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I love fall!
I love our annual trip to the apple farm, the continued but slowing scramble to farmer’s markets until they close shop next month, the cool nights and the warmth of a wood-fed fire pit surrounded by the deep and intoxicating smells that this season brings along with it. The cornstalks soon to be put out along with the vibrantly hued pumpkins, the trees’ deciduous leaves now changing in accord… it’s a sensory orgasm!
Last week seemed a bit more hectic, balancing home, family and a personal work-life in conjunction with extended family and friends for our annual Late Summer-Fall Equinox potluck. But all the work and preparations reminded me how vital it is reconnecting with others whose lives are busy like ours, whose children are growing and/or grown, and gather for one evening to celebrate the change of season, share a bountiful meal, taste new creations, revisit old favorites and maintain some deeper meaning within our lives.
A couple of weeks ago I was inspired to see BANA (Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association) holding it’s Global Dinner Table Conference (wonderful titled theme!) and extending efforts to educate and connect within the Ontario region with spokeswoman, advocate and eTalk journalist Ms Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau presenting a powerful personal journey through recovery from bulimia. Now as a healthy mother, wife and proponent for eating disorders she stated quite beautifully: “healing means reconstructing your notion of self, and who you are, and your connection with the world”.
BANA is one of a handful of grassroots organizations that actually carries out valuable, useful support and services instead of only allocating funds-donations and collecting data, along with having a vital partnership with the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) that is broadly interconnected with hospitals, medical communities, local demographics, schools and universities to align more effectively with clinicians and the broader public to reach those in need and provide support for families.
Another organization of note that has recently joined earlier this month at the “global table” is BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association) which can be additionally pivotal towards connecting those whose diagnosis is either “undefined” “unspecified” or completely overlooked towards the resources they need, and continue providing the educational and preventative services as well as highlighting probably the most common form of eating disorder more broadly present.
It’s aspiring to see such organizations take root and develop, gathering together as a unified front to fight an illness that has left far too many for too long uninvited or unheard to now join at “the global table” to come together!
Some of the most common events become quite significant when your child has an eating disorder, and at times worry seems to be a constant irritating leach sucking your Mom-force astray even when the coast is clear.
For the past two years our daughter has missed out on class trips due to the pernicious nature of the eating disorder. And as if heading back to school doesn’t already bring with it some added stress and anxiety for a developing young middle-schooler, these trips always take place at the beginning of the year– great idea for setting the tone and building relationships for the school term, not so great idea if your child is trying to gauge the semester and transition in the first couple of weeks tacked on with the complexity of managing an eating disorder.
For the first year of middle school this trip was a no-go. Last year also didn’t happen since she was not yet able to make food-meal choices on her own, as well as eating without some additional support, and being comfortable enough to ask for help if encountering some difficulty and parents and family were not around.
Initial diagnosis of the eating disorder, immediate hospitalization, the following year inpatient and residential treatment, along with intensive outpatient treatment; days-months of missed school, family and social life seem strangely long ago, healing does take time.
This school year is markedly different though, our daughter is actually getting a bit pissy about missing out on certain aspects of teen social life and events her friends and peers seem to do “so easily”. These are things she also did easily, without second thought, prior to the eating disorder and another positive sign that she is remembering and awakening to her former Self.
This year’s “Leadership Trip” my baby is on the road for three days of fun and camaraderie. First to camp, canoeing, rope climbing and mingling while looking at the constellations, second to the State Capital, then finishing off sliding down the plastic tubes of a favored water park, who would want to miss this?
She left this morning her bags packed with extra snacks and necessities, pre-ordered her meals (all by herself- yeah!) and wasn’t embarrassed to give an extra hug.
But my ultimate moment came seeing her classic dimpled smile!
The deeper you resides in its own space,
I have to admit that I’m clinging to each last bit of the end-of-summer like a fool, but with the rain and chill today, it’s a bit easier to keep the Bodum filled and not mind too much. September seemed to happen so quickly, where did the time go?
The shortening of daylight and coolness of the evenings suddenly has me lugging out the sweaters and rummaging for fleece to accompany our early night walks by the lake, while still savoring the seemingly endless supply of heirloom orbs I’m basically giving away at this point before they rot- and with the onslaught of fruit flies scurrying to hold on and survive as well, that is a nuisance that won’t be missed.
Like most families with school-aged children, last week marked the beginning of another school year, which brings with it much excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, as for our daughter, a bit of anxiety when recovering from an eating disorder.
But that’s okay.
This semester she’s surrounded by many who know about her eating disorder, and are behind her, beside her, in their hearts and also working with her on a regular basis, like her Art Therapist, Yoga “guru”, ED therapist, nutritionist, pediatrician as well as close loving family and countless friends (teens are such magnets for camaraderie and energetic spirit… it’s hard to resist and really has been such a blessing!)
