Age at interview: 18
Age at diagnosis: 15
Brief Outline: Georgia has experienced overeating and bulimia since High School. She has been seen both at child and adult mental health services but feels she would've most benefitted from a service targeted at adolescents. Georgia attends a B-eat support group and blogs daily.
Background: Georgia is 18 and studies at University. She is single and lives in halls of residence. White British.
More about me...
Georgia says she always used to be “funny about food” but more serious problems with eating began when she started High School. Georgia had never liked school and was now in a new environment where she didn’t know many people. Georgia says she first started eating large amounts of food and about a year in, she started making herself sick. She says at the time she never realised how serious eating disorders could be and what it could get her into. Gradually, overeating and purging became a regular habit. It was important for Georgia to follow the same routine every day and, at worst, she made herself sick several times a day.
Georgia’s friend got worried and contacted their school nurse who arranged a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). Georgia saw a psychologist for a year but she didn’t find the treatment helpful at all, didn’t want to engage in the counselling and says “I kept pretending I was getting better when I wasn’t”. Georgia says their methods felt alien and strange to her; and she found them targeted at young children, not adolescents.
At the time of discharge, Georgia started college which she enjoyed more than High School. As the start of University was getting closer, she started feeling nervous about the change, as she felt it would disrupt the safe routine she had developed. Just before she turned 18, Georgia was seen at Adult Mental Health Services. This time Georgia felt the counselling was better but that it was aimed at older adults and she didn’t understand most of the language they used. She was too scared to raise her worries with the counsellor because she had no idea what would happen if she did. Georgia was discharged and decided not to carry on with counselling in the new town where she moved to start University.
Georgia says despite dreading the move, she got used to it very quickly and has had no problems with shared housing, for example. In her new place, Georgia got in touch with a local B-eat support group and says it has been the biggest form of help to her. They meet every two weeks and Georgia says she feels much happier and safer talking to other young people about what she is going through and feels much more in control of the process. She also blogs daily which helps her both to not eat too much and she also gets a lot of support from people reading and commenting on her blog. Georgia says that Government should offer more balanced information about weight; alongside very public campaigns about obesity, they should also tell about the dangers of dieting and being underweight.
Georgia felt that the counselling service at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service was aimed...
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And what was that [in Adult Mental Health Services] counselling like? Compared to your previous experiences?
It was better but I didn’t, still didn’t really, I think it was kind of aimed at adults rather than 18 year olds. And it felt like if I was like 30 or 40 I would have got something out of it, but half the time I didn’t understand what they were talking about. So it was kind of, kind of felt like CAMHS was aimed too young and Adult Services was too old and I’d never really got to either of them at the right age.
I was just gonna ask that. Was it sort of something for young people that you wanted or would have needed, not for children and not for sort of you know older adults...?
Yeah. It’s kind of like there’s a gap between like I don’t know 14 and 25-ish, but there’s not really anything there for, you’re just kind of stuck into things that don’t really work.
Georgia loved blogging. She liked the anonymity and the helpful tips that people gave her.
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I think like writing stuff down. I know everyone says it and like writing stuff down on paper I never really found helped me, usually ‘cos I get bored after the first sentence and just give up. But like stuff on the internet like just you know writing on there, like you can be completely anonymous, and that helped quite a bit ‘cos it was like other people there that can support you. And you don’t have to; you can give a fake name it doesn’t matter.
What do you think about it is particularly helpful for you as a sort of coping mechanism or whatever?
Just getting stuff out there, and like other people like, if you’ve got a problem like other people kind of suggest things that you could do to help you. So I find it better than just writing in the diary that’ll just sit in a drawer and I won’t really do anything with.
And like at first it was kind of completely anonymous, like no-one like didn’t even know what country I was from, so it depends like on how much you want to kind of reveal. So it’s all kind of up to you and like all in your control.
And are you completely anonymous?
Not anymore. But I was like I don’t think anyone could track me down from it, like all they know is my name but like it’s up to you how much information, like some people like post where they’re from and stuff and like you’re in control kind of what you want to write down.
Georgia found the Beat support group positive, focussed and helpful. She found it much easier to...
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There’s a Beat support group that I go to which I think has been more helpful than like anything, anyone that I’ve seen. So that’s been the most helpful thing.
And they meet here in this town?
What happens there?
It’s kind of a group of people that get together and then talk about their experiences, and how they’re coping with things.
And had you before that met other people who’d had similar experiences?
Yeah. I kind of knew quite a few people I don’t know how but it just kind of like through friends and stuff I’d know other people but I think they weren’t really in, none of us were really in the best position to help each other ‘cos we were all struggling. Whereas the support group’s more positive and focuses on what can be done.
So is it led by peer..?
Yeah, there’s like two facilitators I think, and they kind of like lead it, but and then everyone else kind of talks, like together.
So what are the sorts of things that you feel like you’ve gotten from that?
Just like knowing that there is support there; and I like kind of felt that it’s understood more there. Like I don’t really expect someone to understand it fully if they haven’t got it, ‘cos half the time I don’t understand it, but there I kind of feel like they understand it more than the counsellors that I’ve seen.
And do you find it easy to talk there in front of the other people about what you’re experiencing?
Yeah. Like I found it very difficult I think if you asked the people that I saw they’d just, yeah I found it very difficult to talk to counsellors but it’s a lot easier to talk with people that kind of understand it. Like the same age, in and around the same age as you.
Georgia reminds people how important it is to remember that being underweight is just as...
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I don’t really think people understand it. I think in the media it’s kind of show as people wanting to be thin, and look like models. But I’ve never really found it’s much about that. It’s kind of like the amount the media kind of talks about it because of size zero models and stuff, I think it kind of puts more of a pressure on people to look like that. Whereas that often wasn’t really the problem in the first place, might have just, it probably hasn’t helped but I don’t really think it caused it.
And think personally I’d say like the obesity things by the NHS have affected me more than models ‘cos they’d just kind of be talking about how bad it is and I’d just be like, “I’m going to be obese if I don’t do something”. So like stuff that comes out from the NHS and like you’re taught to kind of believe that, but there’s not really that much that comes out about why it’s bad to be underweight. It just kind of all talks about why it’s bad to be overweight.