January 28, 2013

Liebster Award

A sincere thank you to Melissa B. of "Life, Love and Dirty Diapers" blog for passing on a Liebster Award. I'm honored and delighted!

The Liebster Award is a lovely informal meme where the awardee then bestows the award on others. The rules have morphed over time but generally ask the nominee to:

1) Post a short Q&A about themselves
2) Answer the questions the tagger has asked
3) Create a new list of questions for their own nominees
4) Choose a list of their own nominees and notify them

The number of questions and nominees has grown over time, and the maximum number of followers a blogger should have has decreased. (how on earth would we know how many followers someone has?)

In the spirit of the awards but leaving my nominees the latitude to interpret as they wish:

1. I wouldn't notice if all the channels on my TV stopped working as long as I have Turner Classic Movies
2. I don't understand why the goldfish in my little pond swim under the ice and don't mind the winter at all
3. I've collected a number of names in my life and last month found out that my "real" name is not the name my ancestors passed down. Serves me right.
4. My favorite food is shrimp. Extra points for garlic and hot peppers.
5. A dear friend just bought a retired Hearse, called it "The Colonel," and I am green with envy

Now to answer Melissa’s questions for me!
1. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We had a free coupon for an elegant Southern resort. I related more to the help than the guests, but it was nice.
2. What is your favorite topic to blog about?
Good work by other people I wish everyone knew about
3. What is your favorite dessert?
A really good cheesecake
4. How did you meet your husband?
At a high school classmate's new bar. was playing darts. A friend and I were taking a break from studying grad school statistics. He was playing darts. I knew from the moment I saw him I was in deep trouble. 20 years worth so far.
5. How old were you when you got your first cell phone?
6. Who is your favorite author?
Mary Ladd Gavell
7. What do you love most about your husband?
Balance of smarts, humor, and passion.
8. What was your favorite memory of 2012?
Congressional Briefing in DC.
9. Why do you blog?
The power of the Internet to build networks and spread information. Plus, when you just have to shout, rant, thank, or giggle: there's nothing better than the "POST" button.
10. What is your favorite TV show?
11. If you could move ANYWHERE in the world, where would you move, and why?
A mountainside overlooking the Shenandoah river.

Here are the questions I’m asking the bloggers I decide to nominate!
1. How many generations back can you go where you know the name of the person?
2. Should free Internet be a public utility like the roads?
3. What is your favorite weather?
4. What's the best blog post title you ever wrote?

Here are the bloggers I’m nominating, because I feel they are ones people I know will appreciate:

Thank you again, Melissa!

January 27, 2013

The antidote to unicorns

For my own mental health, I find it important to spend more time learning from and sharing good information than rending my garments over bad. In that spirit, I share a truly wonderful video featuring Chris Thornton of Redleaf, making the case for neuroscience as a way to not just understand but support patients toward recovery.

January 25, 2013

Surefire Ways To Give Your Kid An Eating Disorder

Surefire Ways To Give Your Kid An Eating Disorder

The writer of this blog post linked it on an international online forum for eating disorder professionals. I and a handful of the 1770 members have asked the writer to reconsider the title and the implication that parents can "give your kid an eating disorder."

I wrote a comment on the blog but it has not been published. I posted it again on the online forum and on Facebook and repeat it below. The author responded briefly on one forum defending her post and has not changed the title.

I'd like to suggest, if you too are alarmed by the post, that you politely and respectfully join me in sharing that with the author. Once out there, pieces like this can spread and undermine the heroic work of families to overcome stigma and guilt and blame.
"My heart breaks a bit to read this article. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that need no cause, influence, or trauma to occur. They happen in all kinds of families. In fact, there is no evidence that parenting style or action can influence the risk of an eating disorder. This is a common misperception and tempting idea, but one that confuses the normal range of eating and body dissatisfaction present in human beings with what we now know is a terribly serious mental illness like schizophrenia or autism. Does parenting matter? Of course, but when it comes to an eating disorder where parenting matters most is in how we help get evidence-based treatment and we participate fully in the treatment and support.  
The idea that we can give our kids eating disorders is no more true than we can give our children Type 1 diabetes by giving them sugar, or autism by being cold and distant, or schizophrenia by inconsistent parenting. 
I share your distaste and join with you in calling out parents who are abusive, withholding, inconsistent, or poor role models. Those are terrible things that cause damage to any child. For someone with an eating disorder, parenting like this is a further injury, but it is so very important to know that a loved one with an eating disorder doesn’t say ANYthing about the family or parents – or even the patient – except that they have a treatable mental disorder."

