Mary Ellen Clausen

It wasn't that easy.

Clausen knew little about eating disorders, and she had no clue what to do or how to get help.

"When they are babies, you know their cries," Clausen said. "You know whether it's a hungry cry or if they need to be changed cry or if they're hurt cry. At which point did that shift take place where I could no longer understand? For me, it was when they were diagnosed with an eating disorder."

She found no blueprint or rulebook to follow. There were no headings in the yellow pages for eating disorders. Clausen turned to the Mental Health Association of Onondaga County for help, and attended support groups for family and friends of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia. She didn't find the miracle cure, or the right thing to say to make it all better while attending the support groups, but rather the knowledge that she couldn't fix this for her daughters. What she found out was that although she was powerless to fix, she was not powerless to be their voice.

"For me, I know it was encouraging for me to be with other mothers," Clausen said. "To be with other families that had been down this road because I was certainly in need of that encouragement and that support."

Hearing others stories also gave Clausen perspective on how serious was her daughter's disease, and how she needed to handle it as a mother.

When Clausen was first trying to find information and get resources to help her understand and fight her daughter's disorder, one mother had been particularly helpful, providing her with a handful of resources that she had come across when dealing with her own daughter's illness.

Six months later, that same mother called Clausen again, only to tell her that her daughter had lost the battle.

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