We are pleased to announce our February Online Recovery Talk speaker Sophie Smith. Sophie is an eating disorder advocate currently studying a Master of Social Work, aspiring to work within the mental health sector, specifically working alongside eating disorders.
Sophie first started noticing that something wasn’t quite right when she was at the age of fifteen where she developed her eating disorder and was at the age of nineteen when she started noticing things were wrong, as a number of red flags stood out over those 4 years including losing her period, being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and increased binge eating. During this time Sophie had also noticed her restrictive eating that conveyed orthorexic tendencies where one becomes fixated on consuming only healthy, clean foods that lead to a very restrictive, controlling diet. Towards the end of 2017, Sophie started to realise the impact her eating disorder had taken on her life when experiences and activities were remembered as negative.
Significant triggers that had an impact on Sophie during this time included her brothers’ hospital admission when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as the body image pressures that had come with ballet growing up. Sophie describes the family stress and lack of control during these challenging times as triggers that had impacts on her disorder. Other triggers included Sophie’s underlying perfectionist personality and being weighed in PE class at school.
When Sophie decided to seek help and treatment, she had begun seeing a nutritionist who had referred her to a psychologist in which she began seeing in November 2017 alongside a dietitian for a year and a half. During this time, Sophie describes her recovery as something that happened quite ‘naturally’, where foods that she had avoided and starting slowly introducing back into her diet, didn’t have a negative impact on her anymore and that ‘nothing bad happened’ after eating them. Sophie’s holiday to England also had a huge impact on her recovery where she describes having the freedom to eat when she wanted to which motivated her to want to fully recover. This was when she had begun to notice that she was on the right track to recovery where she was able to enjoy food at Christmas for the first time without feelings of guilt and started to appreciate the little things in life again.
Although Sophie describes having a positive recovery experience, she also encountered some minor setbacks during this time which included the fracture of her hip and spine region. During this time Sophie struggled significantly with her body image as she was unable to exercise and had difficulties accepting her body due to the fear of gaining weight from lack of movement.
Sophie has now fully recovered from her eating disorder and is continuously inspiring those around her by touching on her personal experience through interviews and talks. Sophie’s advice for anyone who feels as though they may be showing signs of an eating disorder or struggling with one now is that recovery is possible and the importance of educating yourself through reading or finding supportive community forums or groups.