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Having been on the receiving end of many of these phrases and been made to feel like it is my burden alone to carry, it is time many of our called Christian favourite pull-out phrases go under the microscope. We tout these out making us feel like we have responded in a caring, Christian manner when in fact we have only added to the isolation and pain. Some of the responses below aren’t even biblical. Like many other sayings, they have come about from home spun, pull yourself up theology. I never want to be on the receiving end of these again, nor do I want to ever find myself saying them to someone in painful, messy, traumatic circumstances. Instead I hope to offer practical help, just turn up with the cleaning gear, the meal, the hug and never ever offer empty phrases or wait to be asked to help out. It also means forgiving those, who in their narrowness and inabilities, didn’t intentionally mean to harm. And hope through grace and maturity will grow to be more caring and embracing of pain in others.

Marilyn R. Gardner

crisis

  1. God will never give you more than you can handle. While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami. A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.
  2. It gets better. Yes, yes it does. But right then, it’s not better. And before it gets better, it may get way worse.
  3. When God shuts a door, he opens a window. Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe he just shuts a door. Maybe there is no window. There was no window for Job. There was a cosmic battle that raged as he sat in distress. There…

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(… or reflections on our anorexia journey)

The uni break went so quick. One minute she is home, next minute gone. lol, well almost. She went back earlier, so excited for the new unit, then realised she was back way too early and desperately homesick this time. She came back home, instead of toughing it out. She said she had a much better chance of not falling into depression or anxiety by coming back home. As always I observe everything she says and does. Sophie’s maturity surprises me to the level she has achieved (within a mere several months), her insight and empathy (so apparently missing) is finally blossoming. Doesn’t mean she was always calm and not hysterical at times, but a definite switch. Before she went back, the aspie side of Sophie was all organised. Doctor appointments made, counselling appt made, new referral appt with ED specialist made, classes sorted, disability needs sorted. She just ploughed through it all. This is the plus side of having aspergers.

The new ED specialist is more of a counsellor but has the insight and understanding of what having an eating disorder in your past means for you presently and how you relate and cope with life. Whilst Sophie has to travel to this centre, I am pleased she has taken this on board as an extra coping and learning tool.

It is also time to start weaning her anti-depressant medication. Five years is a long time to be on the medication, and now is the time to slowly (painfully slowly) wean her off and see how she responds.

For me it’s been a time of great reflection. 5.5 years into this, 5 years from diagnosis, 3.5 years from full weight stabilisation, 1-1.5 years with no anorexia behaviour or thoughts. It’s been an amazing ride, that only those who have been here know how crazy, mixed up, painful, the intense highs and the intense lows. Moving from small picture, every moment, every day stuff to big picture stuff that encompasses months. Being part of a new parent support group too, has been part of this reflection. I have had to think back to the very beginning, remember things I thought I had put away forever. It’s actually been a painful journey for me, but it has honed my thoughts and beliefs about eating disorders and taught me to be far more articulate and to advocate on a higher level.

Thought I would put together a summary – seems a timely thing really.

our anorexia journey

Biggest Mistake
* under estimating how long, painful and soul destroying this journey is
* feeling guilty that I had somehow caused this

Biggest Misunderstanding
* that we could get through this in a couple of months – not years

Biggest Regret
* not demanding more from the health system around us or challenging the wrong beliefs at the time

Biggest Fear
* wondering if at times I could continue to care for her
* her dying before we could turn this around into recovery

Biggest Lesson
* how quickly you go from health to critical and in a hospital bed
* how you can never never negotiate with an eating disorder
* your child is totally separate to the eating disorder behaviour
* comorbid illness are a part of eating disorders and make the struggle to recover harder and can become a part of life afterwards

Biggest Myth
* you don’t have to be skeletal to have anorexia
* relapse is a valid and normal part of recovery not something dangerous, fearful or not normal
* tube feeding is not a shame or psychological issue. Not now. Older women struggle with this and parents have their own hangups about this. The reality is very different for those in their teens who are tubed fed.

Biggest Support
* those I met going through this journey who were travelling it too
* having an amazing, strong, recovery focused team of five professionals

Biggest Surprise
* the inner eating disorder voice in my daughter’s mind. Like getting to know the devil himself.

Biggest Problem
* health professionals who still do not know how to diagnose or treat eating disorders
* the lack of resources (both money and treatment) for parents and sufferers to access to get treatment and recover.
* the different approach, government understanding and health systems in each country that actually hamper treatment when the illness itself is the same regardless of country.

