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There are few individuals who truly rise to a level of integrity, experience, commitment and compassion when it comes to researching and treating eating disorders that I can honestly say are worthy of note, let alone far too few dedicated and wisely seasoned clinicians available for sufferers and families assisting and caring for loved ones to have equal and affordable access to.   Dr Daniel le Grange at the University of Chicago is most certainly one of those individuals.

For parents who have younger children or adolescents suffering with an eating disorder you are probably already aware how vital early diagnosis and intervention are to restoring your child’s health.  Many families and parents are unfortunately still treated as the “problem” or blamed/shamed into believing that they “caused” their child’s eating disorder, and sometimes, worse yet, doctors don’t even take seriously the early warning signs of eating disordered behaviors as well as weight loss in younger patients and dismiss the parents concerns despite the “highest concentration of most sufferers of Anorexia Nervosa being in the adolescent female population”– time is not on anyone’s side when you delay diagnosis and immediate treatment.

And treatment programs along with many clinicians still leave the family aside and ignored vs being utilized as a vital resource in assisiting and collaborating within helping their child recover, and working with as well as healing the entire family unit.  This makes many of us parents quite irate since we know our children best and were the first to have noticed the drastic changes in our child’s behavior, took initiative in researching treatment options/providers, and then continue to take action, resources and advocate for our children while waiting for many in the medical community and insurance industry to finally wake up and begin implementing true evidence-based treatment strategies that work instead of constantly reinventing the wheel, over and over…

Parents, Families/Partners and Caregivers of Children and Adolescents suffering with this illness please take heart, find continued reassurance, and be re inspired by reading Dr le Grange and Dr Loeb’s Early Intervention in Eating Disorders as well as Dr le Grange’s Treatment Model for Eating Disorders in Children & Adolescents :

 

  • Parents are a RESOURCE in helping the adolescent
  • Most parents CAN help the adolescent
  • Parents have SKILLS to bring to treatment
  • Therapist leverages parental skills and relationships to bring about change
  • FBT-Family Based Therapy is the only evidence-based treatment shown to be efficacious and cost effective

 

On the Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED) website, where if you are an Australian native they are also providing FBT and eating disorder treatment study for families free for participants, which they did here in the states at the University of Chicago a few years back.

Some day Eating Disorder Treatment will be this good everywhere — until then, keep fighting the good fight and don’t give up!

-shanti

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Vrishabha- the sacred bull of Lord Shiva… or more widely known- Taurus, the Bull reigns this month of May.  Our daughter turns 14 on this May 20th, and she definitely characterizes the nature of the bold, loyal, and very stubborn Taurus!

Before being diagnosed with Anorexia, birthday’s had always been a festive and richly tasting  affair.  And while we’ll continue partaking in this annual delight, it’s still a bit difficult for her to freely enjoy what never took a second guess years past.  She’s committed to challenging herself, though there are days she’s not too happy to do so, and will boldly (envision the Taurus with plumes of smoke flaring from nostrils!) make that clear– well, what were you like at 14, minus an eating disorder? 

I’m forever grateful to those who also remain equally, if not at times more, committed to helping support our daughter in keeping focus upon her recovery.  Recovery is not easy for sufferers, and parents still get  bawked a’ plenty and treated with disdain, misjudgment, and left to the side when there requires a much more encompassing circle to complete for true healing and whole-ness to take place.  And dualistically, sufferers also need their own space, their own pace to regain their true Selves back once nutritionally and weight stabilized– this requires alot of Love, patience, perseverance and sometimes a compassionately coordinated “team” all working together.  It makes me think of the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and the use of “a two-handed practice”:

_____

I can sit in my predicament as a witness, not as a plaintiff or judge: ‘Here I am in this situation and I sit squarely in it and breathe into it.  At the same time, I am aware that I can handle this and get through it without becoming devastated.  I can trust my competence neither to become dramatically overwhelmed nor to be stoically untouched.  This sense of competence frees me from fear, since fear thrives on powerlessness.  I imagine myself holding my predicament in one hand and my power to work with it in the other.  One hand is serenely mindful; one is courageously working.  When I hold both realities this way, I am agreeable to things as they are, and I am doing all I can to change them for the better as well.”   -D. Richo 

_____

This resonates with me deeply as a parent and the complexities illnesses like eating disorders present to us.  Now if only we can collectively and universally have provided the very best in evidence-based, highest standard of quality care of treating eating disorders and supporting families in such a comprehensively and equally accessible manner– that would be my wish!

