| ||At the age of 10 I joined my sister at boarding school. I was a highly creative and adventurous child and although there were some happy times, my childhood and teens were dominated by depression, anorexia and dissociation. I found solace in activities I enjoyed most: writing; art; dance and drama. When I was 11 I went to summer drama school which proved to be the one of my happiest memories of childhood and had a lasting impact. |
I decided I wanted to be either a writer or an actress but by 16 my anorexia had consumed my life and I was taken out of school, unable to complete my studies, and was hospitalised. I was on an adult medical ward for three months and saw 11 people die as well as people fighting for their life. It made me question the meaning of life, who God is and why I didn't want to be alive. In my quest for answers I kept an illustrated diary and a personal account of what was going on in my mind.
When I left hospital I couldn't cope with returning to school and instead went to college where I studied Hotel and Catering Management; and at the same time Creative Writing at the Correspondence School of Writing. At the end of my college studies I went to help cook at a Christian Youth Camp. I had a powerful encounter with the Lord and became a Christian. In the same week I won the 'National Leverclean Award' (which involved writing essays and poems in conjunction with food hygiene). My life changed dramatically.
I had already begun to put my experiences with anorexia into book format and used the money I had won with the award to stay with my cousin in Bermuda and continue my writings. I hadn't intended the book to be for publication but, following media interest in my writing, Puppet on a String was published (1984) and became a bestseller in the Christian market. After its publication I gave up work to spend time supporting anorexia sufferers and carrying out radio/television interviews and public speaking engagements.
I was inundated with media interviews and requests for help from desperate people. In an attempt to flee the pressure, at the age of 22, I went to Zululand to work as a Research Assistant in a Zulu hospital. One of the most rewarding aspects of my work was establishing therapeutic art classes with the Zulu inpatients at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre near to the hospital.
During my final months in South Africa, following the discovery of a Zulu girl with anorexia and the demand to address eating disorders, I ended up travelling the country and speaking in 56 different locations. Realising that I couldn't run from a calling to work with eating disorder sufferers I returned to the UK to train in Christian counselling.
At the end of my training I was invited to be editor of a journal for counsellors: The Christian Counsellor, published by CWR. I remained editor of the journal and served as a lecturer at CWR for four years. During this time I was commissioned to write a comprehensive book on eating disorders, Beyond Chaotic Eating which subsequently led to the commissioning of further books.
At the end of 1993 I was made redundant from CWR and a year later founded Kainos Trust, a registered charity for eating disorder sufferers. I acted as director until 2004 when the work merged with Swansea City Mission and Educational Trust. I currently operate from their Retreat House, Nicholaston House, where I run courses for eating disorder sufferers. I am a freelance writer and speaker and I have the pleasure of my work taking me around the world.