Katie’s story


Katie, 27, Dietetics student & former model who was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 22, PERTH

Dietetics student and former model, Katie, 27, Perth was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 22. Now, five years after her initial diagnosis, Katie has managed to ‘reclaim’ her life and is on a steady road to recovery with support from her psychologist.

Although she began to exhibit some disordered eating behaviours throughout her teens, it wasn’t until her early twenties, that Katie’s bid to improve her diet spiralled out of control.

She says her disordered eating eventually thrust her into a numb and lonely existence. It took Katie six months before she mustered the strength to visit a GP, who subsequently diagnosed her with anorexia nervosa.

Today, Katie says she is much better. She is studying dietetics with the hope of forging a professional career that enables her to help others wrestling with disordered eating. She has chosen to share her personal journey with others to help improve public awareness of anorexia nervosa.

 This is Katie’s story.

Katie believes a series of life events was the catalyst for her diagnosis with anorexia nervosa at the age of 22. Beginning her modelling career at the time, Katie felt constant pressure to appear a certain way. At the peak of her illness, Katie found herself immersed in an industry that she says glorified weight loss. The more weight she lost, the more modelling jobs she landed at the time.

What began as an attempt to clean up her diet and exercise regime, she says soon turned into something far more sinister. A bad relationship break-up further compounded the situation. Katie began to obsessively restrict her food, to count calories and to constantly challenge herself to eat less, less frequently.

“My obsession with food became quite a lonely and numb experience. All I thought about was food and exercise. I didn’t want to think about anything else,” said Katie.

“I never wanted to go out, and I was constantly in battles with my family over food, which made the experience even lonelier.

“I felt like I was forever waiting for my next meal, but always trying to prolong the time to that meal,” Katie said

“I began to obsess over how little I could eat, while still being able to function.”

Anorexia nervosa affected every aspect of Katie’s life. She was admitted to hospital several times, and had to abandon her studies and her job on two occasions.

“I had to give up university because I literally couldn’t concentrate on anything else. All I could focus on was food.

“I couldn’t even hold down a job because I was always consumed by how I could avoid eating,” said Katie.

“My illness also took its toll on my family. It created constant tension among my parents and brothers, and me. My parents, in particular, were constantly worried about me. Only now do I recognise the patience they had to show towards me when I was at the height of my illness.”

Katie’s five-year-long battle with anorexia nervosa has involved three hospital admissions, weeks of inpatient care, group therapy sessions, and ongoing therapy with dietitians and psychologists.

“After my diagnosis, I was admitted to hospital straight away, because my heart rate was so low and erratic.

“I was also referred to see a psychologist, and then to a dietitian. Although the dietitian was extremely helpful with broadening my dietary intake, I continued to lose weight,” Katie said.

“Eventually, when I started visiting a psychologist who specialised in eating disorders, this intervention made a huge difference for me.”

Despite the substantial progress Katie made, early in 2019, she began to slip back into her old habits, which prompted her to seek professional care once again.

Katie believes a person’s genetic make-up influences their risk of developing an eating disorder. Although there is no family member known to Katie who has been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder, she maintains some of her family members exhibit disordered eating.

Katie is passionate about contributing to the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) –        the world’s largest genetic investigation of eating disorders ever performed. The study is aiming to identify the hundreds of genes that influence a person’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder to improve treatment, and ultimately, save lives.

“There is a need for improved awareness of eating disorders and a better understanding of their underlying causes.

“It is also important for people to understand that it’s not about the number that appears on the scales. If food is causing you any anxiety at all, you should seek help from a healthcare professional without delay,” said Katie.

Should you suspect that you, or a loved one, may be living with an eating disorder, speak to your local healthcare professional without delay, or head to www.insideoutinstitute.org.au to complete their screener and assessment, and to access more information and professional support.

Australian professional patient support services offering 24/7 helpline services include:

  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
  • LifeLine: 13 11 14
  • Men’s Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78
  • Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800. 


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