The Scottish Mail on Sunday

‘As a teen, if I’d been given option to die, I’d probably have taken it...’

- By Georgia Edkins

CARA Neary was 14 years old when her ‘healthy lifestyle’ regime spiralled into an allencompa­ssing obsession with restrictiv­e eating and exercise. So fast was her descent that she barely noticed the punishing voices in her head permeate her every waking moment – until, eventually, they were too loud to ignore.

By 16, she was a diminutive shadow of her former self both physically and mentally. Her family intervened and took her to a doctor who gave her the heart-plummeting diagnosis: she had anorexia nervosa, a complex mental illness that usually comes with an overwhelmi­ng fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of self.

Just one year later, aged 17, she thought she was ready to die. She said: ‘I just felt like there was no way out and as weird as it sounds, I just wanted quiet. My brain was so encompasse­d with all of these different thoughts of having to work hard to satisfy this voice telling me to under-eat or over-exercise and I knew it would never be satisfied.

‘I was exhausted of hearing it and fighting it and also fighting with people on the outside who were telling me there was a problem and that I needed to get better. I thought, “I’m tired. I just want peace and quiet”.’

Now a 22-year-old profession­al with a love for baking in her spare time, Cara’s life is far removed from the one characteri­sed by the turmoil and despair she once suffered.

She says she now has a great relationsh­ip with food and still enjoys a run, but not in the compulsive way she once did. ‘I didn’t ever imagine a life where I wouldn’t be constantly exercising or worrying about food and feeling constantly miserable,’ she said. ‘I really thought that it was going to be forever. But I’m really healthy, I am really happy.’

And that is why, for Cara, Holyrood’s Assisted Dying Bill is ‘dangerous’.

She said: ‘Genuinely, I think if I had been given the option at 16, I probably would have taken it, which is terrifying, but if you gave me the option today, I’d obviously say absolutely not.’

She continued: ‘Dying is not something you can come back from, you can’t undo this, so I think it’s really dangerous. I feel like it needs a lot more discussion. It is a very grey area.’

 ?? ?? LOVING LIFE: Cara Neary happily recovered from severe anorexia
LOVING LIFE: Cara Neary happily recovered from severe anorexia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom