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Mental Note

Episode 17 - A Parent's Journey

Check out our podcast, Mental Note. Beth Ayn's tells the story of her daughter being diagnosed with anorexia and the journey that led her to start Stay Strong Virginia, a non-profit to help other parents.

Quote by Beth Ayn

Synopsis:

What happens when your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder? Where do you go for help? How does it affect your community?

When Beth Ayn's daughter received a diagnosis of anorexia, she set out on a journey that led her to unexpected places. Eventually, she took those lessons and turned them into Stay Strong Virginia - a non-profit that helps other parents in similar circumstances.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Ellie: I don't know about you but my first reaction after getting through a really tough ordeal is normally, "So glad that's over. Now let's move on ASAP." Rarely do I say, "So glad that's over. Now how can I help others in a similar situation?" That sort of thinking takes big vision and an even bigger heart. On today's podcast, we have the honor of meeting up with Beth Ayn. 

Beth Ayn Stansfield: I'm, Beth Ayn Stansfield. 

Ellie: [00:00:30] A mental health administrator who quickly found herself overwhelmed at her daughter's diagnosis of anorexia. Yet, even as Beth Ayn and her daughter found a way to recovery, she started offering lifelines to other parents in similar situations. Her efforts turned into Stay Strong Virginia. A thriving nonprofit that provides resources for families, friends, and professionals affected by eating disorders. You're listening to Mental Note Podcast. I'm Ellie Pike. 

[music] 

[00:01:00]  

Let's just jump in. I want to know a little bit about you before we dive into your story with your daughter going through an eating disorder. Tell me some of the things that you love and that you've done in life that just make you happy. 

Beth Ayn: My passion is running. 

Ellie: Beth Ayn is pulling out her bibs right now, and there are a lot of them. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, my one medal. 

Ellie: There's a whole bunch in a Manila envelope and a medal. Where's your medal from? 

Beth Ayn: [00:01:30] There's the medal. That's the New York City. 

Ellie: Oh, the New York City one. 

Beth Ayn: That was the-- 

Ellie: 1994. 

Beth Ayn: Yes. A while back, wasn't it? 

Ellie: That's awesome. How many do you think you have in this manila envelope? 

Beth Ayn: Oh wow, I've got quite a few packets. There's some other things-- I don't know, maybe 150, 200. 

Ellie: There's so how many in here. How many races would you run in a year? 

Beth Ayn: Maybe 25, I guess. 25, 30. 

Ellie: So you were just always running. You never really had a time of not running. 

Beth Ayn: Correct, yes. Again, it was about the events [00:02:00] and the folks that I could connect with, and the places that I could visit and see. 

Ellie: Ah, thanks for bringing all of those. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, sure. 

Ellie: That's really fun to hear part of your enjoyment in life. 

[music] 

Ellie: Beth Ayn's journey actually began by sharing this very passion for running with her daughter. 

Beth Ayn: Well, she decided, and it just came out of the blue actually, [00:02:30] that she was interested in eating more healthy. At that time, I didn't really understand what that looked like for her and maybe she didn't either. Of course, I was like, "Okay." Initially, that was cutting back on some sweets, and then it led to some portion changes. Initially, I wasn't alarmed by anything. Then she approached me and said, "You know, I'm going to start running." [00:03:00] Of course, I thought, "This is a great way for us to connect. That's exciting. Okay." 

Ellie: Would you all run together? 

Beth Ayn: Initially, yes. We pulled out some of these bibs and I said, "Wouldn't it be really exciting if one day we could actually even run a marathon together?" We started to run and initially, it seemed to be something that she enjoyed. [00:03:30] I'd come home from work, she'd come home from her school, we put on the shoes and we would locate different paths. We'd go to a park. We'd mix it up and then we'd go into the city. I would say at three weeks, it was a pretty quick time span. Three weeks and her attitude towards the running started to be noticeably different. 

[00:04:00] I thought, "She doesn't seem to have the same--" We weren't engaging in conversation as we were moving through our runs. One prior to the enjoyment earlier, let's pick a place that we would like to check out. She's decided that she was going to stay pretty set on let's just run the neighborhood. 

