Young Mother Wasting Away
"I feel like my wife is wasting away before my eyes," laments Chris. "The Jennifer I know now is not the woman I married. When I look at my wedding photos, I cherish those pictures, because that's the last really good memory of her and her healthy state that I have."
"The eating disorder definitely has power over me. All of my clothes are too big for me," says 25-year-old Jennifer.
Chris reveals that he and his wife haven't been intimate in over a year. "I leave the room when my wife gets undressed so I won't have to see her body," he admits.
[AD]Jennifer says that because she's so bony, she's uncomfortable sleeping in her bed. She climbs into a lounge chair, which is where she spends her nights.
"My oldest daughter knows that something's wrong with her mom. She says, â€˜I have the skinniest mommy in school," Chris says, his voice breaking.
"It's just gone on too long. I have three kids. I have a family now, and I want to get better for them," Jennifer says.
"I'm 26, and I feel like I'm already planning my wife's death," Chris says.
Jennifer claims to do 9,000 crunches a day in blocks of 500. On videotape, she says, "My life revolves around me being able to do my crunches."
"She's even been told by doctors that the last thing she needs is any physical exercise or activity," Chris chimes in.
Dr. Phil turns to Chris. "How concerned are you about this?" he asks.
"I've really prepared myself to lose my wife, and I know I've enabled her to do this," Chris replies. "I don't want my kids to reflect what Jennifer looks like or what she does."
"You say you think you're enabling her? What do you mean?"
"I turn my head when she gets undressed or gets in the shower. I tend to hide from that," he answers. "I've never really put my foot down or tried to do anything about this."
[AD]Jennifer tells Dr. Phil that she began binging and purging when she was 11. "That was the first time I started starving myself," she answers.
"You were involved with bulimia, as well," Dr. Phil says, noting that Jennifer stored bags of vomit under her bed when she was 12. "Do you have any idea why this started with you?"
"I remember the day before I started starving myself, I had a friend tell me I was fat," she answers. "That just set it in stone that I was going to do something about it."
Dr. Phil tells Jennifer that a lot of viewers may have little sympathy for her condition. "There are a lot of people saying, â€˜Lady, get over yourself. How selfish is it that you would put your own interest, and the superficial focus on your body, ahead of your duty as a mother. How dare you be a model to these children, where you model depravation, where you model the kinds of things they're likely to emulate " which is an eating disorder that can affect them. How dare you do that?' That's what a lot of people are thinking as they watch this," he says. "If you continue on the route that you're on now, the likelihood is that you are going to die. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, that we know."
"I know I need to gain weight; just doing it is what terrifies me," Jennifer admits. "I need help, and I know that I do. I want to be there for my children."
Jennifer's mother, Darlene, joins the show via telephone. "I'm shocked to hear everything that goes on in her day. I'm heartbroken, and I don't want her to die," she says, her voice fraught with pain. "I don't want those precious children to have to grow up without their mom. I want my daughter back. I miss her so."
[AD]"I really hate that you had to hear all that today, but Mama, I'm ready to be back. I want to be back," Jennifer says, her eyes welling with tears. "I'm sorry."
Dr. Phil introduces Kelly Cutrone, PR maven and Dr. Phil special contributor. She is also the author of If You Have to Cry Go Outside â€¦ and Other Things Your Mother Never Told You.
Noting that Kelly works in the fashion industry, Dr. Phil says, "You realize that we push these images on people about what's OK and what's not."
"There's certainly a pursuit of perfection that's encouraged in young women," Kelly answers.
"You've seen these models that are anorexic and bulimic, and it goes badly for them, true?" Dr. Phil asks Kelly.
"Yes," she replies.
[AD]Dr. Phil says that there are four stages of readiness to test if a person is willing to commit to change:
Stage 1: They are compelled by authority.
Stage 2: They are compelled to escape criticism.
Stage 3: They are intellectually aware of a need for change.
Stage 4: They are mentally and emotionally self-motivated for change.
"Where do you put yourself?" Dr. Phil asks Jennifer.