Living FULL
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ISBN-13  978-1-63353-874-0
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Living FULL

Winning My Battle With Eating Disorders

By Danielle Sherman-Lazar
Imagine waking in a hospital bed to find your frail, pale arm punctured by an IV transferring fluids and nutrients into your weak, stiff body. What happened? You’re an adult, age twenty-six, seventy-six pounds, and you just had a seizure precipitated by your chronic secretive decades-long struggle with unacknowledged eating disorders (ED). You have no friends and no normal young-adult experiences. Living FULL, a memoir about one woman’s journey, exposes the rarely talked about behind-the-scenes triggers and treatments, shame and guilt, and even coexisting addictions that go undetected in adult women today (i.e., drinking, cutting, etc.). Filled with pop culture references that will appeal to millennials, humor, and delivered with raw honesty about the escalating and increasingly dangerous behaviors of a person acting out the mental illness of ED, the book chronicles the step-by-step descent into the nightmare that is full-blown ED, followed by a recovery using a treatment that is rarely tried on adults: Maudsley Approach—a regimen of supervised controlled eating, or refeeding, by out-patient helpers; in this case, my parents—in a grueling battle, sometimes reminiscent of Helen Keller’s fight with Anne Sullivan, and ending with recovery or, what I call on my popular Facebook group page, “becoming FULL.” Eating disorders in adults are hardly talked about although they are extremely pervasive. A groundbreaking 2012 study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that about 13 percent of women over age 50 exhibit eating disorder symptoms. To put that in perspective: Breast cancer afflicts about 12 percent of women. (https://www.remudaranch.com/blog/item/18-adult-women-and-eating-disorders). Everyone knows about breast cancer and how dangerous it is; yet eating disorders are kept hidden out of shame. Adults have jobs and families and can’t afford to go to treatment —either monetarily or emotionally. The average cost for a thirty-day stay in a treatment facility is $30,000. Patients often need from three to six months of inpatient care. With Maudsley treatment, one can live at home under the watch of your family or other willing helpers, while seeing an eating disorder therapist and other associated doctors whom he/she recommends. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And it was equally difficult and rewarding for my mom, who contributes a short essay at the end of the book. The book is written from my perspective—a woman who has passed through the crucible of ED, is willing to share the most intimate and shameful details, and who is now a mother with a fierce commitment to raise a healthy daughter (who may well carry the ED gene; like alcoholism, there is a genetic propensity) and to help others walk the path of recovery. How does a person whose mind is programmed to hate her body fat deal with pregnancy? That, too, is revealed—in a back-of-the book chapter for potential mothers. It is filled with valuable tips for countering the triggered thoughts by reframing what is happening in a positive light. Founded in hard-won wisdom and steeped in research, the book’s content (including a “Food & Feelings” log during treatment) can be used to answer “how to” and “why” questions for not only ED sufferers but their families, caregivers, and therapists who have not specialized in ED.

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