Ellie: She became a little more rigid about her running. 

Beth Ayn: Absolutely. Then she decided, "You know mom, you're coming home rather late, I think I'm going to go ahead. [00:04:30] I'll get a head start and when you get home, you can meet me halfway through." Then it moved, transitioned into, "I think I'll go on my own because I've got some things I need to take care of, and maybe we can do a weekend run." I also noticed that there are occasions you run when it's raining or you run when you're a little under the weather yourself. You're not feeling real good because you want to maintain, right? [00:05:00] There would be like major thunderstorm lightning, and I would come home and find that she was out in the neighborhood. 

That's actually, when I noted, "Okay, I need to be a little warned by what's happening here. This is different." Her meals were looking different. I then at that point started to note, she's not only isolating through these runs and I'm not seeing that same spark and enjoyment, [00:05:30] she was restricting more. She began to isolate, come up with excuses as to, "I've caught a meal with my friends. I'll catch something later this evening before I hit the sack," really the subtle onset. By the time I noticed that we were in a critical state, it must have been a couple of months out actually. 

Ellie: You mentioned a cough too. Something about that was alarming. 

Beth Ayn: Yes. [00:06:00] Prior to her approaching me in regards to, "I'm going to eat healthy," and "Why don't we start running together?" She had developed a cough that specialists had identified as one of the cases of whooping cough in the state of Virginia. Intuitively and from what I knew, I wasn't really comfortable with that initial diagnosis but they were the specialists. I accepted what they had suggested. [00:06:30] We actually had to ride that out seventh grade. It became so intense that she was assigned homebound so she wasn't able to attend school. She was so disrupted in the classes because of the cough. 

She was now not sleeping very well and her eating was starting to look different because she couldn't digest as much just because of this cough. After three months [00:07:00] and I did not see any relief for her, we revisited. At that time I had to be really persistent with the specialists. It was pretty much, "I'm not leaving your office until we really can figure out what's going on here." They were like, "You know what? We hear what you're saying. Let's take a look at some other options." They met with some other folks and they identified it as anxiety, her response to intense anxiety. [00:07:30]  

They placed her on some medication to address the anxiety, just enough to take the edge off. We got connected with a therapist to address the anxiety. 

Ellie: Then, in the meantime, you didn't really think overtly, this is an eating disorder as well as anxiety. 

Beth Ayn: Absolutely. Oh, absolutely. 

Ellie: So you're looking to these doctors to give you the answers. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, absolutely, and given my background with anxiety, depression, [00:08:00] early on schizophrenia, bipolar, you would have thought I would have been, there would have been an awareness around eating disorders and there wasn't. 

Ellie: You're saying because you work in mental health and you see so much but not as much with eating disorders. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, right. 

Ellie: At what point did you get the true diagnosis of really what was happening with her eating disorder behaviors, as well as over-exercise. 

Beth Ayn: Sure. One day I came home, [00:08:30] I think what tipped the scale for me, I found that she had been throwing away her lunch that I was sending to school in the yard. I picked up the phone and her pediatrician initially identified again. She used the term obsessive-compulsive disorder. When I looked at her, I remember saying to her, "I'm familiar with OCD, but this seems to be about the food [00:09:00] as well and I don't understand that." That's when she added, I think she's struggling with an eating disorder. 

Ellie: Wow. What was it like to finally get a name, a diagnosis? 

Beth Ayn: My first response was, "Okay, what does this mean?" She was unable to answer that question because she too wasn't as familiar what that really meant for us [00:09:30] but she immediately got us connected with a registered dietician who did understand. In our community at that time, which was seven years ago, we had limited resources. By the time we went to the registered dietician, Carly was very enmeshed with her eating disorder. 

We attempted to go on a meal plan. We attempted to go see a therapist. She was very, very 

[00:10:00] resistant. She did not realize that she was ill. This had become a part of who she was. 

Ellie: What was happening to her personality? 

Beth Ayn: Very isolated. The rigidity, the rules. "When I sit down to a meal, if I take in this number of calories, then I need to run this amount." 

Ellie: Wow, so she was constantly compensating for how much food she ate. 

