I wanted to dis­ap­pear

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I was re­ally scared, didn’t know what to do...

Lucy Hog­gan, 21, Carlisle

Hid­ing in the cor­ner of the chang­ing room, I tried to cover my­self up.

‘Look at your belly!’ one of the pretty, pop­u­lar girls laughed.

‘And those ham­ster cheeks,’ an­other sneered. It was 2009 and I was 12. And my ‘fat’ frame? A healthy size-10.

Sporty, I played foot­ball, net­ball and hockey. I was fit, but not skinny.

And that made me a tar­get.

Soon, I was be­ing bul­lied daily.

Mis­er­able, I’d head home to my foster fam­ily and say noth­ing.

I was happy there, didn’t want to bur­den them.

Later that year, my grand­par­ents died within six months of each other.

Aged 5, I’d lived with them for a year, be­fore go­ing into care.

It hit me hard – they were the only peo­ple I con­sid­ered my real fam­ily.

At school, the name-calling grew worse.

I was 15, older now, but still couldn’t han­dle it.

Bot­tling up my feel­ings, I’d shut my­self in my bed­room and cut my arms and top of my legs with scis­sors or a knife.

It dis­tracted me from the bul­ly­ing and gave me the il­lu­sion of con­trol.

My long-sleeved school uni­form, and trousers, cov­ered the marks.

And when that failed, a bit of make-up would do the trick.

I also started leav­ing the house be­fore eat­ing each morn­ing and spent my lunch money on cig­a­rettes.

‘I had a big break­fast,’ I’d tell friends, puff­ing on a fag in­stead.

You see, I wanted to be skinny too. To fit in.

If I’m hon­est, I just wanted to dis­ap­pear.

Prob­lem was, at home I couldn’t avoid din­ner.

So I started mak­ing my­self sick in­stead.

Peo­ple be­gan com­pli­ment­ing me on my weight loss. And for two years, the cy­cle con­tin­ued – me skip­ping meals, forc­ing my­self to eat, vom­it­ing, cut­ting my­self. The bul­lies left me alone. But now, I was the one hurt­ing my­self. And no-one knew. By 2014, aged 17, I was at my light­est – less than 7st.

Now ev­ery­thing I ate or drank came straight back up au­to­mat­i­cally. My body re­jected it all. I knew I’d gone too far but didn’t know what to do. So I con­fided in a friend I trusted. ‘I’m re­ally scared,’ I said. ‘I’m throw­ing up ev­ery­thing. I don’t know what to do.’ She told my mum Annabelle, 55, who took it re­ally hard. She’d looked af­ter me since I was 8, con­sid­ered me her daugh­ter. Ev­ery­one at home, and the few school friends I had, ral­lied round. Mum took me to the doc­tor, but deep down, I wasn’t ready to change. I started ly­ing, dodged ap­point­ments. At home, Mum cooked food I used to en­joy – pas­tas and soups. I’d meet friends, tell her I’d eat later, then I’d bin it. Then at the end of 2014, I got my­self a boyfriend and moved in with a friend. Away from home, my eat­ing dis­or­der spi­ralled.

I spent the next two years sur­viv­ing on en­ergy drinks and chips.

Hor­ri­fied, Mum frog­marched me to the doc­tor, who told me I was se­verely anaemic, not get­ting enough nu­tri­ents.

But I was still too scared to eat prop­erly.

Fast for­ward to April 2016, and noth­ing had changed. I kid­ded my­self I was happy. ‘I’m in con­trol of my eat­ing,’ I told my­self.

But in truth, I was to­tally out of con­trol, head­ing for dis­as­ter and ter­ri­fied.

Was I too far gone to be saved?

On a mis­sion to self-de­struct – was there any­thing that could save me from my­self?

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