Where the heck did this come from?

Many people ask me about where eating disorders come from or why they develop in some people and not others. To be honest, there is no hard and fast answer to that question. At the time that I am helping an individual in the early stages of an eating disorder, we really don’t concern ourselves with the why or how the eating disorder began (the “etiology” if we are getting technical). We focus on the here and now and about getting medication (food) into the body and keeping it there (not engaging in purging behaviors) until the body has reached a healthy state.

I liken this to someone being ill with cancer. The first course of action is not to talk about the reasons why or the childhood factors that the individual may have experienced that lead to the cancer – that would not contribute at all the curing the cancer, what you would do is treat the cancer as quickly as you could with appropriate medication.

Once sustained health has been reached, we can definitely deal with the issues that may still be lingering and look at some of the issues that may have had a hand in contributing to the severity of the eating disorder.

The worst thing a parent can do when their child is affected by an eating disorder (ED) is to feel a sense of guilt and shame about their child’s eating disorder -that it must have been something they said or did that caused the ED. Parents of children with ED’s have no more reason to feel guilt than parents who’s child is affected by any other illness, be it cancer, cystic fibrosis or asthma, yet for some reason there is an enormous sense of guilt that parents of children with ED. This guilt debilitates parents to help their child; it takes away any sense of empowerment that parents might have to be the best advocates to restore health in their children.

This guilt causes parents to hand over complete control to health care providers who don’t know the heart and soul of the child, who didn’t raise the child and nourish the child from a helpless newborn to the person they are today. The guilt puts a barrier between the parents and restored health and I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Parents are the #1 champion for their children overcoming eating disorders. No one knows, loves, cares for a child like their parents do. No one knows the books they love, the smells that make them smile, the memories that light up their child’s face like a parent does. No one can offer them the comfort, love and compassion that they need when fighting an eating disorder in a more soothing way than their parents can.

As a counsellor, a large part of my role is removing the guilt that a parent feels and replacing it with a sense of empowerment, a sense that they are the best people to help their child recover. Reminding them that when their child was sick with the flu, they new – intuitively – how to renourish their child to restored health, and in the same way, when their child is ill and suffering with ED, in conjunction with a team of health care professionals, they can once again restore their child to optimal health.

By giving parents back the confidence they once had to raise healthy, vibrant children, they can end up being the exact medicine the doctor ordered.

Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill

Wise, wise words from an old friend of mine (at least I like to think we would have been friends back in the day), Mr. Winston Churchill.

One of the hardest struggles in recovering from an eating disorder is the frequent feeling of taking two steps forward and three back. Be it a rogue comment from a cashier, an overwhelming feeling of panic surrounding a meal, an unexpected life event can all send an individual with an eating disorder reeling and feeling like they are back to where they started, just when they thought they were making progress.

An eating disorder (ED) often grabs a hold of a one’s life slowly, and at first it can be so seductive, he (ED) eases his way in, “oh, wouldn’t it be great to lose five pounds”, “I think I’m going to try going (insert favorite diet fad here)”, “I think I’m going to start training for (insert exercise option here)”. For most, those statements wouldn’t be a big deal and after a five pound loss, or a shift in what the composition of your dinner plate looks like, or once a race is complete, it’s onto the next change, like putting a deck on the patio, planning that trip to Europe, or thinking about a career change. For others, it can be the start of opening the door just a crack to let ED in to their life, and once he’s got a foot in the door, it’s only a matter of time before he makes himself extremely comfortable in your house (a.k.a. your body) and he starts rearranging your life around his agenda and before you even know it, you’ve been taken hostage, ED is in complete control.

I really don’t believe anyone sets out to have an eating disorder. They are truly horrible and take up room in every ounce of your being when they are full blown. They make you miserable, sad, depressed, anxious, isolated, trapped.

Having ED move into your life is really like being in an abusive relationship – you never entered into it thinking every detail of your life would be taken hostage and controlled, but alas it happens, and though you want to leave the relationship, ED locks all the doors and dangles the keys in front of you and tells you there is no way out. But I am here to tell you, there is a way out ED, there is always a way out.

See as much as I don’t believe anyone sets out to have ED control their life, I also don’t believe ED attacks weak people, that is much too easy for him. He attacks those who have the most to offer this world. Those with a message, a sense of purpose, those who want to better the lives of others. ED wants to get in their way and stop the positivity and greatness that would be spread through those he attacks. So even in the darkest room, there will always be a glimmer of light for those trapped by ED and all you need to do is move to the light and chip away the wall until more and more light begins to break through. It may take weeks, months, years to chip away at ED’s barriers – after all, it took him that long to move in – but over time, the walls will be broken and light will burst forth for all to see and ED will have no choice but to get the heck out of there and let your light shine!

