When it comes to eating disorders, the most common one that everyone knows about is anorexia, also known by its full name, anorexia nervosa. For those that don’t know, anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by an aversion to food, an obsession to stay thin, an all-conquering fear of gaining weight and in some cases, obsessively exercising to burn off even the smallest amount of calories that sufferers take in.
Now, Australia-based professional dancer and model who overcame her anorexia nervosa at age 15 is encouraging other girls who may be suffering to overcome this awful condition.
At age 15, Phoebe was diagnosed with the condition and was admitted to Westmead Children’s hospital over a span of five weeks. She had a fatally low body mass index of 12, and was on the brink of her heart stopping altogether.
‘Hospital was absolutely the worse experience of my life,’ Phoebe told Daily Mail Australia.
She is now a budding fashion model and encourages her Instagram followers with this mental illness and other similar ones to seek help.
Admitted to hospital: ‘I was dangerously underweight with a BMI of 12 (under 18.5 is considered very underweight), at risk of my heart stopping, and had terribly low blood pressure,’ she said
‘I was admitted through emergency and only then was I diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
‘I was being fed through a tube that went up my nose down the back of my throat and into my stomach (nasogastric tube). This tube stayed there for the whole five weeks I was admitted.
‘My stay in hospital was hard. I was only allowed to see my family from 3-8pm each day but I had hardly any visits as it was very far away from where I live.
‘Over the five weeks I suffered with severe depression, anxiety, vomiting, constant nosebleeds, chest pain, 25 blood tests sometimes two to three a day, my skin was so dry it was ripping, high temperatures from having the flu, tube fed every night that was over 1000 calories plus eating six times a day.
Phoebe was in Westmead hospital for a total of five weeks and she stated that her stay at hospital was ‘hard’.
‘It started when I was around 14 but didn’t get really bad until I was 15. I started to eat only “healthy” foods. I was going to the extreme… I mean like putting every single fruit and vegetable in a smoothie (zucchini , spinach, kale with a fruit smoothie),’ she said.
‘As I started getting further into the depths of my eating disorder I started to cut out a lot more food and exercise way too much for the amount I was eating.’
‘My mum decided to pull me out of there once I was at a stable weight… Hospital was horrible but necessary, my weight restored and it was so bad that I will never go back,’ she said.
As a rising star and performing arts student, Phoebe’s whole day previously ‘revolved around exercising and thinking about food and calories.’
‘When I was in my depths of my eating disorder I was so very miserable,’ she said.
Her obsession with food began at 14.
Phoebe received a scholarship for the Australian Performing Arts Grammar School (APGS), but changing schools and making new friends definitely didn’t help her disorder.
‘I started to eat “raw till 4” and would only eat fruit until dinner which meant I was not getting nearly enough calories,’ she said.
‘I was really struggling, so I left APGS and started doing online distance education. Since I was at home all day I had more time to exercise and prepare food.
‘I wasn’t socialising, I didn’t leave the house, I went through a stage where I didn’t even want to go to dancing.
She now follows a vegan diet and doesn’t ‘feel guilty for eating because she’s not hurting anyone’
‘It was winter and I was wearing very baggy clothes. I feel as though that’s why not so many people noticed,’ she said.
It wasn’t until a dancing competition that required a costume of shorts and a crop top revealed her body and ‘everyone starting noticing how thin I was.’
‘I remember my mum crying that afternoon and everyone coming up and talking to her while I was in complete denial,’ Phoebe explained.
Eventually, her body gave up and she was admitted to hospital, and the difficult five weeks encouraged her to keep the weight on.
‘As soon as I left hospital I was so afraid of going back that I knew I had to keep the weight up. Also by my parents setting goals of weights until I was able to dance again pushed me to get healthy.
One day at a time: ‘I still do get bad thoughts but to think of how far I’ve come in the past year and a half makes me extremely proud,’ she said
Nowadays Phoebe is represented by Busy models.
‘Food is fuel. Do not be scared of it,’ she said,
‘Also being vegan has helped me as my eating is not harming anyone else.
Great job, Phoebe!