A woman who suffered from two eating disorders for nine years, to the point that her heart was failing, has recovered. She now shares her story on Instagram, in the hopes that she can help someone else who is going through what she went through.
Sacha Reeve, a 25-year-old drama student and nanny from Melbourne, Australia, was diagnosed with both anorexia and bulimia. Her eating disorders started back in high school, when she started skipping meals at 16 years old. According to a Daily Mail article, she would throw out her school lunch, eat only “a small bowl of steamed broccoli or greens, a packet of cigarettes and half a can of Pepsi Max” a day and go to the gym regularly (while also being a diver at school).
A lot of it stemmed from her mental health issues. “‘I was never bullied, I was never overweight’,” Reeve said in the article. “‘I think for me it came from my internal belief system I had created about myself’.”
She continued on to say that she felt like she wasn’t good enough. “‘I felt fat, I felt ugly, I felt worthless, [and] I felt trapped and there is a stronger meaning behind those words…’fat’ for example would mean sad and angry and hurt’,” Reeve said in the article. “‘I thought and felt like I was a complete and utter waste of space and not worth anything at all so I placed such a high value on my looks that when they weren’t good enough[, I felt] I had failed myself completely and just didn’t deserve to take up any space’.”
Sent to hospital
When she was finally taken to the emergency room and hospitalized, she only weighed about 79 lbs, her body and brain were shutting down, she couldn’t recognize faces and she couldn’t talk, read or write. While there, she was encouraged to eat more, but refused – plus, being in denial, Reeve didn’t think she was sick enough to be in the hospital and wanted to go home.
She was allowed to go recover at home, but was forced to eat a pear before she left the hospital – her blood sugar was very low. Reeve said that that was “‘such a fight to get me to do and included security standing over me till I ate it’.”
She stayed at home for two weeks, and then on one visit with her doctor – which she was checking in with every other day – Reeve’s “doctor took her blood pressure and referred her to a heart specialist, [and then] she was sent to the intensive care unit (ICU), where she was told that her heart was failing.” That was when Reeve started to realize the severity of her eating habits.
Committing to recovery
She remained in the hospital for a few weeks and started to really focus on her recovery. Additionally, not too long after, her mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“‘I just knew in that moment that I had to pull myself together as much as I could, so for the next couple of months I was taking her in and out of treatment most days of the week, I was also working and in a very toxic relationship, whilst trying to keep up my own recovery’,” Reeve said.
She also checked herself into a rehab center in Byron Bay (a town north of Melbourne), where she spent a year getting better. She made sure she ate three meals a day and stopped going to the gym as much.
Then, eventually, she became healthier and reached a healthy weight of about 134 lbs. “‘I ate a lot, like a lot, I rested a lot, and slowly but surely I started speaking again, recognizing faces, understanding what others were saying[,] etc.’,” Reeve said in the article.
She was also able to address her mental health issues that contributed to her destructive eating disorders. “‘The feeling of not being good enough or of value to take up space in the world, is such a hard one to break through and I still battle with that thought to this day’,” Reeve said. “‘Having anorexia is like you’re two different people; the illness is one person and then there is you, the true essence of who you are[,] and as it gets worse the anorexia becomes louder and the fight is so ridiculously hard to fight in your mind that you give in’.”
Sharing her story to help others
Now she talks about her journey on her Instagram to raise awareness about eating disorders. “‘If I can help anyone feel less alone in a time of need, then I’ve done my job’,” Reeve said in the article. “‘I think struggling with mental health and eating disorders means it’s so easy to feel so alone and isolated which just feeds the disease. So being vulnerable for a few seconds on a post on Instagram for me is worth giving someone else hope, a sense of community and support, feelings of being understood and somewhat connected. In this day and age, I think it’s much more common than we think to have body image issues and eating disorders so all I’m really doing is breaking the silence on it and speaking about it, creating conversations that wouldn’t happen otherwise’.”
Reeve continued on to talk about valuing what’s on the inside over what’s on the outside. “‘Our bodies are merely a vessel for our souls’,” Reeve said. “‘What is inside is so much more important than the outside. What we can give to the world and others is much more important than what we look like’.”
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, you don’t have to face it alone. There are online resources you can use and professionals you can call for help.
To learn more about eating disorders, go to the Academy for Eating Disorders’ fast facts page. To find eating disorder organizations and websites, go to The Healthy Teen Project’s resource page, or Eating Disorder Hope’s resource page.
You can also search for treatment options and groups on the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)’s ‘Find Treatment’ page. Eating Disorder Hope also has a directory of therapists, nutritionists and specialists, organized by state.
There are also eating disorder hotlines you can call. The NEDA Helpline is available Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (all Eastern Standard Time). There’s also the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) Helpline, which is available Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Standard Time).