Our daughter has many “wishes” and dreams she wants to pursue.  We simply want to wish her a very Happy Birthday, happy 14th Year, to continued Health and vitality… and to a courageous healthy-stubborn side that can be an anchor for her when difficulties and stress arise.  Knowing she can reach out and ask for help, she’s worth every ounce of her hard work on the road to recovery she has traveled thus far, and that we Love her very, very much!

-XOXO Mom*Dad*Big’Sis

 

This is a day of promise –
Of hopefulness, laughter, and cheer,
For this is a day of remembering
The good things that happened all year –
A day for reflecting on memories
Shared with friends and with family, too,
Who were so much a part
of the joys in your heart
And the love that you felt
all year through-
This is a day of promise
Of the beauty and warmth life can hold,
And of new dreams to dream
and more love to share
Through a year that’s about to unfold.

-Emily Matthews

 

Most of us realize that we need “fat” not only in our diet, but within our bodies– I say most since when you have an eating disorder, know someone with an ED, or care for someone suffering with this illness, specifically anorexia nervosa, which is hallmarked by the intense fear of gaining weight, this is a very difficult truth to swallow as well as visually accept within ones’ physical body.  

There are also some studies that suggest for some this “fear” can be a precusor to eating disorders  among the array of environmental, behavioral influences as well as genetic and/or biochemical predeterminers that scientists are still compiling and discovering that can leave some individuals much more susceptible than others to either severe eating disordered behavior, EDNOS, or a severe diagnosed eating disorder that requires serious and comprehensive treatment. 

What’s also intriguing is the work by researchers continuing to unfold in evolutionary biology, genetic imprinting, and epigenetic inheritance which I’m certain there are correlations within these findings and eating disorders that have yet to be fully available and utilized, but may be able to provide us with a much more inclusive picture behind the illness and how to improve prevention and treatment.

There was a recent study highlighting the benefits (mostly catching everyone’s eye with the glorification of our ever evolving rump, or as writer Debra Dikerson slammed in Salon.com last year about mainstreaming “Gi-normous butts”) of subcutaneous fat, which produces hormones known as adipokines found to boost metabolism (of course, I’m assuming this study will also fuel the weight-loss industry and war-on-obesity too) found in the booty area as well as belly and showing to be protective against type2 diabetes, but also reaffirming the adage that “diets don’t work” and briefly explains why this is part of the reason it’s difficult to keep that weight off once lost; and that our fat cells are set during adolescence and don’t decrease, but do actually expand in size.   

And while I don’t embrace the the good/bad dichotomous thinking and categorization of really anything when it comes to our daily living and Life– you tend to find things more in shades of gray or muted with other colors vs just a pigment of one– the study is looking at two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral , and where they are found within the body.  Subcutaneous tends to be in the booty and stomach area, and has more benefits vs visceral, which tends to be the gunk blocking arteries, causing damage to organs– sorry to say you’re bad visceral, or maybe scientists just haven’t fully found out what you’re doing and why you are getting such a bad wrap. 

Another study that continues in similar dialogue and highlights the complications of metabolic syndrome and that this can be triggered by overeating, which is correlated with weight gain, especially if done consecutively over a sustained period of time, and makes me wonder about endocannabinoids and their role cause/effect in obesity  and how this, if at all correlates.  The study also points to our fat cells being set during adolescence,  but Dr Stephen O’Rahilly of Cambridge remains unconvinced, and isn’t prescribing to this determination just yet.

Maybe another more basic message to keep at forefront is that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature– she rises up with a vengeance.  Our bodies have evolved over time and there is inherit wisdom to what we carry around with us everyday.

-Love Thyself

  T. Mere-

 

 

I awoke early before the rest of the family this morning to have some quiet time- make some chai, sit out on the deck in the bitter chill, layered in winter-wear.  May 1st it is… our daughter will be turning a year older this month and is fully discharged from the eating disorder program she has had several months of treatment in, both inpatient, residential and finishing with their intensive outpatient program. 

Thinking back to her initial admission in November seems eons away from where she is now.  She’s come full-circle, rather similar to the cycle of the year and anticipated, sometimes even prominent, seasonal changes (this winter was one of the heaviest in terms of snowfall and duration!) that mark distinct, at times mundane or significantly important passages of time. For our family it was one of change, acceptance and movement forward- leaving what does not nurture or support us happily behind.  And with great hope, looking towards the future, but staying as grounded and balanced as possible in the present.

I remember when our daughter’s were much younger and attended a Waldorf school where seasonal change, holidays and traditions were both honored and incorporated directly within the curriculum (such idealism we as parents carried– but so much fun!) and one of the highlights of the school’s year end was the annual May Faire that had Maypole dancing, farmer’s market, crafts… just all around energy, wonderful food, children running, giggling, singing with weaved flower-crowns or greenery in their hair (parents too!) and just an all-around connected sense of community, diversity and optimism– SPRING had sprung! It was a celebration to honor the changing of the seasons, from darkness into light.  Back then our daughter was completely free from fears of food and worries of weight-gain, she couldn’t have been farther from such an ugly menace as ED.

