Anorexia nearly killed me .. I could not have beaten it with­out sup­port of my fam­ily

Gym in­struc­tor hopes her jour­ney will in­spire oth­ers

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - ■ Heather Green­away

Clutch­ing her beloved chi­huahua puppy Co­coa, Ruth Ged­des looks a pic­ture of health.

As a full-time gym in­struc­tor, the 23-year-old prac­tises ev­ery­thing she preaches and has a healthy life­style packed with out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing hill­walk­ing and climb­ing.

It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that just four years ago Ruth was at the cen­tre of a na­tional con­tro­versy when her anorexia be­came so se­vere, her par­ents em­barked on a le­gal bat­tle to pre­vent her be­ing sec­tioned un­der the Men­tal Health Act.

Ruth’s weight plum­meted to un­der 5st and she ad­mits now that she was lucky to sur­vive.

Dis­tress­ing pic­tures of a frail and dis­traught Ruth ap­peared in the papers along­side a plea from her mum Eileen, 59, and dad Brian, 68.

They begged the courts to re­con­sider her be­ing sec­tioned, fear­ing an­other stint in a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal would do more harm than good.

Their pleas failed, as did a last-ditch tri­bunal ap­peal, and Eileen ended up spend­ing time in the cells when she tried to re­move her daugh­ter from Glas­gow’s Park­head Hos­pi­tal after her con­di­tion wors­ened.

Know­ing there was no es­cap­ing the sys­tem, Ruth worked re­ally hard to prove she was bet­ter off be­ing cared for at home and, after six months, her weight im­proved enough for her to be re­leased and she con­tin­ued her re­cov­ery with the sup­port of her fam­ily.

It’s been a long, hard strug­gle and it will never be over but Ruth says she is hap­pier and health­ier than ever and wants to raise aware­ness of the eat­ing dis­or­der that al­most claimed her life.

She said: “I look at the pho­tos of me back then and can’t quite be­lieve how ill I looked. I know I came close to dy­ing and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in the last four years.

“I couldn’t have done it with­out my fam­ily, es­pe­cially my mum and dad, who have fought with me and for me and sup­ported me ev­ery step of the way.

“There were times when I couldn’t even stand up or sup­port my own weight and now I’m teach­ing f it­ness classes, climb­ing Mun­ros, study­ing psy­chol­ogy and build­ing up my own per­sonal train­ing busi­ness in my spare time.

“I’m still scarred and trau­ma­tised from the three times I was de­tained in hos­pi­tal and be­lieve I would have fared bet­ter and im­proved quicker if I had been treated as an out­pa­tient but sadly it’s one size fits all.

“It might work for other peo­ple but it cer­tainly didn’t work for me – it made me worse.”

Ruth added: “I lost a lot of my youth through anorex­anorexia and I’m on a mis­sion to help other peo­ple by rais­ing aware­ness and tak­ing away the stigm­stigma which sur­rounds eat­ing dis­or­ders.

“I’ve just started a four-year psy­chol­ogy course with tthe Open Univer­sity and my dream is to be­combe­come a gym in­struc­tor and coun­sel­lor all rolled into one.

“YoYou can’t un­der­stand what peo­ple are go­ing throuthrough if you have not been there your­self. I want­wan to help peo­ple from a place of ex­pe­ri­ence rather­rath than from a text­book.

“NoN one should get to the point where they want­wan to die. Peo­ple need to be aware of the trig­ger­strig around men­tal health and, if they see signs,sign they need to get help.

“I’ve been through the wars but I’m a sur­vivor­sur and will never give up. There is no cure­cur for eat­ing dis­or­ders, there’s just find­ing a wayw of cop­ing with them.”

Eileen, from Bail­lieston, Glas­gow, said: “WeW are proud of our daugh­ter. It has been a veryv long hard jour­ney for all of us but Ruth is a very de­ter­mined per­son and she has

Be­fore I could barely stand up.. but now I’m teach­ing fit­ness classes

come a long way. It’s ad­mirable that she is rais­ing aware­ness of eat­ing dis­or­ders and is study­ing so she can help oth­ers.

