Parents desperate for hope inevitably ask me, “Do you think my child can recover?” When they hear the statistics about only about ⅓ of all people with eating disorders recovering fully, they tend to lose hope. First, the sooner an eating disorder is treated, the more treatable it is.
Often parents hear from their child whose brain has been hijacked by the eating disorder that there is no hope of them ever recovering fully…that they are the exception. It’s important to not listen to those hijacked brain thoughts.
For example, in Intern Anna’s story here on her “Tipping Point” she shares, “I did not realize my eating and exercise habits could have consequences on my health.” This of course is hard to comprehend since most started on their road to restriction and over exercise in the quest to impact their health in a positive way. So it’s really hard to fathom that someone so smart could not see that their eating and exercise habits could also have negative impacts on their health. The malnourished brain (which can happen at ANY and ALL weights and sizes) is a hijacked brain.
Many of you have worked with me as 1:1 clients and have had to set firm, loving and difficult boundaries to keep your child alive. It’s so so hard to say that you can support them going to college when they’re cleared by their clinical team to do so. Most parents find it incredibly painful to set this boundary and are often frozen by fear. Please read Intern Anna’s words carefully and see the positive impact of her own parents making this painful boundary for her.
Thank you Intern Anna for sharing so generously so parents can benefit from your hard earned experiences. ~ Becky Henry
The Tipping Point, by Intern Anna
I remember the day I recognized my eating disorder was doing damage to my body like it was yesterday. I woke up having sharp chest pains whenever I took a breath. Immediately, I worried I had COVID-19 or a heart condition. I went to our student health center and had all these complicated, scary tests done. They read my heart signals with an EKG and told me my heart rate was really slow. I just thought I was super in shape and that was why. What I didn’t realize was that that was my heart’s cry for help.
The doctor ended up contributing the chest pain to heartburn and prescribed me heartburn medication. But, she also added that my x-rays and weight were concerning because I had so little weight on my body at the time. (Disclaimer:This does not compare with everyone’s story with an eating disorder, but it happens to be in mine.) This visit to the doctor sent gears in my head turning.
Was what I was doing to my body harmful? Was I even doing something to my body in the first place? I had never thought of it that way before. I did not realize my eating and exercise habits could have consequences on my health. The
next few days I took it slower, but I did not stop exercising. The consequences were still seen as not as important as exercising in my head.
Sadly to say, that was not the only turning point I had with my ED.
During December, I passed out one night when I was getting out of bed. It scared me terribly. Again, the thoughts I had were: did I do this to myself? Is this because of my ED?
The real tipping point for me occurred when my parents threatened not being able to go back to college after winter break. That talk was what finally convinced me I had to do something about this. I may not have liked it, I may not have even totally admitted what I was doing to my body, but I knew something had to change.
My friends were back at school and I could not stand the thought of staying home for spring semester. My motivation was mainly going back to school and being able to participate in classes. I wanted to be a normal college student and do normal friend things. But to do that, I had to tackle my ED first.
I will say that there are many tipping points in an individual’s journeys to recovery, but I think the most profound ones are when the individual finds motivation for recovery. I think a lot of individuals start out motivated by others or for other
outward reasons, but eventually they switch to wanting to recover for themselves. That is the goal. We can only do so much for others until we realize we want to do it ourselves.
My golden tipping point was realizing I wanted to be a better Anna. I did not want my ED ruining my life anymore. I wanted to fight back for me, because I knew I deserved better.
It was a tough and seemingly impossible road, and yet it is possible.
~Intern Anna &