Stay strong, new au­thor urges


Rock bottom came at 38kg and a nasal gas­tric tube for Rhi­anna Boyd.

The Porirua woman not only won a seven-year bat­tle with the dis­ease anorexia ner­vosa, but wrote a book about it to give hope to other suf­fer­ers.

Now 20, Boyd said the ill­ness took root when she was a teenager strug­gling with arthri­tis and a friend’s cancer di­ag­no­sis.

‘‘It was a way for me to have con­trol when I couldn’t con­trol any­thing else.’’

Over four years she was ad­mit­ted into a res­i­den­tial eat­ing dis­or­der clinic four times, a men­tal health fa­cil­ity once and was treated in hospi­tal six times. She at­tempted sui­cide twice. In 2014, and close to death, she was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal and fit­ted with a feed­ing tube to save her life.

‘‘I felt like I had com­pletely given up and I would never get bet­ter but the tube helped me fight. ‘‘It saved my life.’’ Now study­ing at the New Zealand School of Tourism, Boyd said she was al­most com­pletely healed.

‘‘There may be a nig­gly bit ev­ery now and then but I’ve found a way to func­tion in the world.’’

She had been ner­vous about writ­ing her story for ev­ery­one to read but wasn’t ashamed about her past, she said.

Her book, Stay Strong, was for suf­fer­ers and their fam­i­lies, teach­ers and any­one who didn’t know about anorexia and men­tal ill­ness.

‘‘It’s been an eye opener for some peo­ple who didn’t know my whole story but ev­ery­one has been pos­i­tive.

‘‘I want peo­ple to know it can get bet­ter.

‘‘Peo­ple used to tell me you can’t re­cover af­ter two years but it’s never too late to get there.’’

The book was ded­i­cated to Boyd’s mother, Ali, who said the whole fam­ily had ex­pe­ri­enced a roller­coaster of emo­tions over the past seven years.

‘‘She’s done a great job putting her­self out there and I’m proud of her.’’

Ali wrote a chap­ter for the book to of­fer a par­ent’s per­spec­tive on the dis­ease.

‘‘It’s a hard dis­ease to share, peo­ple are very judg­men­tal about eat­ing dis­or­ders and men­tal ill­ness.

‘‘The book doesn’t have a happy end­ing – she’s go­ing to have to fight for a long time – it’s not a fairy­tale.

‘‘I do be­lieve she’s go­ing to get bet­ter.’’

Never give up: Rhi­anna Boyd hopes to in­spire oth­ers.

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