Rebecca Armstrong, mum to 13-year-old Aliya Riaz, has spoken about her daughter’s struggle with anorexia and how painful it was to see the youngster ‘disappear’.
The 34-year-old, from West Yorkshire, was heartbroken as she had to watch the teen loose more than a quarter of her body weight.
Aliya would spend hours every day doing sit-ups in a bid to lose weight because she thought her friends would like her more if she was skinny.
As Aliya became dangerously thin during secondary school, Rebecca took her to hospital.
The teen stayed there for two months but was readmitted once again after release when she refused to eat and saw her weight plummet again.
But Rebecca believes the care given to her daughter wasn’t tailored to her needs at the time.
Although the treatment was targeted towards children with eating disorders, Rebecca had some concerns about the way care was dealt.
‘They gave this children’s leaflet that showed a boy who’s thin at the beginning and then has a big round belly at the end,’ said Rebecca.
‘The message that sent to Aliya was “if you’re hungry and you eat you’re going to end up with a belly like this”.
‘It impacted her straight away, she looked at it and said “no, no I’m not eating”.
‘This was given to her by someone dealing with anorexic people every day who should have a complete understanding of the condition.
‘That’s why I want to spread the message about the disorder so that people have a better understanding of how to approach it.’
Aliya is now recovering from the condition, but is determined to lead the fight for more care to focus on how to treat the mental health issues associated with eating disorders.
She is still at a low weight a result of an illness she contracted last month, but she is working to change her mentality.
‘I thought people would only like me if I was skinny,’ said Aliya. ‘Even when I was really skinny I still thought I was fat, I became obsessive about becoming smaller and smaller.
‘I’m a lot stronger mentally now and I know that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful.’
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