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Grief is Love

May 12, 2009
Grief is Love

Grief is Love

Grief  is an internal experience.  For some, it is an inside emptiness – a  fear – panic- loneliness – anger – guilt – longing – depression.  When asked this question recently, a patient said, “Grief is Love – with no place to go”.

Mourning is a bit different.  Mourning is ‘grief” which is expressed to the outside world.  It is the process where I “work through” my grief outwardly expressing my internal feelings.

Grief alone, without mourning, is dangerous and destructive to the human system. 

WHEN GROWING UP, WHO TAUGHT US HOW TO MOURN?

All our lives, most of us have been taught how to acquire, not how to lose.  There has been no course called LOSS 101.  No wonder it is strange and painful.  Many mourn their grief as they witnessed some role model, (perhaps a parent, movie or national personality) handle his or her grief.

As young people, we may have heard these messages:
- “Don’t feel bad, don’ t cry.” (message – Bury your feelings)
- “You lost your toy! Well just be good and Santa will bring another.” (message – everything is replaceable)
-”Now! You just keep your feelings to yourself.” (message – Don’t trust, it isn’t safe to share your feelings.)

Who taught you how to appropriately express feelings and experience loss?

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH

December 29, 2008

j0433113New Year resolutions can become cognitive distortions of the eating disorder. These resolutions can lead to more chaotic eating instead of meeting nutritional needs and managing stress of the New Year. Sweep away stress and clear a space for a more joyful New Year.

Think about New Year resolutions from the inside- out…

*Meaningful memories

*More creativity

The New Year is a good time to get back to basics—

Grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits, dairy and fats

Your meal plan and positive affirmations

“I can sit down and relax because I am who I am, and in my mind have acquired the strength that means I can learn to deal with anything.”

“I accept myself for who I am and enjoy learning more about myself and the world that I am a part of with every year.”

“I look forward to wherever my life may lead me in 2009.”

“I am happy to know myself.”

“I accept myself and my body the way I am.”

“I am not afraid of food and can eat to meet my nutritional needs.”

“I am hungry, I eat and I am satisfied.  I have the energy to do what I need and want to do.”

As the long days of darkness become days with more light, step into the New Year with memories of your success in your ED recovery  with continued action for success in 2009.

Don’t Mess with Stress

December 5, 2008

42-15495677Stress reduction:

Why you need to get a grip and how it damages the body, contributing to heart disease, diabetes and more. In these economic times, it’s also a fact of life.

Stocks are falling. Companies are handing out pink slips. Home values are collapsing. Financial icons are folding.

And Americans’ stress is rising.
The 2008 Stress in America survey, conducted by the American Psychological Assn. and released in October, found that stress levels have increased significantly over the last two years, particularly in the last six months. Money and the economy top the list of concerns.

Among 2,500 participants from across the country, 81% said money was a significant cause of stress, up from 73% in 2007 and 59% in 2006. Worries about other economic issues also increased. Between April and October, worries about work jumped from 62% to 67%; concerns over housing costs rose from 56% to 62%; and job stability woes increased from 48% to 56%. Meanwhile, consumer confidence plummeted to 38.8 points in October (the lowest since the index began in 1967, though it rose slightly in November).

As the economy plummets and stress levels soar, people need to find ways to manage their stress — or more than their investments will suffer.

Chronic unresolved stress weakens the immune system, increasing our susceptibility to infections such as common colds and other viruses. And when stress increases, so does inflammation, contributing to stroke, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, periodontal disease and frailty. Additionally, studies have shown, the cumulative effects of unresolved psychological stress contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.

And if those weren’t enough negatives, stress also turns on genes that trigger disease, accelerate aging and lead to depression, says Michael Irwin, professor of psychiatry at UCLA and director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

Adds Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, an Ohio State University psychiatry professor specializing in stress: “I’m absolutely convinced the effects of stress are far worse than what we thought they were.”

