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Jasmin

Age at interview: 19
Age at diagnosis: 17
Brief Outline: After a few years cycle of purging, binging and restricting food, Jasmin was diagnosed with purging type of anorexia nervosa at 17. Seeing a great dietician and working through her thinking and feeling patterns around food helped her onto recovery.
Background: Jasmin is a dance student. She is single and lives in shared accommodation with her course mates. White British.

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Jasmin first started losing weight around the age of 12. At first she says it was nothing serious but after a year or two she started dieting more methodically, took up the Weight Watchers diet and soon purging followed. Jasmin had been bullied for years in her dance school and become more self-conscious of her body. Also other random comments about her body affected her confidence and soon the restricting and purging got more serious, particularly at times when she was stressed or unhappy.
 
The following few years, Jasmin went through phases of binging and purging and then during college, she started restricting her food intake and fasting, and developed anorexia. She was really struggling with dancing as she had no energy and suffered from insomnia. Because Jasmin loved dancing and wanted a career from it, she finally sought help from her GP. She was referred to a dietician and diagnosed with purging type of anorexia nervosa when she was 17. Jasmin says her dietician was great and taught her to see “food as medicine” that her body needed. Learning about the effects of food and starvation on her body, and about the right way of eating helped greatly towards recovery. Jasmin also saw a psychologist who helped her realise she had been experiencing depression for years but it had been “covered up” by the eating disorder.
 
Recovery has been a long and gradual process, with a relapse Jasmin managed to overcome on her own. The hardest thing about recovery for Jasmin was challenging her patterns of thinking about food and eating and the feelings attached to it. She had to find the right balance of not eating too much, or too little, while maintaining energy and strength to dance.
 
Jasmin says that writing diaries has been a big help to her during recovery. She also found the discussion boards on the Beat (Beat Eating Disorders) website helpful. Because there are only a few websites about recovery, Jasmin has started her own recovery website. She is passionate about raising awareness of eating disorders and says that being open about her experiences has made her life much easier.
 
 

Jasmin’s diagnosis changed from bulimia nervosa to a purging type of anorexia nervosa.

Jasmin’s diagnosis changed from bulimia nervosa to a purging type of anorexia nervosa.

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At the time I thought I had Bulimia and I think that’s what the doctor, I’m sure mentioned, might have mentioned that but it was, and to be honest I never really got told what I was diagnosed with until about a year later. Because on my forms they put Bulimia, I think that’s cos when I went, from the time to, from my assessment because it was then Christmas it was a while before I then started having treatment and in that time I gained weight so it kind of took me out of the Anorexia part so when they diagnosed me they put down Bulimia but when I, we had Family Therapy for a bit, I think my Mum and Dad asked about what I’d been diagnosed with and he said it was the purging type of Anorexia, which I hadn’t known, but so it was yeah it was the dietician that diagnosed me properly.
 
 

Writing down what she ate and the associated negative thoughts and feelings, helped Jasmin become...

Writing down what she ate and the associated negative thoughts and feelings, helped Jasmin become...

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We started to look at sort of the binging side of things, like what causes a binge, like the psychological side of it and then the physiological side of it, and how to kind of become more or a lot more aware of why I was doing, why I was acting the way I was acting. Like he, I had to fill out what I was eating every day and then fill out what I was thinking and feeling at the times so that we could kind of see what the eating disorder thoughts were, because before I think those thoughts had, had been there and they were so strong they were just, they were, they had kind of taken over, whereas then we started to kind of separate that, there was my thoughts and then there was the eating disordered thoughts. And then the aim was to kind of challenge those thoughts and look at why they were wrong to think that way.
 
What do you mean by your thoughts and the eating disorder thoughts? That’s quite interesting the way that you just put it.
 
I think deep down I knew what was right and what was wrong I knew it was right to eat a certain way, but then there would be those eating disorder thoughts trying to tell me that that was wrong. I guess, like thoughts, like the fact of eating something bad I’m suddenly going to put on weight, I knew that wasn’t true but that’s what, that kind of, those eating, eating disorder thoughts were saying to me and I’d give in to them and think, ‘okay if that’s true then I need to purge because otherwise I’m going to suddenly put on weight’. 
 
