tough battle | 

Roz Purcell offers advice for eating disorder suffers as she opens up about recovery

The 30-year-old author and influencer said she had been able to move on herself after years of battling a weight obsession.
roz purcell

roz purcell

Jim Gallagher

Roz Purcell took to the airwaves to tell people suffering from eating disorders that there was hope - and they could get their lives back on track.

The 30-year-old author and influencer said she had been able to move on herself after years of battling a weight obsession.

“I have complete food freedom right now,” she told Ciara Kelly on Newstalk Breakfast.

“I just want to say to anyone listening who feels like they're stuck, that help won’t work for them, that they are incurable, that this is just who they are, I felt the exact same way.”

She said experts were available like on the BodyWhys website who could help you fight the disorder so “you actually become who you’re meant to be.”

She said: “I feel like a lot of people will understand this, that disorderly eating is not something that you want to let go of because you feel like if you let it go you'll be out of control.

“But when you let that go, when you fight it - and recovery is definitely not linear, it is up and down and it will take a couple of years - you will come out the other side.

“You look back and be like, ‘Through this journey I actually became myself again.’”

Talking about how hospital admissions for eating disorders have rocketed by 66 per cent during the pandemic, the model-turned-cookery author said she could understand how a weight obsession could take over people’s lives.

“For me it started off with the diet which led to bingeing and purging which led to bulimia and then eventually anorexia,” said Roz

“I restricted my calories every single day to very low intake.

“I had such an immense fear of gaining weight that I just carried around this anxiety the whole time about food.

“I exercised excessively. My weight was everything to me. My whole life depended on what weight I was on the scales and how people saw me.

“And I guess that was really driven by me wanting to be accepted as part of society and society really leans into that message that losing weight is good, gaining weight is bad.

“And you find – I know I did when I first started losing weight - people really compliment you so I was really tied into this version of myself, that if I lost weight and I was a low weight I would be more successful, more accepted and people would like be better.

“I guess the real thing was, I wasn't living life - my life revolved around what I ate, my life revolved around what I looked like, what weight I was.

“I couldn't have a proper relationship with my family, with my friends and boyfriends because I only cared about what weight I was.

“So I couldn't be there for someone if they were going through something else, I couldn't be in the moment because I was always thinking about what am I going to do when I'm around food next?

“Because the idea of being around food, the idea of eating was so overwhelming to me and there was so much choice involved I kind of wanted to avoid it.

“It consumed all my thoughts so it affected me massively like I couldn't connect to people because I wasn’t even able to connect with myself.

“My identity was my eating disorder.”

She said her biggest fear while trying to get help was gaining weight “because I didn't know how people or if people would accept me.”

She said: “People had already told me they preferred this version of me so how was I going to re-enter who I really am, which is not someone who is skin and bones?”

Dr Harriet Parsons, a psychotherapist with eating disorder group BodyWhys, told Newstalk Breakfast that problems had rocketed during lockdown.

“We have seen changes to people’s routine, we've seen anxiety levels generally going up, we've seen people being afraid of relapse, we've seen people who are on the edge of tipping over into an eating disorder,” she said.

She said demand for online support had rocketed by 110 per cent and family support by 90 per cent.

Experts were also finding those looking for help were far more physically ill than before the lockdown.

“Eating disorder effects every aspect of how you function so it's not just about your food behaviour changing and maybe your weight changing,” she said.

Dr Parsons said those needing help could visit the BodyWhys website, download a self-care app developed by the HSE for eating disorders, and visit their GP.

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