Jade Thirwall health: Little Mix star hid ‘horrible’ health battle – symptoms

Jade Thirwall’s group Little Mix has released five hit albums since winning the X-Factor. The girl group’s enduring success puts paid to the perception that talent show winners have short-lived careers. Before her meteoric rise to fame, Jade was locked in a serious mental health battle.

Speaking on a special episode of BBC Sound’s Life Hacks podcast called, I’ve been there: Jade Thirwall, the pop star opened up her past experience with anorexia and how she tried to conceal it from those closest to her.

The singer said: “I obviously became very small… I used to wear a lot of baggy clothes to hide that.”

Jade said having anorexia made her feel like she was “in control” and that she found it difficult to tell people what she was going through.

She said: “It got to the point when I knew I needed someone else to tell, harbouring a horrible secret like that is obviously really damaging to your mental health and obviously my physical health.”

When she eventually told someone that she thought she was anorexic she said it was like a “weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Jade told Life Hacks podcast presenter Katie Thistleton the second turning point came when doctors drilled home the seriousness of her condition.

Doctors warned Jade that she was so ill she could die if she carried on losing weight.

The Little Mix star also revealed the devastating impact her condition was having on her friends and family.

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Jade was allowed to go home from hospital when she was 18, just weeks before she auditioned for X Factor.

She posted on social media about the meeting and the podcast: “I really hope by sharing my story I was able to help both them and anyone listening to the podcast to further understand anorexia and see that recovery is absolutely possible.”

What is anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition.

“People who have anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both,” explains the NHS.

According to the health body, typical signs include:

  • Missing meals, eating very little or avoid eating any foods you see as fattening
  • Lying about what and when you’ve eaten, and how much you weigh
  • Taking medicine to reduce your hunger (appetite suppressants), such as slimming or diet pills
  • Exercising excessively, making yourself sick, or using medicine to help you poo (laxatives) or to make you pee (diuretics) to try to avoid putting on weight
  • An overwhelming fear of gaining weight
  • Strict rituals around eating
  • Seeing losing a lot of weight as a positive thing
  • Believing you are fat when you are a healthy weight or underweight
  • Not admitting your weight loss is serious.

You may also notice physical signs and symptoms such as:

  • If you’re under 18, your weight and height being lower than expected for your age
  • If you’re an adult, having an unusually low body mass index (BMI)
  • Your periods stopping (in women who have not reached menopause) or not starting (in younger women and girls)
  • Bloating, constipation and abdominal pain
  • Headaches or problems sleeping
  • Feeling cold, dizzy or very tired
  • Poor circulation in hands and feet
  • Dry skin, hair loss from the scalp, or fine downy hair growing on the body
  • Reduced sex drive.

How to treat anorexia

Getting help and support as soon as possible gives you the best chance of recovering from anorexia.

“If you think you may have anorexia, even if you are not sure, see your GP as soon as you can,” advises the NHS.

Treatment for anorexia usually involves a combination of talking therapy and supervised weight gain.

“If you’re concerned that a family member or friend may have anorexia, let them know you’re worried about them and encourage them to see their GP. You could offer to go along with them,” notes the NHS.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

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