Katherine Damazer was at school doing exams when she became anorexic.
Previously on holiday with her family in Tibet she caught a virus, became very ill and lost a lot of weight.
At first she enjoyed being thin, then dieting took over her life.
“I used to feel faint all the time and every morning I woke up and blacked out for a while every time I got out of bed, and I used to be freezing, constantly freezing and shivering and having funny heart palpitations and having this constant feeling like your stomach was eating itself. You’re just so hungry and it kind of becomes enjoyable and satisfying because you know you’re doing a really good job at having an eating disorder,” she laughs.
But it is no laughing matter. Anorexia nervosa is a complex condition.
A London-based team is investigating whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation could help sufferers.
They are targeting the part of the brain that is implicated in the experience of craving.
“We found that one session of Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation as we deliver it may reduce cravings in people with bulimia nervosa, food cravings. In people with anorexia nervosa we found that reduces their sense of fullness and fatness when they’re exposed to foods and it also reduces their anxiety,” says Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College, London, Frederique Van den Eynde.
Professor of Eating Disorders Ulrike Schmidt says anorexia takes an enormous toll on the body.
“They have, typically, after a period of time, lots of physical disabilities, the bones crumble, osteoporosis develops, people have problems with all their internal organs,” she says.
Around a million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders and experts do not really know what causes them. Up to 20 per cent of sufferers will die from their illness, so any new potential therapy has to be good news for patients and their families.