WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: A mother has revealed the harrowing reality behind her teen daughter's anorexia after a desperate plight to get her help.
Chloe, 15, has been battling an eating disorder since the coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne last year.
"I was bored and started exercising a lot and wanted to eat healthier and it all just kind of snowballed from there," she told Channel Nine's A Current Affair.
"I started counting calories and restricting my food and exercising a lot. When I was tired and didn't have the energy to, I'd force myself."
Desperate to raise awareness of eating disorders in Australia and the struggle to get help, Chloe's mother Melinda Walker showed the program just how difficult meal times with her daughter had become.
Encouraging the 15-year-old to eat avocado on toast for lunch, Chloe sobs and yells that she doesn't want to eat it.
The crying often begins as Ms Walker starts to make her food and Chloe attempts to hurt herself as punishment.
"I'm so angry and my head is just like screaming at me. I just don't know what to do," Chloe told A Current Affair.
"If I do eat and I hurt myself, then it kind of compensates for it."
Ms Walker said she had attempted to admit her daughter into hospital for her eating disorder, but had been turned away as her illness wasn't considered serious enough, A Current Affair reports.
Mother's desperate Facebook post
In April, after a long battle to get her daughter help, Ms Walker took to Facebook to air her frustrations at being turned away.
"For those who don't know, my daughter is very sick with anorexia and getting her a bed in hospital is near impossible," she said.
"She weight 40kgs and is 167cm and not a well girl. We have private health cover, but the private hospitals don't touch these kids.
"Most of the private inpatient services for this kind of illness only take kids 16 and up. And the public system is at full capacity."
The mother went on the say the public system worked like schools and they had to be in the catchment area to attend certain hospitals.
However the hospitals in their area did not have any beds.
"Because Chloe's blood pressure and heart rate are relatively stable at this particular time, on paper she doesn't really qualify for admission," Ms Walker wrote.
"Because she is too young ... she doesn’t qualify for an inpatient service either."
Chloe part of the 'missing middle'
While now Chloe has been admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital with the help of her paediatrician, Ms Walker said it was desperately needed and long overdue.
Ms Walker is calling for change to ensure those struggling with an eating disorder can access help early.
"Apparently hearing your daughter say that she wants to kill herself after every meal time, and that she deserves to die is still not enough reason to be admitted into hospital or a care unit," she wrote on Facebook.
"If that is not a reason then I don’t know what is."
A Current Affair reports calls to the Butterfly Foundation's eating disorder hotline increased by 57 per cent in the last year while the Mental Health Commission reported a 25 to 50 per cent jump in people presenting in hospitals and at eating disorder support services.
Youth mental health psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry told the program Chloe was part of the "missing middle".
"It wouldn't happen with any other health condition, you wouldn't be abandoned like that – told you're too complicated for the GP, but you're not sick enough to see a specialist," he said.
"We saw in the budget and we will see in the state budget very soon that the missing middle will start to be addressed but it's been neglected for a very long time."
If you or someone you know needs support relating to eating disorders, please call The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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