With Big Brother back on our screens, we remember iconic contestant Nikki Grahame.

First of all, WHO IS SHE?! She was the feisty, funny, and quirky lady who entertained us with her antics in the 2006 series. She is also a lady who struggled with, and eventually sadly lost her life to, an eating disorder.

Nikki died in 2021, aged 38 following a 30-year battle with an eating disorder.

You may have seen the powerful Channel 4 documentary Nikki’s mother Sue took part in, Nikki Grahame: Who is she? In it, she recalled her own heart breaking story to raise awareness of how vital eating disorder treatment and mental health services are to those who are struggling. 

Figures and facts gained from eating disorder charity BEAT, state that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder and the sooner people get help, the more likely they will make a full recovery.

At The Living Room, we are lucky enough to work with some very inspirational people and we regularly hear some very uplifting stories of recovery. We want you to know that recovery IS possible.

In our Disordered Eating Group, we don’t diagnose eating disorders. Instead, we look deeper into our feelings and why we have developed these behaviours and what purpose those behaviours have served for us.

At this point you might be asking, what is the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating? To clarify, disordered eating is a term used to describe a wide range of harmful eating behaviours. And an eating disorder means you have been clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder in line with specific diagnostic criteria.

Whilst we sympathise with the NHS and how overwhelmed it is with the demand of people trying to access treatment, we also know that people with eating disorders often feel like they are ‘not thin enough’ for help or ‘not sick enough’ for recovery.  

The reality is NHS treatment can be hard to come by and only given to people fitting certain Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria and this difficulty is becoming more talked about.

You may have seen the video of presenter Jeff Stelling, who earlier this year, in an emotional and eventually tearful address, voiced how he feels about the awareness and funding towards treatment. 

“Up to 20 per cent of all eating disorder cases end in death and the cycle goes like this. Boy, girl, woman, man, goes for help, they are told they are not thin enough, they are not underweight enough to need treatment.

"They go away, they lose more weight, they go further and deeper into the mental morass that they’re in. They have suicidal tendencies.

“Eating disorders are being swept under the carpet. No one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2023. Those with eating disorders need action and help, and they need it now.”

But what is the solution?

Well, we know that disordered eating severely interferes with quality of life, but the good news is that recent research suggests that the sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.

And that is where we come in. There are no waiting lists or BMI stipulations for treatment at The Living Room, nor are there any time constraints on treatment. Our services are FREE and we have help right now for adults living in Hertfordshire who are experiencing disordered eating.

Our advice to anyone struggling is, don’t hesitate in getting the help you need. Call us. You don’t need to wait; you can contact us to book an assessment with our counsellors – who all have lived experience of recovery.

At the end of the documentary, Nikki’s Mum recalled seeing her daughter being put into a body bag and tearfully said: "They took her away and I didn't see her again. Part of me has died. I miss her more than I can say. She didn't think she was anything special, but she was."

Please know that if you’re struggling with a loved one’s eating disorder or addiction, support can be found for you too, in our Family and Carer’s Group.