My anorexia almost destroyed my sisters’ lives

‘The constant worry about whether your sister is going to drop down dead one day is not something which can easily be forgotten’


I asked my two sisters if they would say a few words about how anorexia has affected their lives, because the disease doesn’t just affect the victim, but also those around them.

Charlotte, who is 21 and studied Psychology at UEA, said: “Living alongside a sister with anorexia has to be one of the toughest challenges life has thrown at me.

“As a sibling, having to watch somebody you love suffer like that is a terrible thing to encounter. I am only now starting to come to terms with this illness, but it has taken me a long time to do so.

“Despite having just graduated in Psychology, I still find it particularly hard to grasp an understanding of the illness and I get frustrated when I have to witness Alice’s eating behaviour.

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“I think people forget the impact that this illness has on those around the person suffering. I became incredibly anxious throughout my teenage years and this is still something I am dealing with now.

“The constant worry about whether your sister is going to drop down dead one day is not something which can easily be forgotten. I admire the courage and strength it has taken Alice to start addressing her eating issues and I couldn’t be prouder of her for doing so.

“As for families and friends who have experienced first-hand this terrible illness, let me reassure you that no matter how horrible it seems, there is an end is in sight.

“Treatment will by no means be quick (we’ve been supporting Alice for around ten years now) but if you whole-heartedly support that person and show patience and love, then trust in yourself that you are doing everything you possibly can to help.”

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My baby sister Sophie, who so many times has been my big sister as I was growing up, is a fresher at Southampton Uni. She said: “The saddest part was seeing my sister, someone who is so energetic, cheeky and full of life, become a completely different person. I was looking at someone who was weak, miserable and so detached from life.

“What I missed the most was being able to eat whatever we felt like together whilst having lazy days and watching films. The worst part was listening to my sister try and deny that she had a problem, and although I wanted to give absolutely everything I had to help, she would throw it right back in my face.

“However, I knew that the real her would have been so appreciative of any help I had to offer. I almost felt guilty eating what I normally eat in front of her, knowing that usually she probably would have wanted to try whatever I was eating.

“Even just watching television programmes about food would make me feel uncomfortable when she was around.

“At one point during the middle of her most recent relapse, I sat her down and tried to talk to her about mindfulness, seeing as it is something I have found totally useful myself.

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“I actually managed to get her to eat some of the sweets from the jar I’d saved to take to university, and this gave me hope that she could get better.

“It’s hard to ever imagine mealtimes being normal again when issues revolving around food are at their worst, but it really can get better.

“Towards the end of the most recent relapse, it was so difficult because my sister finally began to admit that she had a problem, and I saw how desperate she was to try and get better. I saw a glimpse of my strong sister wanting to get her life back.

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“It’s so difficult not to make little comments or to try and bribe her to eat something, but over time I’ve realised that it just doesn’t solve anything. The best advice I can give is just to accept the situation, and let whoever is suffering know that you’ll absolutely be there for them if ever they need anything at all.

“All of the four times my sister has relapsed have been the worst times of my life, but I can honestly say that holding back any bitchy comments is totally worth it for whenever I see the days when my lovely sister can eat a meal without having to worry.

“Nothing else means more to me than when those moments happen.”