SCMP Thursday, November 8, 2001

'Disorder forced me from job'


A flight attendant has told how she was forced to give up her job after suffering from anorexia for more than 10 years.
The woman, who gave her name only as Mabel, was so conscious of her weight that she never allowed herself go above 45kg - which is at least 8kg below the healthy standard for a 1.65-metre-tall woman.
Mabel, 26, said that her mental state was so disturbed by the eating disorder that she finally decided to leave her job, which she had held for five years.
"I became bad tempered and nervous. My hands were shaking when I was serving passengers on flights. My boyfriend and other friends advised me to resign and seek treatment," the woman said.
"I developed the mentality when I started practising ballet at 15.
"The ballet students were in competition to see who could be the slimmest."
She refused to eat for an entire day whenever she had put on extra weight.
Mabel learned about self-induced vomiting from a friend six years ago, which changed her eating habits - turning her anorexia into bulimia.
But she would stop eating again when she found her weight had risen.
With repeated fasting and over-eating, Mabel's weight could range between 36kg and 55kg.
She said that when she arrived in a new country she would lock herself into a hotel room and order from room service a meal big enough for seven or eight people.
"The bell boys were very shocked seeing the amount of food I ordered. I lied to them the meal would be shared with my friends," she said.
"Then I would cram myself with all the food. I was very depressed and lonely when I was eating. Then I felt guilty and made myself vomit."
Mable is receiving treatment at the Prince of Wales Hospital eating disorder centre.