Imogen Thomas has revealed that Nikki Grahame was as ‘vicious’ as ever in the weeks before her death when she reflected on her close friend’s struggle with anorexia.
The TV personality, 39, said she visited Nikki while she was in hospital and was receiving treatment for the eating disorder, saying she ‘always did not feel well’.
Former Big Brother star Nikki died in April last year at the age of 38, after suffering a relapse with her anorexia, which she had suffered with most of her life.
Tribute: Imogen Thomas has revealed that Nikki Grahame was just as ‘vicious’ as ever in the weeks before her death, as she reflected on her close friend’s struggle with anorexia
Imogen – who met Nikki on Big Brother in 2006 – said Nikki would play pranks with other patients as she spoke ahead of the one-year anniversary of Nikki’s death on Saturday.
She told The Sun: ‘She was always doing something good, I wanted to visit her in the hospital, even when I was not supposed to, and stand by the window so we could talk.
“Once she told me she had hidden the weight under another patient’s bed.”
Imogen said that when she told Nikki that she could get in trouble, the reality TV star replied that she did not care.
Tragic: Former Big Brother star Nikki (pictured with Imogen) died in April last year at the age of 38 after relapsing with her anorexia, which she has suffered from since she was 18 years old.
The former Miss Wales reflected on her friend’s fight against anorexia and said Nikki kept her eating disorder a secret from the other contestants while she was on Big Brother.
Nikki became famous in the 2006 series of Big Brother and gained an army of fans with her iconic phrase ‘who is she?’.
She had struggled with anorexia for most of her life and was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital as a 12-year-old.
Mother-of-two Imogen said she appeared in the popular reality TV show ‘Save’ Nikki and said her friend loved being surrounded by people.
Imogen to appear in the Channel 4 documentary Nikki Grahame: Who Is She? Thursday, said she was trying to get Nikki sectioned in an attempt to save her life.
Friends: TV personality Imogen, 39, said she visited Nikki while in hospital and was receiving treatment for the eating disorder, saying she ‘always had nothing good’
“She called me a few weeks before she died and said she would die, she would not be anorexic,” she explained.
Imogen admitted that her friend ‘hated’ her for trying to get her sectioned when she said Nikki wanted to fight her eating disorder but was not able to.
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is an eating disorder and a mental disorder.
People diagnosed with it try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating little or excessive exercise.
Men and women can develop the disease, but it typically starts in their mid-teens.
Those with anorexia may have a distorted image of their body and think they are obese while actually being severely underweight.
Causes of the condition are unknown, but those with it either have low self-esteem, have a family history of eating disorders or feel pressured by society or the workplace.
Long-term health complications can include muscle and bone problems, loss of sex drive, kidney or bowel problems or having a weakened immune system.
Treatment for anorexia may include cognitive behavioral therapy.
She talked about Nikki’s desire to live life to the fullest, and she said her friend was always determined to go out and have fun, even when she was on day discharge from the hospital, where they wanted to go out and drink cocktails.
But Imogen said she would only let Nikki go out with her if she ate, adding that her favorite meal was fish and chips from The Ivy.
Nikki’s friends set up a collection for her before her death that Nikki could have specialist treatment for her eating disorder, which raised £ 65,000.
Two weeks before her death, Nikki – whose weight was the lowest it had ever been as an adult – broke her spine after falling into a pharmacy and was hospitalized.
After gaining 4 kg, she had planned to go to a recovery clinic, but died tragically one day after being discharged from the hospital.
Nikki was to turn 40 on April 28, and Imogen said the couple had planned to mark the occasion by going to Las Vegas, but Imogen will instead spend the day alone in Mexico drinking an espresso martini – Nikki’s favorite cocktail.
Imogen is set to appear in a Channel 4 documentary about Nikki’s life, which will be broadcast this week.
Speaking about the documentary on Instagram, Imogen recently wrote: ‘I can not believe it’s almost a year since we lost beautiful Nikki.
It looks like there will be a documentary yesterday celebrating Nikki’s life on 07/04/22. On C4 at 21:00 it is really beautiful. I hope you all tune in. ‘
Imogen’s comments come after Gemma Oaten spoke of Nikki’s struggle with anorexia and said she was ‘left to get to a point where she could not return’ as she struggled in the lockdown.
The Emmerdale actress, 37 – who herself has struggled with the condition and is the director and patron of the eating disorder support service SEED – said she was concerned that mental health services are not able to cope with the amount of people who need help , adding that it is “nonsense” to let people suffer.
Program: Imogen is set to appear in the Channel 4 documentary Nikki Grahame: Who Is She? about Nikki’s life, which airs this week
Reflecting on her friend’s struggle with anorexia, Imogen said she was trying to get Nikki (both pictured on Big Brother in 2006) divided in an attempt to save her life.
Last month, she said, ‘Look at Nikki Grahame. We’re almost up to the anniversary of her death. It’s such a zip code lottery.
‘There are some areas in the UK that are spot on. And some parts of the country that are quite shocking. There are far too many areas where CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) cannot cope.
‘Even adult mental health services can not cope. It’s like a blind man leading the blind man, and that’s what happened to Nikki.
‘She was left to reach a point where there was a point of no return. Even when she was on the verge of death, she still struggled.
‘Her family and friends were still fighting for her treatment. And for me, I look at the situation around the system and I’m shaken. I’m worried things have not changed.
Tragic: Nikki had struggled with anorexia for most of her life and was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital as a 12-year-old
‘It was such a difficult situation because we were in the heart of the lockdown. I can not speak on behalf of Nikki or the family, but to my understanding it really did not help. ‘
She went on to tell how Nikki found meaning in the work she was doing and felt cut off from the world when she was unable to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gemma said: ‘One of the biggest things about Nikki was that the work kept her going. Work was her driving force. That was the one thing I talked to Carly, her best friend, about. The work was an integral part of her recovery and her management of her eating disorder.
‘She knew that if she was not healthy enough, she would not be able to work. When the lockdown hit, all lifelines were obviously gone. She spiraled very fast, and it’s even harder to get help in the midst of a pandemic.
Honestly: It came after Gemma Oaten, 37, said Nikki was ‘left to get to a point of no return’ as she struggled with her anorexia in the lockdown before her tragic death last year
‘Nikki knew the system so well because she had been bad for so long, bless her.
‘Anyone who has an eating disorder or is loved by someone who is struggling – they know how manipulative and destructive and dark and destructive an eating disorder can be. Not the person, the eating disorder.
‘Nikki reaches out for help, but she’s engrossed in this voice. Although she wants to feel better when you get to that low point – which is why it’s ridiculous that people are left to get there – the eating disorder is all-consuming.
“When you get to the hospital, you are not in a support network where there are trained eating disorder specialists. You’re literally in a hospital with nurses and doctors trying to treat covid and everything. It is not the right environment ‘.
For help and support with eating disorders contact SEED at (01482) 718130 or visit www.seedeatingdisorders.org.uk.