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holi

This month is such a busy month… I’m very blessed and so very happy that I’ve sold two paintings (not current work, but nonetheless- yeah!) and it was a carefree act on my end, thinking nothing would move someone to be so compelled for work that honestly doesn’t resonate for me personally right now– but all good!

Easter was nice, we are a culturally diverse family (hubby from India) so we partake in other various festivals and events, Holi (see above) being one this month too– my birthday is coming up (not telling how many candles- tsk!) and having our daughter home from residential after nearly three months of treatment is no light lot.

I love spring! New green shoots pushing forth from the ground– and the snow is finally melting here- yippee! New life, new beginnings… change.

And while our daughter is definitely on her road to recovery, this is not a easy road for her to travel– she still needs lots of love, encouragement and support.  She is also quite young, so the decision to “just do it” and fully connect both physically and intellectually to what has taken place over the past year is not all there for her to wade through and have immediate light-bulb moments and decide that today is the day she knows ED is behind her- for good.  She herself has openly admitted she “is not ready” to say ado to her tango with ED– not yet.

She has however been slowly “emptying” and “letting go” of ED– one day at a time.  A deep breath in and a very long exhale out…

“What will become of me if I let go of my eating disorder?”

“How many times have you tried to let go by hanging on?”

It doesn’t work…  and it doesn’t happen all at once.  One day, one step, one mouthful at a time.

Our daughter did something incredibly powerful a few weeks back.  She wrote a “good-bye” letter to ED and she opened herself up to share this moving note:

         ED,

      I need to leave you.  You have made me do some relapses and only made me think about shapes, sizes or weights.  I feel really bad for leaving you but it’s the only way I can stay on the path of recovery and be able to achieve my goals in life.  I will miss you a lot. 

You have helped clear my feeling of stress out and do something that makes me feel comfortable (restrict).  You have really hurt me.  My friends and family have been here supporting me, and it seems that you want to shove my parents away.  You also have not made me be able to hang out with my friends and then just isolate. 

ED, I plan to take care of myself and to listen to myself more than YOU.  I plan to become a ballet dancer and veterinarian, and enjoy my life and live my dreams.  You may come back to me when I look into the mirror but I won’t let you take my passions away.

                        Good-bye ED-

Indeed.  With the snow continuing to melt, the extended light of the days and the darkness of winter slowly turning more and more towards spring, I feel a renewed sense of Hope and Strength for our daughter’s continued striving forward towards full health, full Life.  There will be days, as there already are, that will challenge and the proverbial two steps forward, three-five steps back… but she’ll get there and we’re all right there behind her cheering her on!

Happy Spring- Happy Holi-Hai!

 

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In a perfect world everyone would experience the powerful benefits of working with colour, wet-on-wet, light&darkness… 

As an artist I’ve taken this type of “work” for granted- it’s as basic as breathing- but I do believe art evokes such deep emotion and response from both its creator as well viewer. 

European countries have a much more open and progressive dimension with utilizing Art Therapy in clinical settings, and it’s always frustrated me how the US is sometimes so stagnant and defensive- almost ambivalent of the postitive benefits of art within healing, outside of a grossly predominant kitschy craft, popsicle sticks stuck with felt balls nauseum. 
 
 A multi-collaborative treatment component within ED recovery, incorporating Art Therapy,  painting, charcoal work, etc. can open many dimensions towards multiple approaches (and you do find some practices that incorporate AT- but still so few and far between that do justice to form) complimenting treatment and opening additional avenues of expression and potential dialogue- especially when sufferers are medically stable enough to engage more broadly within their recovery goals, and are able to be more of a participant within their continued treatment. 

 

Many residential treatment programs incorporate AT within their weekly schedule for patients (and this is great!) but what about those that are not hooked into a IP/OP program that believes in multi-disciplinary treatment apporaches towards ED recovery? Finding an excellent AT is as difficult as finding fully trained and experienced medical Dr’s who have working knowledge of ED’s.

               “Healing requires movement, inner movement

          for change and growth.  One of the greatest gifts of

     our time is for encouraging such movement in artistic therapy.”

                                  -Adam Blanning, MD

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.

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