Flynn’s Sibling Story
My sister Tahlia developed anorexia at 16. We noticed something was wrong on a family holiday to Ireland…and when we got home things spiraled pretty quickly. She’s now almost 20 and although we’ve had lots of ups and downs, she’s in recovery right now.
I’m the youngest in the family, and was only 13 when T first got sick. I was really confused and upset about it. I didn’t know what was happening…or why.
Tahlia was funny, really smart at school, and was good at everything she did. My friends all thought she was so pretty. She loved clothes, music, alternative bands, movies, reading, poetry. She had so many interests.
She was always the dramatic, intense one though, and she had anxiety (and OCD). Family trips, dinners, days out, holidays etc were always planned around her.
Tahlia’s illness came on quite quickly. It wasn’t gradual, it was like, one moment things were okay, the next everything was out of control. She was hospitalised many times, for periods of up to six months. I feel like the hospitals didn’t get her better though – mostly she came home worse than she went in!
I have anxiety…and there were lots of times I saw things i wish I hadn’t. There were lots of scary times, when she was so upset and distressed, and we were all affected.
Having a sibling with an eating disorder has changed lots of things we do as a family. I haven’t wanted to have friends over to hang out, or to sleepover. We don’t have many family dinners. We haven’t wanted to leave Mum either, unless Tahlia was in hospital, then it was more peaceful.
BUT, it has brought us much closer…My other sister Kat (she’s 18) is my best friend – we are really close and it’s bonded us. Maybe we wouldn’t be as close if this hadn’t happened.
I wish I’d known
I wish I’d known what to say and what not to say in different situations. Like at the dinner table! I always seemed to get it wrong in the beginning.
I wish I understood more about anorexia.. I didn’t have any idea about it when T first got sick. I wish I knew how to talk to my friends about it more.
I get support from..
My friends, and music. My parents who talk openly about everything.
I love going out to Sharks football games, hanging out with mates, and playing with Lunar – the therapy cat we got for T became the therapy cat for the family.
If I had any advice for other siblings, I’d say keep going, it does get better. I went to the Sibling Support Group run by EDFA and I found it very helpful. I’m not very good at talking about personal things in front of other people…but I liked to listen. It reassured me that we weren’t the only ones going through something like this.
I’m in Year 11 now, and lots of people at school know about Tahlia. A few times this year, people have asked to speak to me privately, and confided that they are experiencing an eating disorder, and ask for advice on who they should speak to…or that someone they know has anorexia and they need advice on what to do or say. I’m glad I can help.