Lurgan mother of two Rosa Davidson is on the road to recovery after her life was turned upside down by an eating disorder.
The 38-year-old bravely shared her story with the ‘MAIL’ in a bid to highlight the often silent suffering of those faced with eating disorders.
She said: “I was quite ill for a long time.
“I was too scared and nervous about going to the doctor so it just got worse and worse.
“I had a problem with food. Days would go by and I wouldn’t eat then when I did eat I’d try to get it out of my system as quickly as possible.
“I was making myself sick and taking a lot of laxatives.
“I’d been doing it for about a year and a half.
“I was scared to ask for help. I thought I could do everything myself.
“My moods were different. I got really, really stressed very easily. I was turning into a shadow of myself.
“I felt like I was the only person behaving like this. I felt alone.
“It wasn’t bulemia and it wasn’t anorexia, it was somewhere it between. What’s known as EDNOS, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.”
She continued: “Then I found Adapt online.
“The first question I asked was whether they ‘took’ older people. Everything seems so tailored to teenagers - it was, and still is, so hard to find anyone who catered for people of a certain age.
“When I told them I had an eating disorder it was the first time I’d said the words out loud.
“It was very much a secret. Something I hid from everyone so even talking about it made me feel a lot better.
“I realised that I wasn’t the only one. I felt ashamed like I should know better at my age, but Vanessa (Baird from Adapt) was able to tell me that I wasn’t alone.
“I was worried that it would go on my medical records that I had a history of mental illness. Vanessa was able to assure me that it wouldn’t.
“She helped me make that first appointment with the GP.
“There were times I phoned and then hung up before I’d said anything because I just wasn’t ready to talk about it. Everything revolved around food.
“It wasn’t fair on the kids if we were out in McDonald’s or somewhere like that. I was trying to hurry things up so I could get home and get rid of the food I’d eaten.”
Adapt put Rosa in touch with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Eating Disorder Team.
She added: “I’ve just been signed off after 22 months.
“It was always a coping mechanism. There was a lot of things going on in my life that I couldn’t control. I thought I was in control of the food, but it was controlling me.
“I go up to Wee Paddy’s twice a week for my breakfast. I don’t have to worry about what I eat. I go out for runs. I have a healthy lifestyle without worrying too much about what I eat.
“My confidence has gone up. I’m now back at university doing a Masters In Law.
“I was an accountant, but I hadn’t been working lately because I’d taken time out for my children.”
Rosa, who lives in the Belvedere area, has two daughters, aged four and six.
The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of eating disorders, said Vanessa Baird of Adapt.
She added: “We’re aiming to break some of the stereotypes, it’s not just teenage girls who have eating disorders. It’s males and females of all ages.
“Most people with eating disorders are in a normal weight range, it’s not as obvious as seeing someone who is superskinny and diagnosing them with an eating disorder.”
Vanessa added: “We’re here to help people through that stage between first talking about it and getting therapy. And we’re here for whatever stage you need us at.”
Adapt cover the Dungannon, Armagh, Newry and Mourne area To get in touch call 3834 7535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Facebook page.
They offer a totally confiedntial service and provide support to parents, carers and friends.