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Remembering Sarah-Jayne and her battle with bulimia
EVERYONE knew that Sarah-Jayne Saunders’ bulimia was making her ill – but no one realised it could kill her.
“People who didn’t know her wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong,” says her big sister Carly Jones.
Sarah-Jayne had become weak, but her death on March 29 last year was a complete shock to those who knew and loved the bubbly 27-year-old from Eastleigh.
“The last time I saw her was at a barbecue a few days before she died,” remember Sarah-Jayne’s best friend Hayley Hamsford.
“She was all dressed up and she had her eye make-up done all different colours. She liked to get dressed up and go out. I would never have imagined in a million years that that would be the last time I would see her; nor would she.”
“She didn’t realise how ill she was and neither did we,” adds Carly.
It has been difficult for Carly and Hayley to come to terms with Sarah-Jane’s unexpected death – caused by organ failure as a result of years of bulimia.
But the pair decided that they wanted something good to come out of the tragedy – by raising awareness about how dangerous bulimia is and funds for eating disorder charity B-Eat.
They are holding a fundraising party in Eastleigh in Sarah- Jayne’s honour a few days after the first anniversary of her death, on April 5.
“I’m dreading the anniversary so this will give us something to look forward to,” says Carly.
“All her friends and family will be there.”
Sarah-Jayne first developed symptoms of bulimia in her mid teens.
“She had put quite a lot of weight on and at first it was a way to control it,” says Hayley.
“Then it became a habit and something that controlled her.”
Hayley and Carly, along with other friends and family members, confronted Sarah-Jayne about the problem, but they feel that she never had enough help and never fully admitted how much of a problem she had.
“It hugely affected her life. At times she really suffered with it but a big part of it was hiding it,” says Carly.
“She would come to a meal late and say she had already eaten or she would eat really quickly and go off,” says Hayley.
“She was bingeing and then making herself sick. It got to the point where I didn’t want her to come to my house and eat my food only to go and throw it up in my toilet,” says Carly sadly.
“It was very difficult,” she adds.
“She often said she didn’t think she’d get better – but she didn’t think she was going to die from it.”
Hayley adds: “She was scared of what her life would be like without it. She didn’t know what her personality would be like.”
Although Sarah-Jayne’s life was hugely limited by her bulimia, she did manage to work for a while and towards the end of her life, when she was too weak for regular work, she volunteered in a local charity shop, making the most of the opportunity to snap up bargains for her friends and family.
Sarah-Jayne was popular and loved parties, which is what gave Carly and Hayley the idea of throwing a fund and awareness-raising party in her honour.
They hope to raise £1,000 for the charity – this would be enough for B-Eat to set up two self-help groups to provide support and advice to sufferers and their families.
“People seem to find bulimia difficult to talk about,” says Carly. “I don’t know why – we all eat. I think maybe people don’t want to talk about it because of the bingeing and purging. We want to raise awareness about bulimia and also the charity, B-Eat, so it can help more people.”
“I think she’d be very proud of us for doing this,” says Hayley.
“She loved a party and she knew I’m not very organised, so it’s amazing we’re doing this!”
“I feel a bit like we’re throwing her a party,” says Carly, “But she’s not going to be there.”
- The fundraising event for B-Eat in memory of Sarah-Jayne Saunders takes place on April 5 at the Railway Institute Club in Eastleigh from 7pm.
Tickets are priced £5, which includes a strip of raffle tickets, and can only be bought in advance. The evening will include music, a magician and a raffle, with prizes including an executive box with three course meal for four people at Eastleigh FC.
For more information and to buy tickets, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Eating disorder factfile n More than 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders.
EATING DISORDER FACTFILE
It is estimated that 10 per cent of these are anorexic, 40 per cent are bulimic and the rest are in the ‘not specified’ category.
- For more help, visit b-eat.co.uk or call their helpline on 0845 6341414 or youth helpline on 0845 6347650.