I wanted to disappear
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?