Much time has passed since those pre-K days, and our children grow to find their own unique challenges and strengths– sometimes we are faced with circumstances in our lives that can send one afloat upon unchartered territory, navigating can be difficult, but you find a way back to dry land, solid ground and the comfort of those that love and welcome you; and are there for you “have your back” when you need them most. 

Yesterday after our daughter had a brownie with “sprinkles” I realized she is really making huge steps towards facing the ED demon head-on, and while she won’t admit at this point “Wow! I just loved that brownie– Yum, yum!” she is taking what is presented to her each day, much more consciously than five months ago.  Perhaps not always with her trademark dimpled smile and sparkly eyes, but she’s doing it, and we’re cheering her on!

As I see the small buds on the apple and cherry trees grow in size each day, and the striking presence of the yellow daffodils dot the yard along with the tulips beginning to take on their dark hues; I feel on this first day of May that we’re finally able to see some Light shine back into our own families’ healing and daily rhythm more akin to life before ED– and that feels so wonderful!

 

                    An optimist is the human personification of spring

                                       –  Susan J. Bissonette

Tula Karras

 

When your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder your life changes- permanently.  There is no looking back (though you do, and weep and grieve for the child you once knew and still know lies underneath the ED just waiting to find his/her way back– and they do!) there is no denying the obvious even when this illness can completely blindside and throw you off your center until you fully understand and grapple with its complexity– and even then you can still be utterly perplexed. 

But you take action, keep your son/daughter safe, provide nutritional sustenance, comfort and support.  You find the appropriate medical care, treatment facilities and resources that will help him/her, as well as yourself,  find their way back to health, well being and continuing to work towards their full recovery– however that needs to happen- you just do it.  We’re parents, Moms&Dads, families, grandparents, cousins, all taking those measures and lending a hand because we love each other and want to see those suffering find their way back to their true selves, living their dreams, passions and finding happiness- not perfection- in what gift of our Lives we have been given.  Life is certainly not an easy journey, and growing up, becoming an adult, raising a family, fumbling through difficulties– these are all illuminating lessons to help bring us back to grace and compassion, wisdom and understanding.

Something within my own inner perspective and thinking is having a bit of a snag though.  Maybe because I know how damn hard it is to wrestle with an illness our daughter was diagnosed with over a year ago.  Knowing how hard she has worked to get to where she is now, how much more persistence and vigilance she will continue to have, especially now that she is fully discharged from the eating disorder program she has been intensely involved with for several months, and facing a culture and society that seems to be ironically having increased insecurities, issues and numbers of individuals (especially within older adult populations) with “disordered eating” patterns and behaviors, which to me on the outside look and behave just like our daughter did prior to her being diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. 

There is this surreal sensation that comes over me when I briefly skim over an article in SELF Magazine that highlights a partnered survey studythat was done in collaboration with Dr Cynthia Bulik and the University of North Carolina that states that “3 out of 4 American Women have disordered eating” and the magazine survey whose participants numbered over 4000, and probably still counting on both the survey, forum and follow up, continue to show an increase in disordered eating patterns and ranges of destructive habits that clearly as Dr Margo Paine boldly states exemplifies, “Dieting is a national pastime for women” and “as a society, we don’t see the problem“.

The survey also goes further into describing additional categories that 6 out of 10 (1 out of 10 have eating disorders) women who are categorized as “disordered eaters” describe themselves into specific subsets:

 

* Calorie Prisoners

* Secret Eaters

* Career Dieters

* Purgers

* Food Addicts

* Extreme Exercisers

 

Of course, none of these descriptors are new.  But while some studies and stats have been pointing towards an increase of younger individuals being diagnosed with eating disorders, which may indeed be on the rise, though it’s always difficult to know whether we are only getting better at earlier diagnosing and intervention; and if some of the outcry and attention to the issue is creating the continued awareness, discussion, research and treatment standards.  But this survey, as some previous others, is showing the age range to be in the adult category of a 25-45 year old female base, and from what I’ve read in some previous studies, this seems to be more consistent and increasing if you are to follow the conclusions.

Yes, I’m perplexed and even angry.  I don’t want to see anyone needlessly suffering with any disordered eating behavior(s) that can have even the subtlest of impact upon ones’ health- period.  But I also have another irritating irk in thinking about the continued impact these findings, if they are showing continued rises in eating-disordered behavior have upon our youth and young adults who are watching, reading, and taking in this information too.  What, if anything does this ultimately translate to and what can be done to counteract this deranged preoccupation with dieting, body-dissatisfaction, and just overkill of the human body? When will the craziness stop just long enough to take a step back, breathe, and find acceptance and compassion for who you are as you are being enough, being worthy– because we all are.

