Almost daily, women write to me in despair, stating that they have been denied treatment because they are ‘too complex’, or ‘we have tried this with you before and it did not work, so we won’t try again’. These are women who want to recover, but are being denied the opportunity. This makes me sad. I hope clinicians – and especially the health providers – everywhere heed this plea on behalf of the adult/long term/chronic sufferer. There is always hope. This is what makes living worthwhile.
I met an amazing young woman, Hays, at the 2011 NEDA conference in Hollywood, when I spoke about Hope at Every Age
. Hays lives in a southern state and is battling really hard right now. She has just been released from hospital and had no choice but to return home alone to her small unit, where she continues to struggle amid her ED’s non stop torment. Hays hopes to enter a treatment centre soon. We hope this can be arranged very soon because, like Andrea, she is extremely unwell.
Speaking of a recovery guide, or a life guide, etc. … June, I have one very vivid memory of the NEDA conference that you experienced, too. Think back to the Q+A after your presentation. There was one, particular question above all others that rings in my ears that I cannot seem to forget, and it was asked by a young woman who seemed to be in her early 30s – very close to my age. She and I were sitting alone in a row towards the back of the conference room. We were about eight chairs apart, and I swear you had our undivided attention because neither of us rustled a program or moved a leg throughout your speech. At the end, we glanced at one another. Her eyes were red as she held back tears, and I, on the other hand, let my flow. We never spoke a word. When your co-presenter asked for questions, the woman near me posed one towards the end of the session. She kind of fumbled for it just a bit, but to me, her question was as clear and as eloquent a one as I had ever heard. You see … she spoke for us both when she asked, “Are there people who kind of help ADULTS with anorexia approach a similar method? (FBT). What about adults whose families cannot intervene?”
Your co-presenter, Assistant Professor Renee Rienecke Hoste (University of Chicago) understandably approached the question very clinically and mentioned treatment centres but was unable to really address the question in the way this woman had hoped. As Renee spoke, the young lady sat back in her chair looking a little defeated. It was not what she wanted to hear, and me either, for that matter. BUT then, you jumped in because YOU got it! You understood. I could tell. You mentioned that there were resources for adults and mentioned the importance of recovery guides and surrounding oneself with a family of choice. You added a few more brief words, and this was good enough for us because you emphasized that there is ALWAYS hope regardless of age. Immediately after my neighbor got her answer, she looked at me and slipped out of the room as if she was embarrassed. More than anything, I wanted to follow her and to tell her she was not alone. There were at least two of us, but I hesitated because I did want to hear the other questions. I never saw her again. But, she knew, and so did I.
June, there has not been one day since the conference in which I have not revisited that snippet of time. I hear her more clearly now as I echo the same question:
Do surregote parents/recovery guides exist who assist adults in the early stages with meals/snacks, etc.?
I have never found them, as I can imagine what an undertaking this would be! But, in my mind, I cannot help but think what a help this would have been for me when I was little or especially right out of college and before my last laundry list of treatment centers. I will never forget reading Harriet Brown’s BRAVE GIRL EATING
when it was hot off the press. I do not remember ordering it, but I do remember reading it in one sitting. And, then rereading it again. And again. At the time I had experienced a series of anorexia-induced seizures, and my treatment team recommended that I move home until I stabilized. While I was living at home that year, my parents and I tried to tackle the eating disorder in our own way with guidance from my txt team. It was a royal mess! But, back to HB’s book … At that time when I was reading it, I kept imagining that I was in her daughter’s place and that HB was fighting on my behalf. It was a great feeling to imagine that a woman whom I had never met was strong enough to override her daughter’s ED until her daughter was strong enough to do it for herself. All I could think at the time was that I wanted a Harriet helping me. Later, one book lead to another in this same vein as I read EATING WITH YOUR ANOREXIC
by Laura Collins. Again, this experience was one I will never forget. I am not sure where I intended to take you with this little journey down my memory lane, but all this to say, I hope the young woman at the NEDA conference found the person(s) she was seeking and so desperately wanted. For me, this discovery process is anything but short, pretty, and neat, but I will always take inspiration and motivation from any source whenever or wherever I can get it whether it be from a Harriet or a Laura who lives only in my mind or an unforgettable woman on a distant continent who lives and breathes HOPE AT ANY AGE.
As for today, June, I will be proactive … Don’t doubt this for a moment. The search results for a treatment centre from yesterday … 2 NO’s and 1 MAYBE. However, like a dog with a bone, I am following up on a few other leads. I will keep you posted…