I posted this on twitter today and was deeply moved by this story, a mother's loss, a daughter's story. If you haven't read it, please take the time to do so. Any eating disorder death is heart wrenching and is a reminder of the stark reality that we can all die from this illness.
In this story, Judy Arvin, the mother of Melissa, who died at age 19 from bulimia, decided to make a documentary about her daughter's life and ultimately her death from bulimia. She felt it was a way to both help her grieve over the loss of her only daughter and to educate others about this illness.
I think one of the powers that can be raised in this film is the commonality of how the eating disorder unraveled. When there were signs that something was wrong, Melissa was taken to a pediatric gastroenterologist (she was having constipation and stomach problems) who diagnosed her with an eating disorder. The Arvins dismissed this doctor's diagnosis and never went back, partly out of denial and simply because Melissa was not visibly underweight, despite the fact her mood drastically changed.
Eventually Melissa did receive help (against her will at first) and became a revolving door in treatment centers. By this time, her family began to understand the extent of her illness, but after five years, it would be too late for Melissa who died of a heart attack, complicated by her bulimia.
The film, titled " Someday Melissa," taken from journal entries of Melissa, is slated to be finished in June with hopeful theatrical distribution.
One of Melissa's entries that became paramount for this film was:
I’ll eat breakfast.
I’ll keep a job for more than 3 weeks.
I’ll have a boyfriend for more than 10 days.
I’ll love someone.
I’ll travel wherever I want.
I’ll make my family proud.
I’ll make a movie that changes lives.
I'm hopeful that last wish will come true for Melissa.