Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

the ultimate risk

The new year isn’t starting out so hot.  It didn’t exactly end so hot, either.  News hit the online world last week with the confirmation of actress and model Isabelle Caro’s death from anorexia in November.  One of my mentees found out that someone she had been in treatment with had died over the summer.  Today, I mourn the loss of someone I knew from treatment.  I stopped counting the number of people I have known personally who have died from an eating disorder after I got to ten, although I’m sure I could figure it out.  But the number was getting too large.  Too real.  Too painful.  I could see the list of names grow, and knowing I could not stop the list from growing, I stopped keeping exact count.

But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Not really.  The deaths still happen; I can’t deny them.  And no matter how long the list of acquaintances who have died from an eating disorder grows, the pain doesn’t lessen.  You don’t get used to this.  At least, I can’t.

People look for a cause.  Lately, the media has focused on the film Black Swan and ballet.  As if either one could be the sole reason for the development of an eating disorder.  As if either one had the sole power to claim a life.  The people I know who have died battled multiple causes.  Every single person I have ever known who has struggled with an eating disorder has had to face down multiple demons that contributed to his or her illness.

Sometimes, the demons are stronger than the person’s will to survive.  Sometimes, the demons have worn down the person so much that by the time he or she decides to recover, they have no strength left to fight.  Sometimes the demons kill off any hope, making recovery seem impossible.

Why did I live and the three people mentioned in my first paragraph die? (And the people on my own personal list, and the people I hear about through online forums, and the sons and daughters of parents I know?)  My mentee mentioned feeling guilty, and I asked her not to hold on to that guilt.  But I have to admit to it, myself.  Did I not reach out enough?  Could I have said something different?  Could I have shown her or him another way?  Could I have been more supportive?  I will take my own advice and let these questions come and then let them go.

There are too many unanswered questions.  But there is one thing that should be very clear: eating disorder can and will kill. My list of people who have succumbed to these illnesses include both men and women, teenagers and adults, and people of various ethnic backgrounds.  Some had turned the corner and had decided to recover, but their bodies gave out on them.

Don’t think you can afford to wait to recover.  Don’t for a second think that you can put off making one small step of progress until tomorrow.  Tomorrow may not be here.  Do not give up on life.  Do not give up on yourself.


January 2, 2011 - Posted by | coping, death, Eating Disorders, feelings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I too have had friends and people I was in treatment with pass away from this illness. There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with it and also guilt that I still struggle with recovery. Sometimes the demons do kill off hope, and that is one of the saddest parts. Every day is a battle, and yet I continue to fight. Life is too fragile and precious to waste.

    Comment by Angela | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  2. I can so relate to this post. When I was at my weakest and heard of someone I knew that passed due to the eating disorder I would actually be jealous…why didn’t I succomb when I had tried multiple times to end my own life. Now that I am further on the road to recovery I am saddened when I hear of someone not making into the fullness of recovery. It would be hard to nail down WHY we have developed this coping mechanism in the first place. I know for me, an overwhelming desire to please everyone but myself led me to a place of total despair and utter disgust with myself. I am now learning how to claim my life back and find out what I like to do and what pleases me. For so long I was taught that doing things for oneself was totally selfish and nobody wants to be around a selfish person….I have found the opposite to be true. If I don’t take care of myself and do what pleases me then NOBODY wants to be around me!! What a paradox!

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure many of us feel the same way as you but have not had the courage to voice it as eloquently as you have!!

    Comment by Harry | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  3. For me at least, and I’m sure for many people, guilt is one of the hardest emotions to cope with. And the guilt that comes with having an ED is particularly hard. Especially considering that the majority of people who I know who have EDs care more about other people than they do about themselves.

    While it frustrates me to no end that people simplify things to the point of just blaming the media, I think one of the most dangerous messages that is being sent out is that you have to be anorexic and emaciated to die. There are still so many people who think, upon hearing about Isabelle Caro’s death, “I’m not THAT bad, so I don’t have to worry”. For the most part (and I’m not saying this is always the case), when the media attempts to “educate” the public about eating disorders, they only show the extremes, the cases that will shock the public, not the cases of people who are slightly underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight etc. who may be dying internally but don’t show it as much externally.

    As the person above me posted, thank you for having the courage to post this. ❤

    Comment by anon | January 2, 2011 | Reply

    • One of the things that infuriates me about the media is that they DO focus on the emaciated when they choose to educate people about eating disorders.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. After reading this post I went and researched Isabelle Caro, and thought the exact thing that the above poster wrote… “Well I’m not THAT bad, so it won’t happen to ME.” Or “I was really sick at one point, but I’m doing ‘better’ now… so if it was going to happen it would have happened back then.” I told my dad tonight at dinner about the passing of a girl I had been in treatment with (who he had actually met, too). Before he went to bed he came in and kissed me on the head and told that everyday his prayers are answered because I’m still with him. I ask myself why I have been given a second (and third and forth) chance when others who have been in such similar situations have not been. How did they not see that they were going to die? Why didn’t they change their ways? I always thought that if it got really bad (and I mean REALLY bad) I would know and I would be able to somehow stop it before it happened. I guess it doens’t work like that… what will it take to make me realize that it can happen at any time to any one and not just the horribly emaciated?

    Comment by anon2 | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. My daughter Jackie died 3 years ago on New Years Day from an eating disorder. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wonder what I could have, should have done. After Jackie died, I was shocked to see that the guilt is shared by all the survivors, even ones who are only remotely involved.
    There are so many people who care about you and your recovery. Let them in. Let them help. Talk about the disorder and the toll it takes on you. End the secrecy and shame of the disease. Love yourself and allow the people around you to love you too.

    Comment by joan | January 3, 2011 | Reply

    • I am so sorry for your loss… it isn’t fair. We are tricked into thinking that there is no way out… that ED is our friend. It is all a big lie… I see that now.

      Comment by anon2 | January 4, 2011 | Reply

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