Liz - my inspirational sister
Posted Thursday 5 July 2012
From the age of 15 until her early twenties my sister Liz struggled with anorexia. This led to depression and several incidences of self-harm. There was a time when we weren’t even sure she was going to make it.
She seemed to be getting better on several occasions, such as when she began different jobs or got her own flat, only to suffer a setback and relapse. As well as anorexia, she suffered from circulation problems which meant she was constantly cold and also had ME and glandular fever. She had a tough time and often found it hard to be positive.
I can’t pretend that I understood how she was feeling or what she was going through and she knew that. I’m sure that frustrated her but I hope she knew that I was there for her whenever she needed me and I would support her however I could.
Liz wanted so much to get better; she felt there were too many things out there that she wanted to do but realised she couldn’t in her condition.
She took herself to a specialist centre for eating disorders and also started to see a counsellor who understood how she was feeling a lot more than I did. Eventually, with a lot of help from professionals, support from family and friends and a great deal of self-determination, she made a remarkable recovery. I never thought I would see her eat sweets between meals or be happy to receive a chocolate egg at Easter, but I did.
After her own recovery she decided that she wanted to use her experiences to help other people. She went back to college and then university, attaining a degree in mental health nursing. She finished top of her year and also had papers published in a journal. She later went back to the university to help lecture students on eating disorders.
At first she used to hide the scars she had on her arms and legs from self-harming, but as time went on she didn’t bother. She accepted they were a part of her past, but she had moved on and just wanted to use her own experiences to help others dealing with similar problems.
Liz felt she had missed out on a lot while she was ill, so one of the first things she did when she was well enough was a skydive. She chose to do it for Mind as she wanted to help other people with mental health problems. She absolutely loved it.
A few years later, she abseiled down the Mersey Tunnel, once again raising money for Mind. Last summer she signed up to do the Three Peaks Challenge, as she had always wanted to do it and she wanted to do something that would test her stamina as well as her bravery. Unfortunately she died in a car accident before she got to do it.
When Liz died I thought a lot about how much she had crammed into the few adult years of her life for which she was well, and of how much she had done for other people. So I decided that, along with my brother and sister, I would climb the Three Peaks for her and raise as much money for Mind as I could to make her proud.
The group has grown and there are now about 20 of us climbing one or more of the peaks including family, friends, staff and students from the university she went to. We are going to take some of her ashes up with us to ensure she still makes it to the top.
I don’t think I will ever be as inspirational as Liz was, and still is, but hopefully the Three Peaks is just the start for me.
Visit the Mind memory space that Liz's family and friends set up, where you can read more about her inspirational life and support Rachel on her Three Peaks Challenge.
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