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There has been a firestorm of discussion and emotion since the release of Black Swan  that has me rereading Lauri Apple’s poignant article back at JEZEBEL  and rethinking. once again, the subtle but profound impact that media, culture, social; and familial arenas play and interact into our consciousness, whether they are actualized physically-mentally or not.

Since my daughter has suffered from Anorexia Nervosa and was a classically trained ballet student-dancer since the age of seven, as parents you may, unfortunately, get to see the side of ‘cygne noir’ – black swan that is layered within the walls of the dance studio. When eight year old girls are talking about having stomach surgery or that they are ‘fat’, or when you realize you are in the bathroom and a dancer in the adjacent stall, is intentionally inducing vomiting, it can become more than a bit disturbing.

While I don’t ‘blame’ the media, advertisers, etc. as the sole ’cause’ in perpetuating Eating Disorders , I find it simultaneously an act of denial to disregard the power and pull these mediums have and do carry, some more than others; and of course, within varying degrees for individuals and their set of environments, circumstances, genetic traits-pre-determinants, towards tipping a scale (no pun intended) sometimes in dangerous directions.

While I’m happy my daughter chimes in that she would rather see ‘True Grit’ vs ‘Black Swan’ I do believe the conversation happening is one worth continuing and deepening.

What are your thoughts and feedback? Please feel free to share…

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: Change Upon Change :
Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,
Where none will track thee in this snow,
Along the stream, beside the hedge.
Ah, Sweet, be free to love and go!
For if I do not hear thy foot,
The frozen river is as mute,
The flowers have dried down to the root:
And why, since these be changed since May,
Shouldst thou change less than they.

And slow, slow as the winter snow
The tears have drifted to mine eyes;
And my poor cheeks, five months ago
Set blushing at thy praises so,
Put paleness on for a disguise.
Ah, Sweet, be free to praise and go!
For if my face is turned too pale,
It was thine oath that first did fail, —
It was thy love proved false and frail, —
And why, since these be changed enow,
Should I change less than thou.

-Elizabeth Barret Browning

 

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder effects more than just the body…

New Year’s eve is like every other night;

there is no pause in the march of the universe,

no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted;

and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights

~Hamilton Wright Mabie

 

It’s uplifting to see the continuation and commitment towards treating and caring for those suffering with eating disorders, along with supporting and educating the families involved in their loved ones care.

Harmony Place licensed by the state office of Mental Health is the first residential program in the state of New York to open and work specifically with adolescent girls and boys ages 12-17 providing an additional resource for families vs sending their children out of state:

Harmony Place at St. Joseph’s Villa is the first program in New York State to provide residential treatment exclusively for adolescents struggling with eating disorders. Located on the suburban St. Joseph’s Villa campus in Rochester, N.Y.,
 
Harmony Place provides treatment and support for up to eight girls and boys, ages 12 to 17, who have had chronic difficulty maintaining recovery through medical inpatient and outpatient programs.

During the 4-6 week stay, a highly structured environment, evidence-based approaches and a caring, specialized staff help partici¬pants regain stability over their illness. Family involvement is a critical component of the program, empowering parents with the skills and understanding needed to help their teen achieve long-term recovery at home.

HARMONY PLACE program features:

-Round-the-clock supervision, with daily medical monitoring

-Safe, structured, therapeutic environment designed for adolescents

-Licensed nurses, board-certified psychiatrists, psychologists, masters-level therapists and dieticians
-Utilizes the Maudsley-Informed approach to re-feeding, on-site emphasizing family therapy, education and hands-on meal preparation

-20 + hours mandatory group therapy and 8+ hours individual & family therapy weekly

-Ability to address co-occurring disorders like chemical dependency, anxiety and depression

-Two-hours academic tutoring per school day
-Three months support following discharge


Post discharge there is a 90day follow up so that patients and families have the proper support they need to help within the transition.

For further information please contact Helena Boersma at St Joseph’s Villa      1.877.520.2667       

OM

 

Men say the world is full of fear and hate,

 And all life’s ripening harvest-fields await

 The restless sickle of relentless fate.

 

But I, sweet Soul, rejoice that I was born,

When from the climbing terraces of corn

I watch the golden orioles of Thy morn.

 

What care I for the world’s desire and pride,

Who know the silver wings that gleam and glide,

The homing pigeons of Thine eventide?

 

What care I for the world’s loud weariness,

Who dream in twilight granaries

Thou dost bless

With delicate sheaves of mellow silences?

 

Say, shall I heed dull presages of doom,

Or dread the rumoured loneliness and gloom,

The mute and mythic terror of the tomb?

 

For my glad heart is drunk and drenched with Thee,

O inmost wind of living ecstasy!

O intimate essence of eternity!

