Anorexia survivor responds to eating disorders among young people

Nina Martynchyk with her foster mother, Nina B

Nina Martynchyk with her foster mother, Nina B - Credit: Archant

A young woman who overcame anorexia is organising a conference with the Royal Free Hospital to draw attention to how the condition affects children and teenagers

Speakers, including Royal Free psychotherapists, will look at how to detect an eating disorder and how airbrushed images in the media can impact upon body confidence.

Organiser Nina Martynchyk, 20, first struggled with anorexia when she was about 13, just before her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

She was admitted as an outpatient at the Royal Free hospital in 2010.

Her mother died in March and Nina was placed into foster care, after being discharged from the hospital later in 2010.

She continued to struggle with her eating habits and two years later, Nina was admitted to the eating disorders unit at the Royal Free for six months.

This was followed by a further seven months at the Ellern Mede Ridgeway clinic.

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Describing why she struggled with eating disorders, Nina said: “It was a control mechanism because my life was very out of control.”

“I thought I could control food.

“But then I lost control because I got very ill – it just switches.”

Nina is very grateful for the way the Royal Free looked after her when she was between foster parents and without a parental figure.

For six weeks, until her current foster mum, Nina, stepped in to look after her, she was supported by the kindness of nurses at the Royal Free.

“The nurses and doctors were really compassionate and they made me feel a lot less alone,” she said.

“They knew that my situation was very different from other girls – my home life didn’t exist.

“They took me out, took me to the park. They did lots of things where I just thought, they didn’t have to do this. It’s easy to get hardened in a job like that.”

The conference will explore how mindfulness and yoga can help eating disorder sufferers with their recovery.

Nina said: “Yoga really helped me. There are certain positions that are really uncomfortable - you have to breathe through it, and it helps you realise you can get through a difficult situation.

“Nothing’s permanent, you can breathe your way through it.”

Speakers will include Samantha Swinglehurst MBE, the lead nurse specialist at the Royal Free and Rwby Tucker, university student and mental health campaigner.

- Responding to Eating Disorders in Children and Young People takes place September 3: