I know eating disorders are one of the most complex conditions. The process of recovering is often one of the hardest battles a person will face. I grossly underestimated, however the prevalence, demographics and the depth of their impact not just on the person struggling, but on all those who care for them.
My disdain for the word “or” came in fourth grade when I took my first True OR False exam in Science. “True or false, the world has people in it,” the test question mused. “Well,” I thought to myself, “it is true that the world has people in it, but it also has animals and trees and insects…that must mean the answer is false…but the answer couldn’t be false because there ARE people in the world…”
To an individual with an eating disorder, fear foods are foods that Ed prohibits you to eat. Fear foods vary from individual to individual, day to day and sometimes don’t even make sense. No matter what the fear food is, Ed is right there to be sure the rules are followed and it is not eaten. Should a fear food really be feared? Will something bad happen if it is eaten? The answer is NO.
Did you know that Oct. 4 -10 is Mental Health Awareness Week? That’s right, this awareness week began in 1990 when the U.S. Congress recognized the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for all of their work to educate and increase awareness around mental illness. This year, to commemorate this event, NAMI created web and social media initiatives to help break down the facts and figures around mental illnesses.
There is often a misconception that eating disorders are primarily a “young, white woman of privilege” problem and that other races, ethnicities, and cultures do not struggle with the disorder. This can often make it difficult for individuals to enter eating disorder treatment if they do not fit this image. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website, the prevalence of eating disorders in other cultures is unknown as there is limited research into the area of eating disorders and other races/ethnicities/cultures. However, reports of eating disorders in other cultures are on the rise.
Every year around this time memories flood in of back to school and specifically for me back to dance. Dance was (and still is) an integral part of my life and unfortunately so were eating disorders.
“During your cancer treatment, you have no control over your body — you give up your body to your doctor,” said Kathleen Emmets. “You are willing to do it because you want to live. Food restriction is the one thing that you can do to have some sense of control when everything is chaotic.”
At Walden Behavioral Care we strive to individualize eating disorder treatment. To increase the specific services we offer to patients, we have developed “track programs” that are tailored for patients who need support in certain areas. This August, the College Track program for students with eating disorders ran for patients that were heading to college this fall. Whether a new freshman in college, or going back for another year, patients in this program focused not only on learning traditional research-based eating disorder interventions, but also developing skills necessary to managing triggers or scenarios specific to what a college student might encounter on campus.
What if you are a student who is struggling with an eating disorder, but you don't want to admit it? To those students who are not struggling, it might seem obvious that they would reach out for help. There may however, be a plethora of reasons holding this person back from seeking help. If you are college student struggling with an eating disorder, hopefully after reading the common anxieties that often deter college students from seeking treatment, you will feel more encouraged to find yourself the help you deserve.
The often portrayed media image of eating disorders as something that effects only young, white, middle- and upper-class women continues to render many with eating disorders invisible. One such population is people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ).
What is recovery and what does it look like? A big question with a multitude of answers. Back when I was with Ed, someone asked me that question and I responded by saying “I have no idea what recovery looks like, I’m not even sure it exists.”
Everyone has a best-friend, right? A friend that guides you, listens to you, and lends you a hand? They tells you the truth and lets you know how they feel. They help accentuate your strengths and support your goals in life. They stand by your side through thick or thin. What if I told you my best friend at a certain time in my life was not that at all?
As the temperature rises in summer, so can the anxiety around body image. Summer is usually the time for shorts, bathing suits, dresses, and capris. For those in recovery, it can feel overwhelming and scary to think about putting on a bathing suit or a pair of shorts. Despite the fear of it, the negative body image that may arise and Ed yelling at you, you can take steps to enjoy the summer fun!
The world was first introduced to Caitlyn Jenner (formally Bruce Jenner) several days ago, when a sneak peek from the Vanity Fair article chronicling her journey from Bruce to Caitlyn was published.
I know for years you've all known I've had an eating disorder. Even if you didn't understand it or know what an eating disorder was, you knew something was wrong. Confronting someone that has a problem is hard, let alone confronting your best friends, so I understand why you never wanted to bring it up. It's a sensitive subject, I get it.
The prevalence of eating disorders is on the rise, and they are not discriminating against any race, ethnicity, social class, or religion, including members of the Jewish community. The culture of the Jewish people heavily revolves around gatherings with family, friends, and large quantities of food. Each Jewish holiday is associated with a meal consisting of multiple courses.
When an individual is in a relationship with Ed, it’s not a healthy one in many ways; however, when you are in it, you don’t see it as unhealthy. It takes time, patience, trust and commitment to realize the abuse Ed has delivered and the need to break free from him.
