I woke up before dawn this morning with thoughts of a former client (who I will name Sarah) on my mind. I was concerned about Sarah, not having heard from her for the past several months, knowing that the last time we had contact she was deeply entrenched in the throes of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, and on her way to another treatment center as a last ditch effort to save herself from the chronic battle she had been fighting for more than two decades. As I started drifting back to sleep I thought, “I need to email Sarah, and see how she’s been doing lately….”
When woke up a couple of hours later there was a text message on my phone asking if I had heard the news?
Sarah was dead.
The funeral was this morning.
Unfortunately, my inspiration to reach out to Sarah had come a day too late.
I was deeply saddened and angered, but not shocked by the news. While working with her over the last several years, I sometimes wondered and feared whether or not this day would ever arrive- the day when I would get the news that she lost her battle and we lost what was once a sweet, beautiful, charming, bright, loving soul.
In the past 15 years+ of doing this work, this is the second time I’ve received news of a client’s death. It doesn’t feel easier or less sad for me. Each life lost to addiction is a devastating and unnecessary; it could have been avoided.
Eating Disorders can be deadly. I know we hear this all the time, but I don’t know if people really understand it. People- young, vibrant, intelligent, loved people- die from the complications of Anorexia and Bulimia. It is true, it is real, and it is not worth it. Whatever pain, suffering, discomfort, shame, angst you are feeling, turning to addiction in the form of drugs, alcohol, eating disorders is not worth it.
It is not worth putting your precious life on the line.
I know this is easier said than done.
When in the grips of any addiction, pulling away, getting help, and just tolerating the tsunami of feelings seems as unimaginable and unreasonable as stepping into the mouth of an actual Tsunami.
I write this tonight, not only as a plea to the individuals who are struggling to: reach out, get support, and not give up! I also write this with profound admiration and appreciation for all those who do fight the fight, and tolerate the unbearable discomfort(s) that beckon them to step back into the ease and seemingly effortless comfort of their self-destructive behaviors.
Keep up the fight, because you are in fact fighting for your life.
I wish Sarah would have had the chance for that that “one day,” that day when all the years of her struggles would have seemed to her as the most beautiful.