Hope Virgo is campaigning for Eating Disorder services to be available to anyone who needs help and not dependent on weight.
The Portsmouth News asked of my experiences of being treated for anorexia:
“POLLY HALE was originally turned away for treatment because she was not technically underweight.
The 35-year-old said: ‘I was 18 when mum took me to get help but I was not technically underweight so I continued to lose weight rapidly until finally I was admitted to hospital.
‘I only became stable at about 23 after several hospital stays.’
The Bosham resident now works as a personal trainer and uses ‘exercise to enjoy life rather than to stay skinny.’
Polly said the lack of help caused her to lose more weight. ‘When I first saw someone about it I wasn’t considered underweight so I was referred to a counsellor for weekly sessions,’ she said.
‘I kept losing weight a kilo a week – and a few months later I was diagnosed and given more intensive treatment.
‘I first remember thinking I was fat when I was about eight or nine. I first made myself sick at 12.
‘I am stable now. It’s quite rare that people become completely recovered. I stay well by managing it. It’s more like asthma or diabetes in that when it’s managed I am happy and healthy.’
Polly backed Hope’s movement. She added: ‘Eating disorders are such complex illnesses, so anything that can be done is good.
‘I fully think that what Hope is doing is brilliant.
‘When you’re anorexic the ill part of your brain wants to be thin. Never comment on someone’s weight. If you tell me I look like I’ve lost weight then I will think that’s a great thing even if it’s unhealthy. And if someone says I’ve put on weight – which could be a good thing – I will want to lose it again.’ “