A BRAVE student who overcame an eating disorder has shared her experiences in a bid to help others.

Lucy Evans spoke out during a week of events at Bournemouth University in partnership with Dorset HealthCare to mark National Eating Disorders Week.

The campaign aims to clear up the myths and misunderstandings of the illness and highlight the impact it can have on sufferers and those around them.

Since 2015/16 Dorset HealthCare has received 463 referrals with 93 under 16s. In the five years before, there were just 303 referrals, with 21 under 16.

The 27-year-old, from Wimborne, developed bulimia nervosa at the age of 13. She would binge on food and make herself sick, a condition which soon developed into anorexia.

She began her journey to recovery at 21, and despite a severe relapse at 24, she is now well on the road to overcoming the illness.

Lucy, a mental health nursing student, said: “As well as my friends and family, a huge factor in my continuing recovery has been completing the Three Peaks Challenge for charity, a mountain trail of some 50km across Cape Town’s highest points.

“This gave me something to work towards, as I needed to be physically strong to complete it, which in turn helped take my mind off my eating disorder.

“It had been a lingering feeling for so long but I felt I now had a goal which was healthy.”

She added: “The challenge changed my perceptions. During my training I ate, exercised and shared my story openly with others, and the reaction I got was profound.

“All of a sudden I found a doorway to living. No longer did I wake up focused on my next binge and purge, but began each day enthusiastic about being alive and working with my body rather than against it.

“I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to find a focus. A challenge like I undertook may not be for everyone, but it has helped instill trust in myself again and a love for my body that I had never had before.”

This year, Dorset HealthCare is particularly highlighting the dangers of diabulimia, an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin in order to lose weight.

Community Eating Disorder Service Manager Micki Bennett said: “Diabulimia is only really just being talked about, but it’s thought around 170 people a year across Dorset abuse their insulin.

“This condition can result in permanent disability and is happening to young people before they truly appreciate the risks they are running, such as nerve and kidney damage and osteoporosis.”

Dorset HealthCare’s Eating Disorder Service provides outpatient and 24-hour adult inpatient treatment and support. They are available on 01202 492147 or 492415.

Nationally, the charity BEAT offers resources and forums. It can be contacted via their helpline on 0808 8010677 or its Youthline via 0808 801 0711.