A FLINTSHIRE teenager has spoken about the massive impact of battling an eating disorder after raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Maci Nicholls, aged 17 and from Rhosesmor, said she has been struggling with an eating disorder for about three years.

She was officially diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago and has since received inpatient treatment in North Wales, as well as at Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

The former Mold Alun pupil had to leave school in year 11.

She said: "I missed a crucial part of my GCSEs, but I was still able to apply for sixth form because of how well I did in year 10.

"But I went to sixth form for a month and decided it was too much.

"I was getting worse at that point as well, so I had to pull out of school and had a year off.

"I am now at Deeside College doing a level three in health and social care, because I feel like that is what I want to do in the future.

"I want to work for the NHS to give something back for all of the treatment I have had."

Maci has spent the past two Christmases in inpatient facilities but said she now feels she is on the right track.

Describing how she began to develop and notice her eating disorder, she explained: "It first started when I was 12 or 13.

"I think people often feel like if you're eating healthy or exercising more that's a phase - and for some people it might be. "I started it to get into a healthy lifestyle, but when it was coming up to my prom I got into a phase of wanting to look a certain way, or get into a certain dress.

"I was going to the gym, really restricting what I was eating and only eating certain food groups.

"I started to lose weight and at the time I was happy.

"I set myself a goal weight and when I reached it I just set another, and another. "It was never enough.

"I knew I wouldn't be able to survive, weighing nothing, but that was always my goal - to weigh a minimal amount.

"Looking back at that now scares me. "One of the most difficult things is to recognise 'I am struggling.'

"Because the illness tricks you into thinking you're fine - and you get comments from people saying you're looking well.

"Even though it might be a compliment, the eating disorder thrives on comments like that. "I often think social media impacted me a lot, and TV programmes.

"I would never want anyone to experience what I have - It's draining, exhausting, just horrible.

"I am now on the right track and I genuinely believe I have a chance of recovering. "I want to tell people that no matter how difficult things are, you need to keep going.

"It's not necessarily that your struggles get easier, but in time you become stronger at fighting the thoughts and the urges.

"Eventually you will become more of yourself.

"It doesn't matter how long it takes. Getting there is the priority.

"At the moment I am probably 50/50 - with 50 per cent being Maci and 50 per cent being the illness.

"I know if I continue I will become 75 per cent Maci.

"But when I started, I was probably 75 per cent anorexia - or more."

Maci decided to do something to support BEAT - a UK eating disorder charity.

She explained: "I wondered what I could do while I was waiting to be discharged, and I knew i wanted to raise money for BEAT.

"It has helped me a lot. At the beginning, when not many people knew about my eating disorder, I often used that reassured me I wasn't alone.

"I had a bake sale and raised £130, but then I decided to set up a Justgiving page as well. "I set a target of £500, but I reached that in a few hours which was honestly overwhelming."

Maci's fundraising page has now received pledges for more than £4,250 including gift aid, in addition to her bake sale money.

Looking ahead to the future, she said: "I have always planned on going to university.

"And I might have gone back a year in school but I am determined - I am not going to let this stop me.

"I want to fight it so I can give my family the life they deserve, and not one where they are controlled by my eating disorder."

For more information about BEAT, visit: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/