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eating disorder Young Dublin woman battling anorexia tells how doctors told her she was just 'days away from death'

Shocking increase in eating disorder lockdown cases

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Amanda was told she was on the brink of death.

Amanda was told she was on the brink of death.

Amanda was told she was on the brink of death.

A young woman suffering from anorexia has been warned by doctors that her heart may stop - and has slammed "non- existent" treatment services.

Amanda Lynch (32) was warned she was just days away from death when she was given a feeding tube just five weeks ago.

The Dubliner was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 24 and has been in its vice-like grip ever since.

Aiming to show the reality of eating disorders through her social media platform @a_blogbyme, Amanda says the untimely death of reality TV star Nikki Grahame this week is just another reminder of how anorexia does not discriminate.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World following her release from hospital where she received life-saving care, Amanda, from Kilmore on Dublin's northside, said: "I was convinced I wasn't that sick and that I didn't need to be on a feeding tube - but the doctors were telling me I was going to die.

"I narrowly escaped being made a ward of court. It's worse than being sectioned. I would have had no rights, I wouldn't even have control of my own bank account, everything goes through the High Court.

"I was in disbelief when Nikki died. I was just so upset but not because I was afraid I would die. The disorder makes you feel like you're invincible, it makes you feel like nothing bad will ever happen to you.

"It's like having Stockholm Syndrome, living with an abuser in your head that is hurting you, yet you're loyal to it and want to protect it, even though it's trying to kill you.

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Amanda Lynch, 32, was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa when she was 22 and has been in its vice-like grip ever since.

Amanda Lynch, 32, was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa when she was 22 and has been in its vice-like grip ever since.

Amanda Lynch, 32, was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa when she was 22 and has been in its vice-like grip ever since.

"I was so sad for Nikki because I know that she probably thought she wasn't sick enough because that's what we believe, we believe that we're not sick enough, even when we're dying.

"Because she's a celebrity I thought she would have the best care. But she still had to try and crowdfund for her treatment."

The former social care worker who regularly abused laxatives and diet pills at the height of her illness said: "You really have to fight to get funding for life-saving treatment. I was in Beaumont Hospital for five weeks but it's not an eating disorder unit.

"Doctors were just trying to get me medically stable. I was experiencing hypoglycemia, where my blood sugars were so low that I could have gone into a coma or had a seizure, or died.

"I didn't know I was having those because they were silent which made them all the more deadly.

"I'm home from hospital but I am at a very high risk for refeeding syndrome, which is a complication. When a person begins to eat again their electrolytes can go out of balance. It can cause cardiac arrest, so it needed to be monitored closely.

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"I'm still severely underweight but the eating disorder still overwhelms me. I'm consumed by it. I constantly think how much I can restrict or how much I can exercise."

Amanda first began experiencing anorexia behaviours ten years ago and was admitted into a 12-week specialised eating disorder programme in 2017 and again in 2018.

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Amanda has been fighting anorexia for 10 years.

Amanda has been fighting anorexia for 10 years.

Amanda has been fighting anorexia for 10 years.

But when the pandemic hit, Amanda once again found herself overcome by her eating disorder when her treatments were curtailed.

"I did have a specialised therapist in the HSE and she was redeployed during Covid. I was left with no support in the middle of a global pandemic. Disorders thrive on uncertainty and anxiety.

"I wasn't worried that I was going to catch Covid, I was worried that my mom would - and die. When everybody was panic buying food last March I would have had safe foods I would eat and I was like, 'What if I can't get them?'

"I began to deteriorate and my mam said to me, 'every day, I worry that I'm going to open your bedroom door, and you're dead in the bed'. I hate that I put that worry on my mam."

In Ireland, it's estimated 200,000 people suffer with an eating disorder.

During the pandemic alone there has been a 66 per cent increase in eating disorder-related hospital admissions.

Despite this, the HSE has rolled back on a proposed five-year plan that sought to allocate funds to the national eating disorder treatment plan.

In 2018, €1.5m was allocated to the plan; however, just €137,000 was spent. In 2019, €1.6m was allocated, but no money was spent.

The HSE has now confirmed that it did not allocate any new funding to the programme at all last year.

"I don't have health insurance so I had to fight with the HSE for funding to receive in-care treatment. I have to fight to survive," says Amanda.

"There's barely any treatment for eating disorders in Ireland. There are three public beds in the whole country for adults with eating disorders, and they're in St Vincent's Hospital.

"You can only access them if you're in the catchment area. If you want private care it costs €60,000 or else you have to beg for a referral by the HSE. How many more Nikkis have to die?"

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Tragic Nikki Grahame.

Tragic Nikki Grahame.

Tragic Nikki Grahame.

Speaking about misconceptions surrounding the deadly disease, Amanda said: "I think people think it's a skinny white girl illness.

"I know two people who died of an eating disorder, but one of them was underweight and the other was overweight. It doesn't discriminate.

"This is a mental illness and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

"Mine stemmed from anxiety. I experienced a lot of death in my extended family and then my dad passed away five years ago. He had kidney failure.

"I couldn't control all those people getting sick. I was afraid to answer the phone because I was afraid someone else was going to die. I think it just manifested that way.

"I have been acting on behaviours for 10 years. It started when I bought diet pills from China and I didn't even know what was in them.

"They made my heart beat out of my chest. There was one substance in them that was completely banned. I was weighing myself, like 10 times a day, or more. I'm obsessed with the weighing scales."

Hoping to secure better services and supports, Amanda has one simple wish - that she can survive so she can start a family and get married.

"I feel like my life is on pause. I'm watching all my friends have babies and get married and get their own homes. I always thought I'd have kids, a partner and house. Sometimes I think I don't have enough time to get better and to do all these things. So why should I make a change; what's the point? But I want to live, I want to get better.

"I've never actually been in recovery since I was diagnosed with anorexia. I just want a normal life."

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