What I did Right
* early detection, early intervention
* standing with her despite the horrors of the illness and behaviour and walking with her to recovery

What Benefits Did We Gain
* obviously my daughter’s life and health but also gaining a deep, close and open relationship with my daughter
* gaining some wonderful new friends who truly understood and still stand by us
* an intimate and highly experienced understanding and knowledge of eating disorders that we can share with others

What Did We Lose
* the years my daughter cannot get back of her normal growing up time with her peers
* friends

Before Anorexia
* my daughter was anxious, highly strung, a perfectionist, a misunderstood kid with her peers
* I thought I had a plan mapped out for some kind of normal existence like every other family raising teenage kids
* I thought I was already a strong mum because of domestic violence.

After Anorexia
* my daughter knows herself so well compared to other kids her age. Whilst this is a plus it is also a negative, as she struggles to find a close friend
* I learned I am stronger than I thought, I learned a deeper side of me, and I learned the dreams I had no longer ‘do it for me’. I search deeper.
* I am still finding who I am now, I no longer want the same dreams. I still struggle to find my way around a kitchen after so many years tied to anorexia cooking and preparation.

The Blog Role
* ended up being far more than I ever thought, and gained me so much privilege to talk to others on all levels in this journey. Thank you!

What would I do Differently
This is very personal. It would be to leave our dysfunctional family domestic violent life instead of waiting til further into recovery. I had planned to leave just before my daughter started down the slippery slope. I thought (wrongly) that staying might have been better for her health. It would have given full FBT a better chance and a safe environment that had no anger, expectations, eggshells etc in it.

Family Based Therapy
That eating disorder recovery is NOT a one-size fits all. Despite the best statistics, FBT (Maudsley, FEAST, FBT types) don’t always work for some families. This is not a point to be guilty about or feel like you have failed. It just is. Means you just go and find what does work for your family and how to care. As long as there is forward progress into recovery then you are going great with whatever you are doing.

Families are not to blame
I will keep saying this shouting it from everywhere. Eating disorders are genetic based. Families do not cause eating disorder and are not to blame for an ED developing.

Overall
My faith took a pounding, became far more realistic and more honest. Like David I adore but I will question and ask.

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Hope you all had a lovely Christmas with your families and friends. Granted this time of year can be an utter minefield of surviving the family and meals – and that’s just those of us who are healthy! Whatever the day brought I hope you came through in one piece.

It’s update time on how my two are going – thanks for the reminders all. It has been quite a while since I did this. lol, just realised too how out of date my Tumblr profile was, so have updated that too.

Soph, despite the weight loss, is really good. My fears of her being perhaps compromised by the anorexic voice are so far unfounded. She eats widely and varied, flexible and with seemingly no barriers. Her weight loss comes from actually doing some activity instead of sitting in her room on her computer, 24/7, lol. Through all the refeeding, weight stabilisation and long term monitoring with no exercise her body hadn’t ‘repositioned’ the gained weight. Now it has. Normal activity, like walking, has put her right where her body needs to be and the ‘fluffy weight’ is now fully distributed. Her body stores would also be complete. What is now important is for her to not let go of the therapy net around her and continue to monitor and be vigilant about her health. She has a new psychologist for next year, who specialises in ED’s and is on the medicare funding – great for uni students. This combined with the normal uni counsellor (who focuses on Sophie’s personality and emotions) should help her through. LOL, though I think total breakdown towards the end of each semester is on the cards, with mum as first point of call.

Will, is ok. Look really don’t know what else to say. He is surviving and getting through each day. Has dropped out of school (read frustrated mama), but does have goals. As he said, “it still hurts and nothing has changed that way, but I do have goals now”. To me that is huge and maybe he will be alright. As for the new psychiatrist grrrr. Enough time to oversee medication, hand over a new script and ‘see you in two months time’. Oh and sorry this appointment is only for 1/2 hr. Only special asking will get you more time with me!! Seriously!

And there you have it. This last post of this year, compared to my others done at this time of year, is the most positive we have had. 🙂

Thank you to all for the emails of telling me your stories, of where you are, of what it means to live with the eating disorder in your life or your child’s life. Thank you for being part of my world and letting me share in a small part of yours. It is indeed a privilege. To all may the New Year bring you hope, may change happen in a positive way and there is movement forward. xx

Finding hope

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This come courtesy from Weightless. It is good advice all round – regardless of what illness or pain we have in the household and how to cherish each other and our relationships.

Be someone's safe placeListen to your loved one without judging or criticizing them.

Listen without fiddling with your phone.

Listen without interrupting.

Be curious. Don’t jump to conclusions, and assume you know what they’re going to say or why they feel the way they feel. Ask open-ended questions.

Don’t bash others’ bodies or your own in front of your loved ones.

