I’m Susie Birney from Dublin, Ireland. I am 44 years old, have no children, love swimming and have an eating disorder called ARFID (Avoidance restrictive Food Intake Disorder).
My weight has been a constant focus since I was 16. My health problems culminated in my mid-thirties with diabetes, umbilical hernia, PCOS, depression to name just a few. I tried all the conventional weight loss classes many times. I tried cognitive behaviour therapy, neuro- linguistic therapy, mindfulness classes. Losing weight many times to re-gain with more.
I had bariatric surgery in July 2015 and my diabetes, including retinopathy, was reversed on the day and so far has remained that way. My health and quality of life has improved vastly, however I have regained and understand fully that obesity is a lifelong chronic disease that needs ongoing support and professional treatment.
Through attending the Weight Management Service in Dublin, I became involved with their patient support group which I have been part of running for nearly eight years now. I firmly believe this was my turning point, sharing lived experiences with other people who live with obesity. Knowing I was not alone.
Late 2016 I then became a patient representative with the Association of the Studies of Obesity Ireland. Shortly after that I joined the EASO patient council as an Irish representative in Europe and since then have been sharing my experiences of living with obesity in the hope to raise awareness and stop weight stigma.
When the patient council launched as the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ECPO) in April 2019, I was honoured to take the position of Secretary. Working alongside this group of experienced, passionate and dedicated advocates is something I am proud of.