Carrie had never been in residential treatment before. She had a long history of treatment in the inpatient and partial levels of care, but found herself missing crucial life skills, including meal preparation, primarily taught in the residential level of care. When her insurance changed and she finally had the benefit, she decided to give residential a try.
Being on the road to recovery is a path I never thought I'd be on. After ten years of repeating the same habits daily, how in the world was I supposed to change? I was constantly asking myself, "do I even want to change? Can I do this on my own?" I certainly could not.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is important to educate our friends, families as well as our communities around this serious subject. Mental health seems to be more visible in the media in recent months stemming from tragedies of celebrities and students across the country. Deaths like that of comedian and actor Robin Williams sparked the conversation of people everywhere to start talking about mental illness, it’s impact on individuals with mental health problems and the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Here are some statistics that show the prevalence of mental health issues.
Insecurities can play a powerful role in anyone’s life. Insecurities are why we hide our flaws and cover up anything that is less than perfect. As the above quote states, our insecurities become more apparent when we are constantly comparing ourselves to the images we see on TV, magazines, and social media. Many patients at Walden Behavioral Care say that they struggle the most with comparison on Instagram and Facebook, as opposed to in the pages of their favorite magazine.
Walden Behavioral Care would like to acknowledge the passing of our colleague and friend Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Lynn was a visionary in the eating disorder field whose passion, dedication and commitment to individuals and families who struggle with eating disorders was always evident and her top priority. She will be missed.
Exercise can do many things. It can regulate mood, relieve anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower the risk of cancer, boost energy, and promote better sleep. Because it’s common for people with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) to struggle with many of the above, Walden Behavioral Care has incorporated Fitness Therapy into their treatment plan.
It took all of my inner strength and courage to come out and admit that...I have an eating disorder. When I say it, my voice lowers, almost to a whisper because it's embarrassing and it's not something I want to share or talk about. When I finally came to understand and realize what was going on I used to say to myself, "It's just a problem I have and I'll have to deal with it for the rest of my life."
Walden Behavioral Care is now offering home-based eating disorder care to adolescents and their families in the Waltham and Worcester areas. The treatment will address the needs of children and adolescents 10-17 years of age who suffer with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), and Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). To give you an overview of the program, we decided to interview Renee Bazinet Nelson, Psy. D., the director of Walden's adolescent services and one of the creators of the home-based care program.
From a clinical standpoint, the most crucial role in Family Based Treatment (FBT) is not necessarily the child’s role but their parents’. When a person is in the midst of their eating disorder it is often very difficult for them to see outside of their preoccupation with continuing to use eating disorder behaviors, and that is exactly where the parents become so important. A parent, or parental figure, is able to remove the responsibility of eating from the child, and become the authority on meal preparation and planning.
March is National Nutrition Month and to commemorate this event we asked one of our dietitians to answer a few questions regarding her chosen profession and the work she does at Walden.
Each year, Walden Behavioral Care commemorates National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) in order to highlight the seriousness of these devastating illnesses. NEDAW’s goal is “to improve public understanding [of eating disorders]…by increasing awareness and access to resources.”
March is National Social Work Month and 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of the National Association of Social Workers. To commemorate this event and to honor this profession, Walden choose to interview, Jennifer Rego, one of our social workers, to find out more about the professional of social work, the job responsibilities associated with the position and the rewards of the job.
Many people with eating disorders are also diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Sometimes these are considered two distinct disorders that need to be managed separately. Research has shown us, however, that the pathology of OCD is markedly similar to some symptoms of eating disorders. That similarity means that many treatment strategies for OCD can also work for eating disorders.
If you take a moment to think about the variety of people you work with, go to school with, live with, or just interact with on a daily basis, you will probably be able to identify a variety of personalities, likes, dislikes, beliefs, and struggles. These individuals and their differences serve to strengthen and enrich families, teams and communities, but they may also present challenges. The same concept applies to the treatment setting. In the same way you may be influenced by a college roommate, a work colleague, or even a close friend, you will be faced with choices, for better or worse, about whether or not to adopt the behaviors of those around you.
I love myself, who I am, and what I have to offer myself and others. Did I always believe that? Nope! Can you say that you love yourself? If you are with Ed, then I can imagine that it is difficult to do. I’m sure he is telling you that you aren’t loveable and can’t offer anything; he told me that when I was with him. If he is telling you that, I am here to tell you that HE IS WRONG. You CAN love yourself. You ARE loveable. You DO have something to offer others.