by Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
It may be my bias, but now that the world has woken up to the global threat of the novel coronavirus what I see in response is a wave of human courage and kindness washing over the world.
I see and applaud the term “cocooning” to describe society’s response now, rather than a callous disregard of those at special risk of medical harm.
I see and I am moved by neighbors all over the world forming teams to share resources and support those most vulnerable to the economic crisis of folding businesses, joblessness, and financial downturn.
I see and join the support of healthcare workers and first responders that acknowledges the sacrifices and dangers of those essential roles.
I see and celebrate the creative and innovative use of technology to connect us even as we all disconnect from personal contact.
And humor. And music. And courage.
For those in the eating disorder community, the threats of this crisis are real and singular: families are at home with ill loved ones without their clinical or community supports. The environment of anxiety and uncertainty are the opposite of what a family already in crisis needs. Lack of simple access to food, to medical backup, to income: picture all these on top of a daily and even hourly task of keeping an ill loved one safe and moving forward toward recovery.
And yet in the ED community all over the world, I see innovation and courage and kindness as well. My friends who are clinicians are going back to their roots and training to be front line healthcare and mental health care providers. Clinics and offices who need to send patients home for everyone’s safety are using all the technology at hand to help. Those who must stay in hospitals or cannot be visited by family any more are using virtual options to continue their therapy and connections. As conferences and trainings are being canceled some are being converted to online events, and at little or no cost, to help the public.
Rules about telemedicine are being eased in several countries, allowing treatment providers to remain active in treating patients in ways they were not allowed in the past. Payment plans are being eased. Some of my clinician friends have removed the boundaries of professional and personal in this crisis and are supporting people just because they need it.
Families are supporting one another, sharing strategies and distress tolerance support. And this: validating the unfair, frightening truth that many families will need to face things head on at home without as much or even any clinical guidance for a while.
Here at F.E.A.S.T. folks have stepped forward to join our Live Chat/Email/Phone support for parents, to crowdsource resources for parents, to support providers, to comfort one another.
All the things we all were meant to be doing this month in our lives, and in our family members’ recoveries, have in a short time been completely changed. We are meeting those challenges in new ways, in surprising ways, and mostly in terribly kind ways. I am proud of all my communities: family, community, worldwide.
“When going through hell, keep going” has never seemed so real or important.