For parents

I still feel guilty about all of the needless suffering my parents went through in the 6.5 years between my diagnosis and the start of effective treatment. I do know it wasn't my fault- I'm getting a teensy bit better at that.

But a diagnosis of an eating disorder in a child is often confusing and (when you start reading) kind of depressing. Don't get me wrong- an eating disorder is a life threatening illness. But there is also hope, and that's what we all need to cling to as the world gets tipped upside down and shaken like a snow globe.

Laura Collins says it best (from her forum Around the Dinner Table). It's what I wish someone would have told MY parents when I was first diagnosed:

It is not her fault. She is not choosing to do this, to feel this way, to think the way she is. It is a disease - a brain disorder.

It is not your fault. You did not cause it and probably could not have predicted it (unless you were an eating disorder specialist). It was a genetic predisposition that got set off by something (probably malnutrition or energy imbalance due to exercise).

It is fully treatable. With quick and assertive intervention, full nutrition, a lot of emotional and practical support, and time (many months) your daughter can not only recover her health she can be protected from eating disorder in future.

You will get a wide variety of clinical advice. Much of it will be mutually-exclusive. Some of it will be absolutely wrong. The world of eating disorder treatment is undergoing a massive change and that means you have to seek and secure the best care possible. Do not depend on clinicians to tell you what other clinicians offer.

The best evidence for effective treatment of adolescents living at home is "Family-Based" or "Maudsley" treatment. It is not widely available. Some old-school clinicians even advise against it. Research this approach, as others have said, and make up your own mind. It is worth travelling further to get the right treatment for your family than staying close to home and getting inadequate care.

You will be okay. Your daughter and your family can beat this. Do not believe anyone who tells you this is hopeless or that you should sit back and wait or watch - they are wrong.

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Sarah said...

Part of me really wants to show my friend J some online resources to help him and his wife with their daughter. I already told him about Maudsley. But part of me is afraid he'll somehow find my blog.

Hope said...

Oh, yes, I wish we had someone like Laura telling us those things when we started out seven-ish years ago. We suffered through years of ineffective treatment and therapy. We didn't know any other options at the time.

It was a constant search as to "why". Without a lot of real answers. There were many times I would have been grateful to take the entire blame if it had meant getting my daughter the proper help.

What a difference it has made with "family-based" treatment. And taking the blame out of the equation on all sides.

Most of all, there is real hope.

As Laura says:
"Your daughter and your family can beat this. Do not believe anyone who tells you this is hopeless or that you should sit back and wait or watch - they are wrong."

Thank you!!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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