‘You don’t need to suffer in silence’ says Stevenage woman recovering from eating disorder and depression

Leanne is recovering from an eating disorder after seeking help.

Leanne is recovering from an eating disorder after seeking help. - Credit: Archant

A woman recovering from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety has shared her story in a bid to help others.

Leanne Trim, who lives in Stevenage, is encouraging people with mental health problems not to suffer in silence, as part of the Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health campaign, which aims to raise awareness, increase support and challenge stigma.

The 37-year-old said: “It’s not been a pleasant experience. I became isolated and I was a person I didn’t recognise.

“My days were filled with very negative thoughts and I became totally wrapped up in a world of food, calories, weight and body-checking. It took over my life.”

Leanne sought help for her eating disorder from her GP, who referred her to the mental health service Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Leanne said: “The psychologist I saw really helped by understanding, not judging, and giving me space and allowing me to work through what I needed to.

“With their support, at my pace, we were a team fighting the demon in my head.

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“I’m not fully recovered but I am managing my symptoms really well at the moment, which is allowing me to move forward.”

Leanne is urging anyone in a similar situation to seek help.

She said: “Even though reaching out is hard, I would say don’t suffer in silence or on your own.

“There is support out there - reach out and use services to help you. It was the best thing I ever did and now I feel hopeful for the future.

“Don’t be afraid, people are supportive. Look into mental health charities and see what support they offer and don’t be afraid to talk to them to see what they can do to help you.”

Herts County Council, which is running the mental health campaign, is asking people to make a pledge of support, which could be anything from volunteering a couple of hours a week as a companion to someone with dementia, to raising money for a mental health charity in the area.

You could simply pledge to be more vocal about what changes you would like to see in mental health, or vow to challenge discrimination.

So far more than 100 people have signed the pledge since the campaign launched in July, with a focus on spreading the message via social media earlier this month to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Two members of Herts County Council’s cabinet, Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe and Councillor Teresa Heritage, have put themselves forward as mental health champions to help highlight the cause.

Councillor Wyatt-Lowe, who is responsible for adult care and health at County Hall, said: “We want all our residents to be able to live healthy and independent lives and understand how to access the services they need, when they them.

“The aim of the Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health is to break down barriers and improve public understanding of mental health problems.

“By sharing our stories and supporting each other, we can tackle the stigma of mental illness.”