Newsreader, Mark Austin, opened up about his daughter’s battle with anorexia.
The 58-year-old’s daughter, Maddy, was 18 years old when she suffered from an eating disorder, but now 22, she is hoping to raise awareness of her battle and help others going through the same problems.
He sat down with hosts, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV show, This Morning, to talk about his little girl’s illness.
He said: “Maddy was gone, she was a hollowed out person.
“To watch someone shrink away like that and to get up at four in the morning to find [Maddy] not in her bed because she was out walking come rain, come shine – it broke my heart.”
As he became emotional, Mark said he did not see Maddy’s anorexia for what is was – a mental illness.
He said: “I thought, ‘Pull yourself together, just eat.’ But it was a mental illness.”
The ITV news reporter said he had told Maddy that if she wanted to “starve herself”, then to go and “just get on with it”, which he later regrets saying.
However, viewers, who watched the interview from home, praised the reporter for his honesty.
One said: “@thismorning @markaustintv my heart go out to Mark & his daughter, not easy to put your story out there warts & all #mental health matters.”
The broadcaster revealed that his wife called him whilst he was in the US covering the American presidential elections in 2012 to say that Maddy, then 18, had begun skipping meals and had become obsessive about food.
He went on to reveal that she was showing signs of weight loss and her weight plummeted from nine stone to six stone.
And after speaking to Phillip and Holly, Mark broke down as he said: “She was there physically but gone. She was just a hollowed out person.
“At 5am, she wouldn’t be in bed because she’d be walking five miles, come rain or snow.
“I would see her footprints in the snow going up hills.
“It broke my heart.”
As the interview continued, Mark explained how they still don’t know the reason behind Maddy’s anorexia and may never find out.
He said: “She just said it was something about control, because she didn’t feel worthy.
He added: “She would lie about how much she had eaten and then explode with rage if we challenged her. She was abusive, seemingly possessed by demons she could not – or worse, did not want to control.”
He later said: “One day we might find out, but all I know is we went through hell, but we found the help, and we’re lucky.”
Maddy was a promising 800m runner who won national school events before struggling with her illness.
Mark had previously said how the NHS offered “the best emergency health care in the world”, but mental health was not funded.
He said that luckily his family were able to afford private healthcare for Maddy but the treatment unit routine left her threatening to kill herself.
Mark believes that social media has a huge part to play in mental health in teenagers along with many others.
He had previously said during an interview with Good Morning Britain: “There is so much pressure on them to have the perfect bodies, the perfect holidays, the perfect boyfriend.”
During his interview on This Morning, the former journalist wanted to raise awareness of the illness.
He said: “And my point is: why are there not more places like it? Mental health problems in teenagers is the epidemic of our age, with more than 850,000 children and young people in the UK diagnosed as sufferers.”
He left the interview with a simple message.
He said: “We need walk in centres on the high street of ever town and city in this country, manned by trained counsellors.
“We must not let these girls down.”
The former ITV newsreader took to Twitter to thank viewers for their support towards his daughter.
He said: “Thank you for messages re Maddy. Clearly issue touching so many.” Followed by a link to her marathon run.
Five years on, Maddy, who is now 22, has made a full recovery and is now preparing to run the London Marathon in support of the Duchess of Cambridge’s mental health charity Place2Be.