Archive for January, 2014
Posted January 9, 2014

It is with great peace that I share the news that the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is now the exclusive distributor of Someday Melissa.

When I began making Someday Melissa I never could have imagined the impact that Melissa’s story, my family’s story, would have on the world of eating disorders. When the idea of making the documentary was presented to me just months after losing Melissa, I reached out to Lynn Grefe, the President & CEO of NEDA, for advice on whether I should do it. We had spoken and emailed a few times but didn’t really know each other. Acknowledging that, she wrote, “…maybe I would want to wrap my arms around a project that might help me make some sense of her loss, that might live on to make a difference for others. I don’t know. Truthfully only you can know your limits.”

The process of making the film gave me a powerful way to channel my grief. It gave me the opportunity to ask questions of top researchers and clinicians dealing with eating disorders and mental health issues, to meet other families, individuals battling eating disorders, and importantly many in recovery. It helped me as I struggled to make sense of the demon ED that stole Melissa and changed forever the world as I knew it. The guilt over missed signs, the “what ifs…”, “if only…” were constant and sometimes overwhelming, but I kept going. I began to learn more about the depression that overwhelmed Melissa along with bulimia and started to get a glimpse of the complexity of these illnesses.

Long before the film’s completion, Melissa’s story went global as a result of social media. I heard from people around the world who shared their stories and thanked me for speaking out; to have the courage to break through the veil of secrecy surrounding eating disorders and bulimia in particular. One girl wrote that she had kept her bulimia a secret for years and reading about Melissa gave her the courage to tell her parents and ask for help. Others wrote that Melissa’s story inspired them to fight harder, to believe in a future. Mothers and fathers wrote that they thought they were the only ones living the bizarre existence that having a child with a severe eating disorder brings. And wonderfully, people shared with me their stories of recovery. Of happy, healthy lives, they never thought possible, after years and often decades of illness.

I formed a non-profit organization, hired staff, and upon the film’s completion began speaking at screenings of Someday Melissa around the country. Many of them took place during NEDAawareness Week. I attend conferences and continued asking questions. Over the past four years my life was consumed by my work with Someday Melissa and the world of eating disorders.

One afternoon last May I knew with certainty that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I called it my “epiphany day” and as I shared my decision with family and friends in the days that followed, everyone said the same thing. While understanding my need to have Someday Melissa and eating disorders consume my life, they had all become worried about me. However, they all recognized something important long before I did – that I was the only one who could get myself to this place, that I had to be ready.

NEDA has been by my side from the very start of this journey. I am honored to now call Lynn Grefe my friend. It is with immense gratitude and great peace that I entrust them with Melissa’s story and have them carry on the work that I began.

~ Judy