Thursday, July 10, 2008

Transitioning Back Home from Inpatient Care

Hello, again,

I recently wrote some feedback to a parent whose son will be returning home soon from being hospitalized for anorexia. I thought I'd share it--without identifying names, places, etc.. Transitioning back home from treatment is one of the more difficult parts of recovery. It's so for the ED "voice" to tempt a person back into old ED patterns. The key is to focus--even carry important tidbits around on a note card in your back pocket if that helps--on what was learned as an inpatient and developing a whole new lifestyle.

Thoughts to consider...

1) "Talk up" his return and welcome him home, but maintain your regular lifestyle. Keep in mind this is his illness and his responsibility to recover, even though you'd give your right arm to take away that "IT voice" from him. ED clientele love to be taken care of and coddled, even though they sometimes say or tell you otherwise. There's this "come here, Mom, I need you..." attitude and on the same token he'll say "Get away from me, Mom and leave me alone...". This is him exploring his identity and figuring out who he is, what he wants, how he "should" act compared to how he "wants" to act, and other issues. Continue to set boundaries with yourself and with him, be flexible when things get insane, keep separate (don't blame yourself) for his actions and attitude, display compassion, express your feelings appropriately, and basically let him know that you'll never give up on him, no matter how much it hurts.

2) If family therapy has enlightened you to how you can change to make his life better, consider the changes you need to make. This may be how you share you feelings with him, what your underlying expectations are for him, how you communicate with him, and other things.

3) ED recovery is a process--unfortunately a looooooong process. It's comparable to a marathon, not a sprint. But it is a process and a growing experience that can be invaluable to making his personal life and your relationship with him thrive. I always said that my ED experience was a blessing in disguise. It was hell to go through, and my folks were at their wit's end, but after I matured and made the changes necessary for recovery, our relationship has never been better. For example, we weren't a "touchy, feely" family. We rarely if ever gave hugs, pats on the back, said "I love you," or show other types of similar affection. Today we will not leave each other without hugs and "I love yous." When I was a kid, I didn't realize until I got into therapy that this was very important to me, but I just didn't know how to get the ball rolling and take action.

Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. I'd be happy to lend support.

Till next time,