”The figure looking back at me was little more than a skeleton with just a thin layer of tissue paper for skin, drawn over the stick-like bones. I stood staring for a good couple of minutes, considering what I'd become. And my verdict? Brilliant, I thought. It's been worth every moment of all that hard work.”
Say the name Nikki Grahame and most people will remember the bubbly, highly strung and hugely entertaining Big Brother 7 contestant. Since leaving the Big Brother house, she has forged a successful career for herself in presenting and writing. Yet Nikki isn't just another reality television contestant and her life story is not like any other you will ever read.
From the age of eight until she was nineteen, Nikki battled anorexia nervosa but few cases have been quite as extreme as hers. Aged just eight and weighing just under three stone, Nikki was diagnosed as anorexic.
For the next eight years, she was in and out of institutions - seven in total - during which time she attempted suicide twice and had to be sedated up to four times a day so that she could be force-fed. At one point, she was sedated for fourteen days while doctors sewed a tube into her stomach, through which she was fed in order to get her weight out of the critical range. The lengths that she went to avoid eating and find ways to exercise excessively shocked doctors who have worked in the field for years. As Nikki says, “I've always wanted to be the best at everything I do, so I had to be the best anorexic - and I was.”
This compelling book tells the story of an incredible journey.
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Not What You Might Think
Not necessarily. I am more interested in the professional treatment & analysis of eating disorders. This book is a bit on the sensational side from that perspective, notwithstanding that I believe it to be an honest account from the author's viewpoint.
There is a giant piece missing in this book that only Nikki's caregivers could possibly provide. It seems highly improbable to me that Nikki simply "woke up" one day & decided she'd had it with her anorexia & wanted to be better. Something psychologically was going on all those years that changed. What that might be is far more intriguing to me than the fact that this self-absorbed young lady wound up on Big Brother (a show I've never watched). While it is none of our business, my guess is problems at home were much deeper & Nikki's psychological problems more far more intense than even this dramatic book would reveal. From this account, it would seem that one can simply change her mind one day & go from the brink of death to stardom. That is not reality -- & certainly not for hundreds of young women suffering from eating disorders. Might they not now think that even though there will be pain along the way they might end up the same way? And what result when they do not?
Accounts directly from others -- mom, dad, sister, caregivers. Anorexia is not well understood & I don't think it can be understood simply from the point of view of the person affected. This is a disease with poor insight & the person affected is not the only one walking a hellish road. Perhaps this book is not the right forum, but I am interested in what approaches to Nikki's care were discussed with her parents.