Desperate Diets: Cassie

Heart Attack at 16
Dr. Phil speaks with girls putting their lives at risk to be skinny.
"I'm 21 years old and I'm obsessed with being skinny," admits Cassie. "I see myself as very fat and very ugly. I've put my own life at risk just to stay thin."

Cassie's obsession with being skinny started when she was 13. Some of her desperate attempts to lose weight are very risky. Cassie explains, "I've taken party drugs like speed and Ecstacy to stay up all night dancing in order to lose weight. I'll actually be jealous of people who are on heroin because they're always skinny. I heard that smoking makes you skinny so I took up smoking. I had a heart attack at the age of 16 as a result of continuous purging and large consumption of laxatives. At my worst, I was throwing up up to 60 times a day. I started trying other things to help me lose weight. I had a boyfriend and I didn't really like having sex with him, but at least it's exercise."

In a video diary, Cassie cries. "If I ever get skinnier and skinnier and skinnier and skinnier, eventually one day, I'll be skinny enough to be happy," she says. Later, she confesses that she can't stop watching her video diary and seeing how fat she is.

"Inside I feel so lonely because nobody understands what I think or what I feel and everyone, if I say I'm fat, just thinks I'm stupid," she says. Cassie hates what she sees in the mirror, but she also hates the toll it's taking on her family. "How do I stop this obsession before I destroy my life and my family's?"
Dr. Phil wants to know why Cassie wants to deal with her illness.

"I want to be 21 and live a normal life," says Cassie. "And I want to be able to travel and be able to be a lawyer. And I don't think I can do anything when all I think about is my weight," she says.

"Do you have any idea why you became so consumed with this?" Dr. Phil asks.

Cassie explains it started out as just a habit, but it became an obsession. "I'm just so scared " terrified " of being fat," she says.

Dr. Phil had hoped she would've been terrified of something else. "I was hoping against hope that you would say, 'I'm terrified that I'm going to die,'" he says.

Cassie says that being fat is more of a concern to her than anything else " including dying.
"Let's go there. Let's assume that all of a sudden you add on 50 to 100 pounds. What's the consequence of doing that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I couldn't do it. I'd be miserable," says Cassie.

"Would you be a different person at that weight? Would you not be smart anymore? Would you flunk out of law school because you can't understand the words on the page anymore?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No, I'd be the same person," says Cassie.

"Are there things in your life besides being skinny that you care about?" he asks.

"My family," she responds. "More than anything."

Dr. Phil asks Cassie what her best quality is.

"I'm very helpful. I'm very caring and give time to everybody I know."

"So you have a caring and giving heart and spirit ... So you wouldn't be dumber, you wouldn't be cold and uncaring, and you'd still be devoted to your family ... But none of that matters because you'd have 50 pounds on you?"
Cassie agrees. "None of that matters," she replies.

"Does logic tell you that that doesn't even almost make sense?"

Cassie pauses. "It's just how I think," she says.

Dr. Phil explains that he's trying to understand how she thinks.

"If I look in the mirror now, I see myself as completely fat and disgusting. So if I was 50 pounds heavier, I would hate what I saw even more. And I'm already miserable with how I look. I can't achieve anything right now with how miserable I feel," explains Cassie.

"How much do you weigh right now?"

"One hundred and eighteen pounds."

Dr. Phil turns to the audience: "If you're a woman and you weigh more than 118 pounds, stand up." Just about every woman stands up. He asks Cassie if she thinks they look fat and disgusting.

"No," she says. "I'm jealous of how they all look because they all glow and they're beautiful."
Cassie reiterates that people may be able to see what's going on with her, but they will never understand how she feels inside.

Dr. Phil compares how Cassie feels about food to how a person might feel about a deadly poison.

"Exactly," says Cassie. "If Mom and Dad were cooking in the kitchen and I knew my food was being prepared there, I was convinced that they were poisoning me with fat."

"Now, if nobody understands, how do I know that?"

Cassie pauses. "Because you're clever?"

"Is it possible that there are people in the world who understand?"

"Yes. I should give people more credit," says Cassie.

"Isn't there a logical part of your brain that says, 'I know this isn't right, I know this isn't healthy, but I don't know how to get out of it'?" Dr. Phil asks.

Cassie agrees and says she even advises young girls who are beginning to develop an eating disorder to get help immediately.
Dr. Phil goes over Cassie's history: "At age 15, you were throwing up as many as 60 times a day and you said it was a gift that you were able to do it so easily." Dr. Phil also points out that even though Cassie is morally against drugs, she takes speed and Ecstacy to give her enough energy to dance all night long, in order to burn calories. "You look at a heroin addict who is emaciated, and you admire their body ... You in fact said that you were afraid that if someone were to offer you heroin, you think you might take it," he continues.

Cassie agrees. "I'm scared to what length I would go to."

The list goes on: "You had a heart attack in 2000, yet you continue to purge and take laxatives, understanding that it could in fact kill you," Dr. Phil reveals. "You hate smoking, you understand it's causation in lung cancer, yet you smoke because it keeps you from eating. You sleep with a boyfriend who has cheated on you, who you don't care about, literally as a form of exercise."

Cassie starts to cry. "Yeah, it's just a way of justifying it," she says.
Cassie continues: "The logical part of my brain says it's ridiculous and it's got to stop. But the main part of my brain says I don't know how to stop, I don't want to get fat. And the one thing that's always been with me the last eight years, whenever anything else has gone wrong, is that I can control my weight. I can keep throwing up, I can get rid of all my bad feelings by throwing up. No one can stop me doing that. No one can change that. I'm in control of that," says Cassie.