Starving to Death: Patti, Mercedes

A Healing Conversation
“I resent my mom for not getting me help for my eating disorder. My mom kicked me out on my 16th birthday, because she didn’t want to deal with the eating disorder. I had to sleep in the park a couple nights. She always calls me 'psycho' and 'crazy.' She tells me she’s heard my sob story one too many times. She has told me just to get over it,” Mercedes says. “It makes me angry, like, it’s not a sob story; it’s my life. And it just makes me feel like she doesn’t want me to be part of her life. I feel like my lack of support is a pretty big factor on how bad the situation’s gotten. I blame my mom for the way that life turned out."

“Mercedes blames me for her horrible life as a teenager, because I was a horrible mother, in her eyes,” Patti says. “She told me several times that she hated living in my house, absolutely hated my guts, wanted nothing to do with me. So I had called the Children’s Aid Society, and they suggested that I kick her out. I absolutely stick by my decision.

[AD]“Mercedes recently moved back into the house. She has gotten a lot more sick than she was when she left,” Patti says. “She smokes her pot, drinks at least four tall boys of beer a day, might eat half a meal, and then she’ll usually throw most of that up. I have kept her stoned and/or drunk. As long as she’s stoned or drunk, we don’t fight. Mercedes doesn’t fully grasp that she’s in a life or death situation. Her body is shutting down.” Patti grows tearful. “She’s going to die. Her body can’t take anymore. She was 79 pounds less than two weeks ago. She used to be almost 5 feet 8 inches. She’s now 5 feet 6 inches. I have been mentally preparing to bury my child for probably three years. I can’t — I can’t take it anymore. I’m exhausted.”Mercedes tells Dr. Phil that she’s never forgiven her mother for kicking her out at 16. “She could’ve gone such a different route. She could’ve gotten me this kind of help way back then when it started, but no, she threw me to the streets,” she says.

Patti explains that in those early years, Mercedes was abusing other drugs, drinking non-stop and prone to rages where she would threaten her life. The first advice Children’s Aid Society gave her was to call the police on her daughter, but when she wouldn’t do that, the recommended she get her out of her house. “I would absolutely do it again,” she says.

Dr. Phil tells Patti he disagrees with that advice. “I don’t think you quit on your kids,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean you knew what to do.” He acknowledges that the situation is over Patti’s head. “It’s time for professionals to get involved here.”
 
[AD]Dr. Phil turns to Mercedes and acknowledges that her mother’s choice is still affecting her today.

Mercedes agrees. “I feel like it’s a huge part because I’ve been just alone my whole life,” she says.

“And your disease never quits you, does it? It’s always there,” he says.

Dr. Phil explains that anorexia is not about food; it’s about power.


Dr. Phil asks Mercedes what she wants to do about her relationship with her mother.

“I don’t know where to go from here with this,” Mercedes replies. “I mean, I need a good relationship with my mom because I have no one else, and I need somebody to get through this.”

“She is here. She is kicking, and fighting and scratching, and from the minute we started talking to her, she had one agenda, and that is, ‘Please help my child,’” Dr. Phil tells her.

[AD]Mercedes says she didn’t think her mother felt that before. Dr. Phil points out that she did the very thing she’s accusing her mother of: she quit on herself. “She quit on you, and you quit on you. So, you have something in common,” he says.

Dr. Phil explains that he knows Patti cares a great deal about her, and she’s got to be open to forgiving her mother.

Mercedes and Patti face each other for a healing conversation.