In a study of caregivers providing long-term care for spouses with dementia, for example, Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues found that the caregivers had delayed and substantially weaker immune responses to the influenza vaccine when compared with a control group of people who weren’t caregivers, suggesting that the chronic stress of their situation had taken a toll on their ability to fight off viruses. Similar results have been seen among stressed and nonstressed college undergraduates.

In a separate study of female caregivers undergoing the long-term stress of caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s, researchers found that skin wounds on caregivers took 24% longer to heal than those of a control group.

And in a group of 394 healthy adult volunteers who were inoculated with five different strains of virus, the severity of their infection increased in direct correlation to the participants’ scores on a psychological stress index. Those who were under more stress got sicker. “Overall, adults who showed higher rates of chronic stress also experienced higher rates of clinical illness,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

But even as advances in neuroscience and biomedicine have helped researchers better understand how stress hurts the body, they have also shown which interventions work to reduce the effects of stress — and which ones don’t.

Jameson is a freelance writer.
By Marnell Jameson
December 1, 2008

Bulimia is a Dental Disease

November 25, 2008

1480876642_c4ef38ea62_mThe first book of its kind that explores the links between dental health and bulimia nervosa/purging disorder. Every year, thousands of women and hundreds of males are diagnosed with Bulimia nervosa – an eating disorder and psychological condition caused by binge eating and purging what has been eaten. Emotional havoc ensues – guilt, depression and self-condemnation followed by physical problems – malnutrition, dehydration, organ damage and teeth erosion from the stomach acids used in purging. Dr. Brian McKay sees the obvious oral symptoms of bulimia nearly every day in his Seattle and Southern California dental practices.

The frequency of these patients inspired McKay to write this book about the diagnosis, treatment and recovery from bulimia from a very unique perspective: The dental chair. With over 25 years of experience as a dentist, Dr. McKay learned the sad facts: 26% of all bulimia is first diagnosed by a dentist. In this landmark book – the first of its kind – he sounds the clarion call for a united effort between two professions –the Eating Disorder Treatment professionals and the Dental world to join forces and treat this debilitating disease and create a safety net for its victims. Discover the facts. Learn to take action. Find out how to care for bulimics everywhere in a caring, nonjudgmental, revolutionary approach.

Manorexia or Men with Eating Disorders

November 21, 2008
man

 

James is a nice looking guy, tall with a lean and muscular build.  One would never know by looking at him that he is currently a patient at an inpatient treatment center for eating disorders. 
 When thinking of eating disorders, we rarely picture a man working out obsessively, starving himself to look lean or wanting to emulate celebrities on magazine covers. 

Eating Disorders are considered “women’s illnesses”.  In our society, men are not allowed to show the weakness of having mental health disorders, much less suffer from eating disorders. In view of the fact that men and eating disorders is a problem, they virtually always keep this a painful secret.  According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, men comprise about one million Americans who are suffering with eating disorders.  James recalls his first introduction to his eating disorder as a young high school athlete. He was a wrestler and during wrestling session he was forced to keep his weight below 160 to be eligible to compete in a certain weight class. With tears in his eyes, James describes the rituals he endured to maintain his weight: restricting calories, working out obsessively and even wearing a rubber sweat suit under his clothes at school.  James also recalls a period of binging and purging in an attempt to lower his weight even further to possibly compete in an even lower weight class. 

Everything is calculated. He knows the calorie content of every morsel of food or beverage he ingests even though his days of wrestling have long passed. James exercises excessively, knowing exactly how many calories he burns with each work out. James has been suffering with anorexia for nearly 10 years. However, he was only recently diagnosed. James recalls one recent  Dr. visit with his primary physician where he was actually praised for his lean, underweight frame. “The subject of eating was never brought up, he says, people always assumed that I was a distance runner even though I wasn’t, I hid behind that assumption”.

A recent Harvard study on eating disorders paints a different, bigger picture: more men are suffering from eating disorders than previously thought.  Out of 3,000 people diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia, 25 percent were men.

The diagnostic criterion for anorexia focuses on women, which is evident with symptoms of amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) and fear of fatness.  Though some men do exhibit a fear of fat, others typically want to be muscular, obsess over attaining a low body fat percentage and focus their efforts on excelling at a sport.

