A long and enduring battle with anorexia nearly killed her, but Lorna Collins is certain it was creativity that helped save her.

Now Lorna, a recovered eating disorder patient who has become an ambassador of Oxford Health’s award-winning Cotswold House unit, is spreading the word about the power of art and expression.

A skilled artist herself who is often called an inspiration by the clinicians who helped her, Lorna has delivered a TEDx Talk – an event designed to unleash new ideas, inspire and inform. Hers is called ‘How Creativity Revived Me’.

Lorna explained: “I had an ambition to do the talk at TEDx Coventry and it took a year to prepare for the film. I want to show more people the merits of the Oxford Health team.”

In the TEDx talk, Lorna shares with others how the care she received enabled her to survive and thrive, after being desperately unwell with anorexia for nearly 20 years.

She had unsuccessful admissions to facilities here and overseas, but it wasn’t until she became an inpatient at Cotswold House at the Warneford Hospital, Oxford, that she found hope, a holistic care plan and a path to recovery that embraced her artistic flair.

She speaks about the turning point when a doctor saw her drawings and prescribed art as part of her medication and treatment.

“Paintings enabled me to survive despite all the trauma I was experiencing during my treatment. Painting and writing grounded me. The team at Cotswold House and at the Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury were instrumental to my recovery.”

David Viljoen, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Cotswold House said: “It is a privilege for us as a multi-disciplinary team to see how Lorna has developed and recovered from a severe and long-standing eating disorder. We are constantly learning from our patients and Lorna’s recovery highlights that art can be used to compliment CBT for eating disorders.”

Now, two and a half years out of hospital, Lorna volunteers as an involvement champion for the service. She has also undergone training and is about to start in a paid role as a peer support worker for the Bucks Eating Disorder Service.

These roles are crucial to the care of patients as Lorna will be able to use her own experiences to help others who have an eating disorder.

She said: “Turning a full circle is so empowering, a privilege. I feel very proud.”

David added: “Lorna, is an inspiration for patients, carers and staff and we look forward to her working with us. Lorna, has indeed come full circle, and as a team member will encourage patients and carers and continue to help us to improve our services.”

During lockdown, Lorna has been leading online art workshops on Zoom. As well as local groups for children and adults, she is involved in ‘#BeCreative’ art workshops, supported by East Midlands based First Steps Eating Disorder Charity.

Now, grant application pending, she is embarking on a huge research project: ‘The Butterfly Effect: Art, Creativity and Eating Disorders’.

If you would like to watch Lorna’s TEDx Talk – you can see it here: https://youtu.be/smKOkjUfzHw