Beth Ayn: Everything was about numbers. [00:10:30] Her clothes, the numbers on her clothes, the size. The size, the number that was associated with her waist, the number of sit-ups, what time is it because I need to get outside now or I need to get to a gym. I was getting frustrated at that point. 

Ellie: Yes, I was just going to say that. As a mom, I'm sure you're watching her become really rigid and controlled and losing her joy [00:11:00] in life. I bet you felt really out of control like you couldn't manage her. 

Beth Ayn: I couldn't manage her. Frustration set in because she was seeing a registered dietician, we were at a therapist and nothing was changing. Then I began to get scared and because I was constantly monitoring her, although not able to support her the way that she needed to be supported, I began [00:11:30] to get isolated. 

Ellie: I'm sure. It took a lot of time. 

Beth Ayn: Life was looking very different. 

[music] 

Ellie: When did you find the help that you needed? Because what you were doing at home, you were trying hard with a dietitian and a therapist, but it wasn't working and her anorexia was getting worse and worse very quickly. When did you find the help that you needed? 

Beth Ayn: I remember picking up the phone [00:12:00] and saying to the therapist, "She is at a point now where she's not stepping into your office anymore. She's staying in the car and I'm determined that we're going to keep the appointments." If she wasn't able, and I say able, not willing, but able to go in and connect with the therapist, I was going to go in and do the work, so that when we returned home, I had some [00:12:30] idea of what I needed to be doing. 

Ellie: This deep level of isolation felt like it was causing more harm than good. Beth Ayn started communicating more directly with her daughter's treatment team. 

Beth Ayn: After three visits of that happening, I realized I was not empowered. I didn't have the strength on my own to do anything. I actually had to say to the treatment team, and I think this happens at times, "I need to speak as a mother. I'm not a specialist, but we're at a point I really feel like [00:13:00] she needs a higher level of care, because what we're doing is not enough for her. She needs more support on a 24-hour basis, if possible." 

A dear friend of mine her daughter's eating disorder presented at the same time as my daughter. She had already left for the Eating Recovery Center in Denver. I spoke to her that evening after speaking to our treatment team and [00:13:30] I said, "You know, I'm really at this point I need to make a decision." Her response was, "You need to get to Denver sooner than later." 

Ellie: She felt the urgency. It seems like that's what you needed. You needed someone else to agree. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, I did. To say, "You are absolutely making the right call." I got connected with the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, they were amazing from the beginning intake, I felt just a sense of relief, [00:14:00] honestly. It was so affirming. This was the right move. 

Ellie: One of her big motivators for getting Carly into a higher level of treatment was that Beth Ayn knew just how demanding recovery can be. Her job as an admin at a residential mental health center gave her firsthand knowledge of the difficult, yet worthwhile healing process. Based on that knowledge, she knew that the sooner Carly began, the easier her life would be. [00:14:30]  

Beth Ayn: We landed next morning. We drove to the Eating Recovery Center and we were just met by the most incredibly warm, compassionate, knowledgeable individuals. I felt so relieved when I walked through those doors. Carly, she was so shy and quiet. I could not understand. I couldn't get her to go [00:15:00] to camp. I very rarely could get her to initiate any type of activity without me being around. She had never been away from me, so that was quite a step, leap of faith, trust in the Eating Recovery Center to drop her off at their doors and to have them say to me, "Look, she's okay. In 24 hours, you'll be able [00:15:30] to talk to her. She's in good hands." 

I had to really go back and say, "Beth, you're an administrator for an intensive day program. Any child that you work with, they are in the best of hands and that's what they're telling you." It wasn't the fear of getting her out there but the need to do so, it wasn't just about that. She was about to start high school. I kept thinking prior to making [00:16:00] that last decision that, "Yes, we're going to fly out to Denver. If I don't address this now and hit it head-on, we're going to have a long road, where she's not only going to miss the beginning of high school. She might miss her entire high school experience or more." 

Ellie: Wow. I know one thing that ERC says, is, "You, parents have been doing the hard work. You are [00:16:30] exhausted." By the time you walk in these doors with your child, ERC says, "Let us take care of them. We want you part of the process, but these first little weeks, you rest. You take care of your other children. You get some rest, but you get your energy back, because we're going to hand them back to you and then you have to have some energy." What was that period like for you when you went back and you're trying to trust yourself that this was the right decision for your family, [00:17:00] and then you have your other daughter you're taking care of? 

