I battled eating disorders in secret for years - NHS wait times are so long trends now
A woman who battled eating disorders in private for nine years has revealed how she was too scared to get help from the NHS because of long wait times.
Emma Dransfield, 29, from Leeds, first started struggling with disordered eating in 2012 when she started university.
The graphic designer gained three stone in less than a year following a series of binge-eating episodes.
As she desperately tried to regain control, Emma sadly then developed bulimia and would make herself sick several times a day.
Although she battled disordered eating and obsessive exercise for the best part of a decade, Emma says she brushed off concern from friends and family and once opened up to an 'unsupportive' ex-boyfriend.
Emma Dransfield pictured during the height of her eating disorder. Over the course of her nine year battle with anorexia and bulimia, Emma would binge and purge or limit herself to 400 calories a day
She explained: 'When I was 18, I started gaining weight and felt like I couldn't stop eating.
'This then turned into bulimia because, to me, it felt like the only solution to stop binge eating and gaining weight.
'The worst times during my eating disorder were early on. I was binging and purging up to nine times a day. I had low self-esteem and depression.'
Before she would eat anything, Emma had to weigh it first - and would only consume it if it was less than the recommended serving suggestion.
She continued: 'I remember when I was at uni I wrote down meal plans and I would put chewing gum as a snack.
'I found it hard to accept myself and see my worth. I was abusing my body through exercise, trying to shrink it as much as I could because I thought if I lose a couple of more pounds I would be happy, but I never was.'
Although friends and family expressed concern about her weight, Emma admits she was too ashamed to open up about the extent of her disordered eating.
Describing how she found her eating disorder 'embarrassing', she added: 'My partner who I was with at the time found it frustrating when I wouldn't want to eat at certain places or eat certain things.
'It put a lot on the relationship as when I found the courage to open up to him about my eating disorder as he wasn't supportive.'
Emma pictured running a marathon in 2018 as a way to keep her weight down. Around this time, Emma also said she would weigh everything she ate
Emma Dransfield plummeted to eight stone while battling her eating disorders from 2012 to 2021
Pictured: Emma shortly after she started battling disordered eating when she was 18 years old in 2012
Anorexia is an eating disorder and a mental health condition.
People diagnosed with it try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating little or excessive exercise.
Men and women can develop the illness, however it typically starts in the mid-teens.
Those with anorexia can have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they're fat when in fact they are severely underweight.
Causes of the condition are unknown, but those with it have either low self-esteem, have a family history of eating disorders or feel pressured from society or place of work.
Long term health complications can include muscle and bone problems, loss of sex drive, kidney or bowel problems or having a weakened immune system.
Treatment for anorexia can include cognitive behavioural therapy.
At her worst, Emma would eat as little as 400 calories a day - causing her weight to plummet to just eight stone.
As a result, she suffered from amenorrhea - the absence of menstrual bleeding - and severe stomach ulcers.
But despite these alarming side effects, Emma still felt as though she couldn't confide in a doctor.
She said: 'I didn't seek any help as it was too expensive and the waiting list on the NHS was too long.'
Although wait times differ from area-to-area, the NHS revealed last year that it is now treating a record number of young people for eating disorders.
There were 207 under-19s in England waiting for 'urgent' care for conditions such as bulimia and anorexia by the end of June. It is the highest number since NHS records began in 2016 and more than triple the amount at the same