Help Toni Airaksinen's Fight Against Anorexia
UPDATE: This GoFundMe is no longer accepting donations as today I reached my funding goal. If you found this fundraiser through friends by way of Twitter, Instapundit, Quillette, Facebook, PJ Media.... and were considering donating... please consider redirecting your donation to any other person or trusty non-profit in need.
My name is Toni Airaksinen, I’m 22, and I’m a freelance reporter covering Title IX and free speech issues. I graduated from Barnard in 2018, live in New Jersey, and have been battling various eating and compulsive exercise issues for the last five years.
Over the past four months, my disordered eating has turned from “manageable” to borderline life-threatening. I’m fainting and I can barely walk more than a few blocks without getting winded. I’m constantly dizzy, and barely any energy to write anymore.
I was formally diagnosed with an eating disorder on January 17 after months of dramatic weight loss.
My psychologist urged me to put work on hold and seek immediate help from a team of doctors, dieticians and therapists. Thankfully, I sought out help VERY early, but if left untreated, common complications of anorexia include cardiac arrest, heart damage, osteoporosis, infertility, organ failure, and more.
The cost of residential treatment (the preferred kind for women suffering this degree of eating disorder) is incomprehensible. Without insurance, I’m facing $30,000 to $40,000 for a month’s stay, as quoted by treatment providers in New Jersey I've called.
So instead, with the help of my boyfriend of three years (who I met though my writing for Quillette), along with his family and my friends, I’m trying to embark on a “coordinated care” approach. This is MUCH less expensive than a residential inpatient procedure because it wouldn't require 24/7 supervision & housing at a treatment facility. (According to my psychologist, it also would likely have the same level of effectiveness.)
This would include taking a leave from PJ Media for two or three months (update: four to five months). It would also include weekly or twice meetings with a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders ($150-$200 per visit), weekly/bi-monthly medical visits and cardiac testing ($300-$500 per visit), ongoing meetings with a dietitian (approximately $100 per visit: update: $150-200 per consult), and gifted help with the general cost of living while I work to get better (rent, transportation, groceries, heat, electricity, etc).
I’ve been working since I was 15. I worked through college, and at 22, it seems like a cruel joke that the one thing I love to do — report news — I no longer have the physical energy to do. I'd like to stress that I'm highly motivated to recover, and deeply hope to get back to writing ASAP (but not too soon).
At my age, I don’t have the astronomical amount of money lying around that's needed to fix this. Neither do my parents. And while I live in an apartment with my boyfriend and he's been tremendously supportive, I can't lean on him financially since he's a full-time senior at Rutgers.
To my readers: If you’ve enjoyed any of my articles over the past 4 years, for publications like PJ Media, Quillette, The College Fix, Youth Radio or the Columbia Spectator, consider this a tip jar. If you aren’t in the position to donate, please share.
My hope is that I can get back to my old life soon: happy, healthy, and reporting the news.
(Me and Ben, pictured before the last Rosh Hashanah dinner at his parents', here I'm at a healthy weight/BMI. At the advice of a few friends of mine who've battled eating disorders, I am not publicizing my current weight, BMI, or any current photos that show me sick to avoid triggering other people. I do have that info if you're just a curious person (personally, I'd be curious so I'd be totally fine with you asking), and can provide supporting documentation, such as a current BMI, proof of diagnosis, etc, if requested for any reason).
Thanks again — Toni
I've emerged from my slumber. Does everyone still get email notifications from this? In any case, I'll keep this very brief.
Remember the 18-year-old autistic student who got two Title IX violations for a fist-bump and a selfie? (originally reported by The College Fix last July)
Well, there's updates, and (since it's my first article in a while) I'm happy to share those with you —>
I'll skim over the health details, but I'm "back to work," trying my luck at new gigs, looking for conferences to attend in the summer, and still wondering why most dresses don't have pockets.
This will probably be my last update. I thank everyone who helped me (to any and every degree), and I'll eventually write about that too.
Until then, much love <3
I closed the GoFundMe yesterday. Thank you to everyone who supported this, whether through donations, signal boosting, or kind words.
I'm not sure when I'll return to work. My initial estimate was naive, and I'm not sure if 4-5 months is more realistic or equally naive.
In any case, I'm in good hands right now. Treatment is expensive and complicated to access. Either I'm "too sick" for therapists or "not sick enough" for residential centers, so I'm admittedly in a little limbo right now.
But I'm working on it with the help of a few personal friends, fellow friendly writers at PJ Media and Quillette, and my boyfriend and his family.
I'm not sure when I'll update this next. And I'll probably take a sabbatical from Twitter soon since it feels too work-related for the next few weeks/ months.
As always, please feel free to reach out or add me at any time by email, Facebook, or Instagram. I'm fairly easy to find. And I wish you all nothing but the best.
Warmest regards, and many thanks again,
This is Toni. I've re-opened the GoFundMe.
It's been admittedly very confusing trying to figure out how to handle this over the past two weeks. While I initially was told by a few that I needed residential care (the more expensive route), I've since gotten quite a bit of second (and third, and fourth) opinions and realized that's not the case. So, I'm sticking with my initial plan.
However, after learning more about the cost of accessing medical care in the New Jersey/ NYC area, I've realized my initial estimates were way off. I also have since learned that it was perhaps naive to think I can fully recover from this in only two or three months.
Therefore, I have modestly raised the "goal amount" to help cover 1) an additional two to three months off work, and 2) the fact that I initially underestimated my how much it costs to access medical/ therapeutic / nutritional care for eating disorders in this area.
If you've appreciated my reporting over the past four years, perhaps consider this a "tip-jar" or an investment in my future coverage of news issues like Title IX or free speech.
And if you're unable to donate, signal-boosting (such as by posting on Twitter), kind emails, book recommendations, or anything of the sort would be much appreciated.
I am currently in good watchful hands by my boyfriend of three years and his family, my MD of 4 years, and plenty of friends and loved ones.
PS: As always, I am happy to provide any type of supporting documentation upon request. And if you email me your mailing address, I'd be more than ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to send you a little thank-you card. It's the very least I can do right now.
This is Toni Airaksinen. Since raising funds for anorexia treatment, I’ve visited & spoke with a number of doctors and therapists (upwards of 60 phone calls so far) who all suggesting I do an inpatient/residential program because of the severity of my symptoms and how rapidly this has progressed.
I have applied to three residential programs (two in NJ, one in Miami, both where I have family friends), but there’s no guarantee of acceptance. However, if I do get accepted, it is highly reccomended that I go & I plan to do so.
When I first launched this GFM, I didn’t realize how “sick” I was, and perhaps neither anyone else. In any case, if I get accepted into a residential programs for EDs that is willing to work with me, I plan to go and will re-open this GoFundMe once I get a price quote & speak with the admissions team. Probably as early as next Tuesday.
As a journalist, I worry that if I reopen the GFM, it will be “old news” by next week. Thus, if anyone hasn’t suggestions for ways to help get the campaign more traction (if I indeed can get into a residential treatment center), or knows anyone with a big social media following who likes my reporting and would be willing to signal boost, please let me know.
Other thoughts / suggestions/ reccomendations appreciated. As always, I can provide supporting or verifying documentation for transparency sake.
Warm regards, and thanks again,