Insta-great!

If there is one single thing that scares me about raising a daughter in this world, it is how accessible the technological world is around her.

She is already a child genius when it comes to operating my iphone to play educational games that I have downloaded for her, and I am sure, at around age 5, she’ll likely be able to set up her own Twitter account to tweet all her kindergarten peeps about what mama packed her in her bento box at school today.

It’s absolutely terrifying what is posted on the world wide web these days, and with such ease. My three year old daughter already knows how to go onto You Tube and watch her favorite cartoon, I know it will likely only be a matter of time before she is coming across totally inappropriate material, just by chance.

That is why I am so grateful that companies like Instagram are including statements like this:

Don’t promote or glorify self-harm: While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.

in their community guidelines.

Good for you Instagram. Let’s just hope the rest of the internet world follows in your lovely footsteps.

Please read the blog that inspired this post:

http://greatist.com/health/instagram-banned-hashtags#pane-node-comment-form

 

Hide the bump!

*SIDE BAR: This entry may be served with a side of sarcasm*

If there is one thing pregnant women and brand new moms definitely need to hear more about it’s how quickly we can lose the weight we gain in pregnancy.

Flip through any number of tabloid magazines and you will be sure to find an article (or three) that glamourize how quickly new Hollywood moms have shed those pesky pregnancy pounds, like they were evil baggage that needed to be cast away into eternal darkness. Heaven forbid anyone should think that a parent’s most precious gift in the world should cost you 25-30 healthy pounds over 9 months! No, let no one think you gained ANYTHING! Perhaps don’t even leave the maternity ward until you can fit back into your pre-pregnacy jeans. May I suggest a strict diet of green hospital Jell-O to return you back to skinny jean size.

Hollywood, how about writing about how new moms are REALLY doing? How about letting us into the post-pardom that new moms may be feeling? How about letting us know how those first few days of breastfeeding can bring a whole new kinda pain! How about those sleepless nights…..oh wait, there are Hollywood wet nurses for that right – you don’t know about those sleepless nights.

No surprise we are hearing about more cases of pregorexia, emerge as we continue to be bombarded with social media that wants to erase any sign that we may have carried a child for 9 precious months of our lives.

Find out more information about pregorexia and gain insight through one women’s story here http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/987779/pregorexia-eating-disorders-and-pregnancy

Sticks & stones may break my bones but words change a diagnosis

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a tool health care professionals use to diagnose psychiatric disorders. To be diagnosed one must meet the minimum, strictly defined criteria as outlined in the DSM.

The 5th edition of the DSM was published on May 18, 2013 (the 4th version came out in 1994). In this newest version, they have omitted the weight requirements to be diagnosed as anorexic to encourage clinicians to use their own judgement to decide whether a patient’s weight is significantly low. In addition, in earlier versions of the DSM a requirement of amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods for at least three month) needed to be met to diagnose anorexia nervosa, where as in the new version of the DSM it does not. This means that many people who we view as clearly having anorexia today would not have received the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa before the release of the most recent version of the DSM – based solely on some words that changed in a book.

This challenges the notion that eating disorders depend largely on ones weight or appearance and instead moves to the idea that anyBODY is capable to house a tumultuous, life robbing, eating disorder.

Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill

Wise words from Mr. Churchill.

How often do most of us feel like throwing in the towel when things don’t go how we planned, when our hard work and effort doesn’t pay off the way we intended it to.

For those with eating disorders (ED’s) a feeling of having taken two steps forward and followed by three back is not uncommon. It could be a comment, a meal, a glance, a faulty mirror, a number on the scale that could send someone with an ED tailspinning back to where they started. I often felt this way in my recovery. I would be working so incredibly hard, swimming upstream constantly, weary, tired, exhausted and then a day would come along where I would feel so fat, or the number on the scale at the doctors office wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I would be sent spiraling back down the mountain to where my climb had began.

It took constant reminders from loved ones, books, inspirational leaders to remember to never, ever, ever give up. My favorite quote is from Confucious, who said:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

Check out these famous who at first failed, but never, never, never gave up:

50 Famous People Who Failed at Their First Attempt at Career Success

Now, in the words of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, “Go take on the day!”