F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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Something Ive been wondering about for a while is what other carers have done post-recovery. The whole trauma and experience of dealing with a loved one changes us all on so many levels and I would be interested to hear if your experiences has led to a new career, re-training, volunteering etc that utilised the skills and knowledge youve learnt as a carer.
My d is thankfully in recovery at the moment with only minor remnants of her anorexia remaining. Its been a tough 3 years and my youngest non-ED d will be starting high school next year so Ive been wondering if I could possibly do something with my experience to help others. I have already set up a support group in my locality which is going well. I just wondered what everyone else ended up doing post-recovery that might give me some inspiration of possible opportunities that are out there for us all.
Hopeful_mum, I'm so happy to hear that your daughter is doing well, and it's wonderful that you're now interested in using your experience to help others.  Although my daughter is doing well, another of my daughters has severe ocd, and I've recently had to devote a lot of time to helping her. Having experienced two different, but both very serious mental health issues in my family, I've learned things that have carried over into different aspects of my life.  I homeschooled my children for many years, and now work as a homeschool consultant, and in my work with my families, I have learned that many families deal with anxiety disorders on one level or another.  My experience with my own family has helped me to understand my families that I work with, and hopefully helped me to give them some useful advice.  Though I'm not doing anything specifically related to mental health, I think I'm better able to understand and empathize with other people that God puts in my path than I could before my daughters were ill.  

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

Hi Hopeful Mum, I'm thrilled your daughter is recovering. I wrote a recent post (and am also blogging) about PTSD that some carers go through after the ED has gone, something I've been struggling with but am hopefully coming out the other side.

But aside from this, I wrote down our story in a book which I found helped me to make some kind of sense of the ED years (if that's possible!) I am also trying to re-build my business (I work from home as a freelancer).

It is tricky, though. Who we were before isn't necessarily who we are afterwards and discovering who we are and where we go from here can be difficult.

I do get a gut feeling, however, that my post-ED role is similar to what it was during the months when my son was definitely heading in the right direction. Although I could never stop an eating disorder from happening, I can help other parents who are embarking on the nightmare to understand what's happening and, if possible, 'fast track' them through the learning curve, show them there is hope, direct them to this forum and just show them that there are other parents who have been there, done it and got through it. Especially parents of boys with eating disorders which is why I write my blog which I began in Jan 2011. I have also done talks -at schools and to parents, and talked about our experiences on the telly, radio and in the press.

I had to take a break from all of this when my PTSD was at its height, but now that it is weakening I have found myself being able to visit this forum again and blog. I strongly feel that helping other families is the way I want to go. It sounds a bit pompous, it's not meant to.

I love the sound of your support group. Food for thought there. How did you do it? Tell us more!
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
Dear hopeful_mum,

Glad to hear your D is doing well. Our D is now recovered & doing amazing things with her life!

Our D relapsed back in 2010 at the age of 21 & it was then that I got involved. During the years between first dianosis in 2004 & relapse in 2010 I was simply a bystander dad/husband who was working away a lot & relied on the clinicians & clinics to fix our daughter. It was finding our special educator Jan Clarke a mother who had been through hell & saved her daughter that was a turning point for me.

While the intial focus was getting our D recovered a new focus was developing within me that resulted in a level of advocacy for involvement of parents/carers/family as an essential/crucial ingredient for early & sustained recovery. Over time that that advocacy has grown from just a small part of finding good help for our daughter & our family, to now being actively involved in several oganisations, committees, forums etc locally in my home town of Perth Western Australia & Australia wide & Internationally, including being part of the F.E.A.S.T Australian Task Force.

Next year I will be undertaking a Certificate IV in Mental Health which will provide me with new skills, knowlege & compentcies plus an official Australia wide recognised qualification to work in the Mental Health field as either a volunteer or some form of paid work such as peer mentoring other ED parents.

ED Dad
Thanks for all your replies.  I did try and reply yesterday but then erased it by accident before I could post it...argh!!  Anyways, here goes again...

