Thursday, November 25, 2010

When the Recovery Bubble Blew Up

I recently completed a Myers Briggs Personality Indicator tool, and for the fourth time, it confirmed that I have a preference for viewing the world through facts, data, logic, and objectivity as opposed to intuition and feelings. So perhaps that is why I keep failing to tune into my 'spidey sense' when it starts tingling.

The tingling is a tiny little voice that asks, is she upstairs purging? But it's answered by the 'show-me-the-facts' voice that says 'she can't be, I don't see any evidence of it'. Which is followed by the soothing seductive voice of Cleopatra, queen-of-denial, who chimes in with, 'it's your imagination, she's doing fine, she's just tired, or it's just teenage behavior'.

But eventually the spidey sense, triggers the researcher in me and I start looking for and finding the evidence I am dreading and then I realize that the recovery bubble is just an illusion that Ed is dangling right in front of my blind spot.

Thankfully, my intuition also drives me to research online for more resources and information. I order two new books, one for Emily, which she accepts but says 'thanks' in that fake, squeaky Ed voice, while her eyes briefly flicker with Ed's abject scorn and hatred for me. And a book for me, that I am not sure I can quite face up to reading because I feel like I am too raw emotionally to read about the suffering of another child and family. But I force myself to crack open, 'Brave Girl Eating' by Harriet Brown, because I want to get back to viewing my daughter as brave and courageous. I need to find a way to shift my mounting anger and frustration with her for appearing to not want to let go of Ed.

Over the next week, Brave Girl Eating, begins to transform my thinking, my knowledge, my attitudes, my beliefs, my patience, my resilience, my life. I'm not quite sure how or why it made such an impact, but I think it has something to do with triggering a watershed synthesis of all of the learning that I have acquired over the last 14 months of FBT. By that I mean, I have been steadily acquiring knowledge and skills and increasing my understanding of anorexia and FBT. And I have been applying my knowledge and analyzing my applications and their outcomes, but I haven't been able to step back and weave it all together into the right blueprint for my daughter and her specific pathology and our specific set of circumstances and family dynamic. Now, for the first time, I not only feel like I know more than Ed knows, I trust in what I know and I trust in how to apply it.

What I know now is that in spite of being weight restored, my daughter needs to eat every three hours and she needs eat foods containing fats, every three hours. If she doesn't she starts to slip in her thinking, her sleeping, her mood, and in her brain's ability to use the medication she is taking. The other thing I have learned is that every act of restriction, even the unconscious ones, trigger the eating disorder thoughts and feelings. These two facts translate into the realization that Emily is not ready for phase two of the Maudsley method - regaining control of her eating. And she wasn't ready last December, or in June or in September when we allowed her to take back control of some of her eating.

Sadly, I have come to realize that because we wanted to keep recovery moving forward, we undermined her recovery. Now she has lost hope that she will ever recover, she feels like she can only sustain her motivation to fight Ed for six weeks and then she falls into the abyss and it just isn't worth fighting for anymore. Who could blame her for feeling so hopeless. Six weeks ago she started the downward spiral, four weeks ago my spidey sense started tingling, two weeks ago she admitted that she didn't want recovery, she wanted Ed, but she agreed to let me feed her for one week, three meals, three snacks, 60 grams of fat. One week ago she still didn't want recovery, but wonder of wonders, she continued eating, her mood improved, her anxiety over eating seemed lessened, she was more engaged with her life. As far as I am concerned the nutrition and especially the fat is working. Yesterday she reluctantly agreed, at a Team meeting, to continue with treatment. Her words were not very encouraging and clearly part of her brain is still very stuck in the Ed world, but I am going to slather that part of her brain with peanut butter, cheese, ice cream and butter six times a day until her brain gets stuck on recovery.

Go read, 'Brave Girl Eating' if you are refeeding a child, or if you are supporting a friend or sibling who is refeeding a child. It will help in ways that will surprise you.

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