James ended up in treatment after collapsing in the gym. He had just completed a particularly grueling workout during a period of fasting. James tells the story of the ambulance ride, the hospitalization and one particularly astute young female Dr. “She confronted me and asked me point blank if I restricted calories as regular practice.  That was my moment, finally the gig was up and it was no longer my secret, I felt a tremendous burden lifted when I answered yes”.

 From that hospitalization, James was transferred to an inpatient treatment center for eating disorders in Arizona. His roommate is a compulsive overeater named Paul.  James and Paul have found strength in each other, knowing they are not alone as men with eating disorders.  Their stories are very different but the journey to recovery from eating disorders is the same, one day at a time.

 

 

Drunkorexia is a Dangerous Eating Disorder

November 19, 2008

Drunkorexia

Drunkorexia

“I probably drank a six-pack of beer, a bottle of wine or anywhere in between in a night”, Denise reports. “If I didn’t eat anything in a day, and I drank, I feel skinnier”.

Denise is a senior at a state college and during most of her years in college she was engaged in a deadly lifestyle. During the day, she restricted her calories severely allowing herself to over-indulge in alcohol at night.  

 

Drunkorexia is a new slang term to describe this practice of restricting food and indulging in alcohol.  Alcohol contains calories, the thinking goes, and too many calories lead to weight gain. The new and dangerous question young people are asking themselves is, “Should I eat food or drink alcohol?”.  Those who are active in drunkorexia have decided that alcohol is more important.

Denise started drinking when she was 14 or 15 and started restricting calories even younger at 13. By age 17, she was admitted to the hospital by her parents driven by the fear of her alcohol use. At the time, she weighed 97 pounds, much to low for her 5’5” height.  “I definitely didn’t eat when doing alcohol and drugs because if I didn’t eat, the high was stronger”.

A 2003 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that those with an eating disorder are 5 times more likely to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs than those without.  Drunkorexia is actually two problems at once, alcohol abuse and an eating disorder, a tragic setup.  To avoid food, one has to be desperate to avoid weight gain.  But an alcohol addiction would demand to be fed even though it would supply feared calories.  The emotional stress for a person in this position would be enormous not to mention the physical effects on their bodies.

Out of control, embarrassment and shame are words used by Denise to describe her past drunkorexia lifestyle.  “I’ve blacked out, thrown up and humiliated myself in public”.

While it may seem like an easy fix to simply eat healthy and stop drinking, anyone who has suffered from an addiction or eating disorder can quickly assure people: it’s not that simple.

For Denise, it took her family’s intervention and her admission into an extended care program, it was the one place she could go that accepted her insurance. During the day, she and other men and women, attended day treatment for eating disorders.  She learned how to cope with her negative feelings about her weight and appearance.  Denise says “Before treatment, I felt fat, ugly and undesirable, most of the time. While in treatment I learned how to really look at myself and that I am beautiful just the way that I am”.  In the evenings, she lived in a safe, supportive residence with the other patients. She said the real healing took place in her room where she and her roommate would talk for hours each night about everything they had learned during the day.  When I first arrived at treatment, I hated it and didn’t want to stay but my parents made it clear to me I didn’t have the option to leave.  60 days later, I didn’t want to leave and cried as I said my goodbyes. 

Recovery

October 22, 2008

It has been said that a recovery from a mental illness or addiction can best be understood through the lived experiences of persons with pyschiatric illness or addictions.  Common themes include the ideal that:

  • Recovery is the re-awakening of hope after despair
  • Recovery is breaking through denial and achieving understanding and acceptance.
  • Recovery is moving from withdrawal to engagement and active participation in life.
  • Recovery is active coping rather than passive adjustment.
  • Recovery means no longer viewing oneself primarily as a mental patient and reclaiming a positive sense of self.
  • Recovery is a journey from alienation to purpose.
  • Recovery is a complex journey.
  • Recovery is not accomplished alone, it involves support and partnership.

Author unknown.

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