parents and eating disorders

today we have a guest post by laura collins, mother to a daughter who struggled with anorexia, and an activist in the movement to help people with eating disorders. you have probably met her already – she’s contributed some posts to our carnival of eating disorders, from her blog eating with your anorexic.

isabella was kind enough to ask me to write a bit about a new project: F.E.A.S.T. (parents empowered and supporting treatment for eating disorders).

F.E.A.S.T. is really the culmination of six years of networking and information-gathering since my daughter recovered from anorexia nervosa. when my daughter became ill i was as clueless and lost and frightened as any parent. i found the treatment world unimpressed with my willingness, and eagerness, to help my daughter recover. my husband and i felt – because we were – blamed and marginalized.

but we were lucky: our daughter’s illness coincided with a change coming about in the ED world: a growing realization that eating disorders are biologically based brain disease. this knowledge has caused a treatment world that had been focused elsewhere to reconsider the role of parents and carers in the treatment process. instead of seeing parents as either pathological or unnecessary, parents were beginning to be trusted as appropriate caregivers and resources. our family was lucky to have ridden that wave – but i quickly realized that change is very slow and that most parents even today are not being told that their child’s eating disorder is not a choice – and is not something they have caused or erred in not preventing. the blaming of patients and families is still going on – and this is damaging patients and families.

my work as an activist – giving talks, writing articles, offering online resources and years of an online forum – have taught me the power of parents to support a loved one toward recovery. i’ve also learned the collective power of parents, and the damage of the collective silence of ED parents. we’ve stayed quiet out of fear and guilt. when we let go of fear, and reject the blame, we can do great things.

F.E.A.S.T. is a way to empower parents with information, mutual support, and activism. i am so excited to be part of this.

supporting the family is one way to support patients – our loved ones. no parent should feel helpless or alone!

i think it’s important to take into consideration all the many points of view on mental health issues such as eating disorders. while my theoretical perspective on anorexia is a bit different from laura’s, i have great respect for her work, and am honoured that she allowed me to present her new oragnization here on change therapy.

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