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Bodywhys say it can be 'challenging' for person with eating disorder to ask for help

It comes ahead of a documentary about the late Nikki Grahame thats set to air tonight

Nikki Grahame died last year aged just 38 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Clodagh Meaney

Bodywhys, the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, have said it can be “challenging” for a person with an eating disorder to ask for help.

It comes ahead of a documentary about the late Nikki Grahame which is set to air on Channel 4 on Thursday.

The former Big Brother star died of anorexia nervosa aged 38 in April 2021.

“It can be really challenging for a person living with an eating disorder to reach out for help,” the charity told sundayworld.com.

“We think of an eating disorder as a coping mechanism, which can serve a purpose for the person - offering them a false sense of control when other aspects of their life feel out of their control."

“That is why it can be really difficult for a person to let go of,” they explained.

Nikki Grahame struggled with an eating disorder for over thirty years since the tender age of 8.

She was admitted to over 17 hospitals and clinics over the years for treatment.

“A delay in help seeking can lead to the illness becoming more entrenched and the person becoming more physically unwell,” Bodywhys said.

“Early intervention is vital to prevent the person getting to a stage where they may require hospitalisation.”

“We know that people can and do get better with access to the appropriate support and treatment. Recovery is possible.”

The charity say that eating disorders being discussed in the media is “important for raising awareness and understanding.”

They said that if you’re concerned about someone you know having an eating disorder it is important to focus on feelings rather than specific behaviours.

“Behaviours can often be a symptom of what is really going on for the person. Listen to their needs without judgement and without trying to fix or problem solve.”

“Please know our support services are available to you at any time via email alex@bodywhys.ie or our helpline: 01-2107906,” they added.

Nikki Grahame with her mother Sue, pictured in 2009 (PA)

Recalling the night Nikki died, her mother told the documentary makers: “Nikki was discharged from hospital. She came down to visit me, she collapsed and was blue lighted into the local hospital in Dorset and was there for two weeks.”

“She had a BMI of 10. She was pitiful,” she said.

“I went there every day to shower her, dress her, to sit with her while she ate, to take the load off the nurses. It wasn’t a specialised unit.”

“She rang me at half three in the morning and said ‘Hi mum.’ She was quite normal – she normally did it when she was drunk,” she said.

“She said ‘I managed to get to the loo’. She’d ordered herself a walking frame so she managed to get to the loo.”

“I said ‘Well done darling, that’s the way. Every day just write down one thing that’s been positive today. You’ll get there, there’s no hurry’.”

Recalling Nikki’s final words, Susan said: “She said ‘Mum, I’m so tired,’.

“So I said ‘Go to sleep darling, I’ll call you in the morning’, and she died.”

‘Nikki Grahame: Who Is She?’ airs on Channel 4 on Thursday April 7th at 9pm.


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