For some people breakfast is porridge, others a slice of toast. But for Patrice Benjamin-Ramgoolam, it is a tablespoon of brick, scaped from her bedroom wall. The 28-year-old suffers from a condition which makes her crave bricks all the time – and claims she has suffered no health problems from eating them.
She told ITV’s This Morning: ‘It’s almost like someone who has a drug addiction – it’s like a fix.
‘My body [calls] for it – my mouth will literally be dribbling.’
The problem began when she was 18 and her grandmother mentioned her aunt and uncle used to pick at the wall.
‘I thought it was strange, but became interested in what it would taste like,’ she said.
‘I tasted it, I liked it and that’s where it all started. It’s like a chalky, earthy taste. I got hooked on it.’
Initially, she ate as many as six tablespoons a day.
And her cravings became so bad that she would be unable to resist them, even picking at the walls when visiting friends or family.
Also suffering from anxiety and depression, she said eating brick was ‘like an escape’.
She has since been diagnosed with pica – the desire to eat items that have little or no nutritional value, such as dirt or paint.
And despite the fact she constantly damages the walls, she claims her husband is ‘very supportive’.
Initially she tried to hide the damage by covering the holes in the walls with posters, but later confessed.
She said: ‘We are very close and he is very supportive. Once he found out that I ate the wall I did it in front of him.’
Dr Abigael San, a clinical psychologist, told This Morning: ‘Prevalence rates [for pica], the estimates vary – there are rates of about eight per cent that are quoted.
‘It’s quite rare in the average population – it’s more common in pregnancy or in people with learning disabilities.’
Dr San added there is a chance Mrs Benjamin-Ramgoolam’s pica could be caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency – but it was much more likely that it stems from an emotional problem.