Gaia Wise campaigns for improved services to tackle eating disorders
Greg Wise and Emma Thompson‘s daughter Gaia is campaigning for improved services to tackle eating disorders – after detailing her own three-year battle with anorexia.
The aspiring actress, now 21, developed anorexia aged 16 which left her so thin she was unable to even sit on a chair without it being painful. She was later admitted to rehab in 2017.
Gaia, who has joined forces with psychotherapist Noel McDermott who runs mental health services in the independent sector, gave advice to those battling eating disorders, based on her own experience in recovery.
Cause: Greg Wise and Emma Thompson’s daughter Gaia is campaigning for improved services to tackle eating disorders – after detailing her own three-year battle with anorexia (pictured 2019)
She said: ‘Forgiveness is key. Being kind to yourself is key. There is no such thing as a perfect recovery & if you slip it is important to be compassionate.
‘And it is important to be honest to the people around you and not feel shame. Never feel shame about your recovery. You are doing it perfectly for you. So, remember that. And enjoy it!’
Psychotherapist Noel added: ‘Great advice from Gaia, as bringing the pleasure of the festive season is what we want for those recovering from ED, not simply reduction in their symptoms’.
Gaia has previouslycredited her parents for saving her life by staging an emergency intervention.
Family first: Gaia is pictured with parents Greg and Emma in 2019 – she has credited them for saving her life
She spoke out about her illness for the first time with The Sun on Sunday, saying ‘Anorexia makes you really good at gaslighting people, making it sound like they’re insane. My parents would say, ‘Gaia, we heard you working out at 3am.’ And I’d say, ‘No you didn’t, it was just the house moving. I was asleep.”
Gaia spoke of how Greg, 55, Emma, 62, her family, including brother Tindy, 35, and best friend gathered together for an intervention, with Gaia agreeing to a three-month rehab stint after Greg said: ‘I don’t know where my child is any more.’
Adding that it was a ‘kick in the teeth’ she added: ‘I had to listen to the people I loved most in the world who, at the time, I’d really forgotten about, tell me what I was doing.’
She said: ‘That’s when I said I’d go to rehab. I went on December 29, 2017, and stayed for three months. Since then I’ve had a lot of therapy — and I’ll always be grateful for that, because it saved my life.’
She said: She said: ‘Forgiveness is key. Being kind to yourself is key. There is no such thing as a perfect recovery & if you slip it is important to be compassionate’ (pictured in April right and during her anorexia battle left)
Anorexia is a serious mental illness where a person restricts their food intake, which often causes them to be severely underweight. Many also exercise excessively.
Some sufferers may experience periods of bingeing, followed by purging. Sufferers often have a distorted view of themselves and think they are larger than they really are.
Gaia believes the anorexia was brought on when her aunt Clare, Greg’s sister, was diagnosed with breast cancer and then later moved in with their family.
She said: ‘I wanted to not be a problem, to be in control as everything else was falling apart. I was so focused on being thin I didn’t have time to think of anything else. It drowned out everything I couldn’t deal with.’
Greg cared for Clare before she died in 2016, aged 51.
Speaking on her time in rehab, she said that she was allowed to be angry in the therapy but that she was still exercising, which she compared to being an alcoholic having a drink.
Gaia went onto detail that as she battled the illness, she became covered in downy hair to keep her warm because she was that thin – which led to her mother, Emma called her her ‘little mole’.
She also detailed how she would resort to lying and hiding food in her clothes, before scattering it in the garden, to hide her battle with the eating disorder.
Gaia also underwent family therapy sessions with her loved ones which involved ‘a lot of screaming and crying’ but credits the sessions for being the reason she ‘still has a relationship with her family.’
She has now been in recovery for almost two years.
In 2017 Emma movingly discussed anorexia, while her own daughter was secretly battling the illness, saying: ‘There are so many kids — girls and boys — and actresses now who simply don’t eat. They don’t eat.
‘Sometimes there are subjects you absolutely have to make noise on.’
Road to recovery: Her family were supporting her the whole way, and has now been in recovery for three years (pictured together above with brother Tindyebwa)
Gaia first took to Instagram back in April to share her experience with the eating disorder alongside a comparison snap of herself.
She wrote: ‘So, many people are posting fabulous bodily changes they have achieved either over the past few years, or over lockdown. The majority I have seen are about weight loss. I decided to share something a little different; my journey from anorexia to a healthy body.
‘Much of it has been a battle but I’m now 18 months in a stable and happy weight range. I was terrified of sharing this but I thought that it might be useful to see the polar opposite…who knows…it might even be helpful to another human. I don’t know but I know sharing takes me even further out of the shame of an eating disorder.
‘Anorexia is the most deadly mental illness that exists in humans and – even on days I STRUGGLE UGH – I’m so proud that I have moved from the left to the right (figuratively in this pic…ha!). Since the first picture was taken the biggest thing that has changed is that I have moved into my own flat.
‘It doesn’t seem massive but if you had told me 16 months ago I would have been secure, stable and happy enough to look after a home, i probably would’ve slapped you across the face to make you see sense.
‘And yet here we are. I have tagged some incredible humans without whom I wouldn’t have been able to complete this journey but there are a lot of you out there and I hope you know how much I cherish you.’
If you have been affected by any of the subjects in the story please call Beat: The UK’s Eating Disorder Charity on 0808 801 0677
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is a serious mental illness where a person restricts their food intake, which often causes them to be severely underweight.
Many also exercise excessively.
Some sufferers may experience periods of bingeing, followed by purging.
Sufferers often have a distorted view of themselves and think they are larger than they really are.
Untreated, patients can suffer loss of muscle and bone strength, as well as depression, low libido and menstruation ceasing in women.
In severe cases, patients can experience heart problems and organ damage.
Behavioural signs of anorexia include people saying they have already eaten or will do later, as well as counting calories, missing meals, hiding food and eating slowly.
As well as weight loss, sufferers may experience insomnia, constipation, bloating, feeling cold, hair loss, and swelling of the hands, face and feet.
Treatment focuses on therapy and self-help groups to encourage healthy eating and coping mechanisms.