Any thoughts about, you know, if I, there’s that whole thing of, sort of, if I was losing weight then I felt like I was achieving something so it made me feel better about myself and it made me feel like I was a better person and yet I knew that wasn’t true, but that was kind of the, what the eating disorder thoughts were saying. That if I was putting on weight then I was lazy and I was fat, and worthless and that sort of thing. So we would kind of do that and then look at the advantages and the disadvantages of thinking those things, and then have a challenge for that, what I should really be thinking, so one thought was that I should be weighing myself every day, disadvantages of that being that it would affect my mood for the day, it would affect what I ate throughout the day, it would be whether I decided to eat or not eat. 
 
Positives being if it did go down I felt better about myself and I might actually want to eat, but then we looked at, like an alternative which is the fact that weight fluctuates naturally every day so weighing myself every day isn’t a good way of measuring whether I was actually losing weight or not and that I was better off just doing it once a week if I was going to.
Strapline' Writing down everything she ate and the associated negative thoughts and feelings, helped Jasmin to become more aware of why she was behaving in certain ways and find alternative perspectives.
 

Jasmin wrote diaries for herself but also on her own recovery website. She found it helpful to...

Jasmin wrote diaries for herself but also on her own recovery website. She found it helpful to...

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I’d like to write, because that, that’s something that’s helped me a lot with recovery, or even, from the very beginning I’ve always written about things and just letting my feelings out or like, until I write them down it’s almost like there are these same thoughts that will go over and over in my head and once I write them down they’re out.
 
Do you write diaries only to yourself or do you let people see them?
 
Mainly to myself but I’ve started a website because I found recovery websites helped me a lot because I was actually hearing from other people that had been through the same experiences and they’re saying, “This has helped.” And, you know, I, they just have a, lot more ideas about things that might just kind of help you get, because if you’ve been through it yourself then you can say, you know, “I tried this and this helped me.” and I kinda wanted to be able to do that for other people too. So I’ve started one and I have put some of diary entries on there throughout recovery because I think that’s one thing you don’t, when you’re in recovery you don’t, have any idea, you don’t know what recovery’s going to be like.
 
Everyone, it’s completely different for everyone but it would be nice to know, I always kinda thought, you know, I, you can’t ever be told how long recovery’s going to take because it takes people years or just, you know, it’s so different. But just to have some idea of what it might involve and so I’ve just put on, diary entries from recovery just to kind of show the whole ups and downs because I don’t think that’s, sometimes you go in recovery thinking ‘things are just going to get better and better’ and going in knowing that you’re going to have so many ups and downs I think would be good to know, so I’ve kind of tried to share that with people so that they can see.
 
 

Jasmin is a Beat Ambassador and says that it makes things easier when people were surrounded by...

Jasmin is a Beat Ambassador and says that it makes things easier when people were surrounded by...

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I feel like there is a reason for everything and as horrible as the whole experience has been there’s a reason it, it’s made me a much stronger person I think, and a much happier person now. Because I’ve learnt so much about myself, and I just think from this I’d like to be able to do something positive with it. I’d like to be able to help other people or raise awareness, because I think raising awareness is, that would help a lot more people… just, I think, for people in recovery if they’re surrounded by people that understand, it would make it a lot easier. It would make people feel like they could be a lot more open about it. The way doctors deal with it I think if doctors were more aware of it, so yeah that’s just kind of why I chose to want to be an Ambassador for them because I just want to help do something good with the experience and help other people.

 

Jasmin started her own recovery website to help others. She covers information about eating...

Jasmin started her own recovery website to help others. She covers information about eating...

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I’ve started a website because I found recovery websites helped me a lot because I was actually hearing from other people that had been through the same experiences and they’re saying, “This has helped.” And, you know, I, they just have a, a lot more ideas about things that might just kind of help you get, because if you’ve been through it yourself then you can say, you know, “I tried this and this helped me.” and I kinda wanted to be able to do that for other people too. So I’ve started one and I have put some of diary entries on there throughout recovery because I think that’s one thing you don’t, when you’re in recovery you don’t, have any idea, you don’t know what recovery’s going to be like.
 
I think on a lot of, pro-anorexia sites there are links to loads of others, whereas the recovery ones cos there aren’t as many you can’t, it’s hard to find links to them… but, I kind of, with mine I’ve tried to do it with all the different things that I found helped me and not just make it about eating disorders I’ve tried to put a bit about depression and things on like that on it, advice for friends and family so that they can kind of understand a bit more… but I, yeah there were some that I found that just… just, like things you can do like writing lists of all the reasons to recover or affirmations, different, different things you can say to yourself. Or different kind of recovery project things you can do, just whenever, you know, I was feeling a bit down I could go on and read them and there would be positive quotes and things like that and, it just makes you think if they can recover then so can I and, gives you a better idea of what to expect.
 