Her responses, with her permission:

The author and I have exchanged some messages and I asked her permission to share her response and she said yes:
Hi Laura,
I appreciate your concern. My intention is not to say parents THE cause of eating disorders, but their actions can certainly cause children to have low self-esteem, trauma and body dissatisfaction which can lead to eating disorders. Of course there are other causes like mental illness which you mentioned. I am sorry to hear you and your daughter have gone through that and I am glad to hear she has recovered. My point in this article is not to point blame, but to encourage people to look at their behavior and be more aware of how they unconsciously impact children. The title of the article creates a visceral response and sometimes that is needed for people to really listen to the message.

I responded:
I appreciate your response but I'm afraid you and I are far, far apart on what we believe eating disorders are, and what "blame" means. What you call a 'visceral response' I would characterize as manipulative and cruel.
The best analogy I can give you is to exchange autism for eating disorders in your post, and imagine you were encouraging parents of kids with autism to be aware of how their coldness and distance unconsciously impacted their kids.
I am so saddened for the parents who will see your piece. Truly.

January 22, 2013

Getting out of BED

Binge Eating Diosrder used to be an afterthought, an orphaned category of eating disorder that, I'm sad to say, was a topic that many with more restrictive eating disorders tried to avoid. That era is ending: BED has emerged as a area of interest for the eating disorder treatment and advocacy world.
I just registered for the upcoming BEDA conference in Bethesda, and hope those who can attend will.

I'm also looking forward to a new book on BED for clinicians edited by my friend, June Alexander.

As the science of BED emerges, I believe it will offer insights into all eating disorders and all will benefit. I believe the weight prejudice that exists even in the eating disorder community will be another important area of positive change.

BED is a serious mental illness that deserves to be discussed alongside all eating disorders every single time we bring them up. For several reasons (potentially high profits for successful treatment, for example) it may soon be that anorexia and bulimia and ED-NOS will ride the slipstream of the BED advocacy community. The professionalism and focus of the BED world are an enormous asset to the larger ED world.

Australian conference for families and carers, coming up!

Aussies kick ED for six

Families, carers and sufferers of eating disorders – this is for you
At Home with Eating Disorders - Australia's first national conference for families and carers, and people who suffer an eating disorder. Brisbane, May 23-25, 2013. See you there!
At Home with Eating Disorders – Australia’s first national conference for families and carers, and people who suffer an eating disorder. Brisbane, May 23-25, 2013. See you there!
Are you caring for someone with an eating disorder, or do you have an eating disorder? Australians and New Zealanders, you will learn skills, make new friends, find new understanding, at: Brisbane, May 23-25, 2013. Go to http://www.athomewitheatingdisorders.com
Clinicians, health professionals, medical students, therapists – see the workshop listings and enrol to learn from world leading researchers!
Key note speakers:
Professor  Daniel Le Grange
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and Director of the Eating Disorders Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Professor Janet Treasure
Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and Head of the Eating Disorders Unit at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust.
Professor Cynthia Bulik
Professor of Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders.

Latest News
Registrations now open
Pre conference workshop details now available
Travel Grants available for families and carers
New Keynote Talk by Cindy Bulik on Midlife Eating Disorders

January 17, 2013

Survey on a planned retreat for parent caregivers

Becky Henry of the Hope Network is looking for parents to fill out a short survey. It only takes a moment: please help!

Becky Henry and her network at Hope Network, LLC provide support for caregivers of those with eating disorders: 
No one should face an eating disorder alone.  
No one should cope alone with the chaos, confusion and isolation that comes with the challenge of a child with an eating disorder.
Through education and support it is possible to find sanity, fun and even joy in everyday family life. 
We understand. We’ve been there. This is the philosophy that drives Hope Network: to offer education, support and resources for families coping with eating disorders. 
Hope Network, LLC is planning the first weekend retreat for caregivers of those with eating disorders and related diagnoses. The purpose of the retreat, is to give caregivers some HOPE and reduce their sense of isolation, desperation and suffering, while filling them up to be the best possible support for a loved one in recovery. 

January 10, 2013

Longest conference title ever: with some of the best content, too!

I don't know how or if I would have shortened it, but check out the longest conference title ever:

Learning and Applying New Skills to Treat the Most Difficult Eating DisordersTranslating Cutting-edge Eating Disorder Research into Innovative Treatment Approaches:
dialectical behavior therapy, family based therapy and new understandings of temperament & cognition management 

I really, REALLY, wish I could go, and I hope you will.

