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A woman who was on her "death bed" as she battled anorexia says it was her mum who kept her alive as her weight reached dangerously low levels.
Becky Johnston’s mum, Jackie, made the selfless decision to give up work to become her daughter’s sole carer and fight for the treatment she needs.
The 21-year-old was so desperately thin it was painful to sit down and her BMI was dangerously low, to the point it was beginning to damage her organs.
Becky, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, was first admitted to hospital for emergency treatment in 2014 and has been in and out ever since.
She told the Manchester Evening News: "My mum sacrificed everything. There’s only one unit for eating disorders in the north west and it’s the Wirral.
"She would drive for hours every single night, just to spend half an hour with me because I was finding it so traumatic in hospital."
The decision to give up work was all the braver as Jackie, 58, was in the middle of a difficult break-up from Becky’s dad.
It meant the pair had to move into a new home, with no friends or family to support them and very little money.
“We both became very isolated,” said Becky. "She sacrificed everything."
In the past four years, Jackie has spent countless days pushing Becky around in a wheelchair, taking her to appointments, fighting for the treatment she needs.
She has done this while having to watch her only daughter on the brink of dying from a cruel condition.
“My mum is my motivation to stay alive – without her I wouldn’t be here,” said Becky.
“She’s amazing, she’s my inspiration.”
The pair live an isolated existence, completely dominated by Becky’s mental health problems.
Becky was discharged from hospital last October, and is cautiously optimistic about the future.
Now she wants to thank her mum by giving her a well-deserved break.
The pair live off Jackie’s Carer’s Allowance, but they have never been able to go on holiday.
So Becky has set up a GoFundMe page with the aim of raising £1,000 to give her mum a break for the first time in more than a decade.
In a message on the page, Becky added: “I want to fund her a well-earned holiday in the UK, where she can relax and be rewarded for what she’s had to go through.
“Please, with all my heart, help us get there. Even £1 would be richly appreciated. This wonderful lady means the world to me.”
Sadly, Jackie and Becky’s heartbreaking story is far from unusual.
Carers UK estimate there are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK.
New research has been released this week to mark Carers Week which shows almost three quarters say they have suffered mental ill health while 61 per cent said their physical health had worsened.
That’s something that Becky recognises all too well.
“I think there needs to be more awareness of what carers go through,” said Becky.
“They go through just as much as the person they look after.
“My mum does break down every now and again – her own health has deteriorated with the stress.
“Doctors have told her ‘you need a break’.”
Becky hasn’t decided where she would like her mum to go yet, but knows it will be somewhere in the countryside.
“I know she loves forests, I was thinking maybe a cabin break in a forest somewhere – somewhere she can completely relax,” said Becky.
“She’s never outside, just to sit outside in the sun would make a change.
“Even just for a week would do her the world of good.
“I’m completely and utterly grateful for everything she’s done – and she needs to understand that.”
“I just want to say thank you, to let her know how much she means to me.”
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said Carers Week was an opportunity to highlight the extent to which unpaid care holds up our health services.
“Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse,” she said.
“Yet the physical and mental strain of caring, without enough support, is jeopardising carers’ ability to care in the future.
“Caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health; finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers.
“Being left unprepared for carrying out care tasks and battling with a complex health, benefits and care system are piling yet more stress onto carers.
“We can all act to ensure carers know about and access help and support as early as possible in their caring journey.
“There is a key role for Government too.
“The forthcoming Green Paper on social care funding provides a must take opportunity for the Government to put in place sustainable funding for social care and to improve the support available for carers.”
To donate to Becky’s appeal click here .
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