Emily was my niece.
Emily came from an upper middle class family; her father is a high-level scientist and her mother was a high-level international banker. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate her nuclear family as 8.5 on the dysfunctional scale.
When Emily started high school, she became a little chubby (I think the true cause was parental neglect and abuse--but that's a family secret). In 11th grade, she relocated to Los Angeles with her mother and sister (father had remained here). During the summer between her junior and senior years in high school, Emily went back to Houston to stay with her best friend for the summer. This is when the bulimia really took off.
Her mother, despite my warnings, remained in complete denial--saying that Emily simply looked great now that she was watching her weight.
College brought more challenges. The little neglected girl developed more compulsivity and the bulimia worsened. Emily lived with me for more than 6 months. I did managed to get help for her and talked with her father, who simply didn't have the skill set to be a productive parent. Ditto her mother.
Over the years we have tried many avenues for treatment, hospitalizations, counseling, family interventions........ My daughter (her cousin) has spent all of Emily's life being her confidant and mentor. Her aunt and uncle on her father's side have been second parents to her.
Only a month ago, I had Emily all lined up to be hospitalized for another condition, which would also have placed her bulimia front and center. A few hours before I was to pick up her, Emily told my daughter to "call off the dogs" (that would be me).
Emily died last week at just 30.
She had isolated herself from every single friend and relative. Dao and she had texted (Emily didn't want to talk) the week before.
As a family, we are devastated. No one could alleviate Emily's internal struggles. No one could fill the internal void which she tried to fill with bulimia.
Emily was very smart, charming, funny, caring, extroverted and an animal lover.
We are grief stricken and guilt stricken. What else could have been done? Why couldn't Emily receive all of the love that was being given? Why did she hide her condition from her parents and doctors? Why, why, why--there is no answer. Perhaps, there was just nothing more that we could do. Maybe she had cried wolf too many times; so we didn't pay close enough attention?
I do know (and see) that Emily is now at peace, her demons snuffed out.
Please share this post with any parents that you might know who are struggling with a child with bulimia or any other eating disorder. The best time to start treatment is early on--as soon as symptoms are noticed.
LOVE YOUR CHILDREN!! Love them with all of their adolescent, boundary pushing, obnoxious behavior and clumsiness. Love them when they are at their most impossible and demanding--this is when they need you the most.
PS. Prayers please for Jones as he tore a nail down to the bed and will have to have surgery tomorrow. Thank you.