There has been quite a bit of media coverage over the last two or three days on the story of Melissa Avrin, a 19 year old girl who lost her battle with bulimia last year. (The cause? A heart attack.) Her mother, Judy, was on the Today show last week and there have been a few articles published recently, all aimed at raising awareness about eating disorders, but also honoring and remembering Melissa's life. Judy has become an advocate and will be lobbying tomorrow April 26, and April 27 in Washington DC to support the FREED Act (Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act). To find out more about the advocacy work that you can take part in, follow this link which will take you to the Eating Disorders Coalition site.
But back to Melissa's story- I would really, really encourage you to check out this article, which was published in the New York Times on April 21st. Judy has been raising awareness and speaking out about losing her daughter to an eating disorder over the course of this past year and she is also finishing up a documentary on her life (called Someday Melissa), which she is hoping to have completed by June. Sharing Melissa's story may help to dispel myths about bulimia, as well as connect a face and a story with an illness that is so commonly misunderstood. Melissa was young- 19 years old- and did not survive her battle with bulimia. Her eating disorder took her life, and it is a really heartbreaking story. What is so tragic is that she represents so many who struggle; while many do overcome this battle, there are still some who are like Melissa and are losing their fight. The more that we all can do to raise awareness, provide education, and advocate for more accessible treatment is a step towards saving lives.
To view a trailer of Judy's documentary on Melissa's life, follow this link. It is definitely worth checking out. It is a short, five minute video that is really powerful. Judy found Melissa's journal after she passed away, and after reading through it, was inspired to make a movie that would change peoples lives- as that was one of Melissa's goals that she had journaled about wanting to accomplish someday. Judy is using her grief to advocate, raise awareness and instill hope in the lives of others who are struggling with an eating disorder. If you or someone that you know is struggling with an eating disorder, I hope that Melissa's story may inspire you towards health. You are not alone, and it is possible to beat this disorder with the right treatment! To read different stories of hope and freedom from eating disorders, courtesy of the National Association of Eating Disorders (NEDA), follow this link.