By Claire Trainor
“On February 2, 2015, Lacey Smarr lost her life to a heart attack caused by anorexia. Her eating disorder was brought on by teasing from her peers and went undiagnosed by medical professionals and psychologists, despite her numerous doctor’s visits. She was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school living in Texas.
When I first was asked to write this piece by my editor, I didn’t know how. This is a piece that should never have to be written because it is about an event that should never have happened. But it did and it affects hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. So, here is my attempt at an article for everyone Lacey’s death has affected.
To the news sources covering Lacey’s death: There is more to an eating disorder than weight. Her demise from a healthy weight to an unhealthy one is not an indication of her sickness. To put emphasis only on the numbers of her illness contributes to the idea that you have to be “skeletal” to be sick. People die from their eating disorders at every weight and for a variety of reasons. Lacey was, and is, more than a number and her disorder was, and is, more complex than a low BMI. To make coverage about only the physical symptoms of her illness is to take away from the pain endured mentally, and to take away from the pain of the thousands of sufferers who are not “skeletal.”
To those who bullied her for her body: We should always be careful what we say to others. Especially when others are vulnerable and impressionable teenage girls. Even when we don’t mean to cause pain, we might. But this is not your fault. One comment is not enough to cause this much suffering. Eating disorders are complex biopsychosocial illnesses. It is not your fault. I promise. Be careful what you say to others, but please don’t blame yourself for Lacey’s feelings. It will do no good, for you or for her.
To the medical professionals who overlooked her symptoms: Teenagers are cunning and wonderful at fooling people. Those with eating disorders are perhaps even better. Still, I cannot begin to say how important a good medical team is in treating illnesses. Having medical professionals and psychologists who can recognize these lies is crucial in saving lives every day. The system needs to be better trained to respond to cases like Lacey’s. This was not the fault of an individual: it was the fault of everyone who stands by and did nothing. If Lacey didn’t want to be treated, there is an excellent chance that she could have fooled you out of a diagnosis.
To her friends: I cannot begin to imagine the pain you’re experiencing just weeks after your friend’s early passing. Those suffering often withdraw from their friends and peers, especially in high school. If this happened with Lacey, it doesn’t mean she didn’t love you. It didn’t mean she didn’t want to be there. She just didn’t know how. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to miss her. It’s okay to be confused and scared and unsure. You lost a friend and healing will take time.
To her family: Everyone here at Proud2BMe is incredibly sorry for your loss. I cannot fathom the feelings you have been experiencing since Lacey’s passing. But I can say that she was lucky to have parents who took her to the doctor and who tried as hard as they could to help her. She is lucky to have parents who continue to love and fight against eating disorders in her name. It’s so incredibly hard to detect the signs of an eating disorder, especially when the person suffering is trying to hide it. She may not have vocalized it, but I’m sure she was grateful to have people who loved her and continue to love her as much as you do.
To everyone suffering from an eating disorder: Help is available. Recovery is possible. There are few things in life scarier than being trapped inside your own head with an illness whose goal is to destroy you. One of the scarier things, for me at least, was recovery. And it’s a battle, every day. But it’s worth it. In the end, it’s worth being honest with the doctors, with your friends, with your family, and with yourself. I promise recovery is worth the pain.
And to Lacey: You are loved. By those in your life and by strangers across the country who mourn your death. I did not know you and I will never have the pleasure of knowing you. But after reading the page your family set up for you, I know you were a kind, brilliant, compassionate, empathetic, and beautiful human being. I am sorry the system failed you. I am sorry that your eating disorder’s hold was so strong. Rest in peace.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. In order to help raise awareness for the early symptoms, Lacey’s mom, Candy Miller, created the Lacey Foundation. The foundation will help not only to raise awareness, but also to help connect those suffering and their families with treatment opportunities, doctors, and psychologists. More can be heard from her mom below.”
For everyone who knew Lacey, I am so sorry for your loss. May Lacey rest in peace forever.
Photo via here
About this blogger: Claire Trainor is a freshman at DePaul University majoring in Creative Writing and Psychology. In steady recovery from an eating disorder, she wants to educate, support, and inspire those struggling in anyway. She likes her dogs, hot chocolate, and books. Claire currently runs a personal recovery blog.
Also by Claire:
Do not let the world that we are in tell you who you are and what you’re worth. God made you beautiful before you were even here!
Society has this concept that there is only one perfect body type for both male and female. How is that even realistic? I mean, there’s around 7 billion people on this planet! For example, do you see Victoria’s Secret selling underwear or lingerie beyond maybe a size 8, maybe 10? Not sure…but, they are trying to shrink the world and create an even stronger epidermic of eating disorders and self hatred and harm. This is why the few plus size shops like Lane Bryant can charge outrageously for all of their clothing. I stopped shopping there a while back when it occurred to me that if there was no ‘sale’ mostly everything was $50.00 each…lol.
Believe me, In years past, I’d worry over everything I ate all day in fear and regret. I despised my body. With the airbrushed/photo shopped poster of Britney Spears in my room, I would stare in self loathing. Why couldn’t I be beautiful too? I was. We don’t see how special we really are sometimes…Today’s world really doesn’t make it any easier…
Even though now I am a lot ‘more to love’ than in my teens, I am confident and I love who I am and appreciate my body. Don’t get me wrong, I am very active and doing something about my situation. It’s just that now, I love me in the process! This life is too short for us to waste it in self criticism! I find this happening a lot in today’s youth…its everyone, really.
For years, most of my teens and more, I was at war with myself. Recovery is quite blissful, and though it doesn’t come easily, I promise you that it is possible. You are precious and worthwhile. So let it go. You are it!
Well, I have great news!
*If you actually need to lose weight or make a change, remember this: The human body only responds to love. —It took me a loooong time to figure that one out. Let my experience shorten your pain if possible. Take a stand now and declare your individuality!
God bless everyone this Lord’s Day!
“13 percent of women over 50 exhibit eating disorder symptoms. To put that in perspective: Breast cancer afflicts about 12 percent of women. We would wager most people are keenly aware of the pervasiveness of Breast Cancer, but how many people are aware that eating disorders are so prevalent in an older popular?” (A Must Read)