When Joehdi Kyle was 31 years old, a gust of wind blew her over in a parking lot. She was so frail that she broke a hip.
But when Joehdi arrived at the hospital, doctors werent most concerned about her injury. Her electrolytes and other health indicators were so poor they had to focus on keeping her heart from failing.
Joehdi had anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that is the most deadly mental disorder in the country, more so than depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
She succumbed to the disease in 2012, at age 33.
Joehdis mother, Julie Walker, has since made it her mission to teach Oklahomans about how serious and pernicious eating disorders can be.
People wont talk about it. Im not sure why, Walker said. If you start talking about it, many times people know someone whos been affected. It touches a lot of people, but they dont realize what a horrible disease it is.
Walker said her daughters problems began on a routine doctors visit a year after she gave birth to her son. Joehdi noticed that her medical chart classified her as obese and was horrified.
She immediately began the then-fashionable South Beach Diet. Phase One of the diet, the most restrictive, was supposed to last two weeks, but Joehdi never moved past it. She weighed about 80 pounds when she died, her mother said.
For years, Walker couldnt find the support she needed for her daughter. Thats why shes now a board member of the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association (OEDA). The organization works to raise awareness of and provide resources for people with eating disorders and their families.
About 20 million women and 10 million men nationwide are diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their life.
Eating disorders dont discriminate between age or race or income. Its prevalent everywhere. And its being diagnosed more and more in males, which you havent traditionally heard about, said OEDA Executive Director Victoria Renard.
Thats one of the reasons the headliner at this years Conversations of Hope fundraising dinner is Brian Cuban, author of Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
The dinner is free, but reservations are required and a $30 donation is suggested. Renard said the event is a chance to bring friends and family together to inspire recovery.
Renard considers herself an OEDA success story. She kept her own disorder a secret during high school, but in college, things got out of control. When she heard a talk by a visiting OEDA speaker, the remarks hit home.
That day, I realized I needed help, Renard said.
With counseling and a lot of prayer, she went into recovery.
Print Headline: Inspiring confidence, Conversations of Hope raises funds for those afflicted with eating disorders.