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So many great happenings during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2008 – hope everyone is able to partake in some NEDAW events in your corresponding local areas. This year’s theme, much like last year’s, is still quite pivotal and we can all do our share to spread awareness, gently and compassionately encourage those who need support and treatment to take those vital initial steps with our love and backing.
Reach out, celebrate all our diverse shapes and sizes, EMBRACE each other, and share our stories- spread the word, be heard, dispel misconceptions and myths that still surround eating disorders and those that suffer- change can happen even with the simplest and smallest of steps!
Laura Collins, as always, an incredible inspiration, advocate, and Mom has posted some great commentary on the Congressional Briefing for the Eating Disorders Coalition with Dr Cynthia Bulik’s wisdom- Power to the People!
Does this sound familiar?
“It’s nearly always easier to relate to someone who’s been through it than a so-called expert who may have clinical or scientific knowledge but not real experience.”
“ADHD - _____ (substitute any subcategory of an eating disorder in here) is a real condition… It’s not laziness or bad parenting… When it’s carefully diagnosed the problems are quite serious, and the effects on ones life can be devastating.”
“There are so many qualities that come along with ADHD: intelligence, high energy, the ability to accomplish a lot, creativity, passion for cause, innovativeness, trustworthiness, etc. But the trick is you have to learn how to live with it and harness it. It is a difference. Realize you have lots of company.”
College freshman, BlakeTaylor has written an earnest and significant memoir: ADHD & Me: What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table (Laura, how about some gold forks and fire at the Dinner Table?) and his story is testament to living a life to its fullest despite some definite challenges and changes along the way.
There’s a poignant evolution in language, terminology- 1902- “Morbid Defect of Moral Control”* 1968- “Hyper-kinetic Reaction of Childhood”* 1980- Attention Deficit Disorder* 1990- ADD- and awareness that has taken place over the past hundred-plus years which, similar to Eating Disorders, has also expanded studies and research broadening the level of understanding Attention Deficit Disorder has arrived at today. But as within eating disorders, the labeling and categorizing hasn’t critically changed perceptions and stereotypes that still pervade within society, or within extensivley improving treatment strategies for these disorders which have profound impact upon an individuals development, quality of life, and effects within the entire family.
Mr Taylor states that he didn’t set out to write a book, and from accounts, it appears his story is a first within an autobiographical narrative living with ADHD. On that end, eating disorders has a bit of an edge with various self-help books, and courageous personal stories of recovery: Carrie Arnold’s Next To Nothing, Nadia Shivali’s Inside Out among many others; although the male voice is not equally as strong or heard on this end currently.
I think what’s incredibly powerful and uniting is the message of “encouraging people to get the support and help they need” that Mr Taylor emphasizes, as too the many who have recovered from an eating disorder state over and over again- you don’t have to do this alone, and YOU CAN DO IT! Blake’s mother, Nadine, shares another message many parents who help their children battle an eating disorder know all to well also: advocating for your loved one.
Congratulations Blake Taylor for your courage, honest words, and changing minds regarding living a kick-ass life with ADHD- I wish you the best towards your degree in molecular/cell biology, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your future writings on various genres soon. I also extend kudos to all the brave and resilient voices who have written about their journey through recovery from an eating disorder, and hope those who might feel isolated or uncertain where to turn for support, find strength and encouragement through amazing individuals such as these.
It’s a day filled with LOVE-
Voltaire wrote: Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination which is such an eloquent phrase, and so affecting to me having a daughter who is courageously challenging her anorexia- and winning back (embroidering) her true self each day.
Those of us with a child, family member, and/or friend who are suffering with an eating disorder know we have to be both Head & Heart for our loved ones; it’s a duality that few seem to have the discernment and wisdom to forewarn us about on this journey to wholeness and health. Most in the medical community still keep us at arms-length when it comes to offering up the most humane, balanced and adequately researched strategies to implement within supporting our loved ones that emphasize such an expanded “imagination” or creativity that not only empowers the sufferer, but works towards healing the entire family/support network of the sufferer- metaphorically this would require the most sophisticated embroidery needle and elevated imagination that can stitch a warm, comforting Love quilt for anyone to find shelter, solace, comfort and wisdom (and most likely made with fleece).
I also think it’s imperative, absolutely crucial to Love thyself unconditionally, and that dear friends, includes the parents, the extended family members, friends, etc.- your entire collective clan, blood-linked and other surrogate compassionate souls- Tending & Befriending- embracing life as it stands, even making peace with pain, uncertainty and discomfort; all of which we most certainly are no stranger to.
So on this Valentine’s Day I wish for all of you to embrace yourselves, your loved ones with the deepest sense of honor, open-heartedness, self-acceptance and Love-
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your
love and affection.”
Continued studies, most recently published by Dr Mark Zimmerman for Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS), and additional colleagues of both Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, indicate that the current DSM-IV lacks adequate “diagnostic criteria for eating disorders”, and that “researchers recommend a broadening of the criteria” since currently only anorexia and bulimia are “officially recognized and formally defined”.
Makes definite sense. Especially since DSM-IV was published back in 1994, and in reading the current DSM-V “white papers” , “DSM definitions are virtually devoid of biology, despite a large body of research that indicates a neurological basis for most mental disorders”. And that for over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a steady increase of research and findings developed within eating disorders expanding beyond just AN and BN, but also EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) which counts for “more than half of the patients in treatment centers”, as well as Binge Eating, COE (Compulsive Over-Eating), and other “subthreshold variants” that clearly expand the scope of eating disorder symptoms and diagnosis.
From what the DSM-V timeline indicates, this much needed and updated manual will be published sometime in 2011, which seems like an eternity for many of us already too familiar with the complexity of eating disorders and more often inadequate care/treatment of our loved ones.
So it’s encouraging to see the continued efforts and commitment of researchers and clinicians in the trenches (along with the rest of us!) collecting the data, and analyzing the results for peer review, publication, and improved teaching/training- which ultimately leads to better treatment and recovery options for those in need.
In a perfect world everyone would experience the powerful benefits of working with colour, wet-on-wet, light&darkness…
As an artist I’ve taken this type of “work” for granted- it’s as basic as breathing- but I do believe art evokes such deep emotion and response from both its creator as well viewer.
Many residential treatment programs incorporate AT within their weekly schedule for patients (and this is great!) but what about those that are not hooked into a IP/OP program that believes in multi-disciplinary treatment apporaches towards ED recovery? Finding an excellent AT is as difficult as finding fully trained and experienced medical Dr’s who have working knowledge of ED’s.
“Healing requires movement, inner movement
for change and growth. One of the greatest gifts of
our time is for encouraging such movement in artistic therapy.”
-Adam Blanning, MD