Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

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Young people’s experiences

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Dear young person...

You are probably wondering, why have I been referred to CAMHS eating disorder service? Do I need to be here? What is going to happen next?

Breathe. I am here to tell you that it is going to be OK. As a sufferer of an eating disorder for most of my teenage years, I have been treated by CAMHS for a long time now and am well on my way on the rocky journey of recovery. I remember being in your shoes in the assessment you have just had, full of anxieties and nerves of what was to come. 

What I would like to tell you is that your family and CAMHS are there to support YOU through your recovery. They are not against you, like your eating disorder may make you believe. In fact, it is the eating disorder that is the enemy. You may not be able to see this now but if they need to re-take control of your eating, they are doing it out of love and care for you. No food can ever harm you as much as your eating disorder will.

I decided to write this letter because I know how isolating it is suffering from an eating disorder, and what it is like going to CAMHS on a weekly basis. When I went to CAMHS, I would have liked to have known there were other people out there going through the same illness as me, so that I could feel less alone trapped in a cycle of destructive thoughts. Nothing is more terrifying than battling your own mind every single day, and you are a fighter holding so much strength for doing just that. 

You may be thinking, what do I tell my friends at school? What if they ask where I am? My advice to that is when you are ready, tell them, but never feel pressurised to answer any uncomfortable questions. People may not see the battles you face, but no matter what the problem is, your feelings are valid, and you do deserve the help and support. There is no ‘ill enough’ and you do not have to prove yourself to anyone to feel validated.

Your eating disorder will make you do things that your normal self would not do. You are NOT defined by your eating disorder. Your life should not be dictated by a number or weight; for words cannot describe that you are so much more than that. You are still YOU no matter what your mental health state is.

In recovery, you’re going to have to do things that your eating disorder does not want you to do. You must do the opposite of what it says to get better, no matter how difficult that is. Yet trust me, from my own personal struggles, I know that it is far from simple. It is not meant to be easy – otherwise there would not be a problem would there?

Whenever you feel like giving up, remember why you have held on for so long. Remember all the things that your eating disorder is stopping you from doing – whether it be hobbies, having friends, relationships, social events – it’s stopping you from living a FULL life. Life is precious and too short to waste worrying about what you just ate or the next meal. 

You may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now; but I am here to tell you that it is there and waiting for you. You will look back at this part of your life and be thankful that you kept going. This suffering is temporary, you have your whole life ahead of you. I know you will beat this illness, and come out stronger on the other side. You can do this, I believe in you.



These letters were written by fellow young people who suffered from anorexia age 13-18+

They have decided to share their experiences of the CAMHS Eating Disorder Service.

Dear young person…

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia I resented the fact that people cared about me and the help I was offered.

As a fairly independent teenager, to suddenly have all control over food and lifestyle taken away from me was hard to come to terms with.

At first, things were difficult as my eating disorder was the source of countless horrendous arguments within the family. The person anorexia had made me was barely recognisable. But as time passed, and my treatment at CAMHS began, I slowly and reluctantly started to eat again. However, it was only when I consciously made the decision that I wanted to be healthy that my journey of recovery started and I became motivated to gain weight and relinquish my control.

Gradually I became more like the person I was before my eating disorder, and thoughts and actions became my own once again – anorexia was starting to lose its grip on me.

After my discharge from CAMHS things soon became difficult again, but the support of my family helped me to get back on my feet. I felt weak admitting that I was struggling at times, but now I recognise that asking for support is an act of the strong – it shows that I am willing to keep fighting the battle against anorexia.

Yes, I still have bad days when I want to revert to my old habits, but they are few and far between, vastly outnumbered by the good days.

I have come to realise that there is so much more out there for me – so many opportunities have become available since I decided to recover for myself. It is only when I look back and remember my first few appointments that I see how far I have come and how worthwhile choosing to recover from anorexia has been.

Last updated: 7 June, 2018