Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life as a Parent of a Child with an Eating Disorder


How does it feel to be the parent of your child?

As a parent with a child of Anorexia nervosa, I believe that parents, friends, family and teachers alike, should all be aware of what they convey when discussing weight or self image issues. Anorexia nervosa "has been described as the relentless pursuit of being thin. People with this eating disorder may see themselves as being overweight even as they are literally starving themselves. Other warning signs include: obvious weight loss,worries about feeling fat, development of food rituals, excessive need for exercise, and withdrawal from social activities.

As teachers, you are models for your students at any given part of the day. They watch and listen to everything you do and say. Even if it appears as though a child is not paying attention or cares about what you say, you are the main topic when my child comes home.

Be careful about using the term "fat" and obsessing over food in front of children and students. Good self image is very important but in a society where we obsess over being thin, I often overhear many conversations of women (and men alike but less frequently) constantly talking about how they need to lose weight. It's a struggle for us all with food readily available and with the mentality that food is a reward, but we must keep in mind that our children observe us and take on our habits. We are molding them everyday and our verbiage affects them.

Although we have been through so much as a family, I wouldn't change a thing about my daughter. I just want her to know that she is beautiful inside and out and that being healthy is what matters. My husband has been through it all alongside my daughter, and it breaks his heart to see his little girl hurting. He would do anything for her as would I.

How is your child developmentally the same and different from other children at the various ages?
My child tends to be a little bit more socially withdrawn at times but she is very outgoing. She goes through bouts of depression but is typically a very happy child. She tends to obsess over planning and organizing. She is always concerned with getting good grades and pleasing others but it is based on control. She cannot wait to start track team when she goes to high school.

What professionals or agencies do you deal with? What services are available to you and your child?

NEDA, or the National Eating Disorders Association, is a wonderful resource for more information.
I sent my little girl to Avalon Hills in Utah, where she did an animal rehabilitation clinic with 12 other girls. It was very hard to have her so far away, but I had to let her go so that she could get better. It was hard for her as well, since she got homesick, but she made many friends that were also closely monitored along with the sweet and caring staff.

How did you find out about the above services?

Google helped me with finding resources and from their, I found many other venues of what percentages of people were affected.

What financial burden, if any, are you experiencing?

Living in Orange County, image is a very important and popular topic not only in media, but in schools which results in a higher rate of eating disorder cases. The state of California has no government funded program to combat anorexia or bulimia so my husband and I have had to absorb most of the costs. Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, insurance companies will not cover the costs because it is seen an an educated practice rather than medicine. Residential treatment centers are expensive, but the price of my child's health and life are at stake. She is my little girl and I hope to see a mandate on insurance companies or federal aid to help more individuals and families with a need for aid.

What other information do you want to share?
Along with Anorexia nervosa, there are many other eating disorders that can be linked or a are disorders on there own. The following information I gathered is from this website. I thought it was important and helpful to know that there are more warning signs that are related to eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa-
Anorexia nervosa has been described as the relentless pursuit of being thin. People with this eating disorder may see themselves as being overweight even as they are literally starving themselves
Other warning signs include:
Obvious weight loss
Worries about feeling fat
Development of food rituals
Excessive need for exercise
Withdrawal from social activities
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are four major anorexia symptoms:
Refusal to maintain a normal body weight
Strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
An abnormal way of experiencing your body weight or shape
Loss of regular menstrual cycles

Bullemia -
Bulimic patients often maintain a normal body weight, but have recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by recurrent compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain. Bulimia is an eating disorder that is most common in young women. People with bulimia are typically depressed or anxious and have low self-esteem. Unlike those with anorexia, people with bulimia are more likely to be aware of their problem and feel guilty or ashamed. They may also engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse or unprotected sex. Patients with bulimia tend to be more emotional and impulsive, but are more likely to seek treatment.
Up to 98 percent of people with bulimia are women
64 percent of bulimics maintain a normal weight
84 percent of bulimics have a college education
Bulimia usually begins between the ages of 12 and 25
Frequent dieters are 18 times more likely to develop bulimia

Binge- Eating Disorder-
Most people who have binge eating are obese to severely obese, but the reverse is not true; most people with obesity do not have binge eating disorder, Stober says. A few people with binge eating disorder are of normal weight. On average, the binge eating episodes occur at least two days per week over a six- month period. Common symptoms besides being overweight include:
Eating faster than normal
Eating past being full
Eating large quantities of food despite not being hungry
Eating alone due to embarrassment
Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty about overeating

Distorted Perspective of Body Dysmorphic Disorder-
About 1 percent of Americans have this dysmorphic syndrome. "The onset will usually begin in adolescence, but is often not diagnosed or treated until 10 to 15 years later. Men are as likely to develop body dysmorphic disorder as women. Constantly picking at the skin or touching the face
Spending excessive time trying to hide the perceived defect with clothing or makeup
Constantly comparing body parts to others and seeking reassurance
Having problems at work or school because of being overly self-conscious
Seeking out multiple dermatologists or plastic surgeons

Compulsive Exercise-
The most likely victims of compulsive exercise are females between the ages of 12 and 19. But compulsive exercise disorder, also known anorexia athletica.

Exercise becomes compulsive and no longer healthy when:
You feel anxious if you don’t exercise even for one day. “If you have trouble taking a day off and feel extreme anxiety because you have skipped a day of exercise, it could be a sign of a problem,” Rago says.
You’re spending half a day, every day working out. People who suffer from compulsive exercise may be working out as much as four or five hours a day and, in doing so, could be placing unnecessary strain on their bodies.
Your exercise regimen rules your life. If you miss work, school, or other events to work out, that’s a sign of over-exercise. If you build your life around finding time to be at the gym, on the field, or out running, you could be heading into dangerous territory, Rago says.
You ignore your body’s warning messages. “If you continue to exercise even if your body is telling you that something is wrong and that you should back off, you could suffer from compulsive exercise,” Rago says. “Instead of listening to your body and doing what’s best for you, you’re working through the pain, and that can’t be good.”

Pica- “This non-food cravings eating disorder can be found in 10 percent to 32 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 6, according to the National Library of Medicine. These youngsters will eat paint, plaster, string, hair, and cloth. Older children consume anything from animal droppings, sand, and insects to leaves, pebbles, and cigarette butts. Teens and adults most commonly eat clay or soil, though people have been found to ingest lead, laundry starch, plastic, pencil erasers, ice, fingernails, paper, coal, chalk, wood, plaster, light bulbs, needles, string, and wire.
Among mentally and developmentally disabled people, especially those ages 10 to 20, pica is the most common eating disorder and is found in 20 percent of children treated at mental health clinics.”

Sleep- Related Disorders-
Somewhere between 1 percent to 3 percent of the population has a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder. Here are two types of disorders, sleep-related eating disorder and night eating syndrome, in which overeating is linked to sleep. Sleep-related eating disorders, also known as sleep eating or somnambulistic eating, are characterized by abnormal patterns of food consumption during the night.

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