Don’t make negative comments about their body.

Don’t make comments about the calories in their food or how much they’re eating (e.g., “Wow, you can really put ‘em away!” “Are you sure you want that second helping?”)

Avoid saying “You’ve lost weight! You look great!” We never know why someone might’ve lost weight. They might’ve been terribly sick or stressed out. They might’ve just stopped a restrictive diet. They might have an unhealthy relationship with food. In other words, we just never know. It also makes people wonder, “did I look bad before?” Either way, it can be potentially upsetting or triggering for someone.

Respect their boundaries. Let them decline invitations they’re not interested in. Give them the space to say no to extra commitments. If they’re not ready to reveal what’s bothering them, try to respect that, too.

Hug them.

Hold their hand.

Tell them you love them.

Tell them why you love them.

If you feel comfortable, be vulnerable with them.

Keep their secrets secret.

If you find yourself getting angry, take a break. Take a breather. No one feels safe opening up to someone who’s boiling over and yelling.

Validate their feelings. Let them feel what they’re feeling. They’re not wrong, weak or selfish for having those feelings. Again, get curious.

Why are you feeling this way? What happened? Help me understand how you’re feeling.

Ask how you can help: What can I do for you? How can I help you with this? What do you need? Ask this regularly.

Ask them directly about safety and self-care: How do you feel safe? How can I help you to feel safe? To take kinder care of yourself? To feel the way you’d like to feel?

Of course, we may try our best to create a safe space for our loved ones, and we may mess up, because, well, we’re human. These are just suggestions and reminders that we can do many things to help others feel safe, too. When we inevitably make a mistake, we can be honest, we can apologize, and we can keep trying.

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People tend to think that all is well from their external observation, Sophie is in recovery and life is moving forward rather than backwards. A very easy assumption to make, after all she has been in a good stage of recovery for sometime now, so of course you should have all moved on.

Wrong.Families in mental health recovery

Sophie is still dealing with the legacy of having anorexia. The dreams, sudden fears and panic attacks of slipping backward, the literal distance between her and me and being unable to cope on her own at times. She still doesn’t know how to talk to someone else outside of the family and therapy people about her illness. She fears that knowledge in the hands of others will mark her out as ‘always the anorexic’. She is still finding it overwhelming dealing with feelings and emotions after being numb for so long. It literally floors her until she can find the path through all the emotional forest to the other side.

Her brothers still have questions, and have had their own therapy sessions this year in talking about how ti was for them. Again they don’t want to talk to anyone other than a qualified therapist. It is all too hard, and they find no one else barely understands what it was like for them. As for Will, I cannot even begin to express where he is just now.

As for me, the mum, in all this, I too am on the recovery road still from the anorexia. It sill brings fears when I hear Sophie say certain things or do certain things. Fear that she may be slipping, or her mind is still doing un-conscience ED behaviours. I still find myself feeding her more than she needs. I still remember too closely the feelings, fears and awfulness of that whole time. As much as I am moving away and stepping into a new life, the past is still there. And as any mum/parent is aware, the thought and knowledge that this can all happen again – very easily. I too still use therapy as I reach each next stage of recovery to point to the next stage and steps. This is where my faith steps in and holds me strong. Without God I could not let Sophie go as easily as I have and live her own life in a different city. I trust Him with her safety and her recovery.

It takes a long time to develop an eating disorder, it takes even long to recover. It is never just the suffer who experiences this, but the family, loved ones around them. There is no timeline for ‘being recovered’ for anyone involved. As humans, there is grief, guilt, change, relationships and trauma (all part of the anorexia experience)  that have to be travelled and sorted before we can smile again at the future. Be gentle with us who are in recovery. Don’t expect too much, or expect us to bare our souls to you. It takes time.

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Eating Disorder Recovery: Overcoming Denial of Your Past

Boy facing fearsIndividuals with an eating disorder or disordered eating are often unaware of the source of their pain. In order to begin the recovery process, they first must discover the wellspring of pain from the past. Denial is a significant detour in that quest.

There are two kinds of denial. The first is your own denial of what has happened to you. This may take the form of doubting that what you remember ever took place. Because the abuse has been denied, it may take on an unreal quality when remembered. Almost as if it happened to someone else. If the abuse is remembered, it is often seen through the prism that “explains” why the abuse was not really abuse after all.

Denial enters through self-talk. These are the messages repeated over and over to ourselves as we try to deal with the pain and our relationship with food. Thoughts of “nobody’s home is perfect” or “it could have been worse” or “it wasn’t that bad” or “there’s nothing I can do about it now” allow you to minimize the damage. “I should be strong enough to deal with this on my own” or “everyone turns to food when they’re down” increases frustration at the inability to bring the eating disorder or disordered eating under control.

