by Alison Harrop
When I was at my most frustrated, when I was worried the most, when I was the most determined to beat ”ED”(and had the time to do the research), it was often late at night, at 3 am or after a particularly bad mealtime experience! Those were the times that I had the motivation… or the time… or the courage to seek the advice of others, and the companionship of people who knew the battle I was facing. Parents who REALLY knew!
We discovered that our daughter was struggling with anorexia at the start of her junior year at high school and our world was turned upside down. I looked at websites, I read books, and I sought the wisdom of professionals. It was a long road to recovery with many bumps, and ups and downs along the way. The turning point for us, emotionally, was when we exchanged ideas and information with other parents and care-givers, who absolutely understood what it was like being on the front line of fighting “ED.” They knew the anxiety of mealtimes, the heartache at weigh-ins and the ever-present frustration and worry. As my girl got better and became determined to beat “ED” herself, I became involved in SMEDA, and became passionate about Parent Support. Because sharing those things which I felt guilty thinking about, being able to cry out my fears and anger, with a person who also was experiencing what I was feeling, was a relief! Knowing the stories of other parents whose children were at different stages, (some who had fully recovered), gave me hope!
For a while now we have held parent support groups monthly, but I will be honest with you, over the last year I have been less than satisfied with them. The number of people attending has dropped off and I wondered if we were being effective. I had a discussion with some other parents, who felt the same way… An evening meeting once a month at a time of night where someone is already at capacity after a day at work, and coping with a stressful mealtime, was maybe not the most appropriate or useful method of parent support. It is likely that 3am is when you most need the help, when you can’t sleep!
One of my great desires is to provide help when it is needed the most- relevant, suitable and reliable help, at convenient times. Therefore we have made some changes to the way we will be offering parent support through SMEDA:
First of all we will be transitioning from physical monthly meetings to an online blog. We have a team of people who have been through, or who are going through what YOU are going through. At least monthly we will be posting a blog about something appropriate and relevant to your situation. There will also be resources available for you to look up- websites, online support groups and more.
Secondly, we do not want to leave you without a real-life person to talk to, so we have a team of “parent-mentors.” Parents who you can call to speak to. I will be one of those mentors and I promise to meet with you at a coffee shop, or speak to you on the phone however much you need me to. You can tell me your frustrations and worries, ask me questions or I can be the listening ear! Honestly I have found the best way I have helped people is one on one support like this. Contact us through the website and we will pair you up with a parent-mentor.
One final thing… We are looking for Guest Bloggers. If you have something you would like to share through this forum, then please contact us.
We want you to feel supported, and we really believe that these changes will better serve you. We welcome your feedback, so please contact us if you have suggestions, and especially if you have questions you would like us to answer through one of our posts!