December 18, 2011

Why Hollywood shouldn't tell the story: Scary Movie X

Parents like optimism. We like believing in our kids, in bright futures - we're built for it.

But, beware thinking of recovery like a victory narrative. Eating disorder recovery isn't a battle you win and then credits roll. Successful treatment doesn't mean you're done.

This expectation we have that we will drag our child bodily out of their hell and get them cleaned up and healthy and then sit back to watch them go through life without looking back is the wrong script. The real story is that successful treatment is the beginning of leading a life that is consciously free of dieting, disordered eating habits, using the body as a self-improvement project, and seeing exercise as a payment for eating and a stress-relief drug.

Successful treatment is followed by relapse prevention: regular medical and psychiatric check-ups, strong emotional regulation skills, connection with friends and family, participation in society, useful work, and a  good relationship with food and activity. The opposite of mental illness is robust mental HEALTH.

Sucessfully saving our children from a life of mental illness isn't a destination or a point in time it is a lifestyle. There are no credits, either - nor credit.

Most parents have this point at which they want to celebrate and "move on." Do celebrate (in private), and do move forward, but don't turn your back on ED or think he's like an enemy you've killed. The Hollywood ending you should be thinking of is the horror movie where in the last frame you see the hero doesn't see the monster is still breathing -- and you know there's a sequel in the making.

4 comments:

  1. Where's the "like" or "agree" button. I've clicked on both.

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  2. So true! Never turn your back on that monster, no matter how still it is. It's easy to get complacent and let your guard down. And you know what happens then!

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  3. Laura, I believe the important lessons we learn living through a brain illness is that our children have genetic predispositions and traits that reflect how their brains and bodies function. Distress intolerance, tendencies towards back and white thinking, anxiety disorders to name a few. learning to be very astute and aware of the risks and stressors. Learning thevskills they can use to cope effectively. Listening and understanding that they ave special needs. Weight loss especially rapid like from a seemingly benign illness like stomach virus, bad sore throat, too many expectations , life changes to name a few.
    And your right, when our children reach real recovery,
    there's a place inside that makes us wants to just believe
    were not going to be there again. I remember my d she never, never wanted to go back to that again. In the healthy state, they are so clear and even intuitive. But you cant protect your kids from every danger life has to cross our paths and we can't avoid making mistakes. we can make our best efforts to keep learning, keep doing the best we can to support the ones we love.

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  4. Don't I know it. This is exactly the same for people in recovery - it's common to get to a point after weight restoration where you just want to be DONE with it all, and so put it to the back of your mind and then whoops, a stomach virus and you're back several steps. I've done it several times. It's rather humbling to find myself lapsing a little and having to sort it out when I would really rather believe that I know too much to be caught out like that (which makes me sound a bit arrogant, but maybe you know what I mean). Luckily I seem to be good at catching myself before I go too far to pull myself back out. Most of the time I'm good at preventing it from happening at all - I just make sure to eat to a schedule if I'm sick or stressed - but if I'm sick or stressed for weeks rather than days it gets harder and eventually I slip up. It seems like half of my friends in recovery are going through this at the moment...

    It's frustrating, having to maintain constant vigilance two years post weight-restoration. But it's better than relapsing.

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