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What are you doing for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week?

 “I didn’t know.  I should have known, I didn’t understand.  I had no idea.”

These are phrases spoken frequently during the new documentary, Someday Melissa.  This documentary, proficiently crafted by a talented filmmaker, Jeffrey Cobelli, underscores how easy it is for loving involved families to miss the warning signs of Bulimia.  Melissa is presented as a bright, creative, and sassy girl whose self-esteem became completely hinged to her body and her quest for perfection.   Her friends, family members, and clinicians speak frankly about their Should Haves and the impact of Melissa’s death on her loved ones, is apparent.  Also apparent was the connection the audience felt with Melissa as we watched her pass through her developmental stages of latency and adolescence.  By allowing the audience to read Melissa’s journals and view the videos she made, we experienced from her point of view, the heart breaking, and I don’t use that phrase lightly, highs and lows that are  typical of the up and down course that those suffering from Eating Disorders frequently follow. By the end of the film, the audience is also grieving the loss of such a lovely, young, promising, and spirited girl.

In the discussion that followed the screening, led by Judy Arvin, Melissa’s mother, the audience commented on her much they had learned from the film.  Many voiced their understanding that early intervention is essential, while others commented on how long term treatment based on meaningful treatment goals, and NOT brief hospitalizations where inpatient stays are terminated based on lab results, is vital for recovery.  We learned that there is no quick fix for this diagnosis and the statistics of mortality rates that are presented in the film will shock most people into taking the problem of insurance companies discharging patients prematurely much more seriously.  But despite the sadness and heaviness of the material, the audience appeared to leave the theater energized and determined to tell the world how crucial it is to educate people about Eating Disorders. I know I left the theater hoping that Someday Melissa could find its way into Junior High School and High School Health Classes and PTA meetings, especially in Middle to Upper Middle Class affluent Caucasian communities, where Melissa’s story is replicated over and over and The Should Haves is an epidemic in its own right.

If you are interested in helping to spread the word about this important film, visit the Someday Melissa website and please don’t wait until someday.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week starts on February 26.