Stalham schoolgirl: Pet rabbit saved my life

Roxy Hollis, 16, of Stalham, with her rabbit Frosty. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Roxy Hollis, 16, of Stalham, with her rabbit Frosty. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Love for a pet rabbit is helping a deeply-troubled teenager find hope and the will to live.

Roxy Hollis, 16, says the close bond she has developed with rabbit Frosty motivates her to battle anorexia and her urge to self-harm, so that she can look after the pet.

The ray of hope follows years of mental illness and overwhelming problems at home for Roxy, of Stalham.

The children did household chores and fed their sick mother, Tracey Hicks, now 46, while trying to keep up with school.

Roxy has taken overdoses on several occasions, been admitted to hospital many times, was once sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and spent several months in care.

'If it wasn't for Frosty I don't think I'd be here now,' said Roxy.

'I would either have died, or run away because I wouldn't have seen any point. She needs me, and I need her.'

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The rabbit was a 2014 Christmas present from her dad, Andrew Hollis, who moved back home to care for Roxy after a psychiatric nurse refused to allow the then 12-year-old girl home from hospital unless he was there.

Roxy had been admitted after taking an overdose of drugs.

In 2013 she went to hospital three times, either because she was dangerously underweight, or because of suicide attempts.

'Ever since I have had Frosty I have stayed out of hospital as she makes me realise I need to eat and has helped keep me healthy,' she said.

'I still feel really low and have good days and bad days but I know that whatever happens I have her to cuddle.

'She shows so much affection to me by licking me and being obsessed with me which makes me feel like she relies on me and needs me in her life, as well as providing me with a stable, uncomplicated relationship.'

Roxy, whose weight once plummeted to four-and-three-quarter stone, does not blame her problems on her upbringing.

'It's caused by what's going on in my head,' she said. 'I feel fat and ugly and I hate myself.'

She has warned others about the evil of 'pro-ana' websites created by anorexics which encourage girls in particular not to eat.

Has a pet helped you get through a difficult time? Email alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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