Season 7 Episode 15
Location: Toronto, Canada
Addiction: Bulimia, exercise
What’s Memorable: Her parents basically locking her in the basement so they don’t have to see her food issues. Her severe body dysmorphia. The way she believes that bulimia is her “thing”, what makes her special and unique. Her 100% focus on her eating disorder.
Update: Amy wrote something about her Intervention episode here.
Official synopsis: Amy and her family escaped the violence of apartheid-era South Africa and immigrated to Canada 22 years ago. But Amy suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem, and she became anorexic and, soon after, bulimic. Now she lives alone in the basement of her family’s house and steals from family members to pay for her eating binges. Weighing only 92 pounds, Amy is on the brink of death.
Original Air Date: April 2010
I teach a health class in NYC and I show this episode as part of the Body Image unit. My students, (and I after watching this episode 30+ times) are looking to find out how she is now? Does anyone have information?
I know this family. I had one of my own.
“Ew, metal illness cooties! Of course we’ll help you dear, just as long as it’s, like, away from here. Like nowhere near us. What? You didn’t immediately get perfectly healthy after all the zero support and kindness we gave you? LOST CAUSE!”
They seem like genuinely nice people and they’re clearly desperate and upset and stuck in a in a no-win situation, and we’re seeing them after a very log struggle. But damn, if your sick kid asks you to celebrate her health and overcoming a great struggle with her, DO SO. You don’t need to be the human incarnation of the very concept of empathy to understand that, right? Or is that just me?
Family disease is right. The mental illness ick is strong in this one. Poor Amy.
I totally agree with you. That part where they admitted they didn’t want to celebrate her one-year anniversary hit me as very cold and self-serving. I too had a family that wouldn’t discuss or admit any mental illness, and I saw that in this family too. Amy had more wrong with her than just an eating disorder, that’s for sure.
I heard that Amy has passed. Does anyone know if this is true?
I came here t find out how Amy is doing also. As a recovering addict myself, it infuriated me that her family chose NOT to celebrate her 1 year mark and thought it best to just “MOVE ON” as they called it. NOTHING is further from the truth in my opinion. She is suffering inside and yes, she has caused hurt to all of her family members, but for just ONE MOMENT, couldn’t they all have gotten together and told ONE POSITIVE thing. SAD!!!!
Me too, Patti. If I were Amy, I imagine I would feel unloved. Why was it just to much to ask to celebrate Amy’s year of recovery? Furthermore, as soon as her family realized she had relapsed, why did they not act immediately? The episode seemed to portray family that view Amy as an inconvenience that they are obliged to love, yet find it impossible to do so.
I agree! Milestones are so important in recovery. I do not have addiction issues, but I am bipolar and I recognize the time of year when my bipolar was finally diagnosed. My life has not been peachy keen since then but OMG it feels good to be able to register that discovery on my own personal timeline.
I just wanted an update on Amy. Did she survive this deadly disease. My heart goes out to her & all, including my issues, with an eating disorder.
HI guys I was also wondering how amy is doing. I’m newly in recovery again after relapsing and I feel so terribly for her. I hope she is doing well, she had the most admirable sense of insight in her episode.
I saw this episode for the first time 3/15/15. It broke my heart, mainly because that could have been me about 20-25 years ago. I still struggle with this issue but I have support & love from my family unlike Amy. I would love to think that her life would have turned out for the better if they did celebrate her successes rather than belittle them & supposed her more. Such a sad outcome for a young woman.
Wendy, her mom, has founded an eating disorder advocacy group in Canada – NIED. As of Feb ’15, Amy seems to still be struggling. Hope and compassion to them both.
she looks so pretty at the end of the episode without the swollen glands 🙁
Amy is still alive. Her mother and her run NEID (National Initiative for Eating Disorders)
here is a talk she and her mom did last month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzldG0ACg8U
Thank you for the positive update. Prayers to Amy and her family
This is a blog post of hers regarding her intervention episode https://edreflections.com/2015/11/22/not-amy-p-from-intervention/
Her blog is current for those of you wondering how she is doing. Thank you Dizzy for this wonderful website!
I am watching the episode again now and one of the things that makes me sick is how blase Amy’s sister Lara is about the bullying and abuse she put her sister through. “Kids fight” sure, but calling them bitch and worse is NOT normal or average or okay. I was abused by my older sister and this really struck a chord with me. My family sees what my sister did to me the same way Lara does, but I have no contact with my sister because it affected me and my adolescence in such a negative way.
Also, I want to agree with others that Amy’s family are so selfish and awful for not celebrating her year of health. I’m sure Amy felt she hadn’t done well enough or wasn’t good enough to be celebrated. What a shame. I hope she is still alive and doing well.
