Phone habit was killing me

19, When life got all too much for Me­gan stan­ley, cope from Wrex­ham, she found a wor­ry­ing way to

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

Every­one has times in their life when things feel a bit over­whelm­ing.

Back in Novem­ber 2012, when I was 13, my grandad Derek, 70, passed away.

Me and my mum Ali­son had lived with him and my nan Marg­erie, 74, since my par­ents had split when I was a tod­dler.

Grandad and I had al­ways been close. With him gone, I strug­gled to cope.

I was be­ing bul­lied at school, too, and felt as if I had no con­trol over my life.

So I started go­ing out run­ning after school. My feet pound­ing the pave­ments around where we lived, I en­joyed the sense of free­dom, the way it let me es­cape all my prob­lems.

At first, it was just a mile or so but, each night, I ran a lit­tle bit fur­ther.

Then I started go­ing out on week­ends, too.

‘Do you think you’re tak­ing this new fit­ness regime a bit too se­ri­ously?’ Mum asked, wor­ried.

‘I just en­joy it,’ I replied to her, re­act­ing de­fen­sively. I’d not set out to lose weight, but I’d started to no­tice my clothes feel­ing looser. And, when my bones started to jut out un­der my skin, I hid it from Mum by wear­ing baggy clothes.

I’d made that hap­pen, and I en­joyed the feel­ing of be­ing in con­trol.

By the time

I turned 14, I was re­strict­ing what I ate, too.

First, I ate no dairy or fats, then I just had a ve­gan yo­gurt for break­fast and soup for din­ner.

‘What’s go­ing on?’ Mum de­manded, as I made ex­cuses not to eat at din­ner time. ‘You’re get­ting too thin. I just want to help.’

‘I’m fine,’ I’d shrug. ‘I don’t want your help.’

Truth was, by now I was ex­er­cis­ing for hours ev­ery day as well.

I was run­ning, do­ing star-jumps and sit-ups at home, jog­ging on the spot.

Dur­ing the week I’d even skip lessons to walk around the school grounds burn­ing calo­ries.

I liked the feel­ing of los­ing weight. It was my com­fort – and, the more I lost, the more I wanted to lose.

By the time I turned 15, my size-10 clothes were hang­ing off me.

A week after my birth­day, I was go­ing up­stairs at home when I slipped, bang­ing my head and el­bow. Only, frail and weak, I couldn’t get my­self on my feet.

‘I can’t get up!’ I shouted to Mum. Hor­ri­fied, she took me to Wrex­ham Hospi­tal.

Doc­tors did blood tests, took my blood pres­sure and pulse. Then they weighed me. Be­fore, I’d been a healthy 8st 7lb. Now I weighed just 5st – dan­ger­ously un­der­weight for my 5ft 3in frame. My pulse was ex­tremely low, as well.

Doc­tors put me on bed-rest and said I needed glu­cose.

‘I’m not hav­ing glu­cose,’ I snapped, know­ing it con­tained calo­ries.

Dis­traught, Mum broke down in tears.

‘Is she go­ing to die?’ she sobbed to nurses.

Sounds odd, but I thought every­one was over­re­act­ing.

‘Mum, it’s go­ing to be fine,’ I re­as­sured her.

‘No, it’s not,’ Mum sobbed, be­side her­self. ‘If you don’t eat, you’re go­ing to die.’

I was so tiny, Mum went out and bought me clothes for an 8-year-old.

I was kept in hospi­tal for three weeks, then moved to a psy­chi­atric hospi­tal, where I had ther­apy and my food in­take was mon­i­tored.

After seven months, I was al­lowed home. But, while I’d put on a lit­tle weight, I was still ob­sessed.

I fol­lowed other anorexia suf­fer­ers on In­sta­gram, and lots of them men­tioned using health-and­fit­ness apps to lose weight. So I down­loaded one onto my smart­phone.

I’d use it to track ev­ery sin­gle calo­rie I ate each day, as well as all the calo­ries I’d burned ex­er­cis­ing.

Sud­denly, it seemed even eas­ier to lose weight. I just made sure the app showed I was in neg­a­tive calo­ries all the time by

do­ing more ex­er­cise. I was ad­dicted – app-ob­sessed, con­stantly check­ing and up­dat­ing it.

Any weight I’d gained in hospi­tal quickly van­ished.

After six months, I was back in psy­chi­atric hospi­tal again.

By now, my fin­ger­tips were blue due to poor cir­cu­la­tion, my dark, curly hair was fall­ing out and my nails were in a ter­ri­ble state.

I had more group ther­apy, in­di­vid­ual ther­apy and art ther­apy. But the anorexia had put my body un­der so much strain, I was di­ag­nosed with heart block, which meant my heart wasn’t beat­ing to the right rhythm.

‘It could cause a heart at­tack at any time,’ the spe­cial­ist warned me. Ter­ri­fy­ing.

I was there for a year, bat­tling to get better.

When I was fi­nally al­lowed home, I was closely mon­i­tored.

But, one day in early 2015, I was stand­ing talk­ing to Mum when sud­denly my body went rigid and I dropped to the floor, and started hav­ing a fit.

My brother Luke, then 11, ran away scared, and my sis­ter Ffion, 13, called the Emer­gency Ser­vices as Mum gave me CPR.

An am­bu­lance raced me to Wrex­ham Hospi­tal.

There, I was di­ag­nosed with epilepsy, caused by the strain un­der which I’d put my body.

After three days, I was sent back to psy­chi­atric hospi­tal, where I had two more seizures.

Each time, I’d col­lapse onto the floor and black out, be­fore wak­ing up not re­mem­ber­ing any­thing. It scared me so much, and I knew it was all down to my anorexia.

By now, I was nearly 18. I’d been in the grip of anorexia for five years.

All the friends I’d made in the psy­chi­atric hospi­tal had got better, moved on with their lives.

Yet I’d al­ready had to re-sit a year at school, and felt as if I was be­ing left be­hind.

Sud­denly, it was as if some­thing in­side me clicked.

As a first step, I deleted the fit­ness app from my phone.

It was tough, not be­ing able to keep track of ev­ery calo­rie I con­sumed, but strangely lib­er­at­ing, too.

With­out the app to ob­sess over, I started try­ing to eat a bit more each day and re­duce the amount of ex­er­cise I was do­ing.

It wasn’t easy – but, this time, I was de­ter­mined.

‘I’m go­ing to get better,’ I promised Mum.

I’d put her through hell, too. After just six weeks, my weight was up to nearly 7st.

Once again, I was al­lowed to go home.

This time, I en­rolled on a Health and So­cial Care course at col­lege – and, last April, I met my part­ner through mu­tual friends.

Now my weight fluc­tu­ates be­tween 7st 7lb and 8st.

I eat healthily and ex­er­cise sen­si­bly – and I’m wear­ing size-8 clothes.

My heart prob­lem has gone, and I haven’t had a fit for over a year.

But I’m not there yet.

I’m just tak­ing things one day at a time.

And, thanks to the love and sup­port of Mum, now 49, Ffion, 16, Luke, 13, and my girl­friend, I’m hap­pier than I’ve been for years.

That phone app is sup­posed to help peo­ple lose weight safely – but, for me, it was a dan­ger­ous tool.

I’m just glad I found the strength to click ‘delete’.

It saved my life.

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