A mum’s new ‘ghost family’ is helping her recover from anorexia after she almost died when her weight plummeted to 5st.
Karen Milner’s eating disorder started when she was 15 following childhood trauma.
She has battled the illness for 27 years but now says her recovery “feels different” thanks to the continuing support of a group of paranormal investigators, The Haunted Hunts.
The mum-of-three has bravely admitted she has been hospitalised three times due to anorexia, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The most recent occasion was in the summer of 2018, and at her lowest weight she was a little over five stone (33kg).
“At my worst, I am just in denial. It will get worse and I will be unable to do things and need to rely on others more,” she said.
Karen, originally from Liverpool, but now lives in Bebington, Wirral, would put herself through a gruelling exercise routine of two to three hours a day.
This would be coupled with a heavily restricted diet.
The 42-year-old said: “When I am at my worst, I would not eat all day, then have a plain salad for dinner.”
But this would get smaller and smaller, as Karen would restrict the salad to the point of measuring the amount of cucumber or onion into exact centimetres and would trawl supermarkets to find the lowest calorie lettuce.
Her obsession and control over her food would impact everything, she said: “I would make a cup of tea, and if it wasn’t the right colour I would have to go back and start again.”
A practice nurse since she was 23, Karen has had to take a break from her job to work on her recovery, but wouldn’t have been able to get through it without her friends at The Haunted Hunts.
It all started with a birthday ghost hunt gift from her daughter two years ago, and since then she has been hooked.
She said: “I cannot thank them enough for all the help they are giving me, I don’t even think they realise how much they are helping me and have given me such an incentive to fight for.
“I contacted The Haunted Hunts to tell them I couldn’t attend one of the hunts I had paid for and explained why, but I think they probably already knew from my physical health and weight.”
She was overwhelmed with their response, as they kept her up to date while she was in hospital and created VIP experiences for her, even surprising her with cake and gifts on her birthday.
Karen said: “They made me feel really valued and always cheered me up at my low points and if I’m ever struggling I can rant to them; they are my ghost family.
“We have breaks for food on hunts and this can be extremely difficult being anorexic and eating in front of them or anyone can be so hard and often I have a meltdown.
“But I know they give us longer so I can take my time without letting on they do it.”
She added: “I am me when I go on these hunts, I’m Karen. I am not a person with an eating disorder, I am just me.”
Karen even says her husband, Mark, has noticed the difference, she said: “He says there is something about my eyes when I talk about it. I get really excited.”
Karen, mum to Chloe, 21, Katie, 16 and Emily, 13, says her recovery feels different this time, thanks to her ghost-hunting friends, and to anyone struggling she said: “There is always hope.
“I have always been negative, but something might just appear one day, and just cling on to it.”
Advising anyone who is worried that a loved one has an eating disorder, she said: “Be open, be honest, don’t dictate and don’t take away control.
“Just let them know you are there for them no matter what.”