Today Katie would have been 32 if anorexia had not derailed her life, hijacked her life, stolen her life. However we want to say, her heart stopped beating on June 23, 2013, at the age of 25 due to anorexia. Anorexia ravaged her body for 3 years following 10 years of recovery.
This journey is beyond understanding as anyone who has lost a loved one to anorexia; it is a brutal, tragic reality that occurs much too often. Anorexia has a 20% mortality rate!!! We need to start talking about this!
When I first noticed symptoms of anorexia were back in Katie’s life she had graduated at the top of her class from Syracuse University iSchool and was attending SU on a full scholarship for Graduate School at the iSchool, she was working for JP Morgan Chase. From the outside looking in, she was soaring. When I approached her with my concern for her and her wellbeing; I was met with; “I am fine! Everything is fine. I am 22 years old, I know how to take care of myself”. The denial was deep, she did not want to hear it and as far as she was concerned, I needed to back off. My greatest fears were becoming a reality, the battle had begun. I knew this was not good, but I truly had no idea what was ahead. I now believe, this is my second visit from this monster, that by the time you realize there's a problem, or something is wrong or ED is back. The eating disorder, in Katie’s case, anorexia was entrenched, ED was in charge. The ED thoughts were present and dominating her thoughts, this was going to be a battle, this was not going to be easy. What was I going to do? This was the beginning of a two-and-a-half-year struggle to help my daughter reclaim her life from a brain-based disease that not many people understood or knew what to do. May I remind you, this was 2010? All the ED myths were firmly entrenched:
As the behaviors continued, she continued to slowly, slowly slip away.
The web of anorexia was getting more and more complex and embedded in her life. As the resistance to any type of intervention increased; my panic was getting deeper and deeper with what felt like nowhere to turn, she was seeing a doctor and finally told me she was seeing a counselor. She was deeply struggling to a point she could not be in one of her best friends' weddings because she did not have the stamina. At this point on some level, I believe she was terrified but the overwhelming thoughts of ED dominated her and her brain was no longer functioning like a healthy, well-nourished brain; she was compromised, Katie needed trained medical intervention for an extended period of time.
I hoped beyond desperation that something would intervene and at the same time living in terror that she would collapse, have a car accident, or worse; waiting for a phone call. ED not only terrorizes the individual, ED terrorizes everyone who loves this person. The shattering effect of anorexia/ED is exponential and is incredibly complex.