This very short video shows why mindfulness is relevant to you as you deal with an eating disorder in your family
Here are some books to help you stand on your own two feet and keep supporting your child.
‘A Powerful New Approach to Overcoming Fear, Panic, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ by Christopher McCurry
I was delighted to find it, as beforehand the only book I wanted to recommend on the subject of mindfulness and acceptance was in French (see below). This one is even more relevant because it deals with both the child’s and the parent’s journey through fear.
You may not consider your child to have an anxiety problem, but this book is still highly relevant to a child suffering from anorexia. Fear is your kid’s main problem at mealtimes, and you, the parent, probably also want tools to help you with your own stress. If so, you can always skip to later chapters, and read how parents can help their kids to eat, and how to expose them to fearful situations to desensitise them. McCurry takes the sting away from thoughts and feelings, describes how empathy and mirroring work to defuse anxiety, and most of all, shows how anxiety isn’t a reason not to act.
These concepts are central to my book here, but McCurry explains it all beautifully, and his work is particularly relevant if your child struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or particular phobias even before the onset of anorexia.
I am enthusiastically recommending Tara Brach’s resources to you. There are loads of her talks on YouTube as well as on her own website. This book of hers explains mindfulness and all things related, making it all accessible and practical, but never getting over-simplistic.
For us parents of an anorexic child, or for anyone suffering from extreme bad health, stress or grief, this is a fantastic book about the mental attitude that will enable to make powerful changes. The bad news, for some of you, is it only exists in French. It’s called La guérison intérieure par l’acceptation et le lâcher-prise by Canadian writer Colette Portelance. Which means something like ‘ Inner healing through acceptance and letting go’ .
This book gave me wings, liberating in me the energy of a mother tiger ready to take on whatever my anorexic child needed. The author probably says the same things that books on Eastern philosophies say, but I liked how it engaged my rational, down-to-earth brain. I really could “accept” and “let go”, once I’d understood it had nothing to do with giving up, and that it would free my mind to find solutions. It is, of course, totally in line with Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
For those of you who don’t read French, I’m delighted that Christopher McCurry’s book is along very similar lines.
When things fall apart – heart advice for difficult times
This book comes from a Buddhist perspective and may give you solace and help you make a peaceful space in your mind. I used to open pages at random and I’d often find something relating to exactly what I needed. On the other hand, like many of these Eastern philosophy books it doesn’t spell things out in a rational, logical way. They tend to go for heart rather than head. Personally I like my head and heart to collaborate, so books like this do less for me than the Nonviolent Communication framework, or the Colette Portelance or Tara Brach books.
Which is why I don’t have a big long list of resources to share on mindfulness. I guess I’ve picked up concepts from all over the place all my life. If all this is new to you, keep your eyes open for yoga, meditation and anything new-agey. It will range from the ridiculous to the sublime, but you may not know which until you’ve tried it.
You could also safely check out bestsellers by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who brought mindfulness to Western psychological science and by Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I haven’t read them thoroughly, as I find ‘I know this stuff’ so they don’t stretch me very much. But as they’re bestsellers, I guess they are much loved by people new to this.