Daughter of Greg Wise and Emma Thompson says they saved her life as she battled anorexia

THE daughter of actors Emma Thompson and Greg Wise has bravely opened up about her battle with anorexia, revealing she would have died if not for an emergency intervention by her parents.

Gaia Wise, whose three-year illness began when she was 16, grew so thin from barely eating and obsessive exercising that even sitting on a chair was painful.

Downy hair grew all over her skin as her body began to shut down. Numbed by her addiction, at its worst point she said she could feel nothing at all.

A turning point for the gravely ill 18-year-old came when Emma and Greg gathered her family and best friend for an agonising confrontation.

Shocked, Gaia agreed to spend three months in rehab after her dad Greg made the heartbreaking admission: “I don’t know where my child is any more.”

In the first interview about her struggle, Gaia, 21, told The Sun on Sunday: “I had to listen to the ­people I loved most in the world who, at the time, I’d really forgotten about, tell me what I was doing.

“I sat on the stone edge of our fireplace because I was so bony I couldn’t sit on chairs properly.

“Mum used to call me her ‘little mole’ back then because I was covered in this downy hair the body makes to protect itself. I was constantly cold.

“Anorexia makes you really good at gaslighting people, making it sound like they’re insane. My ­parents would say, ‘Gaia, we heard you working out at 3am’. And I’d say, ‘No you didn’t, it was just the house moving. I was asleep’.

“But during this meeting I wasn’t allowed to talk, only listen.

“It was my whole family — my brother, sister-in-law, my grandma, Mum and Dad, my best friend and her dad — and they all told me what they were seeing.

“When you’re suffering from anorexia you don’t have emotions. You feel ­nothing, no pain, no anger, no ­discomfort. That’s why it’s such a powerful coping mechanism.

“But it was a real kick in the teeth when my dad said, ‘I don’t know where my child is any more’.

“That’s when I said I’d go to rehab. I went on December 29, 2017, and stayed for three months. Since then I’ve had a lot of ­therapy — and I’ll always be grateful for that, because it saved my life.”

Gaia, an aspiring actor, grew up with parents Emma, 62, Greg, 55, and brother Tindy, 35, in North London.

She says her eating disorder was triggered after her aunt Clare, a film executive, fell seriously ill with cancer.

She had been living with breast ­cancer before receiving the devastating news     that the disease had spread to her bones. In the months that followed, Greg — who took part in Strictly Come Dancing this year in his late sister’s honour — took on the responsibility of caring for Clare before she died in 2016, aged 51.


DOCTORS and healthcare professionals use BMI to check if a person's weight is deemed healthy.

A normal BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9, but anything below 18.5 can set alarm bells ringing.

It suggests your weight is too low, and can be an indication of an eating disorder.

To check if you're underweight, you can use the NHS BMI online calculator.

The NHS warns, being underweight is not good for your health.

It can cause nutritional deficiencies, and lead to you lacking vital nutrients, calcium to keep your bones strong, for example.

Without enough calcium, you're at increased risk of osteoporosis.

If you're lacking iron, you can develop anaemia, which can leave you feeling drained and very tired.

Being underweight can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and viruses.

And women who are underweight can encounter fertility problems, if their periods stop.

If your low weight is caused by your diet, the NHS recommends switching to a healthy, balanced diet.

It is advised to avoid high calorie food and to try and gain weight gradually.

If you're underweight, or concerned about a loved one, speak to a GP or practice nurse to get help and advice.

To find out more, visit the NHS website here.

Gaia revealed: “My aunt Clare was a massive part of my life. One of the big triggers was her getting very ill again.

“I wanted to not be a problem, to be in control as everything else was ­falling apart. I was so focused on being thin I didn’t have time to think of anything else. It drowned out everything I couldn’t deal with.

“Back then I was trying to protect my parents. But I wasn’t as clever as I thought. I would lie that I was staying at Grandma’s because that would mean I could work out for two more hours, but they knew.

“I once even hid spaghetti from dinner in my clothes then went outside and scattered it in the ­garden. That must have been so traumatic for them, watching their child do something that insane.

“When I was 17, I went to young persons’ rehab. But there was no therapy. It was just a case of people feeding you up, then letting you go.”

During Gaia’s illness, Emma — best known for roles in Nanny McPhee, the Harry Potter films and Love, Actually — spoke out about the “evil” problem of anorexia.

She said in 2017: “There are so many kids — girls and boys — and actresses now who simply don’t eat. They don’t eat.

“Sometimes there are subjects you absolutely have to make noise on.”

What Emma did not say was that her own daughter was secretly fighting the illness.

Just months later, she and Greg — who wed in 2003 — staged their desperate intervention.

Gaia went on: “By the time I went to rehab in 2017 I had so much pent-up emotion.

“The therapy there wasn’t about being controlled, I was allowed to be angry. I think that was what made it different.

“Don’t get me wrong though, being there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was caught out multiple times exercising in my room. For me, that’s like an alcoholic having a sip of gin.

“I had to look at everything I was doing to my family, my relationships. We had family therapy ­sessions with a lot of crying and screaming. The fights we had . . . 

“But those sessions are the reason I still have a relationship with my family.

“I can look back and I’ve come a really long way. I still have those thoughts, but I can calm them.”

Gaia has now been in full ­recovery for almost two years. Later this year she will team up with her mum to film a video for YouTube channel SORTEDfood, to raise money for eating disorder charity Beat. She is also an advocate for sustainable fashion and recently walked the runway at the This Is Icon fashion event.

Gair received “spectacular” support in April after revealing on Instagram she had battled anorexia.

She went on: ““I was in rehab for three months and was very lucky to be part of a family who could afford that.

“But for those who need NHS support, that will only kick in when they are so ill that either they attempt suicide — in which case they will be sectioned — or their organs begin to fail.

“There needs to be therapy-based help available from the beginning. It’s about getting to anorexia before it becomes a demon.

“Anorexia kills 70 per cent of sufferers. It is the deadliest mental illness there is.”

  • You can find out more and get support at beateating disorders.org.uk.

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