Starving to Death: Mercedes

"Dying Every Day"
“I’m 5 feet 7 inches, and I weigh anywhere from 79 and 82 pounds. It jumps on a daily basis,” Mercedes says. “My eating disorder is my lifeline. I base my whole life around it. I became bulimic when I was 14 years old. I learned to purge at summer camp. I felt so good afterward. At 18, I started restricting, and it got out of control, and I’m extremely anorexic. I’m hungry all day long. I just don’t think about it. I try not to go over around 500 calories a day.

Most of Mercedes' calories come from beer. “I drink beer for many reasons. I drink it to replace calories, the taste, and I don’t have to eat when I drink it because it makes me so full. I smoke weed on a daily basis. I’ll smoke some if I’m going to try to have a meal.

[AD]The diseases are taking a serious toll on Mercedes' health. “The doctors have told me that my heart rate is between 35 and 40. It should be around 70 or 80. My muscles are depleting; they’re starting to eat themselves. When I was a figure skater, my muscles were a lot stronger. Now, I can’t even walk up the stairs. I pass out quite often. I get so tired, and my blood sugar goes low. I just feel like I’m dying every day.”

Mercedes grows tearful when she talks about her dreams. “I still want to be able to figure skate, and I want to be able to go back to school, and I want to open my own restaurant and when they say I’m going to die if I keep going this way, I just know I won’t be able to ever do any of those things,” she says, wiping her tears.
When Dr. Phil cameras arrived at her house, Mercedes could hardly function.

See a frightening day in Mercedes’ life.


Mercedes’ condition doesn't improve, so she and her mother, Patti, head to the Emergency Room.

“We’re on our way to the hospital, because I feel really crappy right now. All this has happened at least 12 times now,” Mercedes says.

Four hours later, the two emerge from the hospital. “Everything is better now. I just had extremely low blood sugar. They said close to lethal, actually,” Mercedes says with a laugh. “So, they just boosted me up with a lot of sugar and put an IV in me.”

“She’s good to go now, for another couple days anyway,” Patti says.

[AD]“We just got out of the hospital, and we’re now on our way home, but we are first stopping at the beer store, so I can grab a couple tall boys for tonight,” Mercedes reports. She exits the store with a smile. “OK, I’m good to go for the night, so let’s go home.”

Once home, Mercedes explains, “I just called my pot dealer to see if he can help me out for tonight.” She goes outside to meet him.

“This is the part where Mom starts to really get frustrated,” Patti says. “Where I’m handing out another $30 for drugs for my kid. And, I mean, there are worse things, you know. She’s not sticking a needle in her arm, I guess, so it could always be worse, right? It could always be worse.”
Mercedes records a home video. “So, basically, this is my routine when I get out of the shower. I stand in front of the mirror for a while, and I hate my body. This is what it looks like; pretty much every bone and everything sticks out. Yeah, it’s a pretty gross sight,” she acknowledges, but adds, “Not to me.”

The young woman explains how her other eating disorder, bulimia, began. “After meals, I would purge into garbage bags. And for weeks on end, I would have just garbage bags of puke sitting in my room,” she says. “I was too scared to let anyone know, so I kept them hidden in my room. The last time I purged was probably two days ago.”

[AD]Mercedes explains how she keeps vigilant track of every calorie. “I keep a food diary every single day, full of every single thing that I eat,” she says. She counts that day’s tally: “Twenty-eight calories from Cheerios and zero from green tea. So, I have had 138 calories in food, and most likely, I will end up having one more snack before bed, which will be only some kind of vegetable, equaling up to about 60 calories. So, a total of 188 calories and some beer today.”Mercedes joins Dr. Phil onstage, next to a photo of herself from her childhood. “Do you remember that girl?” Dr. Phil asks her.

“I remember her. I would love to be her again. I really would,” she says.

“Because you’ve chosen something else,” Dr. Phil says. He asks her to close her eyes. “I want you to think back to the time when you were that little girl. And if you told her right now, ‘What I’m going to do is starve you to the brink of death,’ what would she say to you?”

Mercedes looks at her photo. “She would tell me I’m crazy,” she says.

“Do you hate her?” Dr. Phil asks.  

Mercedes admits that she hates the way she looked as a kid, saying she looks chubby.

[AD]Dr. Phil shows an image of Mercedes as she is now: sad, with tears running down her face. “Who looks like she had life by the tail?” he asks.

“The old me,” she says.

Dr. Phil tells Mercedes he’s very proud of her for coming to the show. “I have dealt with anorexics throughout my career, who would not listen, would not do it, and they have been buried,” he says. “Part of what I will do today is prepare your mother for your death, because if you don’t have the courage to fight this, you are going to die.”

Mercedes wipes her tears away.