I received this message today from one of my dearest friends. She and her family are in a fight for her daughter's life. Many of us, even those close to the family, had no idea how serious her illness had become. I hope that you read Mani's message and feel drawn to donate. Any amount helps.
I am writing to you today about my daughter, Asia. Some of you are very intimately acquainted with Asia's situation, and some of you know nothing about it at this point. Here's the thing, Asia needs help of the lifesaving variety, and if you are included in this group it is either because I know that you know her and love her, or that your faith and good energy/prayers/thoughts are powerful, or that maybe, just maybe you have some connection to someone or something that may help her.
Asia has anorexia, and is in the fight for her life. We first noticed some issues with her when she was in 8th grade and took her to a therapist, which led to a psychiatrist, and so on. She was misdiagnosed, first with depression and anxiety disorder, then with bipolar disorder. Her father, sisters, and I all brought up concerns time and again about her weight and eating habits. Each doctor, nurse, and therapist we spoke with dismissed these concerns. They told us that when the meds kicked in and her mood stabilized, she would eat. Only she didn't eat.
What she did do was get thinner and thinner, more entrenched in body dysmorphia, more anxious, more depressed, more sick. Finally, after nearly two years, a couple of months ago her psychiatrist diagnosed her as having an eating disorder.
Asia is not just thin and in emotional pain, her health is in serious peril. She has a subtype of anorexia in which she not only starves herself, if she does eat, she purges. She has anxiety attacks, insomnia, her hair is thin and brittle, her nails pitted and peeling, lanugo grows on her cheeks, she has the classic "chipmunk cheeks" caused by thyroid malfunction due to the disorder, her arms and legs swell due to fluid retention, her pulse regularly registers between 40-50, and her blood pressure has been as low as 60/40. She suffers from hypothermia, her teeth are eroding from vomiting, and regularly has bouts of crushing chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.
Due to the severity of her illness, she requires around the clock supervision and her dad and I have worked together to make that happen. I lost my job after calling in so many times to take her to the doctor, therapist, grab her from school after she blacked out (she doesn't go at all now), etc... Neither of us can remember our last full night of sleep, because we are up so often checking on her, taking vitals, making her drinking electrolytes, etc... and because we are very afraid she will go into cardiac arrest in her sleep and we will find her dead.
She is fifteen years old. Right now, she is in a short term inpatient facility, her third such stay since April. They will release her tomorrow, even though she is in no shape to be home. The psychatrist there is wringing her hands. She told us last night that although she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Asia needs intensive residential treatment, our state insurance will not cover it until she has taken and "Failed" an intensive outpatient eating disorder program. She said, "I am afraid that if you ever want her to get better, you will just have to figure out how to pay out of pocket. If she were my daughter, I would skip the outpatient, fire her current psychiatrist and therapist, and get her somewhere that knows this disease."
Today I am going to be calling every single reputable eating disorder program in the country to beg them to take her on a payment plan until I find one that will work with us. In all likelihood, proper help will cost between $30,0000-75,000. I could care less about that, though it may influence whether or not they will allow us to make payments for many years.
If you wonder why we are not utlizing a facility in AZ, it is because they are sub-par, have terrible long term recovery rates, and anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. My daughter has stated that she would rather die than eat. There are NO current treatment options that have great recovery rates after 3 of disease onset and we are on year two. The Maudsley Method, also known as FBT, has the highest adolescent recovery rate of all therapies for anorexia, at 60-80%. This is almost double the other modalities, which are not backed by strong clinical studies. So, Maudsley it is.
If you pray for her, think of her, know anyone who works in eating disorders who may have some ideas for our family, etc... I would be so grateful. She is a wonderful daughter, and I want her back. I want her to live.