Upon taking multiple breathers after reading this article, I am now prepared to share my personal reaction to this circulating news story from New Jersey.
This article mentions specific numbers related to weight which may be triggering.
I am a Catholic, a social worker and a woman who is in recovery from anorexia. I mention these three things because I can use these facets of my life to gain differing perspectives. I have fought the battle with anorexia since I was 13, and through my relapses and hospitalizations on many occasions I was deemed medically sick enough an NG feeding tube was needed. Looking back, I am thankful for those doctors and family members who stepped in and did not allow me to willingly starve myself, because even at my lowest weight I thought I was fat and did not want to eat or begin the refeeding process. Eating disorders are complex biological, psychological, emotional and social illnesses which do not discriminated against age, race, gender or socioeconomic status. In my experience, I have learned before recovery can begin, medical stability must be achieved which involves the uncomfortable slow process of refeeding, confronting the misconceptions of food and its role in our lives along with doing the difficult work of grappling with the underlying emotional issues which are masked by fixating on food rituals. It has been said eating disorders are 10% about food/eating and 90% about other issues.
Countless grass route efforts with the help of eating disorder advocacy groups have tirelessly championed stronger mental health parity laws to protect those who are seeking eating disorder treatment. Sadly, many Mothers have lost daughter’s and loved one’s to an eating disorder which spurred on their effort to do what they can to save someone else’s family from having to go through the heartache of having to prematurely bury their loved one due to an untreated mental health diagnosis.
As a Catholic, I wholeheartedly believe every life from conception to natural death is precious, so in my eyes assisted suicide, death with dignity or whatever the politically correct term of the day may be, does not promote the respect of life and human dignity. However, on the other hand as a social worker, I understand and respect client’s right to self-determination.
I realize this court’s ruling is not a black-and-white decision, and it’s probably more complex than the short news article portrays, but what concerns me is the precedence such a decision has for those who are either wanting to seek treatment and are refused by their insurance company, or for those who are so sick in the disorder with its illogical warped twisted lies, are permitted to die from self-imposed starvation even before their brains or bodies are given a chance to receive proper nutrition under the guise of self-determination. A few years ago, I lost a dear friend to anorexia. She was in recovery and working to get her life back on track, but after years of this hellish cycle the medical complications snuffed out her life.
Here are some questions I am pondering which do not have easy answers. Please feel free to share your feelings, thoughts and perspectives.
Would you sit back and willingly watch a friend, family member or stranger starve themselves without intervening even if their actions are harmful to themselves?
When in our society do we draw a line to show through our actions and laws life is valued and respected? Is there even room for this needed discussion with the backward trends our courts have recently made?
As human beings who are on this earth for a short time, how can we leave the world a better place than it was when we arrived if we do not enforce the importance of loving boundaries for the simple fact of doing what is difficult even when it’s not popular?
“Between 10 and 20 percent of people with anorexia die from heart attacks, other complications and suicide; the disease has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Or Kitty could have lost her life in a different way, lost it to the roller coaster of relapse and recovery, inpatient and outpatient, that eats up, on average, five to seven years. Or a lifetime: only half of all anorexics recovery in the end. The other half endure lives of dysfunction and despair. Friends and families give up on them. Doctors dread treating them. They’re left to stand in the bakery with the voice ringing in their ears, alone in every way that matters.” Harriet Brown, Brave Girl Eating
Thank you to all who have believed in me through my starts and stops toward full recovery.
Until next time,