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Letting Me Fight In Your Boxing Ring

By Judy Krasna

Over the past 2 years, I have been very actively involved in F.E.A.S.T. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, I am engaged in multiple other volunteer activities to the point where F.E.A.S.T. has become my volunteer “job”. I am an event planner by profession; and right now, with COVID severely limiting my business, I have the time to take on some larger responsibilities and projects.

In addition, my identity over the past 8-10 years has been linked to the world of eating disorders. I made a name for myself in the Academy for Eating Disorders chairing their Experts by Experience Committee and serving on the planning committee for the International Conference on Eating Disorders. I am an active eating disorders advocate here in Israel, where I live, and I have been relentless in my pursuit of parental inclusion and better treatment. I have been quite vocal about it, and dedicated to educating the public about eating disorders, through my blog on an Israeli news website. I have been offering peer support to local parents for many years, helping them come to terms with their child’s diagnosis and advising them about treatment options and how the treatment system works in Israel. You can say that involvement in the eating disorders world was entrenched in my life to the point where it was linked to my personal identity. And of course, I was caring for my own daughter who had an enduring eating disorder.

When my daughter’s eating disorder claimed her life two months ago, I felt very conflicted. On the one hand, I couldn’t imagine leaving F.E.A.S.T. and the Academy for Eating Disorders and all of my peer support and advocacy work behind. It was so much a part of me; who would I be without that identity, without those communities? Despite the fact that I lost my daughter, I still had years of experience, knowledge, wisdom, and insight that could help other parents. I had no doubt that I wanted to continue with the volunteer work that I was doing. The only way that I could make sense of my daughter’s illness was to turn it into an instrument to help others; and if I couldn’t do that, then what was the whole point of any of this? But would I still be accepted; and more importantly, could I still be effective?

I was painfully aware that my identity changed. I am now a bereaved mother. I hate that title, and everything that it represents, but here I am. Would F.E.A.S.T. still want me around? After all, I represent everyone’s worst nightmare. Would I make other parents uncomfortable? That is the last thing that I would want to do. None of this is about me, it’s about using my experience to support and guide others. Can I still do this, even if I lost my own daughter? Has my new status stripped that away from me?

I have always been a person to project hope. Have I lost my credibility to do that now? And if I have, then I have no place at F.E.A.S.T. Despite my own experience, I sincerely believe that there is always hope for others. Your child CAN recover, even if mine did not. But if all I do is remind people of the worst-case scenario, have I become a liability instead of an asset?

Had I been left to my own devices I am not sure what I would have decided. I had so many conflicting thoughts running through my head and they were all valid to some degree. I couldn’t find a clear and definitive answer. Should I stay or should I go?

I am incredibly grateful that I was not left to my own devices. I was told straight out by F.E.A.S.T.’s Executive Director Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh and by my colleagues and friends on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors that there was still space for me at F.E.A.S.T. and that my presence was welcome and requested if I wanted to continue. I do not take that acceptance for granted, and I cannot express how much it means to me. It’s the ultimate validation not only of what I do, but of who I am, and that is kind of murky to me right now. I am no longer the mother of a daughter with an eating disorder. I am very much still her mother, but she is not here anymore, and neither is her eating disorder. So, who does that make me exactly and where does that leave me? I am still trying to figure that out, and I appreciate the ability to do that within the framework of F.E.A.S.T.

The worst possible thing happened to me, and I am still here, getting out of bed every morning to do this vital and purposeful work. I took life’s most vicious punch, and I am still standing. I am bleeding and winded and very sad, and maybe a little shaky, but I am on my feet with incredible people in my corner, ready to return the punch, ready to knockout eating disorders with every ounce of strength that I have. Thank you, F.E.A.S.T,, for letting me fight in your boxing ring.

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12 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Judy, your vulnerability, wisdom, compassion and strength are invaluable as a friend, as a mentor and as a expert by experience. Your loss is in many ways all of our losses and while i cant begin to know your pain I DO know your character and strength.. Thank you for your commitment to helping others with your strengths.
    This is how we create and maintain an effective and powerful community.

  2. Laura

    And we are here fighting alongside you, dear Judy. Our work together is meaningful and impactful because it includes us all: what we bring to it and what we learn from it. Thank you for continuing to let us learn from you, and support you, and be part of one another’s journeys.

  3. Fiona Bromelow

    Such a beautiful and important post. Judy you are a great boxer to have on our team. If, for a couple of days, you can’t get up in the morning, then that’s completely understandable too.

  4. Lisa B

    Judy, you were the first mentor to hold my hand. That space in my heart, for you, has grown exponentially since this early days. No one should be in your shoes, no one. The work you do, in this space, is so needed and appreciated. I never imagined a day, like this one, when you would need to write a blog, like this one, and I am in awe of your strength, determination and grit! I have never appreciated you more!! Thank you for once again, showing and sharing with us, your heart.

  5. Sarah Rowland

    Your incredible wealth of knowledge is priceless to so many. You are priceless to many. You will always have a valuable place in the support of stuggling parents trying to make sense of this beast and in the furthering of awarness and advocacy. Don’t let this be taken away from you. Much love to you xox

  6. Danielle

    Just, I do not know you, but I know of you and this essay touched me. My heart aches for your loss. I agree with Laura and your other colleagues that you have an important place in the boxing ring. I imagine your daughter would want you to keep fighting ED and coaching the rest of us to fight so that some day, hopefully no one has to suffer your tremendous loss.

  7. Nina

    Judy, your child has been part of all our families struck by EDs. Where would we be without your parent advocacy?

    As long as YOU feel comfortable, I appeeciate and need your support.

  8. Nina

    Judy, your child has been part of all our families struck by EDs. Where would we be without your parent advocacy?

    As long as YOU feel comfortable to continue, I appreciate and need your support.

  9. Michelle

    Thank you for staying with us. We need examples like you. May you be blessed for your diligence and love. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. deenl

    I believe that it is vitally important that the full range of experiences is reflected in the work we do as volunteer parents. Anything less is not providing a full picture. The more variety in our personal stories, our priorities and motivations, the more families in need that are going to find an understanding ear here.

    Three weeks after I joined the ATDT forum, one of the parents posted that his daughter had died. Like many others around the world I sobbed behind my screen for a child and a family I didn’t know but one with whom I shared many similarities. At the time, their story enhanced my determination and motivation. I felt that I was showing respect for their loss, showing that their pain was not in vain by heeding their call to hit the ED as hard as I could. The dad’s by line was one of my mottos for getting through refeeding. Not that our journey was any sort of perfection. My son was not even close to WR for 2 years. But I think about that family regularly. In my mind, I thank them for sharing their pain with us and so becoming one of blocks on which my son’s recovery is built.

    During the years where our progress felt slow and never ending, your words and story have provided me with encouragement and comfort. I know for sure that there are many others who will feel the same sense of connection in the future, should you feel that continuing your advocacy is the right choice for you.

    I know your empathy, knowledge and wise words will always be welcome. And I know you will navigate this immense change in your life and do what is right for you now and what is right for you at different phases of the mourning process.

    Wishing you and your loved ones continued strength and courage

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