Friday, February 22, 2013 8:30 AM -
Saturday, February 23, 2013 1:00 PM (Pacific Time)

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina
(619) 224-1234
1441 Quivira Road
San Diego, California 92109
United States

Map and Directions

Featuring Speakers:
Janet Treasure, PhD, FRCP, Daniel Le Grange, PhD, Lucene Wisniewski, PhD,  Walter Kaye, MD,
Kerri Boutelle, PhD and Leslie Anderson, PhD 

Adventures in depression

Erica turned me on to this. I am enchanted, as in haunted and transfixed:

Hyperbole and a Half blog

And this post on depression in particular

January 9, 2013

Tragic, uninformed, and cruel editorial in The Australian, by Brendan O'Neill


Dear Editor:

The recent editorial "So-called experts spewing nonstop nonsense the real disorder" by Brendan O'Neill is deeply concerning. Unfortunately, O'Neill's opinions on this matter are untrue and genuinely harmful. As the mother of a patient who almost lost her life to what the editorial calls "bullshit" I have to say that a half-hour at a hospital treating eating disorders (the most lethal mental illnesses) or to a graveyard with a parent who has lost their beloved son or daughter -- would be sobering to him. Parents who are engaged in a life or death battle to get care and to get support from friends and family during the crisis suffer from such uninformed and cruel editorials.

I would appreciate the opportunity to correspond with Mr. O'Neill and his editor. 

Laura Collins
Policy Director, F.E.A.S.T.


"I have no trouble with my enemies. But my god damn friends... they are the ones that keep me walking the floors at night." 
Oscar Levant 

January 6, 2013

A Losing idea: kids being weight-bullied on TV


I just signed the petition "Keep Kids Off The Biggest Loser" on Change.org.

It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:




But, aren't you sad?

It is a new year and a new era for F.E.A.S.T.!

Leah Dean is our new Executive Director and I now step down to Policy Director. Starting next week I will be going back to my full-time writing. I will still do ED work (two of my manuscripts are ED-related, and even my novel has some characters with interesting symptoms…), and still do work for F.E.A.S.T. but it will be on a part-time and not an on-call basis.

Leah is in charge now and we are in good hands. Our Board of Directors and other volunteers are all stepping up to make this transition and move us to a new era. That may sound like the usual bla-bla-bla politeness as someone passes the torch, but it isn't. I'm genuinely relieved and happy and ready.

Leah has been working with me for F.E.A.S.T. for some time and brings professionalism and creativity and fresh focus at the perfect time. I admire her warm, calm approach to problem-solving and her ability to prioritize in a crisis! I look forward to working for her and supporting her work and the team of volunteers. 

I didn't start F.E.A.S.T. to be the leader. I did it because I thought it needed to be done. I believed that a parent-led, parent-focused, and financially independent organization was needed to change the landscape for families facing eating disorders. I felt the world in general was on the wrong track about EDs if it even noticed them. I believed the existing eating disorders advocacy and treatment world were far too entwined and that financial influences was leading policy. I felt that evidence and science were missing in the advocacy world and that parents, burdened with a legacy of being blamed and marginalized, were not stepping up in large enough numbers or with their special concerns. It seemed that the job of parents was to be contrite and in the background.

I still believe all these things. Change is happening, though, probably in some small part to what we are doing as a parent community. That is the key: a community. This is not and cannot be about one person or one small group of people. The point of F.E.A.S.T. -- and my book and starting the Around the Dinner Table forum and my blog and starting Maudsley Parents and joining the Academy for Eating Disorders and giving speeches and volunteering and showing up and speaking out for ten years -- has always been to gather and harness the power of a parent perspective in a bigger way. 

Personally, I'm tickled to pieces to pass it on. I am really looking forward to watching and cheering for others doing this work. Of watching it go in other directions and other talents being brought to the "table." I have always hoped that our collective work would eventually become obsolete because it would be mainstream to have parents fully involved in treatment and advocacy, to be led by science, and have the media be aligned with the science. Really: let's all hope for the day of breakthroughs that make eating disorders an obsolete topic, a condition for the history books.

It is going to be very hard to cut the cord for me – emotionally and functionally – but I'm afraid I have to learn. Although I know I'm not needed any more I can't pretend it is unemotional to phase myself out but it is time. I'm terribly proud to have started this path and nurtured it and to have the luxury of letting it go on without me!