-Sarojini Naidu
 

~~ Summer is in full-swing and we are finally escaping for a long overdue respite. Destined long nights, mythical and ancient sites… meditating on cliffs, dusting off the lens and capturing images that provoke and provide aesthetic sustenance. Lingering and contemplative hikes up temple steps that have been etched by devotees feet countless times before– who are we but humble and gracious guests- not the arrogant and time-constrained forceful tourist.

Foraging in sacred forests with gamelons playing in the distance, and dancing deities battling the age-old epic between black&white-good&evil ending with the balance of Life, once again, restored. Then taking what was digested of the day to a lamp lit night to write, write, write. Littering my splattered journal with poetic meanderings that have waited, sometimes it seems far too long, for a time such as this.

Life has certainly been blessed and full of positive changes lately! Our daughter has courageously turned the tables on Anorexia within the past couple of months, and is enjoying a summer filled without fear, vibrant, healthy and triumphant in this very moment– we are so extremely proud of her!

Thank you so very much to all of you who are a constant source of human wisdom, compassion and many who have also lent a comforting shoulder to lean on. Along with the ever gracious comrades who work with me tirelessly towards creating our monthly “healing&creative space”– which will return once again late this fall; I really don’t have enough words to do justice in this meager post to give adequate appreciation.

I am deeply grateful for the small patch of ground we continually attempt to uncover to help support those with eating disorders and their families, partners and loved ones. I hope to continue to dig a deeper and wider-reaching network that will eventually have an even greater substantial and purposeful base of resources, along with caring, intelligent and genuine individuals to be of greater service for those who continue to suffer. Patience, time and perserverance– many of us know all too well the meaning of those words, but they truly do remain at the forefront of what long-term recovery entails well after weight-nutritional restoration has been established.

As always, many additional thanks to those who continue to be of support, who listen, read the blog and email, and have allowed me this welcoming space to share our family’s Journey to Recovery– much deep love.

 Wishing everyone a relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable summer! See all of you when the leaves begin to crinkle and the crispness of fall begins to fill the air.~~

*Happy Birthday A!*

We know you always deal with your illness with such courage,
but we still wanted to send you a few hugs,
along with rays of sunshine, big smiles,
and a whole roomful of good thoughts!
So think of these words as a beautiful sunset all your own
and the sound of the ocean gently washing the shore…
Let our thoughts wrap you up in warmth and peace
and sit at your side.
So as you imagine yourself in the midst of these things,
remember how many people care about you and are
wishing you comfort and Love.
-Mary Miro

 *Lots&Lots of LOVE to You Today and Everyday! — Mom*Dad*Sis*

 

 

 

I love how the birth of International No Diet Day began “from a picnic in Mary’s living room” in the early ’90’s and fertilized it’s magnitude world-wide.  Ms Evans-Young is herself a recovered anorexic and wrote the book Diet Breaking: Having it all Without Having to Diet and it couldn’t be a better time than now to let the message sink in– deep and with reflection.

Largesse gives the background on the term: size esteem  which was initially coined by Richard Stimson, husband to a contributing director/writer at the site, Karen Stimson who explains it perfectly:

– Feeling acceptance of, respect for, and pride in one’s body, whatever its size or shape

But I like this analogy even more highlighted by Cheri Erdman EdD who wrote the book Live Large! and thought about it as a simple yet poignant equation:  Size Acceptance + Self Esteem = SIZE ESTEEM

Either way you think about it, the insanity of dieting, wanting to force our bodies to be a size/shape it was not genetically determined to be– and thankfully so for the beautiful variety of shapes, sizes, colors, we all add to the collage of life, is quite dubious. 

It’s even further magnified when you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder and are trying to regain your health and follow through with recovery and maintaining wellness in a seemingly endless fat-phobic, diet-crazed, fashion-consumed environment.  Our daughter at times can take on this incessant self-doubt and accusational inquiries about why she has to eat what she has to when others, her classmates, etc. eat less than she does and are constantly discussing “fat” laden topics— it’s enough to make anyone go a little bonkers.  Advertisers, marketing, the health ins field, even health care (hey, let’s face it– those mega-million dollar hospitals that now look more like shopping malls want  to treat the ill business) and the all time winner: the diet industry.

Stuffed and Starved is a title from researcher Raj Patel more about food prices, the global-glut, etc. but I had to think about this a little bit more this morning how it really ties into so many other layers of Life– and will be worth dissecting and playing off the similar as well as dissimilar dualities we can only pretend don’t exist, or just think is someone else’s “problem” to fix, get over, medicate– like the cliched remark I’ve heard countless times since our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia- “why doesn’t she just eat?!”, then the instant turn against parents when our children don’t eat = it’s your fault, you did something “wrong”, etc.

Yes, INDD is a day we find relative and meaningful in our family.  And with the weather reaching low 70’s, sun shining– I think a picnic is just what we’ll do to celebrate this day!

-shanti

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.

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