By Deenl, Around the Dinner Table Forum Moderator
It is a time of anniversaries in my house and I find myself in a reflective mood. I’m thinking back to the initial stages when we were confused and terrified, to the learning curve at the beginning when it was all fighting and difficulties. We then moved on to the phase when it was all cooking, cleaning and supervising but with more skills and confidence, and then to the period of solidifying progress and dealing with hiccups. And now, we have reached the stage of my son’s first week in university.
There has been no stand out theme on the Around The Dinner Table forum this month, but many of the posts have been reflective of phases that I went through myself.
We have had posts from parents at the beginning of the process. They have been looking for knowledge about the illness and what to expect. There is such a steep learning curve. As the refeeding has begun they have been asking about the nitty gritty details of getting through each meal and each day. We are cheering them on through this often overwhelming phase. Many are also asking questions about finding a treatment provider who meets the needs of their loved ones.
We have heard from parents who are past the initial weeks of refeeding and have a fairly settled routine but are looking for support with back to school, friendships and trying to figure out what is normal teen behaviour and what is the eating disorder.
Parents have also been looking for ideas and support around resistance to treatment and refusal to communicate with parents and therapists. Many (most?) parents are not getting optimal support from their professional teams. The collective knowledge of the parents here has really helped in some cases, unfortunately not in all. In those cases, the forum members are here to listen and support when the need to vent is great.
We have had posts about the practicalities of nutrition; hypermetabolism, maintenance diets, intuitive eating and if weight loss is ever okay.
Many of the issues are outside the realm of my personal experience. What I love about the Around the Dinner Table forum is that pretty much any issue that comes up has been experienced by someone who will take the time to share their story.
Some relate to young adults who continue to struggle with eating disorders. Although I do not feel qualified to reply in most cases, I read these posts eagerly so that I know what issues might pop up in the future. Forewarned is forearmed!
We see the full range of severity on the forum, and I really hope that we provide a caring and knowledgeable space when parents share difficult times with us, even when their loved one has had the illness for a long time. This month there have been a number of people who have had difficulty combining the uncertainty and changes caused by the coronavirus rules and the challenges of eating disorder recovery. There have been slips and full blown relapses. In such a difficult situation, it is nice to see parents in similar circumstances reaching out to each other.
As for us, I have realised that in the last few weeks I have been saying things like ‘has recovered’ and ‘had an eating disorder’. I am still nudging and guiding and sometimes downright demanding as necessary, but I am becoming more and more convinced that we are on the other side, just dealing with the final hiccups and glitches. (oh I hope I am not jinxing it – will I ever be confident enough to just say it loud and proud?)
One thing I know for sure is that if we hit a hiccup or a relapse, I will once again be leaning on the collective knowledge and emotional support I know is waiting for me on the Around the Dinner Table forum.