Fife woman’s donation to eating disorder unit which helped turn her life around
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Amy Young had to be confined to a wheelchair for the first month after being admitted to the Regional Eating Disorder Unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston to prevent her from over exercising and losing any more weight.
Now, two years on she took on a fundraising challenge to walk from her family home to her local cafe to eat a slice of cake – something she would never have thought possible.
Amy 28, said: “I hope that, through my challenge, others will seek the help they need, and the ward will be able to continue to go that extra mile for their patients.”
The 12-bed specialist inpatient unit offers a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating nurses, dietitians, occupational therapists and psychologists.
Amy was diagnosed with bulimia soon after she completed a master’s degree in computational fluid dynamics. Throughout her degree, she became more and more restrictive with food eating disorder quickly developed into a vicious cycle of anorexia and over-exercising when she entered full-time work.
She said: “I was so terrified of binging that I would walk endlessly to avoid going home where I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop myself eating”.
She initially received mental health treatment, but when the pandemic started, her eating disorder started to spiral out of control.
“My health started going downhill and I had to move back in with my parents,” she said. “I felt like an utter failure. I gave up fighting the eating disorder - I didn’t want to be in control of my own life, I wanted to hand over the reins to it.”
After a referral from her GP, Amy agreed to go for inpatient treatment at REDU.
She said: “On my first day in the REDU, I wrote in my journal that I would rather just walk forever and stare at the pavement, I had totally given up hope.”
Amy spent almost four months in the unit where the team supported her to regain control of her eating disorder and to feel confident enough to manage her own food day to day.
“Not only did it restore me to physical health, it showed me that life could be worth living again when I was in a place of utter despair,” she said. “I didn’t believe that I could get better, but recovery is possible, and you are not defined by your eating disorder. “
Amy is about to accept a first full time job in events, and is considering moving out of the family home.
“I have rediscovered old things that I used to love like brunches with friends and nights out,” she said. “If you’re considering becoming an inpatient, try to listen to that part of you that’s asking for help rather than the eating disorder part of your brain that’s telling you not to. I’m so thankful I went into the unit as it’s changed my life for the better.”
Laura Cumming, senior charge nurse at REDU said: “We don’t often get to hear how someone is after they have left the unit, so it is wonderful to see how well Amy is doing and that she has also taken on this challenge to raise money for the unit. It’s amazing.”