Courtney says: I was slightly overweight as a child, and my big sister Rebecca often teased me about being fat. Aged 14 I was a healthy eight-and-a-half stone, but her hurtful words rang in my ears. I thought I was huge.
I decided to try the Special K diet – only mine would be an extreme version. I ate just two small bowls of cereal a day. I dropped a stone in the first year, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be as thin as possible – I wanted to prove my sister was wrong. Soon, Rebecca noticed I was losing weight, and started copying my eating habits.
It quickly turned into a sinister sibling rivalry – if she ate something, I made sure I ate less. As far as I was concerned it was a competition and there was only going to be one winner – I had to be the thinnest. Rebecca reached six-and-a-half stone and, aged 15, I weighed just under six stone. Knowing I was winning the race motivated me to lose more weight.
But then, when Rebecca turned 18, she stopped competing with me and started gaining weight. She looked great but instead of recovering with her, I wanted to show that I wasn’t a quitter. I still resented her for bullying me – and I still wanted to prove I wasn’t fat.
So, while my big sister got better, I got worse. At five stone, my lowest weight, doctors threatened to hospitalise me. The wake-up call forced me to put on weight. I went up to eight stone, but then I developed severe bulimia. Able to enjoy food for the first time in years, without gaining weight, I indulged in huge binges before being sick in bags, and hiding it in my room.
My weight yo-yoed and by the beginning of this year I weighed barely six stone. In March this year I read an article about a girl who died from bulimia. It shocked me to the core and I knew then I had to get help. Gradually I began to eat more regularly, and I stopped making myself sick.
It hasn’t been easy but I’m finally a healthy nine stone. I’ve forgiven Rebecca for making me anorexic, and she’s done everything she can to help me get better. Now I realise she loves me no matter what I weigh.
Rebecca, 22, says: “When we were younger Courtney was a little bigger than me so if she made me mad I called her fat. When she started dieting I thought she looked great, so I started competing with her to be the thinnest.
On my 18th birthday party I was tipsy, and I noticed how good the party food looked, and I decided I was going to have some. When my best friend told me how happy she was to see me eat it really hit home how concerned people were about me. I decided then to get better.
But as I recovered, Courtney got worse. She looked like a walking skeleton. We shared a room and every day I was scared I’d wake up and find her dead. I felt so guilty and I did everything I could to help her recover. I still blame myself for her anorexia, but I’m so glad she’s better now.”