A WOMAN whose anorexia nearly killed her has shared the powerful role art and expression played in saving her life.

In Dr Lorna Collins' TEDx Talk 'How Creativity Revived Me' the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust ambassador revealed how a traumatic brain injury aged 18 caused amnesia and a multitude of mental health problems.

This included her being desperately unwell with anorexia for nearly 20 years.

She said during this time she would 'compulsively create' using it as a 'sanctuary' from her situation.

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The 38-year-old said: "I was silenced by my misery but my art and creativity gave me a voice. It enabled me to express what was inexpressible."

Dr Collins had unsuccessful admissions to facilities in the UK and overseas, but it wasn’t until she became an inpatient at Cotswold House in Oxford's Warneford Hospital, which is run by Oxford Health, that she found hope and a care plan which embraced her artistic flair.

She mentions in the talk about a turning point being when a doctor saw her drawings and prescribed art as part of her medication and treatment.

She said: “Paintings enabled me to survive despite all the trauma I was experiencing during my treatment. Painting and writing grounded me.

“The team at Cotswold House and at the Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury were instrumental to my recovery.”

Now a recovered eating disorder patient Dr Collins, who has a PHD from Cambridge University on the topic of art, is spreading the word about the power of creativity, including with her deeply-personal TEDx Talk.

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She said: “I had an ambition to do the talk at TEDx Coventry and it took a year to prepare for the film. I want to show more people the merits of the Oxford Health team.”

Now, two and a half years out of hospital, Dr Collins, who lives near Amersham in Buckinghamshire, volunteers as an involvement champion for the service.

She has also undergone training and is about to start in a paid role as a peer support worker for the Bucks Eating Disorder Service.

It will allow her to use her own experiences to help others who have an eating disorder.

She said: “Turning a full circle is so empowering, a privilege. I feel very proud.”

David Viljoen, consultant clinical psychologist at Cotswold House said his former patient was an inspiration to many who had treated her.

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He said: “It is a privilege for us as a multi-disciplinary team to see how Lorna has developed and recovered from a severe and long-standing eating disorder.

"We are constantly learning from our patients and Lorna’s recovery highlights that art can be used to compliment CBT for eating disorders.”

Dr Viljoen added: “Lorna, is an inspiration for patients, carers and staff and we look forward to her working with us.

"Lorna, has indeed come full circle, and as a team member will encourage patients and carers and continue to help us to improve our services.”

During lockdown, the artist and academic has been leading online art workshops on Zoom.

As well as local groups for children and adults, she is involved in ‘#BeCreative’ art workshops, supported by East Midlands based First Steps Eating Disorder Charity.

Now, grant application pending, she is embarking on a huge research project: ‘The Butterfly Effect: Art, Creativity and Eating Disorders’.

To watch Dr Collin's TEDx Talk visit youtu.be/smKOkjUfzHw