As many of you will know over the weekend Nikki Grahame passed away from her battle with anorexia. The news has affected me quite a lot, I didn’t know Nikki personally but I watched her on big brother and laughed along at her catchphrases. It wasn’t till after big brother that I found out that she had struggled with an eating disorder. At the time I found out about her eating disorder I was struggling with my own in secret. When living with my ED in secret I would try to research other people that had gone through similar things. Nikki’s story is one that I remember well. I looked into her story more and found out that she developed her eating disorder at a similar age that I developed mine so I felt like I could relate to her and some of the things that she had been through.
I hadn’t heard a lot about Nikki in recent years and assumed that she may have been doing well and then last year I saw a photo of her from when lockdown restrictions were lifted over summer and from those photos I could tell that she had been struggling. I saw that her friends were doing a fundraiser to raise money for her to get help and had also seen her mum doing an interview on This Morning about how lockdown and being isolated had really been affecting Nikki. But when I heard of her passing on Friday I was shocked and to be honest quite triggered as it brought some thoughts and memories back.
We NEED to have more conversations about eating disorders and recovery and I hope that by doing so we can prevent more deaths.
Something that I want people to understand is that you can’t just turn your eating disorder on and off. When you say to somebody with an eating disorder ” well you could just eat.” you are not helping. If it was that simple we wouldn’t have the statistics that we do today!
People think that the risk of death should be enough to stop somebody from using their disordered behaviours but the truth is when you’re in it you can’t see it… well at least for me that was the case. For many years at the start of my struggle with my disorder I knew that what I was doing was weird but I didn’t know what it was or that it was something I needed help for. When I started college and a friend I had confided in told me that what I was doing to myself was extremely dangerous and that it could kill me if I carried on, did it shock me? Yes. Did it stop me? NO. I carried on hiding food. It didn’t stop me when an item I had been hiding sick in exploded in my face and went all over my bathroom. It didn’t stop me when I had to leave class to go to the hospital because of my heart palpitations where I got results back saying my ECG results were abnormal, the truth is I went home, I got a phone call from my case manager, lied to her and said I had been doing really well so was confused as to why they were abnormal and then went to my room purged and did a work out. When the clothes I used to wear started to hang on me and my mum had to take me shopping to get new clothes it didn’t stop me. Only now when I look back at old photos do I realise how poorly I was, when you are in that place of struggle you think to yourself ” well I am only going to do it till I lose X.” but when you hit that target it is never enough so you keep making a new one and then a new one. When people told me It could kill me I just used to think well it won’t happen to me.
The brutal truth is that it can and we can see that from Nikkis passing. I have been going through my recovery independently since I got discharged from the eating disorder services at the end of 2016 and even now I have to fight it off everyday. I am always worried that I could relapse. I am in no way naive to the fact it could come back in full force at any given time. To tell the truth there has been many times that I have used disordered behaviours since I left treatment but the difference is that now I talk about it because that is what takes its power away. The moment I start to become secretive again is when I know, its getting worse. I still have to deal with it every single day multiple times a day. Obviously some days are worse than others but every time somebody talks about their own weight gain in a negative way that little voice in my head creeps in to tell me they must think the same about my weight gain, every time I order a takeaway and they forget to put something I ordered in the bag my eating disorder will come knocking to tell me its a good thing they forgot it and that I shouldn’t be having it anyway. Every time I bend down a little too quickly after eating vomit comes up without intending it to due to the pressure I have put on my body because of my eating disorder. I know I am talking about some things that sound gross or deep but this is the reality of eating disorders and this is why I am scared of relapse.
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate in any mental illness and it is so important to catch them early on and yet people are still being told their weight or BMI (don’t get me started) are not low enough. It is disgusting and something needs to be done about it. SEED the non-profit organisation managed by Gemma Oaten are doing a lot of work, on why the scales should not be the judge of who deserves the help and who doesn’t and I am so happy that they have been able to go on the radio and television recently to spread awareness and to try to make a change. Go check them out on all of their social media platforms!
If you are struggling through the same things that I have discussed in this post. Pleaseee get help, it is never too late to reach out. If you don’t feel like you deserve it you do, you are so worthy of living a life free of your eating disorder.
If you have found the recent news triggering my messages are always open if you need somebody to talk to. The advice line for SEED is (01482) 718130 and for more helplines you can find them my clicking the link at the top of the page.