A woman suffering from anorexia is speaking out about her illness in the hopes that she might save herself -- and others battling the same disease.
Rachael Farrokh is 37, and has been anorexic for a decade. In an emotional YouTube video posted online last month, Farrokh said she is fighting for her life.
“I’m 5’7", 40-something pounds,” Farrokh said. “I need your help ... Otherwise I don’t have a shot.”
Farrokh, who lives in San Clemente, California, is said to have once weighed a healthy 125 pounds, but after she began suffering with anorexia, her weight began to plummet.
“I just felt out of control,” Farrokh told ABC News. “At first it was innocent, where I wanted to drop a few pounds to get better abs.”
In this undated photograph posted to Facebook, Farrokh is pictured with her husband, Rod Edmondson, during happier times:
Farrokh's weight loss has reportedly caused her a slew of medical problems. According to a GoFundMe page set up by Edmondson, Farrokh has experienced heart, liver and kidney failure, osteoporosis, blood clots and edema.
Edmondson says he’s had to quit his job to care for his wife full time.
“She is at a critical point,” he wrote on GoFundMe. “She desperately needs the highest level of care possible.”
According to the couple, most hospitals and treatment facilities will not take Farrokh because she doesn’t meet their minimum weight requirement.
Dr. Michael Strober, professor of psychiatry and director of the eating disorder program at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, explained to ABC News that the refeeding process of people suffering from anorexia can be extremely risky.
"Refeeding syndrome results from metabolic changes that are associated with feeding an individual who has been calorie-depleted," Strober said. "So, the feeding needs to be carefully monitored. The refeeding syndrome will involve the body’s attempt to adapt to sudden introduction of nutrients ... Too rapid increase of calories can result in the metabolic adaptation which is associated of a number of hazards, which can be life-threatening."
According to NBC News, there is one facility in Denver which specializes in refeeding patients who have extremely low body weights. Edmondson says he hopes his wife will be able to seek treatment there.
"People think it's just about being skinny and that they just need to eat something and it will be all better," he wrote on GoFundMe. "The reality is people are hurting so much that they're trying to make themselves disappear, and if we ignore it we let them. I don't want this fate for my wife."
As of early Thursday, over 1,000 people had donated more than $40,000 to the campaign. Edmondson expressed his gratitude for the outpouring support.
"This is a long road and you all are helping turn [my wife] around," he wrote on Facebook this week. "She reads all of your posts for therapy when she feels down and it shuts the eating disorder down in the process as a distraction. She is going to beat this once and for all. I don't feel alone anymore and I love you all."
Farrokh says she hopes her story will inspire others suffering from eating disorders to seek help.
"To be honest, I live moment by moment, day by day, because my odds aren't very good," Farrokh told ABC News. "The recovery process for an anorexic, it's ridiculous. If you're going to make it, you're going to have to get out there. You have to go out and meet life. Go to treatment because it's not going to come to you."
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The organization says that only 10 percent of men and women with eating disorders receive treatment.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the ANAD helpline at 630-577-1330 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central).
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