“See­ing your child locked up in hos­pi­tal and want­ing to die is some­thing no par­ent should have to go through and that’s why we went into hid­ing with her and why I ended up in a cell for try­ing to bring her home.

“Don’t get me wrong, the NHS is good but back then they had a rule book and were de­ter­mined to stick to it, even when we knew the best thing for our daugh­ter was for her to be cared for at home. Ev­ery case is dif­fer­ent and peo­ple should be treated as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Ruth, who lives in Glas­gow’s Den­nis­toun with Co­coa for com­pany, started bat­tling anorexia when she was 16, trig­gered by the death of her grand­fa­ther.

She said: “I was still in school when anorexia took hold. I think there were a few things that trig­gered my eat­ing dis­or­der but los­ing my dear grandad was the fi­nal blow.

“I was fright­ened be­cause I could not con­trol when some­one died. Eat­ing was the only thing I felt I could con­trol. I had such low self- es­teem and be­lieved that no mat­ter what I did I would never be good enough.

“For­tu­nately, my con­di­tion was caught quickly thanks to my mum and she took me straight to the GP, who re­ferred me to the men­tal health team. But I man­aged to hide just how bad I was from both the doc­tors and my par­ents.

“My mum and dad be­lieved I was 8st for months as, when I knew I was get­ting weighed, I would wa­ter-load, put weights in my bra and around my an­kles. They only found out how much weight I had lost when a dif­fer­entf­fer­ent doc­tor checked my blood sugar lev­els andd alarml bbell­sll startedd to ring.i She weighed me and I didn’t have enough time to do what I usu­ally did.

“My mum had a hairy fit. I weighed 5st and my BMI was 11. She knew she could not take me home so she begged the doc­tor to give her emer­gency de­ten­tion in Skye House at Stob­hill.”

Ruth, who was on her way to be­com­ing one of Scot­land’s top swim­mers, be­came very dis­tressed and quickly lost a fur­ther half a stone. She said: “It was a disas­ter. I was in hos­pi­tal for a few months and even­tu­ally got home but the ex­pe­ri­ence scarred me for life.

“It was clear then to both my par­ents and me that de­ten­tion wasn’t the right course of treat­ment for me. That’s why my mum and dad bat­tled so hard to keep me out of hos­pi­tal in 2014.”

Ruth, who has raised more than £1000 for UK eat­ing dis­or­der char­ity Beat, ad­mits she may never be cured but her life is go­ing in the right di­rec­tion and she feels lucky to be alive.

She said: “It’s four years since I was at my worst but I am still not cured and don’t think I ever will 100 per cent re­cover. My healthy body and smile some­times masks the men­tal tor­ture that I can go through daily.

“Life is good. I love my job as a gym in­struc­tor, my per­sonal train­ing busi­ness RG Fit­ness is be­gin­ning to grow and I’m lucky to have a great fam­ily and sup­port­ive and lov­ing par­ents.

“My cousin Gemma Hous­ton recorded the song It Is Me from The Great­est Show­man, which she put on YouTube. It’s ac­com­pa­nied by words I wrote, which I hope will raise aware­ness of anorexia and give other peo­ple and theirth fam­i­lies hope.”

FRESH START Ruth with her dog Co­coa Pics Vic­to­ria Ste­wart SUP­PORT With her par­ents in 2014

FIGHT­ING FIT Ruth, left, is now a gym in­struc­tor. Right, in hos­pi­tal in 2014. Above, as a child and in 2011 be­fore she be­came ill PLEAS How our sis­ter pa­per the Daily Record cov­ered par­ents’ fight to keep Ruth out of hos­pi­tal BAT­TLE Ruth as a teenager RAIS­ING AWARE­NESS With her cousin Gemma

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