BLONDE Nikki Grahame, who left the Big Brother house in tears on Friday night, won a huge following with her hilarious tantrums and diary-room rants.
But behind that ditzy exterior hides a harrowing history of anorexia which once left her in a coma with just MINUTES to live.
Today, the 24-year-old exclusively reveals to The Sun the story of her ten-year battle with the debilitating disorder.
She says: “I was on a mission to starve myself to death. I was obsessed. That’s all there is to it.”
In an emotionally-charged interview she reveals for the first time how she: STARVED herself until she weighed just 2st 9lb.
RIPPED OUT a feeding tube that was stitched INSIDE her stomach. Put FISHING WEIGHTS into her hair band to cheat the scales and took two pills overdoses.
Nikki says her anorexia angst began when she was just EIGHT.
She explains: “I had enjoyed the happiest childhood ever. But then everything seemed to fall apart. My mum and dad got divorced and my grandad, who I was very close to, died.
“I did gymnastics at the time and I remember feeling fat in my leotard. I was so unhappy. Stopping eating seemed the only way I could get control. It was also a way to keep my mum close to me. It was a downward spiral which became very difficult to get out of.”
Nikki, from Watford, threw away school packed lunches and began eating less at home until she was so weak she couldn’t climb the stairs.
She says: “I remember looking at myself in the mirror and I was emaciated — but I thought I was still fat.
“My mum went to the doctor and said, ‘Help me, my baby is dying.’ But the doctor wouldn’t believe there was anything wrong because I was so young.”
Eventually, Nikki’s desperate parents, Sue and Dave, took her to the children’s eating disorders unit at the Maudsley psychiatric hospital in London.
Nikki weeps as she remembers the moment her parents left her at the clinic.
She says: “I was so weak when we got there that I couldn’t climb the stairs at the Tube station and had to be carried. I was clinging on to my mum, begging them not to leave me. It was harrowing.
“I did what I was told in there and co-operated so, after two weeks, I could see my mum. I was allowed to go home after six months and I was determined to lose the weight they made me put on.”
Within months Nikki was rushed to an emergency unit at the Hillingdon Hospital, Middlesex, where she was fed through a nasal tube. She says: “I was only nine at the time but I wasn’t allowed books to read or toys to play with. My dad tried to sneak me in books and fuzzy felt pictures so they banned him from the hospital.”
After two weeks Nikki was transferred to Collingham Gardens child and family psychiatric unit in West London.
She says: “I was terrified they were going to make me fat. I wasn’t allowed to see my mum or go home at the weekends, like the other children were, because I was so bad.
“I used to go back to the Hillingdon Hospital instead, where I ran riot. I would scream and shout and abuse the nurses, who I hated.
“At Collingham they fed me up on man-sized meals and I had no choice but to eat. They got me up to a decent weight — about 4st 6lb — and after eight months I was allowed home.”
Nikki lived at home and returned to school for a 18 months before her weight started dropping again.
“I used to hide my food everywhere, in my socks, my knickers,” she says.
“My mum used to put meals down and I would throw them at the wall and scream. It was a constant battle for her to get me to eat.
“Eventually, I went back to Collingham Gardens for six months, where they were stricter with me than before.”
After a short spell at home Nikki was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where she was placed on a psychiatric and eating disorders ward.
“I was surrounded by kids who had Tourette’s, ADHD and psychosis. I was out of control. They put a feeding tube in my nose but I kept fighting.
“It took six nurses to hold me down, including male nurses. I would rip it out over and over again. I didn’t care that it left my nose and throat raw.
“I was on a mission to starve myself to death and all these people kept getting in my way.”
Nikki’s behaviour took an even more destructive turn when she tried to kill herself at the age of just 12.
She explains: “It was five days before Christmas and I was told I couldn’t go home so I stole a packet of paracetamol from the hospital and took all 22 of them. After that, they got my mum to nurse me at my bedside.”
Then, on Boxing Day, her mum got the call she had been dreading. Nikki’s weight had dropped so low that she had slipped into a coma. Doctors predicted she was minutes from death. She actually came round and immediately ripped the IV drip from her arm. Now medics were forced to STITCH a feeding tube INSIDE her stomach.
Nikki says: “After the operation I was heavily sedated for two weeks. I was being fed and couldn’t do anything about it. But when I woke up I was horrified by how ‘fat’ I had got.
“I tried to rip the tube out of my stomach. It was agony but I didn’t care. I also use to steal syringes when the nurses weren’t looking and use them to siphon the food from my stomach out of the tube and empty it out of the window.
“I ended up having seizures because they were giving me so many sedatives my tiny body couldn’t cope. In the end I stole some scissors and cut the tube off.”
Nikki’s weight crashed to just 2st 9lb and her doctor claimed hers was the WORST case of anorexia he had come across in 32 YEARS.
She took another paracetamol overdose before going to Rhodes Farm, an eating disorders clinic in North London.
She says: “All the girls clubbed together and bought a pair of scales so we could weigh ourselves in secret.
“This helped us to ‘water load’. I would drink up to five litres of water at a time before we were weighed to make them think I was heavier — but I used to get caught out all the time.”
She took even more drastic measures to avoid putting on weight. Nikki says: “I even sewed fishing weights into my hair band to help cheat the scales.”
Nikki spent six months at the clinic and, amazingly, started to get better.
She says: “I woke up one morning and thought, ‘What are you doing to yourself?’ When I left aged 16 I weighed 6st 4lb.
“I did relapse when I was about 18 but I checked myself into an adult eating disorder ward, which was really awful. It was then I decided never again.”
Nikki, who had a boob op on the NHS at 18 because her anorexia had left her flat-chested, says she still counts calories but now eats what she wants.
And while she was overcoming her eating disorder she developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which she still battles today.
She says: “I washed cups and bowls over and over again. It is a control thing. But living with so many others in the Big Brother house has helped me.”
She also told how she bonded in the house with Tourette’s sufferer Pete Bennett, saying: “He has had it tough too and we understand each other.
“I love him and would love to get together with him when he comes out of the house. I used to want to marry a footballer like Frank Lampard but now I want to marry Pete.
“I feel so proud of myself that I did Big Brother. I loved every minute of it and it shows how far I have come.”