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The concentric waves of damage

Posted Oct 03 2008 4:17am
Traumatic injury causes post-traumatic stress symptoms in loved ones; this should surprise no on : Relatives of ICU patients at risk of PTSD too

Parents of eating disorder patients see their children in pain, extreme distress, confusion, violence, self-harm. We are often separated from our children physically, not to mention emotionally.

Add to this the fact that good parents feel responsible for their kids, and responsible for failing to protect their children from distress, and sometimes are even still told we are complicit in creating the eating disorder... it is a perfect storm.

I have not yet met the parent who walked away unburdened and unmarked after a child's recovery. The falling apart on descent is PART of the process. Anger, depression, unrelenting anxiety, these are normal AFTERWARD, and for a while. Sometimes we need counseling, sometimes we need drugs, and everyone needs time.

My daughter initially fell ill in 2002, recovered that year, and except for a brief relapse of thoughts and behaviors a few years later has been quite healthy and well. She's an independent adult, thriving, we have a great relationship, But I still suffer from the PTSD of having her ill.

Negative symptoms: much easier to anger or anxiety, medical after-effects. Positive symptoms: dogged inability to let go of the issue, compulsion to aid families newer to the ED world.

I don't know that we can avoid this. Of COURSE parents are traumatized by this illness. I really wish we all would acknowledge it and care for each other with this in mind. "Move on" is not helpful. "She's fine now" is not welcome. No one says this about breast cancer survivors and parents of children who've had serious surgeries. "I hear you" is good. "Good for you." that's helpful. "Tell me about it again," now that's love!
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