Eating Disorder Question Answered: What Role Do Parents Play in Their Child’s Eating Disorder Remission?
The first thing I did when I came home yesterday afternoon was collapse on my rat’s nest of a bed. Though I had done nothing but sit in a cramped Ford for eight long hours, my body felt like every ounce of energy had been drained out of it. My muscles felt as wobbly and weak as jello, my brain felt cloudy, and my eyes fluttered like the delicate wings of a baby robin as I fought to stay awake.
As my exhausted sunk into the comfort of my mattress, memories of the past eight days played like a film in my mind’s eye. There were images of summer sun dancing on my grandparents’ crystal clear pond at their farm, images of my aunt’s face beaming with excitement as she fed a llama at the zoo, and images of my grandparents waving goodbye at the crowded McDonald’s where my mom picked me up to take me home.
With each beautiful memory, I could feel myself drowning in an ocean of regret. For far too long I hadn’t any one-on-one time with my grandparents at their home in the serene Michigan countryside. Why? Because my eating disorder kept me locked in my house – a place where everything consumed could be under its strict control. My eating disorder was well aware that if I were to go to my grandparents’, I would be forced to eat at unfamiliar times and ingest items it had forbidden to enter my mouth.
Now that I have grown older and stronger, I wish I never let my eating disorder keep me away from the love of my grandparents. Every moment I spent trapped its prison, was a moment I could have spent with listening to the song of my grandma’s laughter or seeing the infectious smile that always lights up my grandpa’s wrinkled face.
Please take it from a girl whose lost more than half her life to an eating disorder and go and see your grandparents. Don’t let your own eating disorder scare you out of it because if there one thing I wish I would have realized, it is that life doesn’t last for eternity. One day the flesh that has been loaned to your loved ones will have to be returned to the Earth and their souls will vanish into an unknown realm, their presence only to be seen again when you too must go.
This blog post is written by Neesha Arter, a survivor of an eating disorder as well as sexual abuse.
When I was fourteen years old, I struggled with anorexia after being sexually assaulted by two people I had no reason to mistrust. My ordinary teenage life went from volleyball practice and sleepovers to an unwanted legal case and loss of identity. In my memoir, CONTROLLED, which comes out on August 11th, I write about how these challenges consumed my life.
For me, it was never a matter of being skinny or fat—anorexia was the remnant of my sexual assault and a vehicle to satisfy my wish to simply disappear. Fourteen is already an age where you don’t seem to know anything about the world. In many ways, losing my innocence made me lose my identity entirely. I couldn’t figure out if I was a teenager anymore or an adult. I thought it I could look like a child again, I could be the perfect little girl I used to be before that night happened. However, I learned after months of starvation, numbers, and calories that I had only lost myself more.
I am now 24 years old and after ten years, I have learned that perfection does not exist. But I’ve also learned that you can’t get to the other side on your own. I now know how hard it is on family and friends to watch someone they love suffer and I wish I had confided in them more at the time.
No matter how dark things seem to be, they can always turn around. I believe in second chances and giving them to yourself. I know the hardest thing in the world can be forgiving yourself for whatever it may be, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned in the past decade was how to be my own best friend.
I give a very honest account of my eating disorder in CONTROLLED, which I hope helps anyone who can relate to my story. A dear friend of mine told me during the publication process that I should focus less on it all being perfect and in the end, focus more on liking myself. And the truth is, no one is perfect. I will always be a perfectionist and have flaws but it’s all learning.
I now know that the power doesn’t lie in killing yourself, but it lies in letting yourself live.
If you are interested in reading Neesha Arter’s eye-opening book, you can now order it off Amazon.com. Just click here!
Two weeks ago today, I was dropped off at UW-Oshkosh with a suitcase, a fan, and a heart filled with worry. For the next 144 hours I would be one of two delegates representing my high school at Badger Girls State, an intense program meant to immerse young women in the complex science of American government. The program was both physically and emotionally demanding. Every girl was expected to wake up at the crack of dawn, dress to the nines, and then proceed to drag to their sleep-deprived bodies to meetings that lasted well into the night. On top all this, I had my own set of challenges I had to overcome. No longer could I eat meals comprised of my “safe” foods, eat at the times I preferred, or isolate myself from others. If I wanted to survive this 6 day challenge, I had to let go of my obsession with control and break free from the chains that have been holding me back for so many years.
With sheer determination, I not only survived Badger Girls State, but I thrived. I meant girls who were nothing short of amazing and who will probably be my friends for many years to come.
In this video, I explain my experience in greater detail and I hope my experience will give you the strength to also overcome your challenges and live the life you were born to live.
Well everyday,school is finally out for the summer. Most kids my age would be thrilled with the with the freedom and adventure that comes long with summer vacation, but I on the other-hand find myself wishing school was never let out. You see, summer is always challenging for me and this summer is going to be the most challenging of all. In this new vlog, I discuss the hurdles I will be forced to overcome this summer.
