I stared at my computer screen. I froze in disbelief as I began scrolling through the emails in my inbox. In between offers for flat screen TVs and other great holiday deals on things I didn’t need, sat an email with the following subject line:
Acceptance Into the 2012 California Independent Film Festival
I slowly clicked on the email, not really believing what I was reading. It was real.
Dear Ms Judy Avrin,
Your documentary film, Someday Melissa:the story of an eating disorder, loss and hope, has received early acceptance into the 2012 California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF).
I began shaking uncontrollably. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I kept repeating it out loud. I couldn’t believe it. I knew the first two people I had to call were Danna Markson and Jeff Cobelli who made the film a reality. I GOT BOTH OF THEIR VOICEMAILS!!! I tried texting and kept calling. Danna finally called about 15 minutes later, Jeff shortly after, and I shared the amazing news. To say we were excited is the understatement of the year.
We knew how positive the feedback was, but to receive acknowledgement on this level was amazing. Better still, the festival is February 10 – 16, 2012, just a few weeks before NEDAwareness Week and the NEDA sponsored NYC premier of Someday Melissa on February 28th. Having Someday Melissa as a selection in the festival will provide a forum for sharing information and awareness about eating disorders to the festival community – messages that they will take back to their own communities.
The following day, I had a long planned visit with a friend of Melissa’s at a nearby park. Although they had met in treatment out of state, she lived nearby and the girls had stayed connected. It was a warm autumn day, and as we walked around the lake, we shared memories of Melissa. She said how incredibly funny and inspiring she was. How they could talk to each other honestly and openly about their body image issues and the savageness of ED. She told me how they shared their dreams about the future, beating ED and how they would make a movie together one day.
Several months before Melissa died they were extras in a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker that was filming in NY. I remember dropping Melissa off at 5:00 AM so they could catch the bus into the city. When she came home that night she was exhausted but so excited about having been a part of it. The film was released the same week as what should have been Melissa’s 20th birthday. I’ve never seen the movie but her friend told me the entire scene was cut.
As I reflected on the weekend’s events, I kept thinking about the film festival and the one person I wanted to share the news with. Melissa.
The impact of Someday Melissa around the world has been overwhelming:
“I am a 22 year old college student and I have struggled with bulimia all my life. This story has inspired me, and certainly made me seek out the help I have needed desperately to get well.” “The story was genuine and listening to the family describe Melissa’s life was heartbreaking. I think it should definitely be available for others to see especially those currently suffering.”
“I know this film will make a difference. Parents and society in general know so little about these kinds of disorders! Discussion is much needed so we can all understand… so we can prevent and fight eating disorders. I’m in Chile -so far away from you – and yet your message reached me, as it will reach all kinds of people around the world. Thanks for doing this.”
“My mother and I watched the film together yesterday, it sparked many questions about my eating disorder from my mother. It also allowed her to learn a little bit more about eating disorders. My father said this movie is a great outlet for families and friends to talk with sufferers of eating disorders. With “Someday Melissa” they understand a bit more what an eating disorder is, so when the movie is over they have questions for the sufferer.’” She was inspired to create her own “Someday..”
“My best friend suffered from an eating disorder, and is still in the process of recovery. Everyday is a struggle, but things are definitely getting much better for her, and Someday Melissa helped me to understand maybe what’s going on in her head more. I just want you to know that the movie you made is changing lives.” “Thank you for creating an avenue to open this level of conversation about a prevalent and yet taboo subject.”
Please share your story about the way Someday Melissa has impacted you!!!!
Yesterday I went into the city to watch the New York City Marathon. It was a perfect marathon day, cool temperatures and sunny skies. The kind of day that sparkles. The kind of day that makes you believe anything is possible and makes you feel happy to be alive.
From beginning to end, the streets were lined with spectators yelling encouragement to the runners as they passed by. Music blared, people waved signs, children jumped up and down with excitement. Some were there to root on someone they knew but most of us were there shouting our support to strangers, applauding their incredible effort. We all got into the spirit of the day, cheering loudly, yelling and encouraging them in their quest. The excitement was infectious.
Runners had come from around the country and across the globe and many had written their names on their shirts. I began to feel a personal connection as I shouted encouragement to Paulo, Erik, Birthe, Anthony, Susan and countless others. There were solo runners, small groups and large groups. Tall, short, young and old. Every size and shape.
I was standing on 1st Ave. and 88th St., at about mile 18 of the 26.2 mile race. We marveled at how fresh some of the runners seemed, as if they had just begun the race and hadn’t already run from Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens and up 30 blocks on the east side of Manhattan. They still had to make it to the Bronx before heading down 5th Avenue to the finish line in Central Park. NYC Marathon Course. Some runners were showing signs of the miles they’d already run – limping, clutching a cramped side, sweating. Yet there was such determination on their faces. A belief that they would finish the race.
A new course record was set yesterday by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya when he finished the race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds. Incredible. Amazing. But guess what? He ran the race exactly the same way as the 50th runner to cross the line, or the 100th, or the 1,000th.
The road to recovery from ED is achieved the same way.
ONE STEP AT A TIME.