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.

Life Without Ed

For those of you who have not heard the name Jenni Schaefer before, I would highly encourage you to get to know her name. She is an ambassador with with National Eating Disorders Association, a gifted singer and song writer, and a survivor of disordered eating.

In her amazing book “Life Without Ed” she writes short, concise chapters dedicated to divorcing oneself from an eating disorder – or “Ed”.

To think about an eating disorder in the context of a tumutulous, controlling, abusive relationship as Jenni describes in her book gives one a sense that they can say “no” to the voice of Ed in their head. Ed is persuasive, smooth, convincing, attractive, comforting and familiar – just to name a few characteristics; however, he is also oppressive, manipulative, lying, deceitful, vindictive and ultimately, deadly.

They say it takes an abused woman and average of seven times to leave her partner, with Ed, life may not be that much different for those that try to separate from him on their own. Yet, for those that have a “safe house” to run to, including a support system that includes family, friends and a team of eating disorder specialists and the self determination to divorce Ed and live the life they dreamed of, a life of freedom and fulfillment, it doesn’t have to take more than one shot at separating yourself from Ed. Yes, there may be setbacks, relapse and plain ol’ bad days, but ultimately, with diligence and an unwavering commitment to health, Ed can be left in the dust and life can be lived to the full.

Check out more of Jenni Schaefer at http://www.jennischaefer.com/

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!”