Struggling With and Resurfacing From a Daughter’s Eating Disorder
–Mary Ellen Clausen, Executive Director, Ophelia’s Place
Parents of children with eating disorders are often plagued with guilt, self-doubt, and intense shame. Barbara Hale-Seubert felt all of those things during the decade in which her eldest daughter, Erin, struggled with anorexia and bulimia. However, Barbara’s personal suffering was especially intense due to her profession: as a committed psychotherapist, she felt especially helpless and selfconscious about her inability to save Erin from the physical and mental ravages caused by her condition.
Eating disorders are rampant in North America, with emaciated stars on the covers of tabloids and the modeling industry being challenged about unhealthy, unrealistic images of what is desirable. In the face of these ubiquitous images, obesity is at an all-time high among children and teens, driving more and younger children to “experiment” with anorectic and bulimic behaviors. That means more parents and caregivers need to understand how to cope with and help these children, but also how to take care of themselves.
In RIPTIDE, Barbara Hale-Seubert reveals her personal struggle with knowing where to draw the line between what was her responsibility to her adult daughter, and what was Erin’s responsibility to herself, and to the rest of her family. When Erin finally succumbed to her condition when she passed away at the age of 23 in 2000, it was after a decade of her family dealing with her in-and-outpatient treatments, episodes of petty theft, suicide attempts, and often 12 times daily binge and purge cycles.
Barbara Hale-Seubert wrote this heart-wrenching and revealing account of her painful experience with Erin to offer hope, inspiration, and practical guidance for families dealing with eating disorders, as well as to help the professionals who deal with these families gain a better understanding what it feels like to be in their shoes.
RIPTIDE offers other parents of children who suffer from any mental illness or addiction the redemptive solace that comes with knowing that they aren’t alone in their struggles.
Barbara Hale-Seubert is a licensed social worker in both New York and Pennsylvania. She has had extensive training in working with couples and enjoys co-therapy and presenting workshops and retreats with Andrew to enhance and heal relationships and provide information and support to stepfamilies. She also has training in Existential-Gestalt psychotherapy and EMDR...
Listen to the Out of Bounds Interview with Host Trish Pearlman, recorded 7/12/13