And our kids need us to model and reinforce these strong capabilities and common-sense practicalities.  When I see a book titled: My Beautiful Mommy I think this is a joke, right? But I find that it’s written by a plastic surgeon, and really set on promoting this “upkeep” ideal while cunningly proclaiming under a guise of “help”.  Are we so far gone into our self-absorbed psyches that we are so easily swayed and coerced into finding this worthy of publication to begin with? Apparently so, as the book is being sold and bought, joke or not– some are taking the bait and seem to be biting hard, though not into much that will keep one nutritionally and mentally stable.

Our daughter has to not only find safety, stability and assurance within her home environment, but the world outside as well.  And this rant of a thread I’ve lowered myself to in this post just proves what an apparently obnoxious mother on a mission I am (imperfections and all- silicon free and able to eat minus fear thankfully) to keep my daughter moving towards a healthy, happy and internally sustained recovery and passionately what that means to me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, can this insanity please begin to find it’s way back in the hole from where it came?  Like a fire out of control, can we begin to find some means of putting this insatiable flame to some simmering rational end? Will these studies and polls just continue to bloom, boggle and frustrate so many of us, while invoking the opposite within others to think less of themselves, and to possibly court a potential ED, especially for those who are either biologically, physiologically and/or genetically predisposed and vulnerable?

To continued Health, Strength & Insight for us all.

Kar Men Shreshth Kamandalu Chakra Trishoodlharta

Jagkarta Jagkarta Jag Palankarta

    Om hara hara Mahaadevaa

APF/Getty Images  Bertrand Guay

There is quite a bit of debate heating up lately, even over at ATDT parents are sharing their thoughts on this topic, regarding recent legistlation created by France lawmaker Valerie Boyer that France is passing towards imposing strict fines, even imprisonment against the proliferation and promotion of “pro-ana/mia” within websites, media images, the fashion industry and beyond that continue to hightlight clearly unhealthy anorexic/ED’d-looking, emaciated ultra-thin bodies– “legislating body weight” some are finger-waging. 

The reviews and feedback are certainly mixed, some downright misinformedstiil -and so sorely one-sided which to me only illuminates just how complex these issues are; and more importantly  how much more of this conversation and dialogue needs to keep happening and developing.

I haven’t delved into a full exploration of my opinions on this yet, but I do think while we can’t police every site, ban every image, twisted ideal there certainly is something that we are all responding and reacting to when we see someone who looks so severely malnourished, skeletal and unwell. 

As a mother of a daughter who suffers from Anorexia Nerovsa I do have an immediate heartwrenching reaction to this issue, and do believe there is not just a “personal” responsiblity but public and social conscience we all need to be connected to and address at some basic level without turning a blind-eye and pretending none of this has any impact on society whatsoever– clearly it does.

         

 

Some incredible individuals and parent advocates have been hard at work the past two days in Washington working with legislators on Capital Hill for the annual Eating Disorders Coalition Lobby Day to push forth further measures and legislation in the continuation to further progress within treatment, research, prevention and education of eating disorders. 

This is vital and necessary work.  I for one am so very grateful, since I was not able to attend, for all of these individuals who have committed themselves towards improving the lives of those affected by this devastating illness and the families that are doing so much of this work solo, without much support, treatment resources, and clinicians adequately trained to best help their loves ones. 

Thank you EDC and its sponsors, Ms Laura Collins— you are the best!

 

 

Oh yeah! May 9th (or from what others have been stating but I haven’t found listed: April 25th) heading to the ‘Windy City’- Chicago to check out this city’s native film-maker,  Darryl Roberts documentary that has gotten plenty of accolades; and additional kudos from those who attended last week’s IAEDP conference.

It’s interesting that within the past year two male film-makers  (perhaps more– feel free to share if you know) the other is Glenn Gers and his film: Disfigured  (which a Cali friend of mine got to see during the film festival and loved)  have dared to dig deeper into our culture’s preoccupations within this topic– I say it’s bloody fantastic and about time!

Join the caravan if you are able.

ciao-

virtaka

 

Facing the bluntness of reality is the highest form of

sanity and enlightened vision… Devotion proceeds

through various stages of unmasking until we reach

the point of seeing the world directly and simply

without imposing our fabrications… There may

be a sense of being lost or exposed, a sense of vulnerability.

That is simply a sign that ego is losing its grip

on its territory; it is not a threat.

 

-Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

End Health Discrimination
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