A young woman from Bradley Stoke who suffered from anorexia from the age of 12 is organising a programme of local fundraising events throughout 2017 in aid of Beat, one of the UK’s leading eating disorders charities.
Sophie Mitchell, now 20, spent nearly six months in hospital around the time of her sixteenth birthday and has only recently returned to a healthy weight.
Having the condition for such a long period of time also affected Sophie’s education, as she explains: “When I did my GCSEs, all of my friends did between ten and 15 subjects and I had to drop quite a few subjects – which meant I only did five GCSEs – as I wasn’t coping with the amount of work that was required.”
After years of turmoil caused by the illness, Sophie’s life took a turn for the better in March 2016 when she met Joanna Nowak, a personal trainer at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre. From being in state where she felt she was “drifting away” as her physical and mental health deteriorated, Sophie says Joanna has been instrumental in completely transforming her life through a programme of dietary advice and exercise.
Although she says her battle is “far from over”, she has set herself the target of raising £500 for Beat through a range of events in 2017 that is expected to include quiz nights, bake sales, karaoke nights, a sponsored swim and participation in the Bradley Stoke 10k Run on 11th June.
Sophie’s first fundraising event of the year will be a quiz night at the Baileys Court Inn starting at 9pm on Sunday 15th January. She hopes to stage further quiz nights and raffles later in the year at the Three Brooks pub and the Beaufort Arms in Stoke Gifford.
Donations can also be made online at www.justgiving.com/Sophie-Mitchell11
Sophie’s story – in her own words
Since I was 12, I suffered from anorexia, depression and body dysmporhic disorder. From playing sport, enjoying my food and not being fazed by anything, my life just wasn’t the same and very quickly my health became worse. From then on, I had to stop sport, drop most of my GCSE subjects, went into hospital for 5-6 months, dropped out of college three times and it has also affected my performance in previous employment.
In February 2016 I could really feel myself drifting away as my physical and mental health was deteriorating. However, in March, I met a personal trainer, Joanna Nowak, who has completely changed my life. At first I would meet up with her to talk to and she would add in stuff into my diet in order to get me healthy again. This was really hard, but I put my trust in her. As the months have gone on, I have reached a healthy weight for the first time ever, my body is fully functioning, I’m eating six times a day and I am getting stronger every day in and out of the gym. The most important thing for me though is that I finally feel like myself again, which feels amazing.
Words cannot describe how much I appreciate what Joanna has done for me and continues to do so. If I hadn’t met her, I fear I would have been dead before my 20th birthday in May 2016. Her personality, support and attitude to life have rubbed off on me and that is why I am now taking the challenge of fundraising next year, all in aid of Beat, an eating disorders charity.
Any eating disorder is very dangerous and has a massive effect on the whole family, and because of what I know and have experienced, I want to give back to this charity and help as many people as possible. The more awareness we have on mental illness, the more people can get help, and not suffer in silence, without feeling judged!
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 9). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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