Eileen's Story Anorexia

Thank you so much for acknowledging my email and contacting me. By all means, please feel free to include Eileen's story on your Web site and in any other forum that might prove helpful. If there is anything more that I can help with, please feel free to contact me.

Eileen was the most trustworthy kind, compassionate, and reliable friend anyone could ever hope to have. Her promises and commitments to others were as good as gold. She volunteered, without fail, at a homeless shelter here in Waukesha, cleaning and baking so the homeless could find refuge. And she relentlessly sought to encourage others, like myself, to pursue treatment, embrace help, to "keep up the good fight."

Yet, Eileen was an enemy to herself. She was an abusing, severe tyrant when it came to "self-control." She was absolutely unable (or unwilling?) to give to herself, to be kind to herself, or to simply provide for her own fundamental needs. She simply could not grasp that she deserved the same love and care that she so desperately sought to give others.

Nor could she open the door of her prison to allow others in so that they might comfort, reassure, and nurture her desperate soul. This is perhaps the most agonizing aspect that torments the family and friends of a women who literally eroded slowly into nothingness.

Eileen's struggle and eventual death have served as a haunting reality check for myself and for many others who knew and loved her. I cringe when I catch a glimpse of Eileen's tired and drawn face staring back at me in the mirror.

In conclusion, Eileen's story is tragic, and there have been far too many such tragedies of loving, bright women sacrificing themselves. There is a point that one reaches when struggling for so many years with an eating disorder; when dying becomes effortless and living requires agonizing rebirth and exhausting work.

And so I am exhausted, afraid, and at times, in great agony...but I am alive...and I'm "waking up" more and more each day from the numbness of starvation. And you know what? It's actually not so bad...sometimes even fun!

Someday soon I'd like to share my story...But for now...it's about Eileen Boe.

of Waukesha, Wisconsin
formerly of Neenah, Wisconsin
Died Sunday, July 11, 1999 (date declared by the Medical Examiner)
Daughter of Russell and Gertrude Griswold
Survived by two sons: Jason Boe and Nick Boe,
by sisters Judy Fowler, Marcia Reihardt, and Amy Nicholas,
by brothers Gary Griswold and Russell Griswold,
and by her special friend, her bird, Job.

Eileen is dearly missed by her family and close friends, too many to mention.
Eileen loved flowers, butterflies, singing birds, the chimes of bells and angels.
Rest in Peace, my Friend, my "Sister-in-Spirit".

Amy Jo
(Thanks for listening!)

At some point, I'd like to tell my story. I've been struggling with anorexia/bulimia for well over 15 years. I have made tremendous, albeit slow progress, but I have tremendous work ahead to overcome the "cancerous" devastation that an eating disorder can create in one's life. When I am stronger...Id like to share more... for now, I want to share Eileen's story.

Eileen died in July of 1999. She was found alone in her apartment after the police had received numerous calls from those who were concerned at her unexplained absence. Police entered her apartment, where they found Eileen's wasted body. She had been dead for more than two weeks. Autopsy results indicated that she had overdosed so I expect her death certificate lists "suicide" as the cause of death. But anorexia was the real murderer. Eileen was forty-one years old when she died.

I first met Eileen in 1996 when we were both participating in a treatment program here in Waukesha. We became fast friends. From what I learned, Eileen had been formally diagnosed with anorexia as far back as 1985. She was committed for in-patient treatment years before, by her husband, for failing to eat and for the profound loss of weight that triggered psychotic like symptoms. Her husband later divorced her and she lost custody of her two minor boys. She also lost contact with her family of origin, lost jobs, became financially destitute, and her health deteriorated. She never successfully lived without the need for hospitalization to regain desperately needed weight. Immediately upon discharge she would begin a slow but steady loss of weight. Eileen also began to suffer prolonged bouts of depression. In addition, she turned at one time to alcohol to help cope with the discomfort of prolonged starvation. To her credit she became and stayed sober, participating in ongoing support through AA. But anorexia got the best of her. Like a cancer, it worked its way, "metastasizing" into every facet of her life. It became harder and harder to connect with "Eileen." She became increasingly overshadowed by her eating disorder. And unfortunately, because her situation was of such chronic nature, the "interventions" that the "newly" diagnosed receive had long since stopped working.

Anyway, I miss Eileen. And it scares me because it seems that long-term, chronic anorexia is an Abyss from which few ever escape. I'm doing my best to fight but it seems most recovery resources are aimed at the young and acute cases which present for treatment accompanied by friends and family. What about those who are older, more chronic and further encumbered by the deteriorating health, identity, and hope, and abandoned by those who can no longer afford to care?