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By now everyone has read and seen the devastation caused by the earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.9 in the Sichuan province of China.  We have been holding our breath these past couple of days since dear friends of ours were living and working in China but were extremely fortunate and arrived saftely back home in India. 

Many, many  others are yet to be accounted for, and have not been left untouched by this horrific natural disaster– something of this extent not witnessed in over thirty years.

There are several relief organizations  scrambling to help those who have been affected by this catastrophe, though what’s growing increasingly frustrating is how the local government is really making things difficult for aid-workers to get through and deliver assistance ASAP.

We continue to send our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragic event.

-shanti

                                                 “This day is a special day, it is yours

                           Yesterday slipped away, it cannot be filled anymore with meaning

                                                   About tomorrow nothing is known.

                                           But this day, today, is yours, make use of it.

                                                Today you can make someone happy.

                                                      Today you can help another,

                                                This day is a special day, it is yours.

                                                              -INDIAN POEM-

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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.

 

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-

Advocacy

“It’s about opening up the doors and ending the shadow of discrimination against the mentally ill.”

-Patrick Kennedy 

Today’s news is quite uplifting.   And the 268-148 vote does speak to the dire need to continue towards enacting mental-health parity and mandating health insurance coverage equal to that of physical illness for mental health  and addiction.  I think Paul Wellstone would be encouraged to see some progress being made after nearly a decade of back and forth bi-partisan bickering and huge corporate influence , (and currently, to no one’s surprise, big-ph-arm Eli Lilly  is really throwing a tantrum!), to strangle this vital legislation.

And there are plenty of critics who are rallying this victory as “mental-health insanity” and clearly looking only at their own financial dunk, but it’s truly time to stop stigmatizing those with mental illness who clearly need the same standard of quality care and treatment that any sane society would not withhold or financially ruin one with personally while working towards full health, healing and recovery.

I, unfortunately live in a state that does not currently have mental-health parity- yet.  But I was impressed to read an in depth study done last spring by the La Follette School of Public Affairs in our state, that despite not having all the conclusive data to make absolute recommendations regarding mental-health parity, has incredibly convincing and thought-provoking details putting to bunk some of the primary reasoning against implementing mental-health parity that I would encourage anyone interested in advocating for mental health disparity to read.   These studies really can be applied and adapted for further critique and implemented across all states, so that we will eventually see more than thirteen states that have adopted mental-health parity law.

-shanti

NEDAW         So many great happenings during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2008 – hope everyone is able to partake in some NEDAW events in your corresponding local areas.  This year’s theme,  much like last year’s,  is still quite pivotal and we can all do our share to spread awareness,  gently and compassionately encourage those who need support and treatment to take those vital initial steps with our love and backing.

Reach out, celebrate all our diverse shapes and sizes, EMBRACE each other, and share our stories- spread the word, be heard, dispel misconceptions and myths that still surround eating disorders and those that suffer- change can happen even with the simplest and smallest of steps!

Laura Collins, as always, an incredible inspiration, advocate, and Mom has posted some great commentary on the Congressional Briefing for the Eating Disorders Coalition with Dr Cynthia Bulik’s wisdom- Power to the People!

 XO

Continued studies, most recently published by Dr Mark Zimmerman for Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS), and additional colleagues of both Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, indicate that the current DSM-IV lacks adequate “diagnostic criteria for eating disorders”, and that “researchers recommend a broadening of the criteria” since currently only anorexia and bulimia are “officially recognized and formally defined”.

Makes definite sense.  Especially since DSM-IV was published back in 1994, and in reading the current DSM-V “white papers” , “DSM definitions are virtually devoid of biology, despite a large body of research that indicates a neurological basis for most mental disorders”.  And that for over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a steady increase of research and findings developed within eating disorders expanding beyond just AN and BN, but also EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) which counts for “more than half of the patients in treatment centers”, as well as Binge Eating, COE (Compulsive Over-Eating), and other “subthreshold variants” that clearly expand the scope of eating disorder symptoms and diagnosis.

From what the DSM-V timeline indicates, this much needed and updated manual will be published sometime in 2011, which seems like an eternity for many of us already too familiar with the complexity of eating disorders and more often inadequate care/treatment of our loved ones. 

So it’s encouraging to see the continued efforts and commitment of researchers and clinicians in the trenches (along with the rest of us!) collecting the data, and analyzing the results for peer review, publication, and improved teaching/training- which ultimately leads to better treatment and recovery options for those in need.

The news of UNC’s study has been bustling about, but it’s worth posting this fine gem of a quote from senior author and director of UNC’s Eating Disorders Program, Dr Cynthia Bulik: “even a nugget of accurate biological information can influence how health care professionals preceive the illness” -and similarly can change the perceptions of others as well.

Nuggets of Information- Boulders of Truth… “POW!”

Extremely tragic news of a mother who “believed there was no hope” for her daughter who was suffering from anorexia and depression, which ironically she herself began battling around the same age- but seemed to be particularly well hidden from the rest of the family’s awareness– ends in the death of a promising young life.

This heartwrenching loss brings to mind many who struggle in silence and isolation, but what few still come to terms with is that this illness can indeed take lives not fully lived, and at any age.

Families, parents, and sufferers affected by disordered eating and self-starvation need and deserve compassion, effective treatment, and ongoing support.  Public awareness, insurance coverage and access to quality care, along with early intervention are still what we all need to keep pushing for so that HOPE becomes reality; and lives can be restored. 

Most of us realize how vitally important our meals with our loved ones are when they are suffeing from an eating disorder, and that they are not always an easy affair, especially when the eating disorder is unbearably strong and entrenched while healing through recovery.  

Those ‘family meals’ are also jeopardized by rushed schedules, overworked and exhausted parents, and seemingly less and less of those maintained moments when we can gather together, even with the simplest but nutritious of food prepartions to share, rekindle and reconnect. 

Food sustains us and nourishes us in so many ways- and as Laura Collins always reminds us: FOOD IS MEDICINE- distinctly so when your child suffers from an eating disorder.

Recently Dr Dianne Neumark-Sztainer from the University of Minnesota co-authored a longitudinal study on “the potential role of family meals as a protective factor against disorderd eating behaviors which may be the first published investigation of its kind examining the benefits and implications of family meals from their ongoing (love this) Project EAT  research study.

I think this is empowering news since there are still lingering and erroneous views that parents, and even worse, that the sufferer are to blame or caused the eating disorder.  Studies such as these also provide additional support and consideration into looking more closely at the benefits of Family-Based or Maudsley Method treatments for eating disorders and realign what we all know intuively heals a malnourished body and mind.

As any writer knows, the power of words can be Herculean. 

Reuters Health  briefly highlights a ‘applied text analytic methods’ study carried out by Dr Markus Wolf at the University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany that can be helpful towards improved therapeutic treatments, and better understanding of the cognitive processing of the eating disordered brain.

Many of us, as parents with children suffering from an ED might also know how delicate, negative, and self-defeating our childs’ thoughts, behaviors, and words can be to themselves- especially when we know how this illness robs our children of their true selves during treatment and recovery. 

That’s why it’s even more vital to remind ourselves first and foremost: we are not to blame or at fault for our childs’ eating disorder; and secondly, to separate your child from the eating disorder/illness, especially at the most difficult moments through refeeding, treatment and recovery when it can be the most challenging thing to remind ourselves of.

End Health Discrimination
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