Well, hello everybody! Long time no see!
I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am to be sitting down and writing this post. School, homework, college planning, and of course my eating disorder, have sucked up every single second of my day. I have hardly had time to rest my enervated mind, let alone compose a blog post. But as summer vacation approaches, school is beginning to die down. Finally, after months of unending stress, I am finding myself with a few extra moments in my day and what better way to spend this additional time than by giving all of you a thorough update?
So let’s just begin by addressing the elephant in the room – my eating disorder. Things with my ED haven’t been all that great. In fact, with each passing day, my eating disorder has grown stronger. No longer can I eat the food my dad prepares due to the paralyzing fear of not knowing exactly how many calories are in it. Going to restaurants is now something my ED has forbidden me to do and eating in front of people (whether it be at school or at home) is nearly impossible because whenever I do, I am overcome with embarrassment.
It has been ages since my ED has had this much control over my life. Not only does this scare me, it also scares my family and Dr. K (my psychiatrist). Now whenever I step Dr. K’s scale, I lose weight and I can sense he is deeply concerned that am falling back into old habits. Somehow, I am always able to convince him otherwise, but I know that soon he will see through my lies and start to demand that I seek a higher level of care.
Well now that that’s off my chest, let’s switch gears and talk about school.
School has definitely been stressful, but I think the most stressful part of school is the trouble I am having with friends. You see, I meant a group of girls at the beginning of this school year and have been sitting with them at lunch. We joke together, laugh together, and participate in intriguing discussions on feminism and gender equality. Plus they all attend my charter school in the afternoon, so the majority of us all have the same classes together. But despite all of this, they have still neglected to invite me to their myriad of parties and social gatherings. How do I know I am missing out? Well, when a party is coming up, they talk about it right in front of me during lunch. Not once have any of them asked me to join them and I can’t tell you how much that hurts me. It makes me feel like I am nothing but a nuisance in their eyes. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find friends or if my ED will be the only thing that will ever keep me company.
So folks, there’s my update. I am planning on making a YouTube video on the best eating disorder websites. If you have any other suggestions, please just comment below J
Thank you all for your support!
It’s almost 4am and it’s a Saturday. Like all other hormonal teens, I should be fast asleep – not to wake up until the burning yellow sun is high in the Wisconsin spring sky. But though my eyes struggle to stay open and my body aches for rest, I can’t calm myself enough to return to the rat’s nest that is my bed. Even during spring break last week, when there was absolutely NO homework and nothing to fret about, I couldn’t sleep for longer than 4 hours a night. My mind was like a hamster running forever on its wheel to nowhere. I got down on my hands and knees and pleaded with my mind to stop running. I tried to tell it that it could rest , I really did. But of course, it didn’t listen or maybe it just didn’t care.
Actually spring break is what I want to talk about with you because even though I was freed from school for that week, my mind was holding me captive.
The original plan for my spring break was that my family and I would drive the 8 miserable hours to my grandparents’ farm in Lower Michigan. I dreaded the idea of going there not only because my mind continued to inform me that I would morph into a fat pig during the car ride, but also because my mom had a signed me up to visit a few colleges in Grand Rapids.
Now I know most kids are excited about leaving their families and venturing out into the world to start their lives, but I lack that excitement. In fact, the thought of me going to college is worse than my most frightening nightmare. I’m not ready for my parents to abandon me and I’m not ready to be independent. My mind is still plagued with eating disorder thoughts and depression is like a cancer, taking control of every aspect of myself. I am so emotionally unwell that I doubt I will be able to survive without the presence of my family.
Luckily, my dad was unable to go on the trip due to his pastoral obligations. I felt so incredibly relieved . . . . until my mom told me she signed me up to visit two colleges here in Wisconsin.
To make a long story short, I visited both the colleges and before I visited each one, I turned into a monster fueled by anxiety. I screamed and yelled about the stupidest things, I withdrew from everyone, I cut my arms, and I cried.
I cried until my hideous face was hidden by a mask of salty tears.
I cried until my eyes felt like they had been set on fire.
I cried until my heart, mind, and body felt completely numb.
Though I survived both the college visits, my emotional instability continued all through the rest of spring break. My parents were constantly furious because of my behavior and they of course expressed this to my therapist. When I went to see her on Wednesday, she expressed a great deal of anger and frustration at me as well. She told me I wasn’t trying to get better and that I wanted to become a life-long prisoner in the jail of mental illness.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I can’t tell you how much I want to be normal. I want to enjoy life and take pleasure in all it has to offer, but it is just so hard to break free from the chains of my diseases and sometimes I wonder if I should just go back to a treatment facility to try to regain the self I have lost. I couldn’t do that though . . . it’s too expensive and it is much too scary to give my control to the treatment providers. I just couldn’t do it.
Why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I just live instead of survive?
Won’t someone tell me why?