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UCAN

 

I often, as many other parents of children suffering from an eating disorder, find myself envisioning what the future may hold for our daughter when she is older, well beyond the preparatory stages of ED recovery-maintenance, living a full, healthy and ED-free adult life will be like; especially when there may come a time when she decides upon a life-long partnership, marriage and/or family of her own.

Wouldn’t it be comforting and assuring to know that the care your son or daughter is receiving now will also be available for him/her and their partner-spouse when and if the time comes?

Thankfully some forward-thinking clinicians from the UNC Eating Disorders Program are working to provide just such a program, which is at this time addressing Anorexia Nervosa, and can continue to implement these necessary and supportive elements towards long-term health and maintenance for those who have loved ones suffering.

The UCAN Program

UCAN is a research program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and is part of the UNC Eating Disorders Program. UCAN aims to help couples work together in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. Couples participate in UCAN over a period of six months and return for follow-up treatment three months after the end of the original six-month period. Your participation in UCAN can help you gain new confidence in facing anorexia as a team and can help us understand how best to involve partners in the treatment of eating disorders.
What Couples Can Expect
Treatment Team
Couples can expect that their treatment will be conducted by trained, licensed professionals from the UNC Eating Disorders Program who are experienced in the treatment of eating disorders.
Comprehensive Assessment
All participating couples have four assessments during which they complete questionnaires and interviews with a clinician, and are videotaped having a discussion with their partner about an anorexia nervosa-related topic.
Comprehensive Treatment
During their participation in UCAN, couples will be randomly assigned (like a coin flip) to receive 20 sessions of either:
• Couples Therapy
• Family Supportive Therapy
In addition, the patient also receives comprehensive treatment for anorexia nervosa from the UNC Eating Disorders Program at no additional cost, including:
• Individual Psychotherapy
• Psychiatry Consultations
• Nutritional Counseling

 

*For further information about registering for the program contact at: UCAN@unc.edu or phone: (919)966.3065

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I LOVE Chicago!

 

… but we’ll happily settle.

 

When he speaks,

The air, a chartered libertine, is still.

Henry V, 1.1

leaves

 

I have a group of friends, some of us have been buds since high school, that take an annual “getaway” to the Cape Cod of the Midwest and rekindle to a cabin, enjoy great food, great sights and wonderful memories. We are an eclectic bunch, love and support each other dearly, but most of us either live at opposite ends of the globe or within different states, have families, busy careers and do our best to stay in touch via email, phone and the annual escape.

When we discovered Kate Jacobs The Friday Night Knitting Club we began to loosely refer to our own “group” of eclectic Momma’s, hip-Sista’s, and cherished Friends within similar shadows cast in Jacobs endearing novel. Some of us do also knit, but my abilities at this craft (my Finnish G-Ma I know is grimacing down… all those beautiful scarves, legwarmers, mittens and sweaters to my clumsy and pathetic scraps of endlessly funny looking pot holders, both of my girls can also needle me to blushing embarrassment! What I yield with a paintbrush, quill and acrylics makes up for that I guess) are definitely comical.

Two years ago it was impossible to consider this pilgrimage with our daughter’s eating disorder diagnosis, and everything in our lives just seemed to stand still, as if one was holding in the deepest breath, waiting to exhale.

Next fall, we’ll be approaching three years in… deep exhalation; I take the moment to do something for myself, heck even have some fun!

And it was well worth it, and probably why my body is clearly present back here in the city, but my mind is still back in Door County, appreciating those gifts of friendship and remembering that caring for oneself is just as important as caring for others.

As parents, caregivers, extended family members, and partners who support and care for our loved ones recovering from an eating disorder, it doesn’t matter if you head for the woods or take a bubble-bath surrounded by candles and peaceful solitude, what does matter is that you remember to take the time to honor and care for yourself as well.

Simple yet so easy to forget… so please remember.

shanti

   Fire”  T-Mere

 

 

… what’s it worth?

 

“Art is the most passionate orgy within man’s grasp.”

-John Donne

 

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.

shanti

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.

– Anonymous

 

 

 

 

Exams are done, the school year finished, award ceremonies to close the term ended with celebration, endless rounds of pictures, laughter, yearbooks signed and plans for “hangin’ out” in the months to come.  Another term ended, time to kick back, enjoy– relax. Summer feels close upon us! 

Our daughter has come so far since last year and continues to move ahead much stronger, healthier and so-so-so much happier– you see it in her dimpled smile, the flash and sparkle in her eyes, and the measured confidence she has steadily gained through her continued recovery, she is more herself vs the eating disorder.  As a family we are once again, becoming more whole, and definitely enjoying less visitation by the unwelcome nuisance- Anorexia.

Too many things we would all rather be doing at this time of year.  Places to go-visit, reconnecting with friends and family from another continent, more concentration on writing and my art… it’s time to take a much needed break– for all of us in our household, I think we’ve all earned it.

Will be back in the early to mid Fall– wishing all of you a very wonderful, healthy and restful Summer!

-shanti

                                        

                                          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

                                         Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

                                     Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

                                      And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

                                                              -SHAKESPEARE-

 

 

With Dr Daniel leGrange taking his sabbatical in Australia there has been a hub of conference presentations and various skills-based workshops  and training for implementing the Maudsley Method into eating disorder treatment and care as well as informing and assisting families and caregivers of utilizing this Family-Based approach to help their loved one.

The collaboration and gathering of these individuals, families and professionals probably could not have arrived at a better time since Australia has recently been highlighting an increase of younger children diagnosed with anorexia

On a positive note, one Sydney mother describes their experience using the Maudsley Method for their adolescent daughter as valuable and further stated, “It’s not a quick fix. But we’re absolutely stronger as a family. We’ve always been strong.”

Go Maudsley!

Howard S. Hoffman

 

                    We tend to see only what we are prepared to comprehend.

                                         Howard S. Hoffman …On Life

 

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.

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.

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