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Father Christmas

JRR Tolkien

Take, and welcome joy within you:
Showers, flowers, powers,
Hatfulls, capfulls, lapfulls,
Treasures, measures, pleasures,
All be yours to enjoy!
-Celtic Devotional
__________________

Even though both our daughter’s are well beyond the fantasies of a “real” Santa, the story of the Tomtem, mythical Finnish elves, (and these days what I would give for a Tomtem to help cook and clean!) and snuggling up to endlessly open each envelope within Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas, the magic and our imaginations still shine with wonder and grace for the season– no matter what.

The Spirit of the Holiday is quite powerful if you take the time to remember and reflect on what truly is important and meaningful. Such a simple and beautiful gift to give oneself, but not always easy to do.

Tis the season of gift giving and ever-expanding commercialization of Christmas
as we modern people know all too well. This busying and running here and there has robbed the “sacredness of the season” as I refer back to the wise words of John Matthews:

 

….we ask and are being asked, “What do you want this year?” There are certainly things that we would quite like, things that we hope will be brought for us, but these are not the same as our wants. True wants are not small things satisfied by prettily wrapped parcels: they are the immense needs of inner space that can be overwhelmed by all our little wants and yearnings. To consider our real needs– the things we lack in our lives – is often too frightening, opening up an abyss of need that calls our very existence into question… Our real wants eat holes in us: never resting, never loving, never greeting, never finding, never seeking, never ever being satisfied deep down. These ravenous wants define our treasures so truly. They create a Christmas list that no store could supply: time to stop and really enjoy, in a space of quietness and contentment… Space to give and receive love reciprocally. The grace to seek and find our spiritual joy. Freedom from the tyranny and burden of other’s expectations, of what others think. Acceptance of ourselves as we truly are.

This season our wish is for our youngest daughter to really begin believing, once again, within her own inner gifts, her endless possibilities to live a full and happy Life, without ED. That she can accept herself as she is, feel safe, trust herself and others, allow her body and mind the time it needs to heal; and acknowledge her own true needs.

It again, seems so simple.

I also wish for all of you to give yourselves the gift of time to listen to your own true needs, find an inner abundance of Peace and Love, and allow time and space to fully ENJOY this holiday season!

shanti

* Many Heart-Felt Thanks to all who have emailed and written with your thoughts and support! We feel very blessed to have such caring individuals in our lives– especially at this time– THANK YOU! Marielle the gift-basket was so incredibly generous and such a surprise…. words can’t begin to convey our appreciation. -XO*

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Turkey

 

Yes, it’s already December and I’m still concocting a various array of T-Day leftover meals. The latest- and hopefully the last turkey creation!- curried turkey potpie was a hit, but with one plate empty at the table.

Life for our family, once again, is on temporary halt to regroup, realign, and reaffirm former, as well as new recovery priorities-goals; and up the ante a bit to get beyond the bump-in-the-road our daughter is experiencing wrestling free (though as of late, resembling more acquiescence) from the dangerous clutches of anorexia.

Leftovers…

Ironically we were in this familiar territory the same time last year. And as a parent, when you’ve seen how far your child has come through his/her ED recovery, how hard the fight gets fought, seeing and knowing they can do it; it feels like suddenly your footing on that long arduous climb is becoming loose and weak. You’ve been tossed back down, the wind has been knocked clean out — “GASP!” Some confusion sets in, frustration, even some anger– “Damn you friggin’ (I use a word with a bit more gusto and power) ED!” It’s time to take action, as most of us know, eating disorders love the waiting-game, the delay, the postponing… we’ve already been there too.

Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and development, and a body taxed with an eating disorder at this time cannot do fully what it was meant to do normally unhindered. The reports regarding bone density and calcium loss within eating disorder sufferers are not new but it is a necessary reminder of the severity of this illness and why treatment should not be delayed, since significant changes do take place before decreases in bone structure become evident, and some of these changes can be permanent after a certain age.

Leftovers in this scenario can also be remembered as requiring 100% full nutritional support and adherence- without question, without exception. This time of year brings forth both a welcoming joy towards celebration with family and friends, but as well an unwelcome increase of stressors and worries that pose some unique challenges for those with eating disorders.

