These are the words of the mother of Eloise Parry, a 21-year-old woman who lost her life after taking toxic diet pills.
It will be seven years in April since the death of Eloise. The vulnerable young woman, who suffered from bulimia, took tablets she bought online containing DNP, a chemical used in World War I explosives.
Eloise, from Shrewsbury, suffered what was described in court as “a most painful death”. She was a talented student at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, with her whole life ahead of her. For Eloise’s mom, Fiona, the pain is still there.
“That was seven years ago,” she said. “That was a long time ago. I still find it hard to talk about it. If I’m not prepared, I choke.”
Eloise wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last young person to feel the pressure to look a certain way. Photoshopped images of celebrities and surgically-enhanced reality stars constantly shared on social media have given young people unrealistic expectations about how they look and how much effort they should make to get there.
Fiona thinks harder conversations need to be had and more effort needs to be made to make young people realize that they are enough and don’t need to strive for the looks “perfect”.
“It’s a very difficult situation for young people now,” she said. “The pressure wasn’t there when I was growing up like it is now. It’s on your phone and it’s everywhere, all the time. It’s so much harder to escape. It’s a lot easier to be forced into doing something you will regret.
“It’s an uphill battle we’re facing right now. There’s a lot of good things about body positivity, but it’s still something we still have a long way to go. It’s really tough. to resist the pressure to look and dress a certain way. I understand that young people want to fit in. It’s so hard for them.
Positive news emerged that DNP, the deadly drug Eloise took, could be reclassified as a poison. The Home Office has started a consultation on whether to reclassify the drug, following pressure from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
It comes after a five-year campaign by another parent who lost a child to drugs. Bethany Shipsey, who was also 21, died in 2017 after taking tablets containing the chemical. His father Doug Shipsey, of Worcester, fought to have the drug declared poison again.
DNP, or 2,4-dinitrophenol, was classified as a poison until 1996, but somehow got off the poison list, meaning it was a substance that was not not controlled by the authorities. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Shipsey said if the issue had been addressed sooner his daughter ‘could still be with us’.
The drug is highly toxic and not intended for human consumption, but the industrial chemical is sold illegally in diet pills as a fat-burning substance.
DNP users experience a boost in metabolism, leading to weight loss, but even a few pills can be fatal.
People who take too many tablets may experience nausea, vomiting, restlessness and irregular heartbeat.
Even those who don’t overdose and consume lower amounts over longer periods of time can end up with problems such as cataracts and skin damage, as well as impact on the heart, blood and nervous system. .
Fiona has praised Mr Shipsey and believes reclassifying and screening the drug will provide an extra layer of protection for vulnerable people who might otherwise buy it.
“He lost his daughter and he lobbied for her to be reclassified,” she said. “He kept me fully informed along the way, which I’m really grateful to him for. It’s a great job on his part and I’m extremely proud. It’s something he’s been working on for five years. “
No one has been prosecuted for Bethany’s death, although Mr Shipsey has traveled to Ukraine to confront the man who sold it to him.
Fiona added: “He was never sued for his daughter because she bought her from Ukraine. But it’s something positive that really means to him.
“I didn’t expect him to grab headlines like he did. It would give a bit more protection.”