The musical accompaniment rolling through my brain while writing this is of course, “True To Myself” by Ziggy Marley. You can enjoy a video of this song here on YouTube if you would like to listen while you read about listening to our instinct, our gut, our intuition as mothers of those with eating disorders.  

When we listen to our gut instinct and we allow ourselves to believe in hope for healing for our loved one, then we can live in that powerful place where the word “AND” gives us room for possibilities that others cannot see. 

Use that mother tiger in you dear one and stay true to yourself.  You are worth it.  

Trusting our Gut and the Treatment Team

When we take our dear children to professionals for help with these most deadly of all mental illnesses we are in a state of sheer terror. And we are forced to trust strangers who tell us that they have the expertise to help our children. Sometimes they are not trained or equipped to do what is needed for a particular child. And though they may have some training, no one will ever know our child the way we do. 

In the midst of learning about these complex and confusing disorders we’re managing our child’s distress, our own distress and needing to manage clinicians who may or may not be able to believe in full healing for our child. Often family members will question our choices and even that the illness itself exists.

As with any illness, there can come a time when the treatment direction or modality must change for one reason or another. It’s extra hard when we are in the trenches doing 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, trying to keep our heads above water and watching our child suffer. And it’s this being in the trenches that allows us the insight to see when something simply is no longer working and we need to consider a different option for healing.

Far too often still, family caregivers are not held in equal regard with the clinical part of the treatment team. When we see that a new direction is needed and we bump up against doctors, therapists, dietitians and others who won’t consider modifying a treatment plan or exploring a new direction, we need to be true to ourselves.

When insurance reviewers say, “We are denying your claim because your child isn’t improving.” We need to listen to our gut and use our gifts of tenacity.

Can you see the word “HOPE” in the sand?

When we are being told there is no hope for our child and they are being kicked out of treatment for being non-compliant, we need to believe in ourselves and our child. It’s hard when you’re in a puddle on the bathroom floor once again sobbing because everyone has given up on your baby. This is when we tap into that mother tiger instinct to save our child. First we must save ourselves by holding onto that thread of hope.

And then kindly thank the treatment professionals for doing as much as they could do, and march right out and find others who are more flexible and willing to explore what might help this individual child without giving up on them.

There is always something to hope for as long as your child is still alive. There are always options. Perhaps options that were not taught to these particular treatment professionals. Ideas to explore that perhaps have not yet been explored. It takes believing in recovery for your child/family member and not giving up. No one will love your child the way you love them. No one will fight for their life the way a mother will.

Mothers get a bad rap quite often. It’s super easy to direct responsibility on moms because we never got any instruction manual for this particular child or training on how to care for this child. We’ve been doing the best we can with what we have. And loving the heck out of this child. Watch movies, listen to stand up comics, work with a therapist and read books and you’ll see it everywhere; mother blaming. It is as if no one wants to take any personal responsibility. It’s really easy to blame moms. We make mistakes and we enforce the rules. Easy target.

It’s okay. Don’t give up. Keep loving on that child the best you can. You will keep making mistakes and people will question. No one will ever know that child like you have. And their life can depend on you believing in hope for a treatment that works for your particular child. It doesn’t have to be “evidence based” to work. Find providers who don’t settle, who will think outside the box and adjust and who will LISTEN to you. They exist and will work with you to find a way to help your particular child. And they will hold onto hope with you.

Always have hope. 

And remain true to yourself.