By Katie Maki
Our daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa at the age of 10.5 in the fall of 2010. She was an incredibly sick little girl. She was having auditory and visual hallucinations of “a mean man’s voice” and would scream at me utterly terrified, “Can’t you see the blackness, Mommy? It’s right there behind you!”
Our daughter had panic attacks and was an anxious mess. She had a severe exercise compulsion, and we discovered the true extent of it when we found her in her closet at 4 am covered in sweat, crying, doing crunches.
Our daughter talked about her own death constantly and told us that, “the only way this voice says it will leave me alone is if I am dead.” She showed me which dress to bury her in.
We ended up taking her to an inpatient facility a couple of months later as she continued to drop weight; and in all honesty, I lost my trust in myself as a mother. How could I have let things get this bad? How did I not notice all of those tell-tale signs months and months earlier?
At the inpatient facility I found myself constantly questioning their treatment plan. Why was my ten-year-old being taught about fats and proteins and calories? Why was I not eating with her as much as possible if I was to take her home eventually? Why was she involved in any decision making at all? Why was she in group therapy with 17-year-olds talking about sex, drugs, and teaching her all of the tricks of an older person with anorexia?
First my husband found Laura Collins’ book “Eating With Your Anorexic.” That was the catalyst that started me down the path of regaining my power. Then I read “Brave Girl Eating” by Harriet Brown. It was like she was describing my life. I started to really push the professionals at the facility and question them more. I started to trust myself.
I was at a parent support group at the facility when the leader said, “You know they have to want to get better. We cannot make them eat.” I literally stood up and said, “Like hell I can’t.” I was angry. I was tired of being told horrible lies like this. My daughter couldn’t choose to eat any more than I could choose to be taller. I knew that in my mom gut. I knew they were dead wrong.
After this meeting, a woman walked up to me and handed me a tiny piece of paper with the F.E.A.S.T website written on it. She said, “Katie, I think you and I are cut from the same cloth. I think you will find this site life changing.”
I looked up the F.E.A.S.T. website and dove in for hours. It was the final catalyst I needed to take our daughter home and do our own version of FBT on our own. The other parents that were on the Around the Dinner Table (ATDT) forum at the time gave me the cold hard truth, support, empathy, information, friendship, and honestly kicked me in the butt when I needed it and then cheered me on.
I could write a book about the harrowing years that encompassed fighting our daughter’s eating disorder. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. But with the help of the people of F.E.A.S.T. and the ATDT forum I found my Mamabear mojo. I felt myself become more and more empowered through knowledge and compassion. They were there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years (and still are). Now I myself help other parents navigate the eating disorder roller coaster. I want nothing more than for others not to make the same mistakes I did. I want them to know first and foremost that eating disorders are no one’s choice, no one’s fault, and can be beaten.
My daughter is 22 now. She’s has been in a solid recovery for years without relapse. She’s in graduate school, performs her own music in her own band, and has a wonderful girlfriend. She is healthy and a sparkle in this world.
And I owe so much of my child’s full recovery to the powerful caregivers of F.E.A.S.T. Thank you to each and every one of you.