Huh?? That is completely normal sibling behavior.
No it’s not. My sisters never did that to me & they were very protective of me. Can’t even believe you’re setting bullying out to be a norm. On a page about addiction & mental health on top of it.
That link in the main post doesn’t work anymore, the entry she wants people to read is here: https://myedreflectionscom.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/not-amy-p-from-intervention/
This is Amy’s most recent post on her website from December 2016
Does anyone else wonder why not only Amy, but her parents are so mad at intervention? The Dad in the comments of her blog even complains about “the so called intervention scholarship” and apologizes to her for putting her through it. If my child was as sick as her I would totally call a show… Especially if they are at death’s door.
I think the reason that Amy and her parents were mad is because it has changed Amy’s life. It’s been 7 years since that show aired and she still has strangers come up to her like they know her. I mean her episode was one of the most unforgettable.
On a side note; it’s really sad to see Amy P is still struggling.
I think the family is upset because of how they come across in the episode – cold, distant, unsympathetic…but not for no reason. They basically confined her and her addictions to the basement so they wouldn’t have to deal with it, and proudly told producers that they don’t believe in all of this “psychobabble” about unresolved trauma.
I’m not sure what they were expecting when they called the show (“she’s out of control, and it’s not our fault whatsoever”). And instead of seeing their episode as an eye-opener, they condemned it because they didn’t get the perfect edit they wanted.
I wonder if undiagnosed autism might be a factor—her lifelong anxiety and insistence on routine and sameness, and major fear of change. Plus many autistic people have eating disorders.
I have wondered exactly the same thing. Plus, it tends to go unnoticed in girls & women until we’re well into adolescence and even adulthood.
I came here to write this… I pretty much garantee you (as an autistic woman myself) that she is autistic. I think misdiagnosing it as anxiety is really hurting her.
Amy is clearly somewhere on the spectrum and I think she and her family would benefit tremendously from knowledge about what that means. Her family was certainly flawed but are by no means bad people. I wish them the best.
Yes quite possibly, my son is on the spectrum as well and I do remember thinking the same thing when I saw this episode. But it’s difficult to tell for sure because Amy was in such poor health when it was filmed. Still I did like her, and felt that she was probably misunderstood.
I really thought the same thing. She showed signs of possible autism based upon what was described in the episode.
This episode was so disturbing, it made me ill watching her stuff in all the food, then go throw it up and exercise herself to death!! She looked awful being so skinny and looked great before the drastic weight loss, but I know ppl with her disorder don’t see themselves the same way others see them. Poor girl, I felt so bad for her, I hope she’s doing better!!
personally, i liked the family just fine. although i do think it’s terrible that they wouldn’t celebrate her one year mark of recovery and their views of mental illness are warped, i’m sure there was no malicious intent behind their actions and they obviously loved her very much. they were sick with worry and did everything they possibly could to help her. the families are always told by the interventionists to set healthy boundaries because they need to be healthy no matter what and that addicts need consequences for their actions, so i cannot understand why candy gave the family a hard time for doing just that. sometimes you have to put your own health and sanity first and if making amy live in the basement, which compared to your typical unfinished basement is a perfectly fine little apartment, helps them remain sane, i see absolutely nothing wrong with that. let’s not forget that she was stealing from everyone and they couldn’t even keep food in the house. when you have to hide food in shoes and the trunk of your car, something has to be done. besides, it’s not like she’s NEVER allowed upstairs.
lastly, everyone that thinks the sister lara is so awful is absolutely ridiculous…they were KIDS! that’s what siblings do, sometimes they torment each other and call each other names, including bitch and worse. my sister and i were awful to each other and we’re very close now. neither one of us harbors any resentment towards the other because we know, as any rational person should, that we were kids and that’s what kids do, and we didn’t mean any of the things we said or did. if it came down to it, i would be right by her side defending her just as i’m sure lara would have done; both as kids AND now.
Well just because you were able to get past it doesn’t mean Amy could, and Laura should’ve realized that.
well, there was nothing for me to “get past” seeing as how that’s normal child/sibling behavior, which is my point. however feelings aren’t always rational so if amy’s relationship with her sister growing up still bothers her, then it bothers her and hopefully she’ll work that out one day. i wasn’t trying to tell amy how to feel, i was only addressing the other commenters’ opinions on lara, i thought that seemed clear by the way i worded my comment but maybe not. but here’s the thing, a person can be hurt by something that doesn’t necessarily have any merit. meaning even though lara didn’t do anything wrong, amy’s hurt feelings are still valid just by the mere fact that they exist. conversely, just bc amy’s hurt feelings exist, doesn’t mean lara is actually guilty or should feel guilty. lara did speak about it during an interview so she does realize how amy feels and i would be willing to bet that even though lara doesn’t OWE amy an apology, she would do it out of love and kindness if that’s what amy needed to hear. at least that’s what i would do and i feel like lara would too. and although we didn’t hear her apologize during the actual intervention, maybe she already had, or has since, or will in the future – there’s still time.
