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'Big Brother' Alum Nikki Grahame Passes Following History With Anorexia

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

“Big Brother” alum Nikki Grahame passed away April 9, 2021 at age 38 after a years-long battle with anorexia nervosa. Grahame’s death followed a stay at a private hospital for eating disorder treatment last month.

Grahame’s passing was confirmed with a statement that read:

 “It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age. Nikki not only touched the lives of millions of people, but also her friends and family who will miss her immensely.”

As someone who, like Nikki Grahame, struggles with anorexia nervosa, hearing of anorexia-related deaths can be extremely triggering and cause me to question whether or not recovery is possible.  Whenever I hear that someone has died as a result of anorexia, I have to work overtime to keep myself on a recovery-oriented path and prevent relapse.  If you’re recovering from an eating disorder and feel triggered by Nikki Grahame’s passing, here are some ways to access support and help yourself healthily cope with your emotions.

1. Perform a small act of self-care.

One of the most helpful things to do when you’re coping with triggers in recovery is to prioritize your needs.  Whether you have free time today or feel overwhelmed by work, there are plenty of small “self-care steps” you can take that won’t interfere with your schedule.  You can listen to music, meditate, read a book for a few minutes, color or journal about your feelings.  If you have a bit more time today, treat yourself to a warm bath or shower or watch one of your favorite shows to temporarily take your mind off of your triggers.

2. Reach out to a trustworthy support person.

If you’re in the mood to talk about your feelings, choose someone you trust and share how you feel about this news.  Make sure you reach out to someone who is supportive, empathetic and validating of your feelings in recovery.  To avoid potentially increasing your triggers, try to talk to someone who understands you but isn’t in recovery themselves.  If you feel like you’re slipping into a difficult mental space, you can even reach out to your therapist or contact an eating disorder recovery hotline with trained personnel who can help you work through your emotions.

3. Ask for accountability from your friends or loved ones.

If you choose to share your triggers with someone you trust, ask them if they’re willing to help hold you accountable for your upcoming meals.  Eating alongside housemates you feel comfortable with or scheduling a Zoom “dinner date” with a supportive friend can help you adhere to your meal plan even if you’re under distress.  Talking about safe, non-triggering topics and enjoying a loved one’s company can help you take your mind off of the Nikki Grahame news — and the potentially challenging meal in front of you.

4. Stay off of social media for a few days.

When upsetting or triggering celebrity news breaks, it typically floods our social media feeds, which can lead to multiple days’ worth of nearly constant triggers.  If you regularly follow celebrity news or are fairly active on social media, you may see an influx of articles that discuss Nikki Grahame’s passing– some of which may use triggering language to describe the cause of her passing.  If you’ve found that news articles about eating disorders have triggered you in the past, you may want to stay off of social media for a few days until this news fades out.  Your social media followers will still be here a few days from now, so put yourself first and log off if this news is a trigger.

5. Remind yourself why recovery is worth it.

If this news leaves you ambivalent about recovery, you’re not alone– but it’s more important than ever to reinforce your “why.”  Remind yourself of what you hope to gain from your recovery, whether that’s a healthy relationship with food or exercise, feeling more present or making peace with your body.  You can even jot down your reasons to live in recovery and look back at them in the next few days when the Nikki Grahame news triggers eating disorder urges.  Reconnecting with your reasons for living a recovered life can help you stay in a safe place even when you’re coping with painful thoughts and emotions.

If you’re living with anorexia or another eating disorder, and news of Nikki Grahame’s passing triggers you, you’re not alone.  Reach out to your support system, seek out accountability, and remind yourself why you choose a recovery-oriented life.  As someone who also battles anorexia, I know the news of Nikki Grahame’s passing can be tough to deal with — but you can access support and stay in recovery.


Lead image courtesy of Nikki Grahame’s Instagram.

Originally published: April 12, 2021
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