The light at the end of the tunnel…
My youngest daughter, Bec (age 19), has been suffering from anorexia for close to 3 years now. She has had her severe lows; hospitalisation in Nov 2009 after losing an excessive amount of weight in a very short space of time, being sent home from interstate after becoming so ill that she was at risk of organ failure in her first year of University in 2010 (following her life dream) , spiralling downhill a number of times in 2011 after extreme emotional trauma, and now being stuck, so entrenched in the ED (eating disorder) that she sees no way out – no light at the end of the tunnel. Her weight has been up and down like a rollercoaster, but in that time, she has not been close to a “healthy weight”. The Ed has robbed her of her dream (she is a very talented dancer), her freedom, her happiness, her self-worth, her self-respect and threatens to destroy her life. She cannot see her true beauty (inside & out), her true giftings, her true value, her true self… because the ED has convinced her that she is ugly, worthless, useless, fat…
She was always so active, involved in numerous sports at State & National level, highly intelligent gaining a “General Excellence Scholarship” (Academic, Sport & Arts) at a private girls school for her senior years, gifted in leadership holding a position her last year of Primary school & two positions (Worshp Captain & Dance Captain) in her final Year 12. She is beautiful inside and out, loving, thoughtful, caring, compassionate, and sensitive.
Just this weekend, a school friend jokingly posted on Facebook posted: “I am just not cut out for the anorexic lifestyle.” , to which another young woman & teacher in her 20’s replied “You are too gorgeous, intelligent and sensible for that nonsense.”
It saddened me to read this, the view of those who lack understanding & compassion, but my daughter’s reply made me so proud. In all her struggles and hurt from cruel comments, abuse and verbal attacks from strangers, “friends” & some family, she was able to reply with this:
“It’s a shame people don’t understand that anorexia isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a serious illness. I have suffered from it for close to three years now.”
I know that many of my generation and older have no understanding of the disease and think it’s simple to fix. There is a belief that the person can “just get over it” or “just eat some food” and they will be well. Contrary to that beilief, Eating disorders are serious and fatal diseases, like cancer, diabetes and many others – there is no “quick fix”. Anorexia is a mental illness (just like depression); it is the most fatal of all mental illnesses, the hardest to treat, and the more starved the brain becomes, the more entrenched the disease becomes and the longer it lasts. What sufferers and families need is for society to listen to the advocates & educators in the ED area; to gain knowledge, understanding and in doing so to gain compassion.
My daughter posted on her blog last night: “In terms of myself, I am trapped in a state of limbo; mentally in a place that continues to destroy me both inside and out. I feel powerless when it comes to the notion of regaining life and freedom, happiness and contentment. It is a dark alley way and although there is a light at the end of the journey, it appears so dim. ”
As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to watch my daughter waste away before my eyes, to see her intense fear of food – the one thing that once provided, energy, health, strength and nourishment to her body & brain is now a subject of fear. I never envisaged this life. In all the years she and her brothers suffered chronic asthma as children, and were hospitalised countless times fighting to breathe. I never imagined that I would find myself again, fighting alongside her, willing her to choose life, encouraging her to beat an insidious disease that threatens her life.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I find myself again, on my knees, as I have been so many times, as I was when she was younger, pleading with God to heal her, touch her, restore her – to bring back my beautiful daughter, to return the sister her siblings love. It is only God who can give her the strength & courage to fight, to conquer, to triumph over this. My responsibility is to love, support, encourage, guide and pray. And that I will do until she sees the light at the end of this tunnel grow brighter and brighter, and walks out into the light and freedom of life.
Pray with me, if you will. My daughter needs a miracle and the scriptures tell us:
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
Still counting gifts I am grateful for:
77. New challenges in my photography
78. The increasing ability to see beauty in even the simplest things
79. Creativity I never knew I had
80. Books to broaden my knowledge
82. My new computer
83. Doctors with the gift to diagnose & heal
84. My daughter’s cooking
85. Summer salads
86. Tomato plants, once thought dead, brought back to life by rain