It’s so important to have that “net” of support during and throughout the recovery process. And while it’s not always easy to find and coordinate this type of collaborative care, let alone pay for and/or get insurance coverage for this extensive care- it’s so well worth the effort to keep plugging away, advocating for your son or daughter, and getting the “right fit” for both your child and also for you as the parent(s), caregivers, and extended family.
Numerous studies are aplenty regarding the effects of stress in our lives- stress is part of life for both human and animal, there is no denying this. Stress also has an evolutionary and survival component, but too much and not enough “down time” to recoup and rest and we all know what happens. Many of us also know how stress also can play a role in exasperating and/or intensifying levels of eating disordered behaviours in our loved one’s lives.
Dr Esther Sternberg was speaking on public radio last night while I was driving home from a messy, but productive day- for once! at the studio. And the conversation really got me itching to reread her book The Balance Within once again after the past couple of weeks going to numerous Dr appointments, back-to-school-shopping, noticing some tensions in our daughter’s behavior(s); and getting things ready for the start of the school year. It has been stressful!
It was interesting to listen to Dr Sternberg talk. She’s incredibly intelligent, grounded, but also very human. She’s been called a “scientist’s scientist” as she’s a bit hesitant towards all the overkill-joy on the Self Help end minus a balanced critical and logical analysis of what we’ve been learning, and do know about human cells, the brain, genetics, neural circuitry, etc. currently. And how technology, continued research/study has opened up so much to illuminate on these previously charted as well as uncharted seas, so that we can begin to really delve deeper within a broader understanding behind why you might feel like shit, or are swimming endlessly in “the blues”, and just can’t deal with all that stress, dammit!
I think this past couple of weeks reminded me of how sometimes the simple things are really quite wonderful. Listening to the shared support of other parents, sufferers who really have climbed that mountain of ED-Himalayas and stuck a “Fug You ED” flag on the peak, then courageously climbed down to live full, healthy lives. Dr’s and clinicians who truly connect with you and your child and actually “get it”, both what your child is grappling with, yet not belittling their struggle, or as a parent/caregiver, your own; and continuing to make that commitment towards supporting your child’s recovery, even when things seem temporarily “stuck” week after week.
Our daughter had a wonderful half-week back rejoining with friends and classmates, she loves her classes, new level teachers and has taken on a couple of additional social-activity/clubs this semester to fill in for field hockey, cross-country and ballet. And while she’s very determined to get back to dance at some point, she’s also realizing what other talents she can nurture and cultivate while her body and mind continue to heal. A time for all things in good time.
Hope is not the closing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk,or the failure.
It is trust that-If I fail now -I shall not fail forever;and if I am hurt,I shall be healed .
It is trust that Life is good, love is powerful, and the future is full of promise.
Eating disorder recovery, like gardening, is most definitely a labor of love.
And while I’ve been gardening as long as I can remember (although when I was younger, I absolutely detested those summers in the “country” toiling, weeding and watering; the only salvation was my G-Ma’s raspberry pies- and oh, how we grumbled and complained! Such indentured servants to the land we were; little did we know the lessons being planted early on by our wiser parental-elder units indeed!) with digging and transplanting in country soil, urban community plots, studio rooftop gardens, CSA worker-share’s- you name the place, I’ve always found a way, even on a low budget, to squeeze something beneficial, tasty and aesthetically pleasing into the ground our family happened to be living on top of.
With only two years passing since our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia, there are many things we are still learning together about this illness and how to best tend-cultivate to our daughter’s support and recovery. But we have definitely learned so much since she was diagnosed, what works, what definitely doesn’t, when to move on, regroup/restrategize, and also when to let things be, step back, and also knowing when to step back in when needed. Quite like tending to a garden plot I’d say.
And I can’t but think as I’m scrambling to let the frittata cool, get the gazpacho out, toss the pasta with fresh tomatoes from the garden… we have ten or twenty arriving? ugh! Hubby’s tending the proverbial flame to finish the tandoori chicken and burgers- that some of the best lessons are learned from the garden.
For the garden of your daily living, plant three rows of peas:
- Peas of mind
- Peas of heart
- Peas of soul
Plant four rows of squash:
- Squash gossip
- Squash indifference
- Squash grumbling
- Squash selfishness
Plant four rows of lettuce:
- Lettuce be faithful
- Lettuce be kind
- Lettuce be patient
- Lettuce really love one another
No garden is without turnips:
- Turnips for meetings
- Turnips for service
- Turnips to help one another
To conclude our garden, one must have thyme:
- Thyme for each other
- Thyme for family
- Thyme for friends
Have a wonderful and abundant Labor Day!