A brave woman who was so ill from an eating disorder she couldn't go on holiday is now throwing herself out of a plane as part of a sponsored skydive to raise money for charity.
After having to cancel two holidays due to her illness, the skydive will be a big step for Rhianna Marsden.
Rhianna, 21, from Selston, suffered from anorexia nervosa that experts said may have been triggered by an accident her brother had at work.
Daniel Marsden, 26, was involved in an industrial scale electrical explosion in 2016, which caused extensive burns to his face and hands.
He had to be placed in a medically-induced coma.
Rhianna said: “I was in Portsmouth on holiday at the time, and my mum phoned. At first I didn’t realise how bad it was, it was only when I told someone out loud that he was in intensive care that it hit me. I couldn’t look at him.
“You never expect something like that to happen to you.
“We’ve always been close, and he’s always been protective of me.”
Daniel said: “Experts have told Rhianna and I that my accident was the trigger to start her eating disorder. Due to this, I feel hugely responsible for what happened to Rhianna.
“To have to watch your baby sister rapidly deteriorate week by week is something I never imagined I would witness and would never wish upon anyone.”
"She was days away from death and without the help and support of those charities who helped her recover I can't imagine what life would be like for myself and my family"
Rhianna, who was studying for a media, film and TV degree at Nottingham Trent University at the time, began to lose weight rapidly in what was the beginning of an eating disorder.
After losing nearly half her body weight in eight months, Rhianna sought help in June 2017.
Rhianna said: “It all happened very fast, and experts told me it could have been triggered by a trauma, such as Daniel’s accident. My BMI was 13.5 and you can’t even drive with a BMI under 15.”
“There’s not enough support out there for people with eating disorders. When I first went to my GP they wouldn’t weigh me, and I had to see another doctor who referred me to the Derbyshire eating disorders team. I was then admitted to a specialist eating disorder ward in Leicester, where I spent six and a half months recovering.”
“By the time I was admitted I could barely walk up the stairs and I was cold all the time. I would eat nothing all day. I remember googling if an apple could make you fat, and I would weigh my grapes out. Eating Disorders take over your life, For a moment of pleasure eating, I would beat myself up.”
“The worst place for an anorexic is an inpatient facility, it is such a competitive illness. I didn’t feel like I was ill enough.”
With the help of the specialist Eating Disorder team, Rhianna eventually recovered, and is now healthy and happy.
She said: “ I don’t regret it. It was almost like having a midlife crisis at 20. I hope that by doing the sky dive and raising money for BEAT, I can raise awareness. Mental health problems are rife in universities - I was going to the gym at uni when I could barely walk, and no one stopped me. I still struggle and need ongoing therapy, but it is a part of me and I’m not ashamed of it.”
“I was due to go on holiday a week after I was admitted however was told I was too underweight to even think about getting on a plane, so for me to now be jumping out of a plane, is me truly leaving the past behind.”
Daniel added: "The charities and the staff that support people like Rhianna are pushed to their limits and are in desperate need of any help they can get. I'm eternally grateful for everything they've done for her and this is just my way of trying to say thank you for saving her life."
Rhianna and Daniel will take part in the sponsored skydive on August 11 to raise money for eating disorder charity BEAT.
To find out more and to donate, please visit: Rhianna and Daniel's just giving page