Today we are introducing you to an incredibly brave woman, a true fighter for awareness for eating disorders. Her memoir “Seconds To Snap”, is a manifest for how much she cares to spread the word and how much she wants fellow sufferers to get inspired and take steps towards recovery for the sake of their lives.
Tina McGuff’s parents suffered a particularly traumatic divorce when she was 13 years old, she developed a devastating eating disorder that almost cost Tina her life. As her family fell apart at the seams, the one thing left in her life that she could control was food, and she began the biggest fight of her life. As anorexia-induced starvation took its toll, she dropped to a life-threatening weight, attempted suicide, and eventually was sectioned into an adult psychiatric ward and force fed.
Triggering the Disease
“I had no idea mum and dad were going through such a terrible time, and when I found out, it was such a shock that’s what triggered the eating disorder to develop over the next few years,” Tina said. “I became obsessed, I knew the calorie value and fat content of every single thing.”
Though she would cook meals for her mother and sisters, Tina would eat crisp breads, cucumber, apples and celery, if she ate anything at all.
“The weight fell off me, but when I looked in the mirror, I looked fat. I hated myself and I hated my body – I stopped speaking to people and lost all sense of who I was,” Tina said. “I became depressed, anxious, and paranoid. I thought people could see I was a bad person through looking at my eyes. It was just awful. I blamed myself for what was happening to my family. It got so bad, I even worried about whether licking a stamp or breathing air would take calories I started to try and control my breathing to limit any calorie going into my body.”
Lies and Other Buzzes
From a healthy nine stone, it wasn’t long before endless exercise and a virtual starvation saw her weight plummet first to six stone and then to almost four stone. She hid her body underneath layers of clothes.“I became an accomplished liar. I always had an excuse on why I wasn’t hungry. I’d go each day into Boots to get weighed, and seeing the pounds fall off gave me an incredible buzz and the weight tickets were like prize medals,” Tina said. “For the first time in years, I felt what I can only describe as happiness, this was what my life had been missing, a goal. One that made me feel so good about myself.”
Tina would force herself to do 1000 push-ups a day. As she pushed herself harder, her periods stopped and her skin and hair began to fall off. “My body was breaking down, but all I could see in the mirror was miserable, fat, selfish me.”
Eventually Tina collapsed at home when she was so weak, she couldn’t get up. She was taken to a psychiatric hospital for six months, where she was watched and measured every moment of the day, until she put weight on. Unfortunately, within months of getting discharged, Tina’s disorder returned worse than ever and she ended up in an acute psychiatric ward in her hometown of Dundee, Scotland.
“This time I weighed just four stone. I was dying. I was sectioned under the mental health act and force fed to be kept alive,” Tina said. “By now mum and dad didn’t argue in front of me, they’d been told by doctors not to put any pressure on me. I could see the fear in their eyes when they were allowed to come and see me.” Tina credits her recovery to psychiatrist Barbara Ballinger who she said showed remarkable insight and patience as well as all the nurses who cared for her day in and out.
“People think anorexia is all about image, when in fact it is an extremely serious mental disorder – it’s a deeply complex psychological illness that needs a lot of help to beat,” Tina said. “People have this impression that only rich kids get anorexia – and that it’s quite glamorous. I was a poor kid from a broken home in Dundee. And nothing about it was glamorous at all.”
Today, Tina, now married and a mum of four, lectures nurses and trainee psychologists at Abertay University in Dundee, where she explains her own experiences so they can help the nurses of the future understand the illness from the inside out. She has just published a memoir, Seconds to Snap, about her fight against anorexia. “It took seconds for me to snap – and a lifetime to recover. But I never take my mental health for granted and I want to reach out to others now to encourage people to open up about these issues,” Tina said. “Anorexia is such a dark, isolated world, I know that I am lucky to be alive today.”
Seconds to Snap is published by John Blake Publishing and is available on Amazon. Look out for the contest where you can win the book! If you can’t wait, order it HERE Seconds To Snap
If You Loved This Article, Check These Out! Shoe Size! Used To Undermine Positive Body Image In Fashion , Transform Your Body by Overdosing the Good Stuff, and Self-Love Gave Abby More Then She Got From Size 2