College returns

T'is the season for college students to come home for their winter break.

For some families it will be the first time they realize their child has an eating disorder when they come home obsessed with feeding the family but eating little themselves, as discussed by the Menninger Clinic in a recent release. They're "just eating healthy" or "decided to become vegetarian." But the parental radar is on: something is wrong.

Other families will, after holding their breath for four months, find out whether their child has relapsed, or thrived, in the college atmosphere.

After semester finals comes the test scores that mean the most to mom and dad: "how are you, honey?"

For those who need a new plan, may I strongly suggest the list of providers at the Maudsley Parents web site. These are providers who coach families in surrounding the sufferer with loving, but very firm, support. The Maudsley approach is generally aimed at younger sufferers, but I find that clinicians open to Maudsley are less likely to shut the parents out even after 18.

For those continuing with school, a great piece in the New York Times talks about mental illnesses at college and offers a view into different ways to support a child who is away.

School is, as my husband likes to say, a luxury and not a right. College can wait, but getting and staying recovered is a required courseload. A chronic eating disorder does not taste better with a college degree, and noone needs a B.A. on their gravestone.


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