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Francesca Carrington Birch: 'One website said to shiver while I slept'


I suffered from anorexia from around 12 or 13, and then from bulimia from the age of 17. But I began looking at pro-ana sites at the age of about 11.

They offer ‘thinspiration’ pictures and message boards to discuss how much weight you’ve lost that day.  It can turn into a competition. I learned how to hide food from my family and make excuses. At the time, you think the websites are great, but now I see they’re really warped, damaged communities and they should be closed down. One recommended to sleep with the windows open as shivering burns calories. When I resolved to get better, I deleted my Facebook page with my pro-ana friends on. I went into a private hospital when I was 19 to beat the illness and I’m now 95 per cent recovered.

Francesca Carrington Birch is a 22-year-old residential childcare worker from Maidenhead