You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

After nearly 40days without sharing a family meal together- we had found ourselves deleriously joyful and thankful to be able to spend time together, eat, (even snack!) and reconnect in the comfort of our own home. 

Our daughter has really come a long way since last year, and she is making strides everyday towards dismantling her illness with targeted awareness, challenging her “comfort/safety” zone, setting small daily goals for herself; and becoming more herself vs the anorexia holding her mind and body prisoner. 

We ate minus “deposits”, as she used to call the cut up pieces of food she would attempt to leave behind at meals- there was no stalling, balking, or baiting to allow an inch of AN entry at this meal- it was absolutely wonderfully normal, and my husband and I savoured every moment of this lunch.

Everyday is another day to be thankful, to be encouraged, and definitely optimistic- gracious thanks to those who have been and continue to be comforting and reassuring sources of friendship, support and strength (and listening to my seemingly endless venting!)

-Shanti   

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It’s encouraging to know that some incredible clinicians are furthering the research and support of the efficacy of Family-Based Therapy within treatment of adolescents who suffer from eating disorders. 

As parents of eating disordered children we know how painful it is to watch our children succumb to this deadly disease.  And what makes things even worse is not having treatment incorporate the entire family to best help, educate, empower and support not only our loved ones, but ourselves as well; and also to help heal and guide the family through the journey we take on the road towards our child achieving full recovery.

Dr Walter Kaye with the University of California, San Diego is heading probably one of the largest research studies jointly with Stanford School of Medicine to find the most effective FBT, BFT, and placebo controlled trials including more studies into the use and efficacy of fluoxetine (Prozac) in the treatment of adolescents who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa.

Dr Kaye is certainly not the only clinician to take the lead in pioneering this momentum, Dr Daniel leGrange from the University of Chicago, Eating Disorders Program also has conducted a 5yr NIMH study of similar worth, and at this time the data that has been collected is being sent for publication.

Too many today still adhere to a very outdated, erroneous and unproductive notion that dysfunctional families/parents are the sole cause of eating disorders.  Yes, this is the 21st century, and when our daughter was diagnosed with AN last year, not only were we carrying very limited Karen Carpenter knowledge of ED’s, but to our complete shock and dismay,  the hospital where our daughter spent the next 20days- along with the next year of hit&miss follow-up outpatient treatment- had Dr’s, nurses and staff who seemed to be practicing a very draconian and almost at times inhumane form of ED treatment/care with even less experience and knowledge, and horrifyingly no real training and background in ED’s, and how to help sufferers and their families/carers beyond the basic “medical stabalization”.  I never would have imagined through our experience, how backwards and utterly frustrating this road to finding quality, intelligent, evidenced-based and compassionate care would be.

So there is continued reasons to be hopeful and remain optimistic that at some point ED treatment and standards of care will indeed get better, and our voices will be heard, blame will take a vaporizing exit, and efforts and focus will stay centered towards much more rational, ethical, affordable, and compassionate care for ED’s.

For Keeps      Some reviews have been posted for Victoria Zackheim’s new anthology   For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older and Acceptance  worth taking a look at as well and reading her latest work. 

Words and our collective voices have the power to heal.  Of course that task is not so straight forward in ED recovery of our children, but they too need to find their way back to their true Selves pre/post-ED; get beyond the entrenched self-loathing, negative self-talk perpetuated by malnutrition and rigid/ritualized behaviors.  And through regaining their health, with continued love and support, they begin to slowly find their own sense of strength, determination, self-acceptance and healing.

Zackheim’s collection of essays is especially meaningful for mothers and daughters,  reconnecting to one another and finding joy vs abhorrence through our stages of Life and change, which society and our culture still seem hellbent on perpetuating unrealistic ideals.

Parents need to maintain a sense of themselves, separate through their child’s recovery from an eating disorder.  They need to take time for themselves, self-care/self-love, and for one another, as a family with other siblings, and within a marriage, relationship.  It’s important to find others who support and comfort you through your child’s illness, and other parents who share your struggle are absolutely invaluable in helping one another which culminates its own collective of powerful and healing stories.

Shanti-

… I always say, especially when it comes to ED’s and medication- specifically anitdepressants and children/adolescents. 

It’s a call that I personally feel many clinicians make way too early before steady gains in weight, and full nutrition have been sufficiently addressed, and this takes time.  As parents, we see a significant change in mood with increased nutrition, as well as the opposite when our children are not eating enough or metabolizing properly during refeeding and recovery. 

Of course this will be an intimately personal and individualized decision, and antidepressants, without a doubt, have helped countless numbers of inividuals from seemingly endless and needless suffering. 

And you would want to have a physician who would have all the up to date, accurate, and forthright information in helping you make the best decision possible for your child, but after reading Dr Turner’s published report/study as well as the New England Journal of Medicine’s abstract about “selective reporting and clinical trials”, and “efficacy overstated for antidepressants” I’m convinced it’s vital to continue scrutinizing, as well as reseaching the use of antidepressants within the treatment of ED’s; and question why some clincians seem a tad overzealous to prescribe them.

