Monday, 10 July 2017
The story of an anorexic woman who did 50,000 sit-ups a day and ate virtually nothing
A woman has shocked people with photos accompanied by the story of how she ate virtually nothing and did 50,000 sit-ups a day for 5 years as she struggled with a deadly eating disorder. Dancer Niamh Fitzpatrick said her eating disorder was sparked by a cruel comment from her ex-boyfriend. Prior to the comment, she had been insecure about her body and it worsened following the insensitive remark. As early as age 7, Niamh hated her body and believed she has "fat legs". She was an undefeated dance champion and had friends and a boyfriend who loved her, but dancing made her develop muscles in her legs. At age 15, she enjoyed a holiday romance with the boy but it turned sour when he jokingly called her "fatso".
The comment stayed lodged in her brain, then he got a new girlfriend and it caused her to develop the habit of eating next to nothing. In spite of that, she will exercise for hours on end.
She said: "I'd been dancing from a young age, so maybe my legs were a little bigger than the other girls at school, but I didn't understand back then that it was muscle, not fat."
She became extremely skinny at just 15 and that meant she had to be hospitalised over fears for her heart. She also had to wear clothes for four to five-year-olds because of her skinny frame. Now 25 with a healthy size 8-10, Niamh is sharing the story of her long road to recovery with the hopes that it will help others beat the disorder.
She said: "I used to think I had no chance of getting better, but I want others to know that you can recover and live a happy life. I always get people messaging me saying they don't know how I did it, but everyone has the power to beat this illness. It's easy to compare yourself to others, but you've got to put yourself first and focus on you."
Niamh recalled the moment she discovered her boyfriend has another girlfriend, saying:
"I remember thinking, 'I bet she's prettier and skinnier than me'. I was only a size six myself at the time, but I still decided to go on a diet. Within a month, things were out of control. I'd cut down what I'd been eating until it was hardly anything. I used to take a whole lunch to school, then it'd be just a sandwich, then a sandwich without bread – it just kept going down and down."
In addition to not eating, she would do up to 50,000 sit-ups a day and secretly work out when everyone else was asleep.
She said: "Every second I was alone, I'd exercise. I'd even go to the toilet just so I could jog on the spot without anyone seeing me."
Soon, her actions began to take a toll on her and people who noticed her skinny frame asked if she was ill. She eventually confided in friends that she no longer wanted to eat and they urged her to see a counsellor.
Niamh said: "I told the school counsellor that I thought I had an eating disorder, and she said it was really important I tell my parents. I went home that night and told them. I could see their hearts break as I said it."
Over the next five years, she was in and out of hospital and eventually ended up in a psychiatric unit, where she was tube fed. Doctors, feared for her heart when ECG scans showed the anorexia had put it under strain so they prescribed complete bed rest. Then in June 2012, she realised while seating in a hospital that she did not want that life anymore. She was tired of living in the hospital and doctors said she could only go home if she could prove that she could gain weight. For two weeks, she continued to be tube fed, before moving on to a solid diet and being allowed out of bed for five minutes a day. As her weight steadily increased, she was eventually left to eat unsupervised.
She said: "That was the hardest. There was nothing stopping me from getting up to exercise, or not eating. But I had to say no. I wanted to go home." At the end of summer 2012, Niamh was released on the condition that she goes through intensive therapy and agrees to be readmitted straight away if she lost weight. After 18 months of counselling, she was discharged from the psychiatric unit too and medics declared her mentally and physically healthy. She has remained healthy for the past five years and added some weight that makes her look lovelier than before.