Viewing blog posts tagged with "Parental Distress"

Tolerating our own children’s distress

posted by Julie O'Toole on October 20, 2016 at 8:32am

This post was originally published on November 13, 2013.

Until I lived in the world of therapists and mental health professionals as part of the Kartini multidisciplinary team treating children with eating disorders, I had never actually heard the phrase “tolerating distress”, particularly as it pertained to parents.  Like most parents, I have a very difficult time tolerating pain in my own children, either physical or emotional and, when put in that situation, I immediately get…

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Helping Parents, Together

posted by Julie O'Toole on August 26, 2015 at 6:04pm

Mother nature built us to protect our offspring and, where necessary, the offspring of other members of our “tribe”.  Elephants and non-human primates have been reported to foster or adopt motherless infants and raise them as their own.  Few adults can bear to see the suffering of a child.

Life can throw some of us a lot of pain.  But perhaps the worst kind of pain we endure is the kind we experience when our own small children are suffering.  We are supposed to be able to protect…

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Traveling with ED

posted by Julie O'Toole on May 28, 2015 at 1:48pm

I am writing to you from Berlin tonight and thinking about a recent article written by Dr. Bulik on the challenges of international travel for those with an eating disorder, in particular anorexia nervosa. In the article Dr. Bulik talked about time changes and irregular meals, of long distance transportation being a danger to those whose brain chemistry is less anxious when they don’t eat and more anxious when they do. It's how a person’s weight may slide down inadvertently, because…

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Telling your kid apart from “Ed”

posted by Julie O'Toole on May 15, 2015 at 5:01pm

I can’t tell you how many parents report their child with anorexia nervosa (or bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, fill in the blank…) becoming very irritated, not to say ANGRY, at them for something we call “externalizing the illness”.

What does this term mean?  It actually refers to a very positive attitude adjustment undergone by both parents and patients whereby they are able to separate the sufferer from the illness and blame the illness, not the sufferer, for how hard life…

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When The Smile Comes Back

posted by Julie O'Toole on December 3, 2014 at 8:29am
Re-feeding has its own rewards, though there can be misery and challenge to get there.  I know that some of you who have been through this, either at home or with a team not at home, will be able to relate to what I am talking about.  It’s when the smile comes back. It’s hard to predict when the tipping point will come.  For some it’s within the first 48 hours of beginning to eat: the circulation improves, the cheeks fill with more color, the eyes brighten and they just feel… Read More

Save Yourself First

posted by Julie O'Toole on August 28, 2014 at 1:18am

It has become almost trite to advise parents struggling with the “severe pushback” of doing battle with their child’s eating disorder to remember that flight attendants caution parents travelling with small children to “first place the oxygen mask on yourself (really counter-intuitive for parents) and then place it on your child.” When I first heard this advice on a plane (astonishingly not what would have come naturally to me) I thought “of course! If I am unconscious then my…

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Making ‘em Mad

posted by Julie O'Toole on August 13, 2014 at 10:43pm

I’m sometimes not sure whom I make madder: some kids, some parents, or some insurance companies!

Making kids mad:

Me:  “Jill, help me understand why your weight would be way down this week?”

Jill (shrugging):  “I don’t know.  I actually exercised less and ate exactly what I was supposed to.”

Me:  “OK. I guess your body is just telling us you need more food.”

Jill:  “What!!?? No way!  I refuse to have more food.”

Me:  “Well…. unless you can think of something that didn’t go…

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Parental Supervision

posted by Julie O'Toole on August 7, 2014 at 1:45am

Eating disorders strike children at virtually all stages of development. Sometimes we think it’s most difficult when they strike a very young child, sometimes it seems the most difficult when a “child” is about to go off to college, or a student exchange program, or start a new school. Personally I think mid adolescence is one of the most difficult times for an eating disorder to strike a child.

Childhood and early adolescence are characterized by learning new skills, but also by…

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The Stigma of Mental Illness

posted by Julie O'Toole on July 17, 2014 at 2:28am

Lots of ink is been spilled on the subject of the stigma associated with having an eating disorder.  And in order to discuss the subject sensibly we need to get a few terms straight. It was considered a giant step forward in our field when Dr. Thomas Insel, head of NIMH, began blogging, writing and speaking about the fact that all mental illnesses are brain disorders, and that anorexia nervosa in particular was a severe mental illness.  Prior to that it had been possible to…

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Do Parents Cause Eating Disorders?

posted by Julie O'Toole on June 19, 2014 at 12:59am

Sometimes things happen to me that cause me to wonder what planet I have landed on.  Five years ago -- to say nothing of ten or fifteen -- whenever I insisted that parents didn’t cause eating disorders, any more than they cause schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or autism, I was treated like I hadn’t done my homework.  Thankfully, that has changed. Virtually no responsible eating disorder professional of any stature believes that parents cause severe mental illnesses, of which…

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