But denial, this minimization of the pain, is merely a coping mechanism to keep the pain at bay. Denial is the ticket that allows you to transform life-altering pain into that limbo state of “not that bad.” If it is “not that bad,” you believe you can find the strength to go on.

The other form of denial comes from the person or people who hurt you. They may deny that the abuse ever took place or that there was not anything wrong with it if it did. He or she may accept that the event or events happened but deny responsibility or minimize the damage. This can happen regardless of the nature of the abuse. Whether the piece was a single, specific event, or a pattern of hurtful behavior carried over out a number of years, this person may refuse to accept the ramifications of his or her actions.

This person may even attempt to make you feel responsible for the abuse itself or responsible for your “version” of the events. They may deny the damage by calling into question your natural response to the damage.  It is to his or her benefit that denial goes both ways—their denial of the event and your denial of the damage done. They may resist acknowledging your eating disorder or the place food now has in your life, because acknowledgment means recognizing the abuse or pattern of hurtful behavior behind it.

So the responsibility for the abuse itself and the resulting eating disorder could be shoved back at you, increasing stress surrounding your eating disorder or pattern with you, escalating its progression. As this escalates, it becomes easier to focus your attention solely on its progress, diverting attention from the root cause.

The desire to go back and rewrite your past is seductive, especially if your past was one of the abuse and pain. Denial allows you to do just that. Denial takes the pages of your past and alters them according to “if onlys,” or it substitutes blank pages for the pain that is really there.

A familiar proverb assures us that those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. You can also be said that those who deny the events of their own history are doomed to relive them. To deny abuse is to perpetuate it. The only way to stop the chain of abuse is to stop denying the truth of that abuse.

Each of us is the product of our experiences, and not one of us is immune to the pain they have cost us. We may not be able to control what happened to us, but we can control who we become as a result of those past events.

First, however, we need to look at those experiences honestly. The light of reality can seem harsh and bright to those who have been hiding from the truth. Clarity and detail spring forth from the light of truth.

 

http://www.caringonline.com/our-blog/overcoming-denial-of-your-past/

Excerpts taken from Gregory L. Jantz, Hope, Help & Healing From Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach To Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating, WaterBrook 2010.

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This post by Jodie Gale sums up beautifully why people avoid therapy. Her 25 points of what you gain from therapy is also worth reading.

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Here are some common mindsets that might be holding you back:

I must be sick, diseased, broken or just plain crazy if I need therapy

All sorts of people come to therapy with all sorts of problems. Many also come, not because they feel there is something wrong, but because they want to get to know themselves better, to ponder the meaning of life or to unleash their creative and authentic selves. As a society, we need to change the way we think and talk about therapy. Ultimately, therapy is a creative process whereby you will learn how to build a healthy relationship with self and others.

Why should I be the one to do all the work once again?

How are you neglecting, re-wounding or punishing yourself by staying stuck in anger or pain? Investing in therapy and taking responsibility for where you are in the present moment does not let whoever hurt or abused you off the hook; it lets you off the hook. Therapy can help you to move forward with your life regardless of your history.

I have tried therapy before and it didn’t work

Perhaps try again with a different therapist and / or a different style of therapy. When I choose a therapist, I always go with my gut – never by location, cost or whether a rebate is available. Good therapy is worth its weight in gold and many people travel to the other side of town for the right therapist. It is perfectly acceptable to interview a few therapists before making a decision. Also, therapy takes a commitment in relation to time, money and relationship with self – so the timing needs to be right! If you are unhappy at any stage with your therapist, it is worth sharing your feelings so that you and the therapist can work through it together.

What’s the point? I am beyond help

Somewhere you have learnt that you are not worth it.

When we are struggling with toxic shame, low self-worth and a sense of feeling flawed at the core, it is difficult to see that we are indeed worth investing in ourselves. It’s important that we don’t believe everything we think! It could be one of our subpersonalities such as the ‘inner critic’ or the ‘internal saboteur’.

You are worth it and the point is you. Therapy can help you to realise this.

Therapy takes too long

Clients report feeling better at the end of the first session, are making healthy lifestyle changes after just a few sessions and many see a significant difference in their lives within three to six months. Yes…it is rare that long-term healing occurs within the limited number of sessions provided by Medicare. Yes, therapy does take time, money and commitment. But…what is the alternative?

Try reflecting on these important questions:

  • How long have you been suffering?
  • How is the way that you are currently dealing with your suffering working for you?
  • If things stay as they are, how will you feel this time next year?
  • How would you like your life to be by this time next year?

