St Neots woman appears on TV show to highlight issues around anorexia
- Credit: Archant
A St Neots woman appeared on national television earlier this month, as she discussed her struggle with receiving help for an eating disorder.
Hannah Robinson, a supporter of the Dump the Scales campaign, told the Victoria Derbyshire Show that she started suffering from anorexia nervosa in 2010, when she was just 15-years-old.
Hannah’s friends became concerned after she had lost more than a stone in four weeks.
Hannah said: “My friends were the ones who made me get help by telling teachers at school, who then told my mum. My mum obviously made me go to the doctor. The illness makes you feel guilty, I felt guilty for troubling my family and so I blocked them off from it all. I refused to go with my mum and went with my friend at the time.
“The first GP looked at me and said something along the lines of “well she looks fine”. My friend then asked the doctor to ask me how many layers I was wearing, I had eight layers on.
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“I removed them all and they told me I’d need to come back with my mum. So I had another appointment with my mum with a different doctor who was very good and referred me as an urgent case to the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).”
There, Hannah was diagnosed and sent to a children’s ward where she was discharged the next day, on the grounds that she would have a dietician appointment every two weeks and counselling with CAMHS every week.
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Hannah said: “I was with CAMHS until I was 18. During that time I gained the weight back, felt mentally stronger and did feel ready for discharge - they offered me adult services but I said I wanted to start fresh at university. During my two years with them. I was on the waiting list for inpatient admission to a specialist eating disorder unit twice.”
Currently there are 15 beds for anorexia patients in Cambridgeshire, according to figures discussed on the Victoria Derbyshire show. According to figures in a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence report in 2017, waiting times for outpatient treatment in the UK showed that 30 per cent of people had to wait longer than 18 weeks for help, and 26 per cent had to wait six months or longer for a referral.
In Hannah’s second year of university, in 2013, she could feel herself slipping back into old habits, so went back to the doctor in a desperate plea for help.
This time, she was told that her Body Mass Index (BMI) wasn’t low enough, meaning that if she was to have treatment, she would need to have lost more weight.
Hannah appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show alongside Hope Virgo, who launched the petition ‘Dump the Scales’, which offers help to those struggling without having to focus on their weight. The petition currently has 69,826 signatures, and has been discussed in parliament
Hannah said: “I went to the GP for support and explained all of this: the mental symptoms, the social isolation, the fact I had been diagnosed previously and how much weight I had lost in how much time. They weighed me and did my height and because my BMI was okay I was told they couldn’t help me or refer me as there were no appropriate services. I left feeling deflated. I left in the mind frame of ‘fine I’ll starve myself until you will help me’”.
This time Hannah spiralled down hill again, and decide to leave university for a year, and went back to finish her course a year later.
Hannah is now a qualified neonatal nurse at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.
She said: “When I returned to university that was my first placement back and straight away I was made to feel valued and, to this day, I still am. My work colleagues have been hugely supportive of me.”
Hannah is one of thousands of people to sign the petition.
She said: “Talking about things like this and petitions shouldn’t have to be made. It’s absolutely disgusting and I really hope that Hope’s petition and my experience can make positive changes.”
You can support the #DumpTheScales campaign here: www.change.org/p/eating-disorders-are-not-just-about-weight-dumpthescales.