Case Study: Edward’s Story

Edward was born in the early sixties. At eight years old Edward thought he was ugly and overweight. At eleven years old he was making himself sick to avoid school. He struggled with food throughout his teenage years and was very thin but his mother accepted that he was a fussy eater and thought that perhaps he had a food allergy. On the occasions that she did take Edward to the doctor, she was told that there appeared to be nothing wrong with him and that she should let him eat what he liked. In his later teens when he complained of pains in his limbs and joints they were dismissed as growing pains.

Edward struggled at school but in his late teens found that the logic of computer programming suited him. In his early twenties he held down a demanding job for two years but he continued to starve himself and was exercising fanatically. Despite the fact that he was over 6ft tall his weight plummeted to 7 stone 7lbs. Inevitably he suffered a nervous breakdown but this proved to be a turning point. He changed GPs and at the age of 24 he was finally diagnosed as having anorexia.

He embarked on a treatment programme which included anti-depressants and therapy. He also joined the Young Quakers. Edward wanted to get better but it took several years to find a treatment programme that suited him. Once he did he was the only man on the programme but this didn’t unduly concern him. He inspired confidence in the other patients. He also became passionate about writing both poetry and prose and was always bursting with new ideas.

Sadly Edward died in his early thirties of a brain haemorrhage following surgery. Whilst it is unlikely that the brain haemorrhage was linked to his anorexia, the operation could have had a different outcome if Edward had not been so seriously debilitated by his illness. This was a young man who really wanted to beat his anorexia and live a fulfilling life. He had so much to say and so much to write about, but his anorexia was so deeply embedded in his psyche by the time he was diagnosed, that it was always going to be incredibly difficult for Edward to beat it.

This story illustrates the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. If Edward’s doctors had taken his childhood ailments more seriously he would have had a much better chance of being diagnosed much earlier and his treatment regime might have had a speedier and more successful outcome.