We want something positive to come from our Pip’s death
FAMILY OF ANOREXIA-TRAGEDY GIRL AIM TO SET UP HELP CENTRE
PIPPA McManus was a gentle soul, says her mum Marie.
Pippa, known as Pip, loved animals, art and helping at the hospice where her mum worked in Gatley, Stockport.
But the youngster’s life was cruelly cut short when she stepped in front of a train, aged 15, after a three-year battle with anorexia.
It’s almost three years since Pip’s death in December 2015 and Marie is still grieving for her little girl. But the McManus family are determined that Pip’s life and suffering was not in vain, and want to help other families in similar, desperate circumstances.
Marie, 53, despaired at the lack of support for young people and their parents living with an eating disorder.
“From the beginning of Pip’s illness we had no idea about anorexia at all,” says Marie. “We didn’t have a clue what we were dealing with and at times felt completely helpless. There has got to be a lot of people in the same situation right now.
“As a family we are devastated, but we are determined that something positive comes out of this tragedy.”
Pip’s battle with anorexia started at the age of 12 when she started as a pupil at Kingsway School in Gatley.
She became ‘obsessed’ with looking at her side profile in the mirror and at her chin, asking if it was fat.
Though concerned, Marie and dad James did not initially think much of it. But the teenager turned her obsession to her diet and compulsive exercise. When Pip began losing weight, Marie took her to the doctors to get some advice.
“They looked her up and down and told me I shouldn’t be concerned about her healthy eating,” says Marie.
“The focus at the time was on kids being overweight or obese. They told me not to worry about it.
“Looking back I can now see all the little signs. All those things were the onset of her illness but you just don’t think about it like that at the time.”
Marie took her daughter home and Pip’s preoccupation with eating and exercise got worse.
It was the year of the London Olympics, and Pip took an interest in athletes who were all over the media at the time.
“She said if I do lots of running I’ll get long legs mum, and so she started running,” says Marie. In January 2013, Marie took her daughter back to the doctor for more advice. Pip had lost more weight, and Marie explained she was now exercising all the time. “It was compulsive,” says Marie. “It goes handin-hand with the illness. She would walk for miles and miles.” A month and several visits to the doctors later, Pip was finally diagnosed with anorexia. Her illness was ‘spiralling out of control’ and she was already severely underweight. “I brought her home and it spiralled out of control. In that period between going to the doctor and coming home you have nobody. You just have no support and you’re worried. It’s just all a vicious circle.”
Pip was referred to Stockport children’s and adolescent mental health service (CAMHs) and admitted to a specialist unit, Galaxy House. Aged 13 Pip, was detained under the mental health act and later admitted to The Priory. Her illness started to manifest itself in other ways, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
At times she would tell Marie and Jim she was having ‘bad thoughts’ – a term Pip used to describe the voice of anorexia and self-harm in her head.
Pip had been due for release from The Priory in November 2015 but this was delayed when it was discovered she had bound her feet in tape for two weeks, believing they were fat.
At that point Pip had been at the psychiatric hospital for more than a year.
And despite concerns from her parents that her treatment had stalled, she was released under a community treatment order on December 4, 2015.
Just five days later, she travelled to Gatley station and stepped in front of a train. Marie, Jim and their three other adult children are still dealing with the loss and have set up The Pip Foundation for ABC Anorexia & Bulimia Care in their daughter’s memory. Their vision is to create a dedicated independent support centre for Anorexia and Bulimia in Manchester called Pip’s Place. The first-ever independent centre would provide guidance for early intervention, on-going support and education to families in similar circumstances.
Marie believes there is a desperate need for the extra support when faced with such a difficult illness.
To achieve their initial goal they are trying to raise £40,000 to establish a weekly drop-in hub. So far, their JustGiving page has raised almost £12,000.
The ‘dream,’ long-term ambition is to raise £1 million to fund a new building with staff and all the necessary items to bring it to life and secure the services for years to come. “We never want another family to go through what we have gone through,” says Marie.
“If we can help one person then it will be worth it. We’re appealing for anyone who can to support us.”
To help go to https://www.justgiving. com/fundraising/the-pip-foundation
If we can help one person then it will be worth it. We’re appealing for anyone who can to support us Marie McManus
Marie McManus and, inset, daughter Pip