And as some counterbalance, not completely overlooking how antidepressants have assisted many, CEO David Shern of Mental Health America shared a brief response.

Apparently an Australian “Dr” has figured out how to “cure” eating disorders- indeed!

And this can all be done with a 95day CD program, “The Complete Eating Disorder Program”- which states it will “fix” an eating disorder and stop it from ever coming back all for the money-saving cost of $369, and there is also a cheaper CD pack for under $300. 

But it gets even better because as Dr Irina points out all eating disorder sufferers have subconscious blockages and these blockages are the reason people have the disorder.  Once the blockages are identified and removed the eating disorder is gone.”

*POOF*  Just like magic- the eating disorder is done, gone- finis.

There are no short cuts recovering from an eating disorder, there are no quick “fixes”, or easily prescribed “cures”; and there is absolutely no evidence or research supporting a 95day treatment/CD program, (if only it were this easy!) I think Ms Irina could use some feedback from parents and clinicians who might be able to shed some light into a rather delusional and/or profit-seeking mentalily. 

Truly I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  And you have to wonder if  Dr Irina were residing in the states, I’m not sure this type of quackery would go unchallenged. 

The news of UNC’s study has been bustling about, but it’s worth posting this fine gem of a quote from senior author and director of UNC’s Eating Disorders Program, Dr Cynthia Bulik: “even a nugget of accurate biological information can influence how health care professionals preceive the illness” -and similarly can change the perceptions of others as well.

Nuggets of Information- Boulders of Truth… “POW!”

Extremely tragic news of a mother who “believed there was no hope” for her daughter who was suffering from anorexia and depression, which ironically she herself began battling around the same age- but seemed to be particularly well hidden from the rest of the family’s awareness– ends in the death of a promising young life.

This heartwrenching loss brings to mind many who struggle in silence and isolation, but what few still come to terms with is that this illness can indeed take lives not fully lived, and at any age.

Families, parents, and sufferers affected by disordered eating and self-starvation need and deserve compassion, effective treatment, and ongoing support.  Public awareness, insurance coverage and access to quality care, along with early intervention are still what we all need to keep pushing for so that HOPE becomes reality; and lives can be restored. 

Most of us realize how vitally important our meals with our loved ones are when they are suffeing from an eating disorder, and that they are not always an easy affair, especially when the eating disorder is unbearably strong and entrenched while healing through recovery.  

Those ‘family meals’ are also jeopardized by rushed schedules, overworked and exhausted parents, and seemingly less and less of those maintained moments when we can gather together, even with the simplest but nutritious of food prepartions to share, rekindle and reconnect. 

Food sustains us and nourishes us in so many ways- and as Laura Collins always reminds us: FOOD IS MEDICINE- distinctly so when your child suffers from an eating disorder.

Recently Dr Dianne Neumark-Sztainer from the University of Minnesota co-authored a longitudinal study on “the potential role of family meals as a protective factor against disorderd eating behaviors which may be the first published investigation of its kind examining the benefits and implications of family meals from their ongoing (love this) Project EAT  research study.

I think this is empowering news since there are still lingering and erroneous views that parents, and even worse, that the sufferer are to blame or caused the eating disorder.  Studies such as these also provide additional support and consideration into looking more closely at the benefits of Family-Based or Maudsley Method treatments for eating disorders and realign what we all know intuively heals a malnourished body and mind.

As any writer knows, the power of words can be Herculean. 

Reuters Health  briefly highlights a ‘applied text analytic methods’ study carried out by Dr Markus Wolf at the University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany that can be helpful towards improved therapeutic treatments, and better understanding of the cognitive processing of the eating disordered brain.

Many of us, as parents with children suffering from an ED might also know how delicate, negative, and self-defeating our childs’ thoughts, behaviors, and words can be to themselves- especially when we know how this illness robs our children of their true selves during treatment and recovery. 

That’s why it’s even more vital to remind ourselves first and foremost: we are not to blame or at fault for our childs’ eating disorder; and secondly, to separate your child from the eating disorder/illness, especially at the most difficult moments through refeeding, treatment and recovery when it can be the most challenging thing to remind ourselves of.

Since our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia almost a year ago this month, I wanted to start to put together, however chaotically at the moment, a journal of our experiences and share them in some manner that can add to the collective of additional perspectives, up to date evidence-based research/data within ED’s; and their effects upon the family, treatment strategies, and improved follow up care towards the goal of full recovery with the least amount of debilitating relaspe, IP/residential and/or hospitalization..  

More importantly, I feel parents can be a locus of change for the medical community, insurance companies, and also a significant support network for eachother.  And that fighting this devastating illness does not have to sentence parents, or the sufferers to a path of isolation, shame, or guilt since many treatment standards, clinicians, and society as a whole still have several outdated and erroneous stereotypes and practices that are impeding continued progress forward.

I do also think there are several reasons, as well as clinicians (though still too few practicing in this field and easily accessible) to keep hope alive and remain optimistic (as hard as that can indeed be at times) that recovery is possible, and that parents should feel empowered to take an active and loving role in their child’s recovery process. 

Shanti-  T.Mere 

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