Eating disorders: 'I was told I wasn't thin enough to get help' says Chesterfield woman battling anorexia
A Chesterfield woman who suffers from long term eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia, has shared how she has felt ‘anxious and alone’ with less support for her illnesses during the Covid-19 crisis.
Warning: This article contains references to weight and eating disorders.
Vicki Heathcote, from Grassmoor, developed binge-purge anorexia after she was bullied as a teenager, which has been diagnosed as a Serious and Enduring Eating Disorder (SEED) – meaning she is unlikely to ever recover.
Despite the 38-year-old currently having a BMI of 13 which categorises her as severely underweight, Vicki is not eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine and is calling for there to be more support for people with eating disorders as the pandemic continues.
The Grassmoor resident, who lives alone with her three dogs, fears many are struggling by themselves as they remain stuck at home ahead of coronavirus rules relaxing further next week.
Vicki’s health check-ups with her consultant have reduced from once every two weeks to once every six to eight weeks during the pandemic and she has recently lost a significant amount of weight.
"It makes the feeling with the eating disorder 10 times worse because you do feel like you are coping with it on your own", she said.
"It's basically just been me in these four walls with my little dogs.
"You can't really get out and do a lot of exercise either so it makes you even more limited to what you feel like you should be eating.
"It definitely puts you on edge, it makes you feel anxious not so much for me and I know it is going to sound silly but for the dogs, I am all they have got."
The 38-year-old who is unable to work as she is too weak, is advocating for doctors to have more training about how eating disorders impact people physically and mentally.
"I didn't get any help for my eating disorder until I was 30, I was always told I wasn't thin enough", she added.
"One doctor actually turned round to me and said 'if you want some proper help then you are actually going to need to lose some more weight'.
"It is wrong.”
Vicki’s mother, Mandy Fabisiewicz fears her daughter is at risk from catching Covid-19 – as eating disorders are not in the ‘clinical risk groups’ which need to be vaccinated as a higher priority according to the Government.
The pair have urged the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) to include eating disorders on the clinical risk list, as those who are classed as seriously overweight with a BMI of 40 and above are prioritised for the immunisation jab, along with blood cancer, diabetes and dementia.
Vicki commented: "I think it's absolutely disgusting.
"They recognise somebody who is overweight is at risk but somebody who is underweight, also doesn't have the capacity to fight it off.
"It has got better but people seem to think that it is a diet gone wrong, it is a life choice, but it is not that easy.”
The 38-year-old encourages others with eating disorders to keep in communication with loved ones.