Bee FM LogoEating Disorders: A Closer Look

“Shelley and Ruby Henderson, our clinical co-ordinator were featured on local radio station Bee FM in April in its Eating Disorders programme. 

We are indebted to Bee and all other broadcasters and publishers for their continued awareness creation efforts in the fight against the scourge of eating disorders.

You can see the original content by following these links:

Eating Disorder Myths | Anorexia Nervosa | Bulimia Nervosa

Listen to Shelley and Ruby’s broadcast:

or read extracts from the show here:

Eating Disorders: A Closer Look

SEED (Support and Education for Eating Disorders) in Preston was set up by Shelley Perry after she herself recovered from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. A five year battle for her, ended in recovery – something which her organisation says is important to remember: people can get better.

Shelley says there still isn’t enough help out there for people with eating disorders, despite all the work her team does in Lancashire.

Ruby Henderson works with Shelley as a clinical co-ordinator, she first developed an eating disorder at 12 years old – but has now been well for three years. She says being given the knowledge that she could get over her illness was the start of her recovery.

For more help and support if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, visit your GP or head to

A Closer Look at Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by a person severely limiting their consumption of food and often, physically exerting themselves to a much greater level than their calorie intake.

SEED (Support and Education for Eating Disorders) and Breathe Eating Disorder Services in Preston say there is still a long way to go before everyone with an eating disorder is properly supported.

Shelley Perry is the chief executive of SEED and the clinical director at Breathe. Shelley herself suffered with an eating disorder for 5 years in her late teens and has now been fully recovered for over 20 years.

A Closer Look at Bulimia Nervosa

The cross over between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is often difficult to define and varies greatly from patient to patient.

The diagnosis of anorexia is based on having a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 with other symptoms. Somebody could present the same symptoms entirely but be diagnosed with bulimia because their BMI is above 18.5.

Typically, people with bulimia don’t restrict their intake of food as much as an anorexic patient – or they exercise less and so don’t use the energy from the food they eat.

Shelley Perry is the chief executive of SEED (Support and Education for Eating Disorders) and the clinical director of Breathe Eating Disorder Services, “SEED came first – that’s the charity, and Breathe is the treatment arm of the charity. I set those services up initially in 2007.”

“It started out as a support group on the back of my mental health nurse training, but primarily on the back of my own experience with having had an eating disorder.”

“I was increasingly aware, as a nurse, that there weren’t services available in Lancashire for people with eating disorders.”

Shelley’s eating disorder started when she was 17 and lasted for 5 years. She battled with anorexia and bulimia and in the audio clip above, she says there’s a fine line between the two.

Shelley says there’s a psychological element that separates the two diagnoses, “The person who’s more likely to be bulimic tends to be much more chaotic and reactive in their personality.”

“They’re more likely to react to an event by maybe binge drinking, binge eating or doing something in response to an emotional experience.”

“Whereas the anorexic client is more likely to respond by restricting, internalising things and be less communicative of their emotional reaction.”

Shelley says the two illnesses are as dangerous as each other, “Physically, the disturbance from binging, vomiting, amphetamine use and over exercising that somebody with bulimia might be embarking on, is just as dangerous if not more so than someone who’s restricting their intake to 500 calories a day.”

“It’s probably more unstable for someone to be doing all of that because the heart just can’t cope with it. Although it isn’t a good behaviour – at least the anorexic client’s body is used to only a certain amount of calories and it’s fairly consistent. The bulimic client is chaotic; physically and emotionally.”

46% of people with an eating disorder will make a full recovery from their illness. Ruby Henderson also works at the two services in Preston, having recovered from an eating disorder herself. In this audio clip, she explains how she got help from the very place she’s ended up working:

Ruby says the lengths she went to during the darkest points of her bulimia sound ridiculous to her when she says it back, “I’d eat things like frozen pizza before I’d even defrosted it.”

“It was just about putting as much in my body as possible.”

“I felt like a mad woman. I’d watch myself doing it, not really feeling in control of what was happening.”

“I’m not proud to admit it, but there were times when I went in to supermarkets and stole food because I just needed to feed that obsession.”

“I would eat massive amounts until I was in excruciating pain and then I would throw it up. That would continue and I’d do it all day and all night and get stuck in a cycle.”

Ruby’s been well for three years – both physically and emotionally. In this audio clip, she says there were several factors that lead to her recovery:

If you think you or someone you know would benefit from the help provided by SEED and Breathe – there are several ways to get help.

The first port of call is generally your GP, but there are drop in groups – details of which can be found on the SEED website.

“Breathe Therapies would like to thank Bee FM for making this essential communication possible – it is much appreciated :-)”

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