disorders BEAT has a wealth of resources