Anorexia Took Her Away - So I Will March Sept. 30 in D.C.

7994691By: Debra Schlesinger

My daughter and only child  Nicole  passed away 11 years ago due to heart failure from her long 10 year battle and struggle with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia took her away from me and everyone who loved her. She left behind her beautiful daughter Hannah, a true miracle and gift from God. Hannah does not remember her mother .

Nicole was intelligent and beautiful inside and out. She was kind and sweet with an amazing smile that would light up the room. I was truly blessed to have had her for 27 years! Nicole’s dream was to be a doctor to help those who struggle with eating disorders (ED). That dream never came true.

Nicole’s eating disorder took hold of her when she and I went on a mother-daughter bonding Weight Watchers diet. She was just entering University of California Berkeley at the time. Nicole was not overweight. My daughter looked great, but had low self-esteem and body issues. She became obsessed with dieting and exercise and the perfectionist syndrome. This was the beginning of the "demon" of ED taking hold of her life.

In the ten years Nicole suffered from anorexia, she was in and out of various treatment centers roughly ten times. The last center was Renfrew where she went after her miracle daughter was born. We had high hopes this round of treatment would save her and she would eventually recover.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. She spiraled downward from that point on with the dual demands of being a new mom and her ED.

On April 6, 2003, my daughter passed away quietly at home with her husband and daughter. She woke up that morning not feeling well and decided not to exercise but get some needed rest. A few hours later her husband tried to wake her up, but she was already gone. My life as I once knew it was changed forever.

I chose to live. To be here for her daughter Hannah. And to reach out to help others as I have for the last 7 years with the Eating Disorders Research Center (EDRC). And now I'm the founder of an online Facebook Group MAED (Mothers Against Eating Disorders)  which mothers can join for support. 

I did not have this kind of support at the time I was dealing with Nicole’s illness. In fact, I was blamed for her eating disorder by everyone. Back then, many thought that parents caused the illness, which is wrong.

So on Sept 30, 11 years later, I will be marching in the first M.O.M (mothers and others) March in  Washington, DC. I will march in memory of my daughter and in honor of everyone else who has lost someone to an eating disorder. For the families that are grieving the loss of a loved one.

We must also lobby on October 1 with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) so our Members of Congress and Senators hear our voices. Change to fund ED research and treatment starts with Congress.  Our voices will be heard! Please register for EDC Lobby Day and join us in making a difference. No one should lose a child to an eating disorder.

No parent should ever outlive their children.

No parent should have to bury their children.

When a child dies, the parent has two choices: to survive or to die. 

I chose to live and to help others.