The Real Lives of Desperate Housewives: Stacy
Dr. Phil helps seven women to stop living a lie and start revealing the truth.

"I feel like I have a very nice life in the external sense," says Stacy. "I have two beautiful kids, an amazing husband, I've got a wonderful home. And then when you look inside my heart and my mind and what I go through emotionally, it's not perfect at all. It's very disheveled. I definitely feel that I'm harboring a big secret. Just flat out guilt. It's what it comes down to. It's a disgusting habit. My friends have no clue. I'm extremely good at hiding my secret. And you get better and better as you go."

Dr. Phil asks Stacy how the world sees her.

"Strong, put together, confident," she says.

"Do you seek to do that on purpose?" he asks.

"Oh yes. With my problem, it's just more of an image thing. I think you get further if you look nicer, I guess. That's the way I've been taught," says Stacy.

"So you want to come across as strong and confident and everything is cool, you've got it together," Dr. Phil summarizes.

"Right," she says.

When Dr. Phil points out that Stacy is just as worthy as the other six women of facing her problem head on, she starts to sob. "I haven't cried in a long time," she says. "I'm bulimic. It's happened for 15 years. I can't stop it."

She opens up about her childhood. "I always felt fat and ugly. My mom would say I was fat. I can purge up to six times a day. Some people will put their fingers down their throat. I could just lean over and use my stomach muscles and it's gone. I can throw up without making a sound. It's definitely like an art. Starbucks is generally one of those things that it's easy to throw it up because you know that there's just so many calories that if you left it in your system, you're going to get fat. My little girl walked in on me once. She was like, 'Mommy, you don't feel very good?' And I was just so horrified. Every day I get scared. I don't want to leave my kids behind, I don't want to leave my husband behind because I love them. I don't want to die."

"Tell me about what it's like," Dr. Phil says.

"It's a process of just not feeling and releasing the stress."
"Do you think maybe the reason you haven't cried in a long time is because you're dealing with your emotions by purging instead of giving yourself the right to feel? When you say bulimia, that's just kind of a word, but that's not a very pretty thing is it? Because we're talking about being on your hands and knees throwing up to the point that you have rotted 14 teeth out of your mouth from the acid that you're throwing up time and time and time again ... $18,000 in dental bills. You want to talk about the esophageal ulcers? You want to talk about the liver damage?"

Dr. Phil asks Stacy about her past: "How did you feel when you were teased in school?"

"They called me fat, ugly, amazon woman," Stacy responds in tears.

"Why do you want to stop?" Dr. Phil presses.

"Because of my kids. With all my heart. I'm doing a good job. I want to be at their weddings. I want to be able to help out with the things that my parents didn't help me out with. I love my husband."

"Does your husband love you?"

"Oh yeah, more than anything."
"If you believe that, why are you afraid? Why have you lied to him about the severity of this? Why have you held this truth from him for 13 1/2 years?"

"He knows I'm doing it. He just doesn't know how often."

"Let's just play the future out. What happens if you leave here the same way you got here?"

"I die."

"Have you thrown up today?"

"Not today."


"Because I haven't allowed myself to eat that much."

Debra chimes in: "She didn't eat anything. She had three carrots the first day we were here."

"Are you so superficial that you will allow appearance to dominate your life and jeopardize your children having their mother available? Are you that superficial?"

"Absolutely not."
Dr. Phil offers his take. "It started because at that time, you were vulnerable to that superficiality. You had people at school, when you were super sensitive, making fun of you. So you were trying to fix it as best you could. You had your own mother telling you you were fat, your own family. You've got them attacking your character and assassinating your value and your worth. You say, 'This is what they're criticizing, so that's what I have to fix.' But things often start for one reason and continue for another. It is so habitual, it is so patterned, it is so much a part of who you are and what your coping strategies are."

When Stacy agrees with Dr. Phil that her children don't care how much she weighs, Dr. Phil emphasizes: "Your kids wouldn't love you any less if you had an ass like a $40 mule. They would love you no matter what."

Stacy feels helpless. "I just can't stop," she says.

"You can stop; you just haven't stopped. You haven't had the tools, you haven't had the support system, you haven't had the honesty, you haven't had the willingness to put it on the table. It's just kind of like a tornado: You've got to have all the atmospheric conditions hit at the same time in the same place to create that event. Maybe this is that event."

"I hope it is," she responds.