Greta Thunberg’s mother is opening up about her daughter’s struggles, including an eating disorder that almost required the young girl to be hospitalised.
In the family’s new book, Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, the Swedish environmental activist’s mother, Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman, details everything from her daughter’s autism and eating disorder to panic attacks and bullying at school, the Observer reports.
“She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness,” Ernman says. “She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating.”
Rapidly losing weight and only eating small amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi, Thunberg had lost over 20 pounds from her small frame, and could no longer climb stairs.
“After two months of not eating Greta has lost almost 10kg, which is a lot when you are rather small to begin with,” writes Ernman, according to an extract published by the British newspaper.
“Her body temperature is low and her pulse and blood pressure clearly indicate signs of starvation. She no longer has the energy to take the stairs and her scores on the depression tests she takes are sky-high.”
Thunberg also dealt with extensive bullying at school, being wrestled in the playground and hiding in the bathroom to cry. Despite her struggle, the school was unsympathetic, says Ernman.
Doctors diagnosed Thunberg with “high-functioning” autism, which Ernman describes as Asperger’s, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Around the same time as her diagnosis, Thunberg was struck by the climate change crisis after seeing a film in school.
She soon began protesting outside the Swedish prime minister’s office, even though it was clearly taking an emotional toll on the young girl. But her passion for the cause also invigorated Thunberg’s desire to live a full life, and she moved to a new school and started to eat again.
Despite her fame, Ernman recognises that Greta deals with an extensive amount of criticism, particularly online. The family received death threats on social media, and was even delivered excrement through the mail.
Words by Megan Johnson
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