Well, I guess it was 11 years ago I started to notice something was not right with Amy. She had just turned 13 when I caught her always looking at herself in the mirror. She would ask me if I thought she put on weight. I told her of course not, she always looked just right for her age.
You know, I never even thought anything was wrong I took it as just being a teenage thing and really thought no more about it. I remember myself in those teenage years worrying about my looks and going on diets and silly stuff like that, it was what a lot of my friends did too.
I didn’t even pickup on the fact that Amy would just play with her food at the dinner table and just shift it around her plate, eating very little. Of course I would say to her about not eating her food, but she would say she had a lot to eat at school, or at a friends place or some other excuse and I would fall for it.
Now in hindsight I feel really guilty as a mom for not being more aware of things at that time and I go through the “if only I had noticed back then I maybe could have done something”, but I didn’t and the 10 years of living hell was about to begin.
Amy had always been a beautiful intelligent girl, always thinking of other people, always nice and kind. When she was 8 she would always do things for her grandmother (who had come to live with us) she always asked if she needed help cleaning or if she could do anything for her. She always volunteered to take Grans’ dinner to her and bring back the dirty dishes; nothing was too much for her.
Amy was 12 when her grandmother passed away. We thought she would be really upset but she seemed to handle it probably better that any one, even her younger brother Ben seemed more upset. We put it down to the fact that Gran had been sick for over 6 months and we had explained to her that we thought Gran would not live that much longer. Even at the funeral Amy did not cry but seemed to be in full control, but again I was too upset at losing my Mom, that I did not really pay attention.
My God! What an idiot I was back then how could I miss all the little signals that Amy was sending me? Why didn’t I see the warning signs, how could I have been so stupid? They were all there to be seen but I didn’t notice a thing.
I think what really sent Amy on the trip that nearly cost her life was what to her, became a major disappointment when she was 13. Amy just loved to dance and she was good at it and she had a real passion for dancing. She always said the she wanted to be a dancer when she grew up and if any dancing came on TV she would not miss it. Even if there was a family outing or a birthday party, if dancing was on TV she would refuse to go, until the show had ended.
I have to tell you at this point that Amy was not a typical little 13 years old. She was quite developed for her age with breasts and more of a mature shapes to her body, more like a 16 year old that a 13 year old. Most of her friends were still waiting to develop breasts and were still the thin little girls with no shape. I didn’t know it then but Amy was teased about her body by some of the girls at school, who would call her fat and tell her she had a big bottom. Of course this was not true, Amy was just more developed but to her she was starting to think she was really fat.
It was the 18 November 1996 that I believe was the catalyst for the 10 years of hell we were about to face. Amy had been practicing for months to get into the school dance troop. It was the auditions for the Christmas extravaganza and Amy wanted so badly to get the lead dance role. Two days before the auditions she got ill and by the time her dance trials came she was not in good health. She failed to get the lead role; in fact she danced so badly she did not even make the team. When she was leaving the stage I heard one of the girls who was successful say, I told you you’re too fat.
Amy was inconsolable she screamed and yelled and cried and cried. I tried to consol her by saying there is always next year, it was not your fault you were sick, but nothing could make her stop being upset. All she kept saying was she had tried so hard why was I not picked. Mom I wanted to be in the show why did I not get in, I am too fat, they didn’t pick me because I am too fat.
Amy just sobbed and sobbed all night in her room there was nothing I could do, absolutely nothing. I remember saying to my husband John that she will cry herself out and in a couple of days she would be that lovable girl we knew: how wrong this statement turned out to be.
I have heard Anorexia described by another sufferer as being like getting on an escalator that you can’t get off. It just keeps going and you don’t even know how you got on in the first place, all you know is the floor has changed. You think you are in control at first but then it takes control of you and there is nothing you can do about it. This is basically what happened to Amy, I believe she got on the escalator the night of the auditions looking for something she could control, but only found the devil.
Over the next 12 months Amy seemed to be doing well, at school her grades were up and she was near the top of her class. But she had completely given up her dancing, saying to us that she wanted to concentrate on her school work. Amy had always liked going to school even when she was little, in fact she couldn’t wait to get back to school during the term breaks, looking forward to the new school year. So when she told us she wanted to do better at school we simply believed her, after all her grades reflected all the effort she was putting in. We didn’t realize that what was really happening was she was withdrawing further and further into herself.
She wasn’t eating much and soon started to look thin and scrawny. I never noticed her weight loss as it was winter and she wore bulky clothing that covered her up. It was only well into spring when she started to wear thinner clothes that I really saw the extent of the problem.
I started to worry about this but when I would approach her she would tell me she was just on a diet and don’t bother her. It was at this time the alarm bells started to go off in my head; she was starting to look really emancipated. To me she looked like one of those photos you see of people in the concentration camps, all skin and bone, her hair was lank without luster or life. My God I started to think what is going on here.
It was time for us to confront Amy to see what in the world was happening. We decided to wait until Ben, her brother, was not home as we wanted to have a good talk to Amy and thought it would be a more relaxed atmosphere if he was not there: what transpired was anything but relaxed.
Amy just did not want to talk she exploded, swearing and cursing me telling us that it is her life and if she wanted to diet she would. I said to her that she had no fat to lose she was just skin and bone. She pointed to her shoulders telling me am I blind, look at all the fat on her shoulder. I tried to point out that is the bone in your arm it is not fat. She yelled and screamed calling me an idiot and just wanted to leave her alone, slamming the door in my face.
