This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and we’ve placed a story in Bella that is a truly wonderful story of survival and determination. Donna was suffering from bulimia but when her new born baby was born and diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, Donna realised she had to find the strength to overcome her eating disorder, for the sake of her son. Little Aiden saved her life and here Donna gives her honest account of the dark days and how Aiden became her sunshine.
It’ll bring a tear to your eye! Catch it in this week’s Bella, on shelves until Tuesday. You can read more here.
Donna was so devastated after a miscarriage that she started punishing herself in the most dangerous way… Until her baby saved her life…
Donna, 32, explains:
The pain of a miscarriage is excruciating. I cried as pain tore through me.
But I didn’t even know I was pregnant.
After my sons Liam, 15, and Owen, 11, were born, my husband Steven, 35, and I had thought we wouldn’t have any more kids.
I was a football coach and was always lugging goal posts about. After my miscarriage, in April 2010, I blamed myself. Was it all the heavy lifting at work, was that why I miscarried?
The fact I hadn’t been able to control the loss of my baby tortured me. I felt so out of control – my body had let me down. The only thing I could do was punish myself.
I started running. My headphones drowned out the sad thoughts in my head. I became obsessed with exercise. It preoccupied me and took me away from the sadness.
Then I started binge eating, then starving myself. If I couldn’t control the miscarriage, I could control my eating.
But binge eating made me feel fat and disgusting, so I’d drink a litre of coke and then force my fingers down my throat. At last – I’d found a solution to my binge eating: vomiting.
My weight dropped from 10st 4lbs to 7st 9lbs. I was 5ft 5in.
I felt dizzy and my throat hurt from all the vomiting, but I’d still force myself to run ten miles on an empty stomach.
The kids knew. ‘You never sit down and have dinner with us anymore,’ Liam said.
I’d bake and cook, meticulously, but I’d never eat in front of the kids. I knew they were worried but I was in self-destruct mode.
I’d stuff my face with five mars bars, six packets of crisps and litres of cola, then throw up, then go running.
I was repulsed by myself and wouldn’t let Steven near me.
Because I was still so sad about the miscarriage, my doctor referred me to a therapist, who suggested I had an eating disorder. But how could I, I was fat, in my eyes.
Then I realised that even though I hadn’t known I was pregnant, I really wanted another child.
My doctor explained that I needed to be healthy to conceive.
It gave me a goal: I would start eating healthily again so I could have a baby.
It worked – I gained weight and we found out we were pregnant, doing six tests just to be sure.
During the pregnancy, I didn’t mind gaining weight because I knew it was for the baby.
When Aiden, now 15 months, was born, we could tell straight away that he had Down’s Syndrome.
It was all my fault. In the flurry of doctor assessments, I felt so out of control again. I binged and purged.
But I knew that wasn’t the answer. I’d gained weight so I could have this baby: now I needed to be healthy enough to look after him. I made a decision. I never binged or threw up again.
I could have slipped back into old habits, but Aiden was my strength. I have never laughed as much as I have in the last year – he’s pure happiness.
If he hadn’t had Down’s Syndrome, I don’t know if I’d be as strong as I am now – there are still days when I feel like purging but Aiden’s determination rubs off on me.
Bulimia is all about control. Aiden’s taught me control is the last thing I can hope to have – and that’s okay.
The older boys are happier too – they adore Aiden and love that I’m back at the dinner table. Aiden saved my family, my marriage and my life.