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Gidea Park woman shows support to those suffering from eating disorders with new letter-writing initiative

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:02 02 August 2017

Nina Commons, 19, with the website she made and letters she has written. Picture: Catherine Davison

Nina Commons, 19, with the website she made and letters she has written. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

When a young woman saw her mum’s reaction to the heartbreaking news that her only daughter had just “two months to live”, she knew it had gone too far.

Nina Commons, 19, with the website she made. Picture: Catherine DavisonNina Commons, 19, with the website she made. Picture: Catherine Davison

This was the painful reality which helped push 19-year-old Nina Commons, of Gidea Park, back in the right direction after suffering with anorexia for more than two years.

Having battled to get back some sense of normality, Nina has come through the other side and has set up Letters with Wings, a non-profit initiative which gives support and advice to those with eating disorders by sending letters and drawings.

“It’s not always easy to talk to your friends and family about having an eating disorder, especially when they haven’t been through it themselves so they don’t really understand”, she said.

“One of my closest friends is in intensive care from an eating disorder and I have a drawing from her in my room which speaks volumes.

“I want to help others like her and use what I battled through as an advantage and help those suffering”.

It all began for Nina when she was 15-years-old and cracks started to appear in her home life.

She said: “I had low self-esteem but it wasn’t about my weight really, it was more about control and taking control of what was happening around me.”

Nina did everything she could to keep it a secret from her loved ones but the longer she went without eating healthily, the worse she felt, eventually losing about 3lbs every week.

Her face became gaunt, her rib cage stuck out and her energy plummeted.

At one point, Nina wasn’t allowed to go to school, as her blood pressure was too low and her heart wouldn’t have been able to cope with any exercise or even walking, so she became bed bound at home.

During the same time, her dad left, leaving Nina more confused about what was happening in her life.

She said: “It hit me hard, because I blamed myself.

“Even now I question whether I was a burden.

“I felt alone and embarrassed by how skinny I actually was.

“My mum took me to Queen’s Hospital and this is where the doctor told me that I only had two months to live if I carried on how I was.

“My mum burst into tears and it made me think how I wasn’t just affecting my life but my family’s as well.

“I became bed bound I was so weak but I knew I had to make a change.”

Nina pursued with the ongoing struggle of getting herself back to health, forcing herself to eat for her own good.

Another boost of encouragement soon arrived not long after her 17th birthday, in the form of long-term boyfriend Ashley.

She said: “I didn’t tell him [Ashley] straight away but when I did, he was really supportive.

“Having another person in my life that I care about, gave me another reason to live and to try and get better.”

Now six months officially in recovery, Nina is hoping to help others who are in a similar position to what she was in a couple of years ago.

“I used to tell myself, I will never recover, I will never not think about food, and I will never stop counting calories.

“I want my letters and drawings to take people’s minds off their illnesses, even if it is just for a few minutes.

“Letters With Wings is there to help people and show they’re not alone.
“I don’t want to give temporary support with one letter - if they ever need to speak to someone about what’s happening and want some support, then I’m here.”

To find out more about receiving a letter or drawing through Letters with Wings, visit letterswithwings.com

For support and advice, get in touch with eating disorder charity Beat by visiting b-eat.co.uk or haveringmind.org.uk

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