Guernsey Press

‘I completely lost who I was as a person’

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Hannah Vidamour shares her experience of battling an eating disorder in the hope that it will help others who are also struggling.

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Mental health awareness is a topic very close to my heart. Not only have I struggled with mental health for over half my life but I have also been witness to others, close to me, going through similar struggles.

Having a mental health illness or watching a loved one going through it is one of the hardest things to experience. Mental health awareness is getting a lot better but there is still a lot of stigma and misconception around mental health. Anorexia has consumed my life for the past 10 years and even now, after four years of treatment where I have thrown everything I have into getting better, fighting my eating disorder is still a daily struggle.

The most powerful thing about eating disorders is that they are mostly in your head – they are mental, not physical. Unless you knew me very well you wouldn’t have known I was at constant war with myself. Even those closest to me were not aware for a long time. On the outside it could have seemed as if I had it all: a partner, a flat, a stable job and loving family and friends. But I was dying inside. Living with anorexia was internally debilitating, the disease occupied all my head space, from when I woke up until I fell asleep. It never stopped and never took a day off. Christmas, birthdays, summer, winter it is always there. I became the eating disorder. I completely lost who I was as a person and who I wanted to be, merely moving through life in a haze.

Anorexia is a deceitful illness. It does all it can to hide from everyone, even yourself. The disease thrives in isolation and destroys a person from the inside out. By the time someone looks unwell, it is the end stages of the illness. Judging how unwell someone is by how they look is a fatal error that can lead to death. Eating disorders have no weight, shape, size, gender, race, or age.

Hannah Vidamour (33225603)

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and yet people are still so unaware of this fact. From my experience, it was when I started looking physically better that the mental obsessions got worse. Through my eating disorder, I was severely depressed and suicidal and yet no one knew. The hidden nature of these illnesses is what is not talked about enough. I am so passionate about spreading awareness for mental health. No one should have to live alone in their struggles. Going through life with mental illnesses is debilitating. It is not living, it is a slow and painful death.

Recovery from mental illness is a daily battle. It is a gruelling and painful process and there are no days off. It feels relentless at the beginning but fighting back is the only way to stay alive. It is a day by day, moment by moment fight. It is choosing to keep pushing when you don’t even know what you’re fighting for. It requires physical, mental, and emotional restoration. It is deciding to do the next right thing, even though every ounce of your being is telling you to do the opposite. It is trusting that despite how hard and tiring it feels in the moment, there is a life worth fighting for. Actively working on recovery each and every day is not an option, it’s a necessity.

No one should suffer in silence – there are people out there who can help.

Awareness for mental health is so vital and I am passionate about eating disorder awareness specifically. If someone looks ‘fine’, it doesn’t mean they are. If you are concerned about someone you love, please don’t hesitate to approach them. As hard as this may feel, it is much harder for them. Someone could be struggling and not know how to tell you. A simple check in or question could be all it takes for someone to open up and reach out for help. Awareness is the only way we can, as a society, begin to lift the stigma and support people who are suffering.

The value of awareness should not be overlooked. Reaching out could save someone’s life. Check on your happy friends, your sociable friends, your busy friends, your withdrawn friend, you never know how much someone could be struggling. Don’t hang around waiting for that ‘perfect’ moment to have the conversation – the moment could never come before it’s too late.

The battle to keep up appearances unnecessarily – whatever name you give creeping perfectionism – robs us of our energies.

  • Beat UK has resources on how to approach this conversation with a loved one who you suspect could have an eating disorder and for the sufferer on ways to reach out to a family, friend or professional. Go to to find out more.

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