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Liselle Terret, 38, suffered from bulimia between the ages of 14 and 23.

“I was struggling a bit at school and I wasn’t very happy at home. It was classic middle child syndrome, perhaps. As a young woman, I remember feeling very confused about my body.

"I then moved into the toilet, metaphorically, at home and started to purge my food. The secretiveness of it was attractive to me. It was something that was mine. Unfortunately, I became addicted to the habit of vomiting.

"It was something I didn’t have to explain verbally and I think it was a control. I had started to use food for a little bit of comfort. It was a solitary time on my own in the toilet.

"Bulimia known as the secret disorder. So in one way it’s a coping mechanism. It happens when you can’t cope and something needs to change. That’s why it’s a very dangerous illness to have because you carry on. I carried on in school, I did my exams - I didn’t do very well, but I did them - I got into university, I went abroad for a year.

"All the time I was secretly vomiting. My teeth were decaying and my periods had stopped. I certainly didn’t have any sexual relations, that totally stopped. I unfortunately learned to hate myself.

"It was at university that I realised I had to see somebody, I knew it had to stop because I was living a dual life. Apart from seeing a therapist, which I still do, I also went on my own journey of healing and using the creative arts. I’m a lecturer and practitioner of community theatre.

"There’s absolutely nothing glamorous, exciting or positive about developing an eating disorder. All it does is decay your body, and it shortens your life. I still spend a ridiculous amount of money on my teeth, which are in a bad way, and it affects fertility. More importantly, it affects how one feels about oneself in the short life that we have here. It affects your relationships with family, friends and partners. For many years I didn’t have a relationship because I was too afraid, because I was living in this terribly self-destructive bubble.

"The difficulty in getting help is that you can’t force someone to talk, especially with an illness like this. You live in denial and for me there was a huge shame about it. It’s grotesque. People don’t want to know about it because you’re dysfunctioning. You just want to be normal and you want to fit in.

"It’s an addiction. It is not a way of surviving, it is the opposite. So until you realise that there is something wrong in your behaviour, only then will you want to get help."

view information about Bulimia on www.nhs.co.uk »

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