WHEN she was just eight years old Emma Duffy wanted to be thin so she could become a dancer.
Now at 24 she is so gripped by anorexia that she has not eaten for more than a year and survives on liquid nutrition.
Her family say that her fears as a little girl have led to a long battle against the eating disorder.
Now they are looking to raise funds to pay for specialist care.
The former student from Chesterfield has tried to kill herself several times - resorting to swallowing razor blades and has also cut her legs and poured boiling water over her arms.
Her mother Beverley, who did not know about her condition until she was 18, said: “We have hope, and believe that she will get better. But even now we don’t know the full story. It’s like a million piece jigsaw, and we have only filled the first line in. It’s a mental illness. It’s not just about eating.”
Emma has also suffered with bulimia and has a personality disorder.
Her mother said: “She is a different Emma sometimes. It’s in her eyes. She is violent.”
Her family are looking to raise funds for her to attend The Retreat in York, a privately run unit which is said to be one of the few centres in the country to treat eating disorders and personality disorders together.
Her mother and sister Amy have set up the Saving Emma campaign to help pay for her treatment.
Emma, a former nursing student, had spent a gap year in an orphanage in Ghana.
Her mother said: “She had been giving her food to the children. She kept all this from us though. She said she was having a good time. Had I known I would have been straight out there. When she came home, we were waiting for her at the airport in London. But she was so skinny I walked straight past her. I didn’t recognise her. It is heartbreaking when you don’t even recognise your own daughter. I thought my world had ended. She was skin and bone.”
A year later, Emma was forced to drop out of her course at Teesside University because of poor attendance, and she later attempted suicide in October 2013.
She has been at Roseberry Park hospital in Middlesbrough ever since.
Her sister Amy said: “They don’t know what to do with her. The average stay on that ward is 21 days. It is a holding place really.
“She has been there for six months. She needs to go somewhere where they can treat her eating disorder and her personality disorder.”