I was in absolute shock. Tears were streaming down my face. What had just happened, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. John tried to open the door but it was locked he yelled for Amy to open the door and he wanted answers right now. All we got back was a tirade of abuse, he banged on the door but Amy just got worse and worse yelling and screaming, we could hear things being thrown, things smashing and Amy telling us to go away and let her be.
I called my doctor to talk to him; I needed answers to what was going on. He suggested that I come and see him and bring Amy if it was possible, so I made an appointment for the next day. When Amy claimed down I asked her if she wanted to go with me. She refused; saying why would she want to go to see a doctor, there is nothing wrong with her. I wanted to say something but the events of that morning stopped me; I did not want a repeat performance until I at least knew what it is I was dealing with.
I attended the appointment with Dr Thomson explaining what had happened. He asked me a number of questions about Amy and then told me he was sure that she had an Eating Disorder and it was probably Anorexia.
Well! I nearly fell of my chair; I just could not understand how in the world this had happened to Amy. I knew absolutely nothing about anorexia, except what a had read about movie stars who supposedly had all these kinds of problems through the stress of keeping thin for their careers, but Amy was only a little girl. She didn’t have these kind of pressures how could she have anorexia?
Dr Thomson told me what he could and recommended we try and get Amy to see a councilor as soon as we could. He told me people die because of anorexia, it is a psychological problem not an eating one. That the eating is a symptom of a bigger problem and we have to get to the bottom of the problem to fix it. There is nothing he could prescribe only getting her to a councilor was her only chance, or she probably would die.
I sat there completely dumb founded, my little girl could die. I didn’t know what to say my heart was in my mouth, tears were flowing down my face, I was shaking and all colour had drained out of my face. I could see the concern on the doctors’ eyes and he told me just to relax for a moment. She was only 14 how could she die? I went to see the doctor thinking he would tell me it was just a normal teenage thing and not to worry as she would grow out of it: not to be told my baby could die.
We did get Amy to see a councilor a very good one for this kind of problem. For the next 2 years we battled Amy’s devils and we thought we were starting to get on top of things. It was during these sessions that we found out that Amy had taken the death of her grandmother extremely badly and had bottled up all the emotions. Also that missing out on the dance performance coming on top of all the bad emotions was a major turning point in Amy’s life. To us it was a mole hill; to Amy it was Mt Everest.
During the next 2 years I read and studied everything I could find on anorexia and it was during this time I started to think about the secret I was to put into action a little bit later, which was to change everything.
Amy seemed to be hanging in there with the problem and although she did not start to have significant weight gain she did improve, or seem to improve may be a better way of saying things. After about 15 months Amy all of a sudden started to eat more, we were overjoyed. She would even eat more than her brother sometimes and he was a big eater. We thought at last we were getting on top of this thing and even though she did not put on weight we were not that concerned. We simply thought that after nearly 4 years of virtual starvation it would take the body a little while to revert to normal metabolism.
We never even noticed that Amy had started to binge eat and then purge herself, not only after dinner but after every meal. I was well aware that this could happen and I did keep an eye out but Amy was very cunning and sneaky, going to the bathroom down stairs in the pool area where she knew no one would go. Of course we didn’t find out until it was too late.
It was August 24th 1999 we had to go away for 3 weeks on business. We received a phone call from my sister Betty who was staying looking after the house and kids. She said that Amy had collapsed at home and was in hospital and we better get back as things are not looking good.
Well! I totally panicked, I had promised myself that no way was I going to let Amy die and now there was a strong possibility that it just may happen.
The recriminations started to come thick and fast in my head, why did I go away, why didn’t I see what was happening, it is all my fault, what a bad mother I am, I was worried sick.
We got to the hospital 12 hours later catching the first plane out we could get. Amy was on a drip and looked very ill, my heart fell, I was so worried this was the worst I have ever seen Amy looked and I feared of going to lose her. Amy was in and out of conciseness, I just sat there and prayed to God that he let her live.
The doctors told me her potassium level was 1.9 very low: low enough in fact that her heart could stop beating. This was the worst time in my life, to sit there and think you are about to lose a child is the most emotional traumatic thing you can go through, and my heart goes out to all those who have sat in my position.
Amy pulled through I believe with the help of God.
Later I found out that Amy was vomiting up to 15 times a day over the 3 weeks while we were gone and her system just reacted to the abuse and she collapsed.
This episode was a turning point for both of us. I promised myself to find a cure for anorexia-bulimia regadles of the cost and I did. Amy is now a beatiful woman with the world at her feet. She doasn't have any signs of anorexia-bulimia for more that 2 years now.
How did she recovered read it at www.mom-please-help.com
Dr Irina Webster started her medical career in 1987 after graduating from high school with distinctions. She then enrolled in the Medical University of Archangelsk situated in North Russia, graduating in 1993. Irina then started her internship at The Komi Republic Children’s Hospital 1993 to 1994 where she studied to become a Pediatrician. Then she did a lot of courses to specialise in Women Health. In year 2001 Irina migrated to Australia. There she has been working as a medical doctor in women health area for 3.5 years. At present she does Eating Disorder natural treatment research.
Dr Irina's web-site: http://www.womenhealthsite.com