Sarah-Joy Wickes spent her first two years at university suffering from bulimia. Following a gradual recovery, and with renewed energy, Sarah became dedicated to fighting eating disorders on her campus at UEA.
"The main incentive behind everything I've done since recovering has been a desire to provide the support and environment that I didn't have" says Sarah.
Sarah started a campaign to promote positive body image and self esteem to other students at her university. Operation Beautiful UEA was a project dedicated to plastering campus mirrors with positive sticky notes. Sarah has been nominated for the Student in a Million role model award.
Sarah's struggle with depression and eating disorders started at the age of 11 when her father passed away. Starting university worsened her depression and led her to begin self harming. "My illnesses meant that I hated the first two years of university" she says.
At the beginning of the second year, Sarah started taking medication and attended cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses.
While recovering, Sarah worked as a volunteer with the Salvation Army food run, supplying homeless people in her community with food and blankets. She spent time encouraging students to bake cakes and would donate them to the homeless.
Sarah then went public with her illness and was astounded at the amount of positive feedback she received. "I had wanted to do something for years, but the stigma meant that I thought people would react negatively," she says. "In reality, I didn't actually get one single negative comment, but instead a flock of private messages from people."
The experience strengthened Sarah's drive to help other people going through a similar situation. She started Operation Beautiful UEA to raise awareness of eating disorders and mental illness in men and women. Operation Beautiful garnered 1,300 Facebook likes.
Following on from this project Sarah conducted a series of interview she calls the 'Black Dog Chronicles'. She interviewed students at her uni who have been through difficult times and published them on her blog.
Sarah has recently graduated from UEA with a first and is now working as a personal travel expert. You can read her black dog interviews and more about her experiences on her blog.