It all started so suddenly. I recall asking what she wanted for breakfast and she said she had already eaten. I thought to myself that was strange as she was only 11 years old and had yet to prepare her own meals. When it happened the next day and she gave the same response, I thought to ask what she ate. She listed off many foods; much more than she has ever eaten before. It was then I knew she was not speaking the truth and felt the ground underneath me shift ever so slightly.
Things began to change and shift more quickly over the next few weeks. Food was left uneaten on dinner plates, found on the floor of the car after a request that she get to school early and eat on the way, found under her bed, throughout the house. I could hear her walking the halls in the late night hours and see the rings under her eyes from lack of sleep. She kept her window open to the frigid winter air in her bedroom; adding to the cold visible in her purple lips and the temperatures felt in her hands and feet.
My heart raced while hers declined until with great trepidation we went together to the doctors to confirm what I already knew. It all happened so quickly I recall thinking then and still do years later. How could the body be so resilient and yet so fragile as to begin shutting down in a matter of weeks. Why did I not feed her more high calorie foods while she was growing to give us more time and to protect her from this evil illness….It took only three weeks for her electrolytes, pulse rate and blood pressure to take us to emergency and we were not prepared. That was the start of our journey; many questions with no answers; parental shame and guilt coupled with a vague knowledge this did no good and that we must move forward; plan after plan to maintain a sense of purpose and hope; a persistent quest for more and more knowledge and support to help us find our way.
I know we are one of the lucky ones. I can feel in my core the high mortality of eating disorders. My body more than my mind remembers the fear of being on the edge/a precipice between life and death. My body still freezes and heart races when I encounter the mask of ED. But my daughter and whole family have learned and grown much along the way. We are stronger now, thanks to the support we have sought and fought for. It is with this shared, newfound strength and wisdom I hope to help others find their way and get the support they deserve and need.