Bullied for her body, sick woman takes a stand
DENIKA is 20 years old. She used to be a model. Now she weighs 45kg, her bones are hollow and they are breaking down.
Some days it's so bad she has to crawl to get to the toilet.
"With my bone disease, there is a possibility that I will end up crippled... that scares me," 20-year-old Denika Brand said.
Denika was modelling for an agency in Mackay before she was diagnosed with anorexia and osteonecrosis.
The news was devastating; her physical strength and modelling career fading away before her own eyes.
Undeterred, she went on to teach young girls on the catwalk, which she still does today but says she "can't even walk in heels" anymore.
Now, she takes everyday as it comes, in the slow process to get her body stronger again.
Her goal is to get her body stronger before she turns 30, so she can "go down in weakness like a normal person".
She's not at her weakest point however, she used to be 40kg so is hopeful she is getting better.
"I'm hoping if I cure my anorexia and eating disorder that I will cure the osteonecrosis or stop it from progressing anyway," she said.
"But because of my bone disease I have no hope. I'm never going to be able to walk in heels again, never going to be a model..."
"I have a high chance of my bone structure to collapse. I don't like being skinny."
She said her doctors have never seen the disease in someone so young.
And --- as if her fight wasn't already hard enough --- last week she finally built up the courage to tell her mum that she had been bullied about her appearance, and her condition since she was in year 8.
It followed a cruel and relentless string of attacks to her account on social media in the past month.
"Have you take a look at yaself in the mirror?? Even the mirror will kill himself by seeing ya skeleton framework", one comment said. "You remind me of biology book in which there is a skeleton system" was another. And "Do you need baby formula??? You seems so weak btw".
She had checked her phone on a work break to discover a group of boys had added her to a group chat, where they had shared pictures of her, taunting her.
They had posted images of a skeleton and a fragile woman that recently passed away from bowel cancer, telling Denika that was what she would end up like.
She read every heartbreaking word.
"It might be scary... I'm 20 and I still don't like saying it to my mum that I'm getting bullied but you just need to do it. There's so many ugly situations now, there's too many cases of suicide," she said.
"Some days I'll be like 'you're an idiot' and then other days I'll actually go home and sit in my room and be like 'I am what that person said'," she said.
"It's quite heartbreaking actually. It really hurts."
But the most worst, she said, is when people call her a "crack head" for being thin. People have even yelled that out to her on a night out.
Denika said if it wasn't for the family and friends around her, "I don't believe I would be sitting here".
She said she had struggled with depression for several years and realised now she needed to speak up.
She added it was heartbreaking that Dolly Everett didn't speak up, and she feels she needs to do so for herself, as well as the young girls she teaches catwalk to, and anyone else struggling with bullying.
"They definitely need to bring in the charges for bullying that's going through parliament at the moment," she added.
"I've been going through a hard time for a long time," she said, with a brave face.
"I'm glad I'm strong enough to brush it off."
She doesn't want to keep quiet about it anymore.
And, she's encouraging others to do the same.