Finding our Sea Legs with F.E.A.S.T.
The first time I turned to F.E.A.S.T. our family had been battling an Anorexia Nervosa diagnosis that had been threatening the health and well-being of our 11-year-old daughter for what had likely been a year. Eating Disorders, it turned out were silent and sneaky and crept up on unsuspecting victims and their families inflicting a kind of turmoil the likes of which we had never experienced.
Before joining F.E.A.S.T. we had been battling our daughter’s eating disorder without the type of support from extended family or community nor the medical expertise one would commonly expect when a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We had been catapulted into the unknown without beacons or markers to guide us along the way. We were racing to find the most up-to-date resources and supports that would help turn our ship around as quickly as possible before things got worse. It was, unfortunately, difficult to find much of either in our small town and we were beginning to stall. With the passage of some time and by luck and by crook we began to make a little progress, but we were getting battle-weary and the uncertainty of what lay ahead made us all feel quite vulnerable.
In desperation, one day I decided to turn to the parents on F.E.A.S.T.’s caregiver forum where I spilled out my heart to complete strangers about the latest challenge we were facing and the exasperation I had been feeling. The response I received felt like the warm hug and cup of tea from a steadfast friend that I had needed all along, the one who welcomes you and tells you, “I hear you, I’ve got you, now take a rest.” I broke down in happy tears for the first time in a long time, realizing I had found a key ingredient in this battle I didn’t realize we needed so badly: community support and love. The parents on the forum offered it to me in spades and I felt rejuvenated enough to pick myself up and brush myself off once more to do battle with the eating disorder, also known as “ED”. This time ED was strongly outnumbered.
After that first heart-warming experience, I would turn time and again to the parents on the F.E.A.S.T. forum and ask “What do I do when this happens?” or to share our latest accomplishment which everyone would celebrate as if it was their own child’s life they were fighting for. Throughout all of the stormy seas, they would buoy me up and lead me to safer waters and eventually onto dry land.
“Watch out for those big waves!” they’d warn, or “Quick, there is a secret passage over here,” “Anchor over there!” Sometimes it would be: “You’ll need to weather out this storm, but it will pass and we’ll still be here.” And pass it always did, with the steadfast support of other F.E.A.S.T. parents just a click away offering the faith, hope, and strength our family needed to continue to fight and advocate for our daughter’s full recovery.
So now as our family is once again setting off onto calmer seas and onto full recovery, we offer our gratitude and our thanks to F.E.A.S.T. for the support and guidance we so badly needed on this journey. We hope that our contribution can help support F.E.A.S.T. to continue and to grow so that more families will be helped to defeat this terrible illness. Thank you.