Content warning: This articles deals with eating disorders and may be triggering for some readers.
Stevie was just 14 when he made a pact with his mother to lose weight, in a bid to get healthier together.
It was 2007 and Melanie Brazier had just been diagnosed with type two diabetes and was advised by her doctor that she would better manage her condition if she lost weight. Her 14-year-old son Stevie—who had gained weight following a motorcycle accident—was troubled when doctors referred to him as “clinically obese” on hospital charts.
“We enjoyed cooking chicken stir fries. Stevie was getting compliments and he was really pleased,” Brazier told The Mirror.
But things soon changed for the teenager, who was 187 cm tall and also had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Stevie started showing signs of depression and became obsessed with exercising. When he wasn’t exercising, he was binging.
By 2011, Stevie was throwing up 25 times per day.
“One day he bent over and his T-shirt rode up,” Brazier said.
“I noticed a roll of skin hanging over his bottom and his spine jutting out. It was a shocking sight and I gasped. He’d been hiding in baggy jumpers so I’d not noticed how much weight he’d lost.”
Eventually, a psychiatrist diagnosed Stevie with anorexia and bulimia—a combination with the highest mortality rate of any other psychological conditions.
Brazier and her husband couldn’t afford to admit Stevie into a full-time psychiatric institution. Instead, he started to receive care as an outpatient at an eating disorder clinic in southeast England.
The years between 2011 and 2013 were a blur of hospital admissions: scary blood test results, kidney failure, and on one occasion his heart had to be restarted—because when blood potassium levels are too low, the heart slows. Stevie’s pulse was as ‘faint as a 90-year-old’s’.
It was February 2014 when Stevie’s mother found him dead.
“When he wasn’t up by 10.45 am. I went up to his bedroom because it was unusual. I knew he was dead as soon as I saw him. Heartbroken doesn’t describe how I felt.”
The story is heartbreaking, and it’s not too far from home.
What if “body positivity” doesn’t work for you? Post continues below.
In Australia, eating disorders affect approximately nine per cent of the population, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).