Rachael Hollwey is half Irish, born in the UK and now lives in Malta where she really found her feet in life. She is a Pilates Instructor around the island and seeks adventure in all she does. She likes to live life to the full and always sees the silver lining to every situation!
Rachael has also written a book on her experience with eating disorders titled “At War With My Mind“.
I suffered from Anorexia Nervosa for 8 years and wasn’t given the best prognosis. I was on deaths door and went through 5 hospital admissions with such a determination to get better, but to no avail.
I self-diagnosed myself, which is rare in this illness, and a day did not go by when I gave up, no matter how tough it got.
I was lucky to have such a great support network of friends and family who fought right by my side, despite doctors turning me away and sometimes telling them I was doing it on purpose and it was “a phase”. I kept talking to them as much as I could about what was going on in my mind, what the demons were telling me. Though this wasn’t always possible or always “allowed” by the voice.
I also used the support out there by amazing charities. I rang The Samaritans several times, sometimes in the middle of the night, whenever I felt in such despair and as though I could not go on. I went to walk-in centres where there would be someone to listen and to keep me safe for that moment in time. I attended support groups, went to several types of therapy, sang motivational songs at the top of my voice in my room when the voice in my mind was too loud.
Ultimately, I never gave up the hope that SOMETHING would help and there WAS a way out of this.
When I kept relapsing, I could not understand why, and it was becoming worse, more dangerous, each time.
We thought that it may have been a result of suffering a 4-hour panic attack on a school trip when I went into hypoxia, (starvation of oxygen to the brain). Things began to go downhill after this. So when we heard about a new trial for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to treat Anorexia Nervosa, I immediately applied and was accepted as a participant. I did not know if I was in the “real” or “sham” group for the course of the treatment, or even if it would work as it was the first study. I am so thankful and owe my life to being in the group receiving the real treatment, and that it worked. It altered my brain chemistry that had been damaged, that we had told doctors about for so long, and it allowed me to fight my way back to a FULL and happy recovery.
I don’t regret the decade I battled for, nor do I hold any anger, but I now want to use my experience to give hope to others. I was at rock bottom, was told I would not make it, but I did! I now live a very happy life in Malta with my fiancé, free from the demons in my mind.
Keep talking, there is a lot of support out there. Use it, you deserve it.
Keep fighting and stay strong.