A-Z

Chloe

Age at interview: 19
Brief Outline: Chloe's problems with eating date back to when she was 13. It took a while for her to be referred but when she was, she found working with the occupational therapist and the psychologist the most helpful things towards recovery.
Background: Chloe is a student. She is in a relationship and lives in a shared flat. White Scottish.

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At the age of 13, Chloe planned to take up regular running. She felt she wasn’t very good at sports so she decided to change her eating habits instead. She soon lost a lot of weight and her mother, whose sister had had an eating disorder became worried. Chloe saw a GP but their concerns were brushed off. However, things didn’t improve and Chloe went in to see a different GP who took the weight loss seriously and referred her to a specialist adolescent mental health unit.
 
At this point, Chloe had gotten too ill to attend school. She had already been struggling in school; she didn’t feel like she fitted in and was picked on for going to church or for the clothes she wore. At first, Chloe saw a dietician as an outpatient but as she was unable to control her diet and eating at home, she was admitted into hospital. Chloe describes staying in hospital as “scary”, “disturbing” but also “a relief”. She found talking really helpful; getting her worries off her chest, though it took her a long time to feel able to confide in the nurses. Also the practical support from the occupational therapist was one of the most helpful things for Chloe. Putting on some weight; “the sugar in the brain”, also helped her make more sense of her feelings and persist in getting better.
 
After six months, Chloe was discharged and she carried on seeing a psychologist as an outpatient. They mainly focused on her depression and anxiety and Chloe found working with her very constructive. Chloe says she is in a good place now. If she ever starts feeling anxious, she now knows what to do to stay on top of it. Chloe has a long term boyfriend, a good social life and is enjoying her studies. Getting better has been tough and in some ways “terrifying” but without a doubt “worth it”.
 
 
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Chloe's aunt had anorexia nervosa which made her always conscious of not wanting to develop an...

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I never meant to have an eating disorder [laughs] never because my mum, I’ve always known about my auntie when she was younger. So I’d always been like, “Well, whatever happens I’m going to try and keep control of that. I do not want to go down that way.” ‘Cos I’ve heard about it all and it’s horrible and so if there was something that I couldn’t control, once you start doing a lot of things that became easier and easier to fall into habits and I don’t really know what I could say caused it. I think there’d be lots of different factors in it like maybe there is some sort of genetic thing. I don’t know. I’ve not really looked into it.

 
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Chloe found practical work with her occupational therapist helpful. They worked on her...

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But I had some like the occupational therapists when I was in hospital. I had some sessions with her and we did things about like confidence and being, I think I did something about being assertive but I don’t know why [laughs]. And we did things like we’d think of things that I was scared about and practice like one of the things that I was that really made me panic was choosing. I wouldn’t be able to go to the shops to choose like what to eat. So we’d go out together and I’d have to choose like something. We would go to Starbucks and get like a muffin and a drink and I had to choose it myself and sit and eat it like and not think everyone’s watching me sort of thing. 
 
So sometimes if I was with my family, if I had we had like my gran and grandpa and or like aunties and uncles and stuff round or family friends, I just like they were watching me when I ate because of because they knew there was something wrong so they were kind of like watching me. So I had to practice like feeling a bit braver about eating in public and making decisions and eating like a bit of cake or something instead of like your usual apple afternoon snack or something. And just trying to practice getting more of that or getting used to being normal and so that was really good. It was like proper constructive work.
 
 
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Chloe got too ill to attend school. She wasn't too bothered about it because she 'hated' school.

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So it was it was all starting to get a bit scary. And then I had outpatient appointments for maybe like a couple of weeks but by that time I was so ill I couldn’t go into school.
 
And like I couldn’t do much. Like I used to go swimming lessons and things like that but it was just it was getting to the stage where I didn’t have enough like body fat and stuff like that to keep me warm in the water and things like that. So and then the GP was like, “Well, maybe you should stop exercising just now.” So it was a bit disappointing because like I never really found that exercise was something that I did try and lose weight but it was it was just like the things that I enjoy I wasn’t allowed to do.
 
But I wasn’t so fussed about not being in school because I hated it. I just felt like I was just really nervous in school and I didn’t like I don’t I didn’t have a big group of friends of anything. I just sort of tagged along with people and I was just nervous to speak and… Just, I don’t know. I didn’t like school so I wasn’t that bothered. I wasn’t very happy there anyway. 
 
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