I agree FaithKeepsMeGoing, that what we have gone through does give us a deeper understanding of people's anxieties or issues that others may not be aware of.  I am grateful for this.  It is great this insight is helping with your current job.  I pray your daughter gets relief and ease from her OCD symptoms.  Keep yourself strong.  It must be tough going from caring for one daughter to another.

BattyMattyUK, I saw your post last week about life after caring.  I will check out your blog on PTSD which sounds really interesting.  I also think I have been suffering from mild PTSD which I have been fighting by myself to overcome for the past few years.  I am very nearly over it but will be started counselling this week to deal with a few issues that I can't seem to resolve by myself.  I remember you posting back in October 2015 to meet-up.  I felt just as you did at that stage but due to distance was unable to meet with you.  Its good to hear things are moving in a more positive direction for you now though.

Great to hear you wrote a book.  Are you allowed to post a link to that?  I also found writing helped to clear my head.  I had so many emotions, experiences and thoughts whirring around my head that I didn't know what to do with them and they made me feel jittery and restless.  So, I started to write my story too (which I havent finished and don't have any intentions to publish) and have since written a few articles (also unpublished) but each time they have helped me understand the our experiences more and somehow file it or process it better.  I never knew writing was so powerful in that way!!

The support group came about by accident in some ways.  I had mentioned to a social worker friend how I would have loved to have had a support group to attend during the 'dark, difficult days' of refeeding and beyond and that in some point in the future I might want to start a support group.  At that time I really didn't have the confidence to do anything about this by myself and didn't think I was in a good place emotionally myself to be able to help anyone else.  But, she spoke to a few people and someone agreed for there organisation to hold the group.  They provide the venue, printing of leaflets, refreshments etc. and for now they financially support it as we don't have enough members to cover costs but I am sure in time they will want the group to be self funding.  I have been amazed at how helpful this again has been for my own recovery and although our membership is small I hope that it has been beneficial to those who have attended so far.  I'm sure this is something you could do in your own area BattyMattyUK.

AUSSIEfamily, the advocacy work you are involved in sounds great.  I'm not sure if I have the confidence to be involved in such work at this stage but would love to do something like that in the future.  The Certificate IV sounds fantastic.  Was you already trained in healthcare field already or is this a completely independent qualification?  I think this is something I might like to do so that I can work in the field of mental health, or within an eating disorders unit specifically, but I'm not quite sure what qualification I should need to take.  Please tell me more if you can albeit we are from the other sides of the world and our systems may work very differently.

It's great to hear other's positive stories.  Thank you to you all.
Hi Hopeful, you can find a link to my book(s) on my blog - or just google me. I prefer not to include a link here as I don't want to be seen as 'advertising'. I think it might be listed on the FEAST book list too?

Yes, I found that writing helped me clear my head, get everything into some kind of perspective and almost to try and make sense of it all. I wouldn't have been able to do it now - it would seem 'too big'. It took an enormous amount of work over many months and with the help of a wonderful group of ATDT mums who helped with proof-reading and suggested improvements, etc. My son helped enormously, too, as I checked the manuscript over with him to ensure he was in agreement with everything. I also used this invaluable opportunity to add insights that he provided e.g. the reasons why he behaved in such-and-such a scary way on such-and-such occasion, for example the day he attempted to climb onto the house roof. This exercise provided me with a huge insight into what can go on inside the mind of someone battling with an ED - and it's not always what you think it is!

I want to write a sequel - people often ask me if a sequel is in the pipeline. At the moment this is 'too big' but hopefully it will happen, sooner rather than later.
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
Your books sound great especially for the insight and help it provided you at a time when you needed it most. Part 2 sounds good. Maybe start it little and slowly so you dont feel overwhelmed. Dont give yourself any time or content deadlines. Just write when you want and stop when you want. It might provide a helpful release of emotions like before.
Aologies though if my lack of understanding for your PTSD means that my suggestion wasnt helpful. Daily improvements means you'll get to Part2 at a time thats best for you but im sure you will get there.