A teen anorexic starved herself to six stones on a diet of just cola and coffee after she claims she was turned away by doctors – for not being THIN enough.
Desperate Shannon Finan, 21, started struggling with her weight when she was 16, despite being a healthy nine stone.
She was surviving on just a salad and a piece of fruit a day when she went to her GP and begged for help, aged 18, after losing two stone in two months.
But the seven stone teen – who was taking 12 laxatives and two diet pills a day – claims her doctor turned her away because her BMI wasn’t low enough to meet NHS guidelines.
Distraught Shannon cut out food all together – necking just two litres of Diet Coke and eight coffees a day in a bid to get help from doctors.
When her weight plummeted to a skeletal six stone she was finally admitted to an eating disorder clinic and is now in recovery.
Shannon, from Coventry, has told how she suffered with anorexia and bulimia in a short documentary produced by Fixers – a charity that helps to give young people a voice.
Brave Shannon said: “I was shocked when I was shown the door.
“At that point I was really low.
“I was eating a salad and a piece of fruit a day and had hardly any energy.
“I just wanted help.
“I was desperate to get my BMI down so I began restricting my food intake even more. I’d go to Boots every two days to weigh myself and check my BMI.
“I think it’s terrible sufferers have to be in this state before they can get treatment.”
Shannon’s struggle with her weight began at the age of 16 when she got tickets to go to V Festival and wanted to wear denim cut off shorts, but felt too “curvy”.
She started restricting her food intake and following ‘thinspiration’ blogs as well as pro-anorexia websites for tips to lose weight.
“I felt an immense pressure to be skinny like the models in magazines,” she said.
By age 17 she was eating just a salad and a piece of fruit throughout the day, and after losing two stone in two months, she asked for help aged 18.
She said she can’t remember what her BMI was – or what it needed to be to qualify for help – but she said she was turned away because it wasn’t low enough.
Shannon said: “I remember fainting at home – that was when I knew I needed to get help but I was turned away.
“When I was told my BMI wasn’t low enough I was angry and felt like I wasn’t ‘good enough’ at being ill.
“Having an eating disorder isn’t all about your weight and BMI. There are mental health issues which need to be addressed too.”
Her eating disorder spiralled out of control and she restricted her diet even further, cutting out all solid foods and necking diet coke and coffee instead.
She said: “I felt like I was going to die. My hair had started falling out, I had tooth decay, and I could barely walk.
“Because of all the laxatives and diet pills I was experiencing crippling stomach pains.”
She was finally admitted to hospital, three months after she first asked for help.
Now Shannon, who is learning to become a personal trainer, is calling on the NHS to change their criteria and stop turning away sufferers.
“I don’t blame my GP – they’re just following guidelines which I hope we can work towards changing,” she said.
“No-one should have to go through what I did just to get treatment.”
Each year Shannon celebrates the anniversary of recovering from her eating disorder.
In previous years she has participated in a sky dive and run, and this year she’s taking part in the Royal Parks Foundation half marathon in October.
Margo Horsley, CEO of Fixers where Shannon helps spread her positive body image message, said: “Young people across the UK are facing an epidemic of unhappiness.
“Some 67 per cent of young people who become Fixers put mental health issues at the heart of the issue they want to fix.
“With this worrying trend predicted to rise, this issue is something that society has to address.”