Patient story: "I knew it had to stop because I was living a dual life."

Liselle Terret, 38,had bulimia between the age of 14and 23.

I was struggling a bit at school and I wasnt very happy at home. It was classic 'middle-child syndrome', perhaps. As a young woman, I remember feeling very confused about my body.

"I then started to purge my food in the toilet. The secretivenessof it was attractive to me. It was something that was mine. Unfortunately,I became addicted to the habit of vomiting.

"It was something I didnt have to explain verbally and I think it was a way of feeling in control. I had started to use food for a little bit of comfort. It was a solitary time on my own in the toilet.

"Bulimia is known as the secret disorder. In one way, its a coping mechanism. It happens when you cant cope and something needs to change. Thats why its a very dangerous illness to have because you carry on. I carried on in school. I did my exams(I didnt do very well, but I did them), I got into university andI went abroad for a year. All the time I was secretly vomiting.

"My teeth were decaying and my periods had stopped. I certainly didnt have any sexual relations, that totally stopped. Unfortunately, I learned to hate myself.

"It was at university that I realised I had to see somebody. I knew it had to stop because I was living a dual life. Apart from seeing a therapist, which I still do, I also went on my own journey of healing using the creative arts. Im a lecturer and practitioner of community theatre.

"Theres absolutely nothing glamorous, exciting or positive about developing an eating disorder. All it does is decay your body, andit shortens your life. I still spend a ridiculous amount of money on my teeth, which are in a bad way, and it affectsfertility. More importantly, it affects how you feel about yourself. It affects your relationships with family, friends and partners. For many years, I didnt have a relationship because I was too afraid to.I was living in a terribly self-destructive way.

"The difficulty in getting helpis that you cant forcepeople with bulimiato talk about it, particularly with an illness like this.You live in denial and, for me, there was a huge shame about it. I felt that people thought it was grotesque and theydidn't want to know about it. You just want to be normal and you want to fit in.

"Its an addiction. It is not a way of surviving,but the opposite. It's only when you realise that there is something wrong in your behaviour that you want to get help."

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016