Tara Swanton was only 12 years old when she started to display signs of disordered eating.
She had started to exercise obsessively, began to only eat vegetables and skipped meals.
At 13 she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
"My eating disorder left me constantly cold and physically exhausted," Ms Swanton said.
"It became so obsessive for me that it left me little time to think about anything else, including my friends and family."
Ms Swanton can't pinpoint an exact trigger point for her disordered eating.
"I'd never been bullied [and] no one had ever tried to pressure me into losing weight," she said.
The 20-year-old medical science student is no longer receiving treatment, but thinks there is a genetic aspect to her illness. She is taking part in a worldwide study looking at the link between genetics and eating disorders.
Australian researchers are calling for more than 3500 volunteers to take part in the investigation. The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative aims to identify genes that influence a person's risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorders.
It is the world's largest ever genetic investigation into the three disorders.
Brisbane-based medical institute QIMR Berghofer will lead the Australian study. The Australian lead investigator, QIMR's Professor Nick Martin, said decades of family studies had confirmed eating disorders run in families due to genetic factors.
"With approximately 17,096 people in the ACT thought to be living with an eating disorder, we are looking for any Australians, aged 13 and over, with first-hand experience of an eating disorder to volunteer for this important genetics study," he said.
Professor Martin said participants would provide saliva samples and this would pinpoint specific genes associated with eating disorders. It could also help to determine why some people who experience eating disorders respond to treatments while others do not.
Volunteers must be at least 13 years old and have experienced one of the eating disorders. People can sign up by going to edgi.org.au.