 

Jasmin used to feel that eating would take away any feelings of upset.

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Jasmin used to feel that eating would take away any feelings of upset.

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I’d usually be alone, and that’s always been a, like a trigger for me, if I’m, if I was ever home alone  and I had, didn’t really have any plans or anything that would be when it was more likely to happen. It would just be, again not something that I was really aware of until going into recovery and thinking about it, if I was really upset or something, food took away those feelings. I know I’ve got a diagram that we drew together which I still have of sort of a picture of a person and then there’s all the bad things I’ve got a kind of like in the bottom of the stomach sort of thing of, because of whatever’s happened, whatever’s made me upset, and then eating kind of covers those up, if that makes sense yeah?
 
Yeah it does yeah.
 
And it would just be like while I was eating that would kind of take away all those feelings. But then obviously after I finished eating those feelings are still there plus the feelings towards food, so I’d just feel a hundred times worse, and purging would, would get rid of that.
 

Jasmin knows how difficult it can be to know what to say to someone with an eating disorder. She...

Jasmin knows how difficult it can be to know what to say to someone with an eating disorder. She...

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In terms of how my friends have been with it, I think I’ve been really lucky , I mean there are friends that, there are best friends and the friends I’m really close to that I knew were there for me but that didn’t really know what to say, whether that’s because they didn’t understand it or just didn’t know how to deal with it, which I completely understand because I don’t, you know, if you’ve never been through it and, it’s not something you’ve had to deal with before and you don’t know what it’s about. I don’t know if I’d really know how to deal with it, or what to say. But I still knew they were there for me, and then I’ve had friends that kind of somehow knew exactly what to say every time and my, if I needed to ring them, if ever I was having a panic attack I could ring them. And they’d calm me down, one friend in particular, who was just the one who came to the doctors with me, she just would always know what to say and would just calm me down a lot. 
 
 

Jasmin describes how eating with others helped her feel more relaxed about portion sizes and...

Jasmin describes how eating with others helped her feel more relaxed about portion sizes and...

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If anything it can be easier eating with people cos I feel more in control, even though I’m not more in control now anyway it’s, a lot better, you know. It’s, it’s more if I’m on my own that it’s harder but, like as in completely alone but, you know, if I’m with people then, I don’t, I feel, I kind of feel safe with what I’m eating I can think, you know, ‘this is okay, I’m out” and cos that was always a bit of an issue, you know, portion sizes and, mixing foods and things I always struggled with. But having, if I’m with people and, I can see what other people are eating I think that then I think, can think ‘okay this is the, I’m doing the right thing’.

 

Jasmin’s doctor didn’t understand that even if she didn’t look underweight she was still unwell....

Jasmin’s doctor didn’t understand that even if she didn’t look underweight she was still unwell....

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I think one misconception that, I have struggled with, because I know that a lot people would think it is that everyone with eating disorders are really underweight. Because at times where I was struggling, when I was like recovering and I had regained weight but I was struggling, but I’d be too worried to talk to people about it because I felt like they’d think I was overreacting or something because I wasn’t underweight. I know one of my teachers, one of my dance teachers who had noticed me; she was the first person to say something about me losing loads of weight. And then I’d, once I’d regained it I then was struggling again but as I, they’d already regained this weight and then she spoke to me, she was like, “I don’t understand because, you know, you seem so much better lately, and you look really healthy so I thought you, you know, I thought you were better.” She just assumed that I was suddenly better and obviously you go into recovery you regain weight but you’re not better for a while there’s a lot to deal with.
 
I even had a problem with a doctor when, the relapse happened I had to go back to her a couple of times because, you know, I was still waiting and, it was really bothering me but she was like, “Well you haven’t lost any weight and you look fine.” And it was almost as if, you know, she was like ‘you need to deal with it’, and was quite insensitive about the situation just because I looked fine, and it’s like, ‘well I might look fine but it doesn’t mean that I am’, I might not be losing weight. So just the fact that yeah that’s a main one cos it almost made me feel like I need to lose weight and then go back to the doctor for her to take me seriously.
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