It is tempting to go for a quick fix solution. There isn’t one. How long you will be in therapy is ultimately up to you but healing takes time. Allow yourself the time to heal – you’re worth it!

Therapists charge too much

Psychotherapists and counsellors with rigorous training are highly skilled professionals. They often train longer than lawyers, doctors and dentists. To maintain a high level of psychological safety for their clients, psychotherapists often invest in their own weekly psychotherapy as well as a period of group therapy. They are required to participate in at least 20 hours of continued professional development a year as well as monthly clinical supervision. Therapists also pay for association registration, insurance, room overheads, marketing and website development. Rarely do therapists overcharge for their time and in fact, they are one of the only professions to offer a sliding fee scale!

I can’t afford therapy because I can’t get the Medicare rebate with my counsellor or psychotherapist of choice

The Medicare rebate is currently at around $85 in Australia. The fee for Medicare providers is around $150-$200; therefore the out of pocket cost is anywhere between $65- $115. The average counselling / psychotherapy fee with a non-Medicare provider is between $75-$130 so it works out much of a muchness. One problem with relying on a Medicare rebate is that the limited number of sessions provided are rarely enough and this can result in revolving door syndrome or therapist hopping. See Why pay out of pocket? for more reasons why paying privately is conducive to your emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

I can’t afford therapy

Many of us spend hundreds of dollars each week trying to boost our esteem, pleasure seeking, wasting money, being overly restrictive with money to save for the future and by soothing our unbearable feelings, dependencies and addictions. But at what cost?

How much money ($AU) are you wasting that you could be investing in your well-being?

  • Taking a gram of coke = approx. $300.
  • Drinking a bottle of bubbly/wine a night = approx.  $70 a week.
  • Smoking a packet of ciggies a day = $105 a week.
  • Gambling on the pokies = $$$.
  • A night of binge drinking $100-$300.
  • Bingeing on food and overeating at meals = $$$.
  • Buying takeaways = approx. $140 a week.
  • Joining diet clubs over and over again and purchasing their weekly menu = $120-$150 a week.
  • A gym membership that is excessively used or never used = $30 a week.
  • A shopping spree = $$$ on new clothes, often left unworn.
  • Working excessive hours, in a job you hate, neglecting the family to earn more $$$ that you then spend trying to make your family happy.
  • Buying stuff, stuff and more stuff for the kids thinking it will make them happy or because you feel guilty.
  • $$$ on anti-ageing, make-up or plastic surgery because you are not happy with your appearance.
  • $$$ on medication because you are sick all the time.
  • Expensive holidays  – only to spend the whole holiday sick because you are so run down.
  • Expensive health retreats that you are not able to integrate and follow through with on your return.

Are any of the above costing your emotional, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing?

I really can’t afford therapy

Unfortunately, many counselling and psychotherapy services are currently not provided for, as they should be, by government mental health plans.

There are some other options available:

  • Ask your therapist of choice if they have a sliding fee scale
  • Ask work if they have an Employee Assistance Program
  • Ring around counselling and psychotherapy training organisations for reduced fee or free therapy. Choose a training organisation where their students must participate in a significant amount of their own therapy.
  • There are numerous help lines that offer free telephone counselling for crises e.g. Rape Crisis, Lifeline and Financial counselling
  • Join group therapy – approximately $50-$100 a group
  • Join a self-help group – many organisations such as eating disorder foundations run groups at little or no cost.
  • Join a 12 step program – there are groups for gambling, sex addiction, narcotics, alcohol, children of alcoholics, overeating and co-dependency. Often this requires a minimal donation to go towards tea and coffee.
  • Join a self-development workshop through a local community college – they cover everything from building self-esteem, how to manage money to creating emotional intelligence
  • Build self-worth through self-help. Borrow or buy self-help books, watch some TED talks/YouTube clips or listen to podcasts – there are 1000s available free of charge.
  • Boost your well-being by taking care of diet and exercise regularly to boost the ‘feel good’ hormones in the brain.
  • Ask for a raise, work towards a promotion at work or upgrade to a job that mirrors and affirms your worth.

The cost of ignoring the call of the Self

The Self calls us towards our innate wholeness in mysterious ways; symptoms, health breakdowns, life-crises or perhaps through a peak spiritual awakening. The more we ignore the call, the louder the knocking becomes. It pays to invest in our emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being before crisis comes a knocking!

See more at: http://jodiegale.com/therapy-rocks-why-invest-in-therapy-because-youre-worth-it-part-2/#sthash.T3dSLnwl.dpuf

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