I didn’t know whether to write about this because I wasn’t sure if it’s ok to write about someone else’s life. But this story is the reality of everyone with an eating disorder and of their family too.
L is doing well. There are blips and the issue of food is not without tension. But so much of that is down to our past and she is staying well and moving to a different life without Ed. She has dumped him – and seems equally adept at managing her own emotional life, dealing with ex-boyfriends while auditioning new ones. We went away to Spain and she drank sangria and cocktails, as well as trying new foods and eating happily. Then on the day we are leaving, she finds out on Facebook that a friend from inpatient treatment died. An 18 year old young woman. She had been transferred from Children’s and Young People’s Services to Adults Services. Because one day you’re a child, the next an adult. And at that point it gets harder. Day services are laissez faire and worst of all, inpatient places are scarce and have strict BMI thresholds – you have to be really thin to get in, like a fucked up model agency. This girl wasn’t thin enough, you see. So she had to lose weight to get a place. Which she’d done and was due to be admitted on the Monday we left for Spain. But it was too late. Her heart stopped. Because the hearts of anorexics do that. They stop, suddenly and without warning. Apart from the obvious warning of being underweight and suffering from a long term illness. Apart from the repeated admissions to inpatient services, including those with feeding under restraint services. You’d think that might be warning enough.
D seems stunned at first, then later in the airport, I turn and see her weeping. I hold her and she says it’s not about her. But for me, it is. I can’t imagine the agony of her parents – it’s like wandering past the door of a freezer compared to being locked in one. This illness is brutal and ruthless. It takes young lives and destroys them and devastates everyone else in its wake. On that morning in the airport, all I can feel is my daughter in my arms, sobbing and sad but alive. I despise this illness for taking another life, but right now it feels as if I have snatched her from the grasp of Ed and if I hold her tight enough we will survive. It feels like Russian Roulette – the shock of losing someone tempered by the guilty thankfulness that this time it wasn’t her.