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Kapiti family overcomes anorexia three times

If you're ever unfortunate enough to have a loved one fight an eating disorder, you'll know the toll it can take on them and the those around them.

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Through it all they never gave up hope. Source: 1 NEWS

For one Kāpiti family, the battle happened three times, but through it all, the Putts never gave up hope.

Soon-to-be-mum Jess Dyson’s struggle with anorexia began as a young teenager.

“When I was 14, a girl made a comment just about my weight and for me, I was just like, oh my goodness, I’m no longer pretty,” she said.

“It literally was just like that. I was only eating like a mouthful of rice a day.”

It was a battle her younger sister Laura would later fight as well.

“At lunch time, Year 9, I’d have a bunch of boys come over to me and they had this thing called the hot list," she explained.

"Then this new girl came and then the boys actually came over to me and told me that she had taken the top and that I was ranked down.

“That was a real trigger for me and then that’s kind of what led into my eating disorder.”

Laura said she “would lie and do anything I could so I didn’t have to eat and could exercise”.

“A lot of my organs were starting to go into failure.”

Kāpiti sisters Hannah Putt, Jess Dyson and Laura Putt have all battled eating disorders. Source: Seven Sharp

Then, there’s her sister, Hannah.

“Every meal I had, I couldn’t keep it down,” she said.

“I didn’t really think much of it at first, to be honest. A year later, suddenly I found myself seeking help.”

Dad Darrin Putt said the “light in their eyes was gone - it was dark”.

“They could have died,” mum Robyn said through tears.

“We’ve had three daughters and every time, when we started to see the signs of another daughter getting sick, it’s just like, it was incredibly tough but we couldn’t – we had to keep fighting.”

Robyn said while you “can’t force-feed a child, right? But you just had to keep persevering”.

Dyson said she “hated her parents”, adding that they were her “worst enemies at the time”.

“We had no relationship – it was awful. I would sometimes punch dad and everything because I was so angry.

“One time, [Hannah] got knives out – it was violent. I’m so thankful that they chose to fight for us, like them fighting looked just relentless.”

One by one, the sisters found something to fight for.

Now, the Putt family is taking what they’ve learned to help others.

Dyson said she started off with mentoring people before getting trained as a professional to help her recognise “some gaps in treatment”.

They’ve since started Hope Night, a free event which gathers hundreds of people who are battling eating disorders.

“It’s all around inspiring hope and advocating that recovery is possible, so we use people’s songs or their stories,” she said.

Her parents have also spoken at some of the events, while Laura has sung.

“It really has become kind of a family thing.”

Darrin said it’s about “being able to encourage people, being able to tell people ‘you’re not alone, don’t give up, keep fighting’.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help people because we know what it’s like, we truly do,” Robyn added.

Hannah said the steps to recovery “can just be little choices every day”

“Before you know it, you’re living and breathing.”

Where to get help:

Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand
 or call 0800 2 EDANZ / 0800 2 33269 

Canopy Eating Disorders Support

Central Region Eating Disorder Services (Wellington, Manawatu-Wanganui and Hawke's Bay)

Just a Thought free mental health support tool 

Free call or text 1737 

Lifeline or call 0800 LIFELINE /  0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)