A BRAVE woman who overcame an eating disorder which left her on “death’s door” hopes her story will inspire others who struggle with their body image.

Emma Oldfield, 24, says her battle with a devastating eating disorder began when her mother died of cancer.

Since the age of 18, she has struggled with the condition, which reached dangerous levels in 2015, 2016 and 2018. At her worst, she was an “empty shell”.

“At my lowest weight I wasn’t allowed to drive because my BMI was too low,” she said.

“I couldn’t sit without it hurting my bones.

“I had no energy, I couldn’t hold a conversation or finish my sentences without forgetting what I was saying.

“My heart rate was in the 30s and every night I would go to bed scared I wouldn’t wake up. I was so miserable and suicidal.”

Emma, from Clacton, suspects issues with her body image stemmed from inner self-conflict.

“I used food and body image as a way of coping with what felt like my entire life falling apart,” she said.

“I began losing weight, working 12 hour shifts as a waitress, biking to work daily and not having enough time for breaks and food.

“This spiralled fairly quickly and I viewed food as guilt and attached negative connotations with the feelings of being full.”

She added: “Perfectionist traits are highly common among those with eating disorders.”

Things began to improve after she was placed into an intensive eating disorder day service which offered therapy, dietetics, nursing care and support groups.

After a long journey she has been discharged and is healthy, admitting she is the “happiest she has been in years”.

“Therapy was my saving grace, it gave me a huge sense of self awareness,” she said.

“I learnt a lot about my past, my self and my needs.”

To others struggling with body image issues, Emma says: “You need to continuously give yourself compassion.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but as you start to encounter other things you’ll realise your worth is so much more than the way you look.”

Emma is one of several volunteers offering advice on body image through a series of videos put out by Essex County Council to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.