Freed from a food hell

Helen Jones was helped by the Worksop charity Freed Beeches to overcome her eating disorder  (w110214-5a)
Helen Jones was helped by the Worksop charity Freed Beeches to overcome her eating disorder (w110214-5a)

WHEN Helen Jones was at her thinnest it was too painful for her to even lay in the bath.

The 5’6” NHS contracts manager was just six-and-a-half stone when she was in the worst grips of anorexia.

Now still slim but two stone heavier, Helen said: “I couldn’t lie in the bath because it hurt my spine.”

“Size six clothes hung off me and I sat and cried over a plate of salad because I just couldn’t eat it.”

“That was when I realised I had to do something about my eating.”

Helen’s worried sister-in-law had told her about Worksop charity Freed Beeches, which specialises in helping people with eating disorders.

So Helen, 25, went along with her partner to have a look round the Park Street premises.

She decided to take up the offer of treatment and began nine months of therapy.

“It was hard having to talk about myself but that was how they got to the cause of my anorexia,” said Helen, of Mansfield Woodhouse.

“I was going through a lot of personal emotional pressure and it felt like my eating was the only thing I could control.”

“I took comfort in the emptiness, it was a way of controlling my anxiety.”

Helen said she has always been a goal-orientated driven person, and stepping on the scales to find she had lost more weight became an achievement.

“I was a bit overweight as a child and had been teased about it at school so I had always watched my weight and I did a lot of exercise.”

“Even when I was surviving on an apple a day I was still running and spinning, I just kept pushing myself.”

“When my anorexia was diagnosed my GP banned me from exercise and said if I had to do something it just had to be swimming breaststroke.”

At her thinnest, Helen’s BMI (body mass index) dropped to 15. Anything under 17.5 is considered anorexic and a healthy person is expected to have a BMI of 20-25.

“My family were worried about me but if they said anything to me about it I would get very defensive. My partner tried to help but he didn’t know how, it was very difficult for them,” said Helen.

“I was surviving on 400-500 calories a day and didn’t have a rational perception of how I looked.”

She had to sip special nutritional drinks to get her stomach used to feeling full again.

“I was full of nervous energy and couldn’t sleep. It was my sister-in-law who emailed me about Freed Beeches and I consider myself lucky to have been helped by them.”

Helen was so impressed with the help she received that she has set herself the challenge of raising money for the charity.

And what a challenge. In May she will travel to Borneo to trek up Mount Kinavalu, then cycle 100 miles along the Crocker Range and then tackle some white water rafting.

“I decided to do it because I wanted some motivation for keeping well and I’ve always wanted to travel. I’m funding myself so all donations will go to Freed Beeches.”

This is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and anyone wanting more information can contact Freed on 479922 or go to www.freedbeeches.org.uk.

Opening times are 10am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Helen can send donations to Freed Beeches, Park Street, Worksop, S80 1HW.