A FEW years ago Kim Marshall was having suicidal thoughts every half an hour. The young mum with a degree in marketing and business qualifications felt she was a burden to her family and friends and they would be better off without her.

Today the 41-year-old living in Pershore says her life is better than it has ever been. She is happy, feels confident, runs her own business and is successfully helping people going through the sort of problems she experienced.

For years, Kim was plagued by eating disorders – anorexia nervosa and bulimia – and their associated mental health issues.

“I was not a typical anorexic,” she said. “I developed it as a result of going through divorce when I was 31. There are quite a few women who get it after divorce.

“I just thought my appetite had gone but it got to a point where I could not eat. It was not a case that I did not want to eat – I just could not eat.

“I developed a lot of rules and rituals around eating and I over exercised. I had two young daughters and I was struggling as a single mum. My whole life fell apart.”

Kim stressed it was not about wanting to be thin. “I thought if I lost weight everything would be alright. You use it like alcohol and drugs. It is a way of coping and controlling something in your life.”

Kim’s weight dropped to under five stones and she was able to wear her seven-year-old daughter’s clothes.

Despite feeling terrified she went to see her doctor and was put her on anti-depressants. “I felt like a zombie and I was put on a waiting list for the eating disorders service. It took four months.”

Kim see-sawed between anorexia and bulimia because the underlying cause of the problem was not being addressed.

“I felt I was at the bottom of the darkest well without any chink of light.” She said she questioned whether she was ill enough to go back to the doctor or ask for help. “Eating disorders and the help you get are based on BMI (body mass index) but it is what is going on in your head which is the most important thing.”

Kim said because the eating disorder is a crutch to help you cope with life, you do not want to have it taken away.

“I ended up losing more and more weight and went to see another GP who referred me to the eating disorders service. I had to wait four months. Every time I tried to eat something I felt this overwhelming fear and guilt. I ended up bingeing and getting ill.”

Kim said she was so desperate that at one point she considered drinking chemicals that would make her so ill she could not eat.

“I got to the stage I was considering suicide every half an hour. I thought it was the best thing for my children. I thought they would be better off without me and that I was a huge burden.”

Then Kim’s appointment with the eating disorders service at Worcestershire Royal Hospital came through and she was referred on to the International Eating Disorders Centre at Aylesbury.

She stayed at the residential unit for four months while her second husband, family and friends looked after her children.

“When I went there I was so scared but at the same time it was a massive relief – I had the voice in my head torturing me and there was someone else making me eat. I knew I desperately needed help. Every time I looked in the mirror I still saw fat but I could feel my bones. And I was freezing all the time and shattered. Life was hell,” said Kim.

She came home able to eat and a healthier weight but the root of her problems was still there – her lack of self-worth. Kim decided not to return to work yet but concentrate on her recovery. Eventually she decided not to return to her old job but set up her own business helping people to work from home.

One of her first clients was a trainer in EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and Kim decided to go along to a workshop to find out more. “I was completely blown away. I was able to change my mind set and negative beliefs. I can honestly say now I feel recovered. I feel I am able to cope with life’s ups and downs. I feel good about myself and I like myself.”

Kim went on to become an EFT practitioner because it worked so well for her. She now has clients with anxiety, phobias and depression as well as people with anorexia.

She said EFT is brilliant when working with clients and amazing as a self-help tool because it acts so quickly.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs from Monday February 27 to Sunday March 5 and Kim wants to help anyone with an eating disorder to understand that there is a solution.

“It is about making the decision that you want things to change,” she said. “It is about realising you want things to change and then reaching out for help. It is not about food, it is not about weight, it is not about eating – it is about changing your mind set. It can be done. Have a goal of feeling happy and how you would like life to be.

“My life is better now than I thought it could ever be. I am grateful for anorexia. I have such a better life now having overcome it.”

For more information about Eating Disorders awareness week visit https://www.b-eat.co.uk/support-us/eating-disorder-awareness-week. The helpline for people with eating disorders is 0808 801 0677.

Kim’s website is called Kiss good bye to Ana (Anorexia) and more information is available by visiting http://www.kissgoodbyetoana.com/ or ringing 07518 053311.