Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Portion of Chapter from Book - Perfectionism

From time to time I'll be posting a portion of a chapter from the book as I'm writing it, these will be in no particular order, the editors will get to choose that. I look forward to hearing your comments.

The current working title is:
Just Tell Her To Stop; Stories of Families Thriving Through the Crisis of An Eating Disorder

CH # __- Perfectionism
A Heartwarming Story of Recovery and Survival - Stacy's story

When Stacy was thirteen, it was during her month-long August visit to her father's home that anorexia got a strong hold on her and took over completely. As soon as she arrived back home just before school began, her mom knew right away what was going on. In spite of getting medical help immediately, it still took ten years of her life away from her. As a thirty-something recovered person, Stacy wanted to make sure you hear what didn't work because she feels that is much more helpful than the clinical information in a textbook. Here is the story of the smartest, sweetest, prettiest and most popular girl in school who was also the best in choir and all of the many clubs she participated in.

Stacy’s Story
Gazing out over the azure-colored sea should have been calming and enjoyable. The blue ripples of water crashed against the shore in a rhythmic motion, and relaxing seemed to be the order of the day on our family vacation to the tropics. I could see my family beginning to unwind and thaw out from our freezing Minnesota winter as we sat in our comfy lounge chairs by the pool overlooking the sea. All I could think about, or I should say, all my eating disorder would let me think about–was food. I couldn't escape it, the anorexia had followed me on our vacation and would steal the precious relaxing moments from me.
Worrying about the next meal, the only thing on my mind was, "Oh no, I have to face food again, I cannot control this anxiety, but I can control what I put into my mouth." How did this happen to me? I hope they don't say anything to me as I push my food around on my plate. Maybe they will be busy enjoying themselves and won't notice. Part of me hopes they will confront me so I can get rid of this cruel best friend I've named “Ed,” “Bully” (when it switched over to bulimia), and “IT.”

Always the perfect little girl, and out of the six kids in our family, I gave my parents the least amount of trouble–that is until Ed showed up. I got good grades, had friends, and didn't try drinking like most teens. My dad is an alcoholic and even at age ten, I was able to connect the dots that I shouldn't drink as a way to control my anxieties, as I would probably follow in his footsteps.

As a quiet ten year old, I knew better than to say anything about the unspoken tension in the house as my parents’ marriage began deteriorating. I just kept doing everything really well–perfect, actually. In fact, I was a normal pre-teen girl who had an emotional issue I needed to deal with, and that was the result of never hearing that the marriage problems weren’t my fault. As is typical with kids, I blamed myself for the failing marriage. The self-blame led to a need to feel control and power, and I used the eating disorders symptoms to accomplish this. That’s when Ed came into my life and I began to abuse food as a way of coping...

If you'd like to see more of this or other chapters take a look at the website where you can purchase one or more chapters for only $9. www.hopenetwork.info

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book Chapter Coming Soon

Watch here for chapters of my upcoming book. I'll be posting chapters for you to read as they are written. Some changes will happen after the editors get their eyes on them but for the most part this is the essence of the book. I've done 19 interviews so far and am writing as much as possible.

I'll be having a contest for best title in the coming weeks so look for that too. Right now the working title is still something like:
Just Tell Her To Stop; Real Tools, Resources and Hope when Loving Someone With an Eating Disorder

Comments are welcome. I am somewhat concerned about "Just Tell Her To Stop" being offensive, but I think most people will get it that being told that is crazy and unhelpful and we've all been told that at one point, which is the point. Hopefully this book will guide people to share with their friends, family, co-workers that it isn't that simple, we cannot just tell an addict to simply stop. If it was that easy, there wouldn't be so many people living with addicitions.

If you have trouble viewing the Retreat Information in the previous post just double click on it and you'll get a larger version. If you still cannot see it then go to Monte Nido's website and you'll be able to find the information from Carolyn Costin.

Nourishing Training Opportunity for Care Providers

Care Providers: Nourish your mind this September in Hawaii while you add more skills for treating your clients with eating disorders. Carolyn Costin of Monte Nido is leading a Retreat for Professionals in the Eating Disorder & Body Image Field. See the attached flyer.

It will be a tough choice to attend this or the NEDA Conference here in Minneapolis, MN as these are at the same time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shame, Denial, Guilt and the media

So, as a parent of someone in eating disorder recovery how often are you feeling like you must have done something wrong in your parenting? How useful is that?

In interviewing a woman in eating disorder recovery for my book for families I learned some interesting lessons about parental Shame, Denial and Guilt. This woman works in the chemical dependency world as well as being in eating disorder recovery herself. She told me how surprised she was that a parent once told her how responsible she felt for giving her child the genes that may have contributed to the child's eating disorder. From the perspective of a chemical dependency professional she was shocked that this mom felt so much control over her child.

Is it control or is it love? A parent I know who has been through al-anon for her son's drug addiction told me that she learned this: Ask once, it's love. Ask twice, it's control. That's an eye opener for parents.

What if we as parents were to let go of feeling guilty or responsible for our children's eating disorders and let them do their recovery and just loved them? What would be available to us then?

This brings me to the media part of the title of today's post. What if we didn't do anything wrong and our kids got some twisted messages from the media that pulled the trigger of the gun that was loaded by their genes?

Take a look at the Dove campaign for real beauty video about the twisted messages the media is giving us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hibyAJOSW8U

Take a deep breath and let go of the Shame, Denial and Guilt and spend the energy loving yourself and your child/husband/friend/co-worker/son/daughter in recovery.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Families who love someone in recovery

My new tentative book title is: Just tell her to stop; Real Stories, hope and help while loving someone in eating disorder recovery

As I am interviewing people for my book, both family members and those who are themselves in recovery I am hearing from those in recovery how important the support and ongoing love from their family and friends has been. Those who are still in the thick of it and those who are years out and living lives free of ED's grasp (many refer to their eating disorder as ED) all tell me that knowing how much someone or somepeople loved them and cared about them helped them keep fighting.

So many family members tell me how frustrated they are that there is seemingly nothing that they can do to help their loved one in recovery to "get better". I hope it helps to know that by simply telling your loved one how much you care and that you believe in them that it makes a difference. I know it may seem like a small thing but when I hear people say that they didn't take their own life (which they were seriously contemplating due to the pain) because they knew it would be so painful for someone who loved them, then it is clear that simply loving someone and letting them know how important they are in your life makes a difference.

In the meanwhile, when you aren't busy telling your loved one in eating disorders recovery how much you care about them...there are other things you can do to take care of yourself. I feel like a broken record sometimes but it is so essential when you care about someone with an addiction that you "put on your oxygen mask first." Whether you care about a person with an eating disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction or another addiction it is imperative to take care of yourself. So, my big tip for the day is: go check out some al-anon meetings. I know it might sound a bit crazy to go to one of those and listen to people talk about their loved one who drinks when you have a child/husband/friend/etc. with an eating disorder. But what do you have to lose but some sleepless nights and a whole lot of worrying. I'm planting this seed now and it may take a while to germinate in you but when you are feeling frustrated and hopeless, pull this crazy idea out of the back of your head and get yourself to an al-anon meeting and see what shows up. It might just give you incredible freedom or peace or joy or the permission to think about something fun instead of: "Will so and so ever get better?" I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment.

Hearing Joe Kelly - Dads and Daughters speak during National Eating Disorders Awareness week was a highlight. Check out his website and blogs: