By Liana Jacob
MEET THE proud mum who had NO PERIODS for YEARS due to anorexia that plummeted her weight to under SIX-STONE and was told she could DIE until she had a surprise pregnancy that SAVED HER LIFE.
Full-time mum, Iris Doyle (22) from Albany, Australia, had struggled with anorexia since she was just seven-years-old that was triggered by lack of control in her life. With her family being alcoholics and drug addicts, she felt like she had a ‘toxic’ childhood.
She used her restrictive diet as a way to self-harm and escape the troubles she faced growing up. She was diagnosed with anorexia in 2008 when she was just 10-years-old, after she would restrict herself to eating just crackers, fruits and vegetables.
At her lowest points, she would only consume 400 to 500 calories a day. Her habits lead to her weight decreasing to just 5st 13Ib and a UK size four.
Iris has been struggling to regularise her periods from the ages of 15 to 18 and before her pregnancy, would go years without one. Her doctors, worried about her health, warned her that she would die if she didn’t get the help she needed.
It wasn’t until she was 19-years-old when she discovered she was pregnant with her son, Oliver (1), that she made the conscious decision to get her health back on track. She has since been keeping to a healthy diet and consuming an average of 2,200 calories a day and is now a healthy 7st 10Ib and UK size eight to 10.
Despite suffering a relapse after her mum committed suicide in 2018, she has been keeping on track with her health for the sake of her son. She claims that her pregnancy saved her life and that the experience of carrying her son in her womb was an amazing experience and motivated her to get better.
“I’ve had restrictive behaviour since the age of seven and I was diagnosed with anorexia by age ten,” Iris said.
“I’m still to this day trying to understand how it started. I believe it was a way of coping with being out of control of situations around me.
“My anorexia has always been triggered by different things but around the same topic, control. When I was younger, I grew up in a toxic environment.
“I was surrounded by alcoholism, drug use and domestic violence. This, I believe, caused my anorexia; I needed control over something.
“My anorexia has never been weight focused; I see it more for me personally, as a way of self-harming. My biggest trigger was my mum committing suicide.
“Suffering with anorexia took its toll at a lot later stage. In my late teens is when I noticed what was happening with my mind and body. Anorexia made me feel constantly weak and unwell and extremely anxious and isolated.
“To be honest with you, from the age of fifteen to eighteen I don’t think I ever had a ‘normal period cycle’ I think I may have had a cycle a few times a year so I never lost it completely but even when I got it, it would barely last a few days.
“I felt alone and scared. I had a lot of self-hatred. I isolated myself from everyone including my family. Because I didn’t want anyone to notice how unwell I was.
“At my worst, my doctor told me, ‘if you don’t get help, you’re going to die’ and that my vitals and symptoms from malnourishment were so severe they didn’t want me to leave my appointment without being admitted into hospital.”
Receiving the news that Iris was pregnant in 2017, was the wake-up call she needed to recover from anorexia.
She now says that it has saved her life.
“I’ve actually done most of my recovery by myself, keeping in mind that I’ve had several relapses. Pregnancy saved my life,” she said.
“I can’t even put into words what an amazing experience pregnancy was. It helped me recover as I knew my body needed to be nourished so my baby could flourish.
“Although, I struggled a lot during my pregnancy; I was so young, and I was going into it being a single mum. But as soon as I had my first scan, I knew it would work out okay.
“Being able to live a normal life outside of anorexia is so freeing. I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a tiny little box. I can breathe, I can move, and I can enjoy life.
“I would love to gain more weight. But other than that, I’m happy with who I am. The hardest part has been feeling full and food anxiety.
“I absolutely hated feeling full, so it always made me anxious until I was used to it. Trying new foods and actually eating when I wasn’t hungry was so hard.
“My family and friends have always been amazing and gave me a lot of praise about how far I’ve come.
“They would make comments about how much healthier my skin and hair look and just how my overall appearance is a lot healthier.
“You are sick enough for recovery and you are worthy of it. Don’t ever stop fighting for your life because life is amazing and worth living.
“When you think about recovery not being possible ask yourself this – what benefits does anorexia give you and what does it take away from you? I can guarantee you that the bad outweighs the good.”