Present Day

My daughter spent almost five months in the UCSD Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment Program in 2012 and six weeks in their adult program in 2013, after a relapse.

She continues to check in with her (phenomenal) psychiatrist regularly. She has found art to be an important tool for her to maintain her recovery.

Recovery: A Magical Word

Kinsey’s been in recovery for 16 months. She’s completed three semesters of college in another state and is planning on a study abroad in Australia. Every day, either in person or on social media, I do what I will do for the rest of her life; scan her face for the softness that, for her, indicates health.

About your College Roommate who Kicked Anorexia on her Own . . .

There are a percentage of people with eating disorders whose diseases spontaneously remit in their mid-twenties when the brain’s prefrontal cortex comes fully online as the executive function of the brain overrides the wiring issues in the amygdala, which controls emotion. Functional MRIs show that anorexics experience anxiety, rather than pleasure, from food.

What About the Rest of the Family?

Families don’t cause eating disorders. Families do play an indispensable role in recovery. The most important thing a family can do is not wait for their loved one to ask for help and to insist upon medical treatment. We have to want it for them until they are well enough to want it for themselves.

Forged from Steel and Battle Tested

In battling an eating disorder, families must do hard things in counterintuitive ways. I never set out to be a mother who would wield car keys and college tuition as weapons for compliance over eating and weight maintenance, but that was what it took. Today my daughter stands in rooms full of parents or teens as a recovery speaker and thanks her parents for saving her life.

My baby girl and I are very close and the same is true with her father and her siblings; their text support and encouragement and graduations and weddings gave her the incentive to choose recovery once she had a choice; she continues to choose recovery daily.

Where this Life Detour has Took Me

Today I spend a lot of time on activism and advocacy (see my bio for more information). Currently I am using social media to promote the inaugural Mothers and Others March in Washington D.C. to be held on 9/30/14–our goal is that moms, families and advocates will unite in the fight against eating disorders.

I believe that as long as society considers eating disorders diseases of choice and vanity, rather than biological, brain-based illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, we will continue to have inequitable funding, inadequate and prejudiced medical care and insufficient and ineffective insurance coverage.

Margaret Mead was a Smart Woman

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Anorexia has become a conundrum in my life. I loathe this disease and yet give thanks for the amazing people I’ve met and become allies with on this journey—sufferers and cares alike–and for the gift of a daughter who faced a monster in her brain greater than most of us will ever know and came out whole on the other side.

What gift has adversity given you? 

Published on: July 25, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Jennifer Denise Ouellette

Jennifer Denise Ouellette is the author of the blog Juggling Life, which is also her two-word autobiography. She is the mother of four, an Allied Health Program Director for a vocational school, and an activist who uses social media to draw attention to the needs of those with eating disorders and their families.

Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.
No comments yet. Start the conversation!
Add your comment