There has been a wide variety of posts and informational resources in this regard which is fantastic. One incredibly busy and committed individual interviewing as of late is Dr Cynthia Bulik, who is the director of the UNC Eating Disorder Program prompting:



Keep your support team on speed dial and call them at any time during or after a party. Talking relieves the pressure. You’re not overburdening them. They will undoubtedly have stories to share, too.– Potlucks are your friends. Don’t hesitate to take a food you prepared that feels safe enough to you so that you will have at least one manageable entrée.– Lavish holiday spreads don’t have to be the enemy. If faced with one, channel your inner Boy Scout or Girl Scout skills and be prepared! Before stepping in line, and before getting a plate, evaluate the options. Mindfully consider which foods you’ll sample, portion sizes and whether you feel comfortable trying a “feared food.” Make a decision and stick with it!– If your treatment team has given you a meal plan stay on track so you aren’t starving when you get there.– Listen with your heart, not your head. Hear the happiness and caring in a person’s tone when they tell you that you look “so much better.” They are saying they care about you. Don’t let the eating disorder lead you to misinterpret those words in a way that deprives you of hearing that people really care about you.— Get Real! People too often have a fantasy about how “perfect” the holidays are going to be. When family members fail to live up to unrealistic expectations, it might be tempting to restrict or overeat in an effort to feel better temporarily. Try to anticipate some of the possible emotional traps in advance so you can cope (and maybe even laugh) when you encounter them.– The well-known HALT slogan works for any type of recovery. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. This is especially important over the holidays.– ‘Tis the Season to Forgive, so forgive yourself if you have an eating slip.– Try your best not to skip appointments with your treatment team. It’s an important time to stay in touch with people who can help.

 

Dr Bulik also continued with an “Eating Pressure” interview recently conducted by CNN worth viewing.

And there is an equally interesting qualitative study: “Total Control? Eating Disorders and Emotional Responses to Food” conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia with the result podcast and interview available from CQ University’s International Program of Psych-Social Health Research Dept that looks at emotional responses to images of food presented to adults with eating disorders, and using the qualitative methodology to further measure and explore issues of self-control, food fears/responses, CBT-cognitive behavior therapy as a means to help adjust maladaptive ways of thinking and behaving. I think this could also be extremely beneficial to younger ED sufferers as well, and crucial for helping them deal more cohesively with their “fear” foods that many times get downplayed or ignored within many treatment programs by only having the patients eat the foods, or avoid them altogether in their meal plans.

And yet more leftovers, as lastly I found BBC’s-Radio4 All In The Mind Segment by Claudia Hammond insightful in regards to the variations in some residential programs and getting additional perspectives from patients who are going through the program, their personal thoughts and views. The “partnership” message from the Phoenix ED program in the UK director, Dr Thompson was also welcoming to hear in having patients play a significant role in their treatment and recovery process along with more collaborative and balanced strategies. The numbered tables that residents eat at are something quite interesting as well, with Table 1 being a level requiring most support and moving towards Table 3 with more independence, and thusly Table 2 being 50/50. I think to me what stands out is the ability to remain open to making changes and being creative in strategies, and not simply applying practices to ED care and treatment that simply don’t always work for the individual patient.

So while I’m still musing over Thanksgiving tidbits and at the same time putting up the Christmas lights and bringing out the boxes of holiday decorations, we’ll keep fighting and rallying behind our daughter to continue to move forward within her next level of recovery. Regaining some ground lost with deeper learning and strength gained (we all make mistakes and have setbacks- with or without an eating disorder!) We know we’ll get through this together and once again her place at the table will be filled when she is ready… until then leftovers may be on the menu for awhile.

 

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 road ahead is like the road behind.
The dreams achieved revise the dreams to come.
Mind shapes world, and new-shaped world shapes mind,
As what you are steps back from what you’ve done.
The deeper you resides in its own space,
Sheltered like a yolk from wind and tide,
Filled with unimaginable grace
To wander through the paradise inside.
Ambitious girl!
Become what dream you will,
And sail across each dark, forbidding sea.
Within, the fawn will graze sweet meadows still,
Untouched by all the phantoms you will be.
-Nicolas Gordon
 
End Health Discrimination
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