As of 2019 she was still purging. Breaks my heart, her mum looks so much older than she is. https://www.toronto.com/news-story/9184381-north-york-woman-s-struggle-inspired-mom-to-create-eating-disorder-group/
I related with everything about Amy’s episode. I struggle with bulimia myself, and it’s an insanely overwhelming and brutally lonely condition.
Amy was SO. BRAVE. to explain and to show herself living every little detail about the disease knowing she would probably not be understood, maybe heavily judged.
I guess a bulimic person works in a similar way to an addict. We jump from lack of control to guilt, to fear, to despair, to self hate in seconds. sometimes the rollercoaster hit many times a day. Sometimes our brain just don’t obbey us, sometimes the paranoia make us feel like everyone who tries to help is our enemy who doesnt understand us and wants to decieve us, sometimes the fear – the damn bloody omnipresent fear to become fat and unloved and unaccepted and made fun of – makes us feel capable to do anything just to run away from a feeling that is always there. The fear numb us at the point we don’t feel the weight of the violence we inflict ourselves (the throat and stomach hurts like hell. but after.) Its not a matter of “just start to act normal” like we hear often. We dont ask an addict to “just stop being addict”, but we ask a bulimic to “just stop being bulimic”.
Amy is a very insightful girl, and she did very well the job to describe what this life is like with a detail fidelity and honesty few people could. And I think it was very important job. its important to people understand what is like to be a bulimic.
For me, it was so heartbreaking to see all the life and charisma Amy had in her smile in her childhood and younghood photos, and, in other hand, how stoic and lethargic she seemed in the video, trying to express herself behind a pair of angry, glassy, overwhelmed, exausted eyes. We struggle when we are not able to make ourselves be understood and it make us kind of give up sometimes.
Her mom was so loveable, despite of the other members of her family. Bulimia is not quite an easy shit to explain racionally and have a bulimic daughter must be hard as hell. No one wants to have a daughter with EDs. but somehow Amy’s mom got her. Maybe she did not understand amy’s traits, but she was able to feel her daughter’s fear and pain with her empathy. That was plenty impressive.
It was hard to see the way all of them treated Amy like a burden. Her sister seemed so superb and arrogant… seemed not to make any single effort to even try to understand Amy. The brother’s girlfriend was incredibly judgmental and out of place. She had no fucking idea of what the hell was going on. Her participation was really the most unnecessary thing on the episode. Her dad also seemed completely lost. Her brother was quite a surprise, actually. He didnt seem to care, but during the intervention he showed he cared. a lot. But well, Amy has also gone too far (stealing, etc), and i cant blame her family. It was not easy for them though. I don’t think they can exactly be blamed for.
Candy was very sensitive dealing with amy and her family. she had such a sharp and clear vision of the case, and gone right on the target one more time. Her wisdom always impresses me.
I’m also impressed about how giant and well organized her mom’s NIED initiative became. They have a huge amount of informations about EDs. Researches, studies, a big service of awareness and also orientation to parents/caregivers (which is sooo important. Bulimia comes in various levels, but anyways, have someone with EDs in any level in the family must be something fucking hard to accept and deal with, and parents need support with that. For real.) Her legacy with EDs awareness is HUGE and im sure she helped hundreds of families all these years and will help more the years to come.
I hope Amy finds her way to a happy and peaceful life away from bulimia’s omnipresent fear of reject/misfit. Its exausting living like that. She is such a sweet and sympathetic person. She has great ability with words, is quite empathetic and she seems to have inside her a big urge to be helpful to others. She has much to offer to the world and she will realize that when she’s free from the focus on this disease.
Sorry for the long text and the poor english ˆˆ
Great analysis, but I disagree and this the girlfriend’s presence was needed. She served to express how the parents were making everything worse by confining Amy to the basement.
I have to ask, did anyone else try her breakfast recipe? I used regular milk, regular vanilla syrup, didn’t add sweetener and put ice instead of water so it would be more like a frappuccino. It was pretty good.
I watched her episode almost 10 years ago, I think I was still a teenager back then. And she still crosses my mind every now and then. I’m so glad this website exists. I hope she’s doing well, wherever she is.