Beth Ayn: Well, I think the first thing with the trust is that I made a commitment to myself and for my two daughters, because it affected all of us, that I was going to do everything they told me to do. When they made this suggestion, "You need to go and take care of yourself," the first thing I did was I'm going to go get a feel for the lay of the land. [00:17:30] I don't have time to rest. I've got things I need to put in place while they're working with Carly. After the first day, I had this sense of, "You know what, I need to listen to what they've just said to me." I've got to go back. I need to regroup and I need to engage in a few things that I haven't been able to do." 

"I need to get back out and run a little bit here in Denver. I need to enjoy the scenery, [00:18:00] connect with some people out here." I'm very extroverted. I was missing that communion with others. 

Ellie: Right. You had been so isolated- 

Beth Ayn: I had been. 

Ellie: -[unintelligible 00:18:09] your brain about trying to figure out what to do. Getting back to the things you enjoyed, I think that's really important. You being a runner, we have this interesting juxtaposition. You are a runner who really enjoys it for the healthy reasons and have never been about the numbers or the competition, [00:18:30] but just enjoying it, and then you have your daughter who has abused exercise and use it as part of an eating disorder to compensate for her eating. What was that like as you talked through healthy exercise or maybe even no exercise for your daughter, and yet, you were still running? 

Beth Ayn: Yes, throughout her recovery at ERC, I too am becoming educated. There's a better understanding of what they're asking [00:19:00] Carly to do and what they're asking the parents to do. As we were getting ready to set up our transition plan to return home and we were sitting with the team, we had to have that tough conversation. As we sat down and we approached the topic, I began to really tense up. 

I'll never forget her therapists say, "Now, look, we need to talk about what wellness is going to look like for you [00:19:30] when you go home. Carly, your makeup and the way you respond to the anorexia, you're going to be very challenged to stay in recovery if we encourage you or suggest that it's okay to stay involved in running." Well, she immediately looked at the team, used a few choice words, which again, was very different 

[00:20:00] for this people-pleasing, shy, very bright individual prior to treatment. Proceeded to walk out of the room, slammed the door, the pictures almost fell off the wall, and storm off down the hall. 

Ellie: It was in reaction to-- 

Beth Ayn: Yes, the news, because she had felt like that, was her thing now. 

Ellie: Were they saying no running for you? 

Beth Ayn: Correct. No-- 

Ellie: She, that was not okay. 

Beth Ayn: That was so not okay with her. [00:20:30] There was a part of me as parent that felt like, "Oh, wait a minute. She seemed to initially really enjoy it and she said to me, "This helps me with my anxiety," and that, "Mom, this has been a way for me to connect with people that I hadn't been able to do that before." All of her arguments were valid. They made sense. 

Ellie: Right, and you understand those. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, because it was such a love for me for so many years. [00:21:00] I understood her anger and at the same time, her expression and her reaction to that, it did caused me again to question the team, but again my commitment to her and myself was to say, "I'm going to follow their advice. This is their field, they know what they're talking about and we're going to follow through." If I want my daughter to fully recover, I have to do what they're telling me to do. [00:21:30] There are going to be things I don't want to hear. 

Ellie: I think you really do speak such a perfect point that most people probably don't admit, but that constant pull between how much do I believe, my daughter, my loved one. How much do I trust her voice, their voice, and also the treatment team because it doesn't necessarily line up. Your choice was, "I've already tried this with my daughter so I'm going to try trust this treatment team even though it's hard and I feel for my daughter." [00:22:00] 

Beth Ayn: Yes. 

Ellie: Carly came back after treatment with a long road in front of her, but her mom was right by her side, committed to walking those miles together. To do that, Beth Ayn took the suggestions of Eating Recovery Center's treatment team to heart. 

Beth Ayn: When we returned home, the running bibs were put away, the medal was put away and we had to, now things were going to look different. [00:22:30] We had to identify other things and that's okay to do together and for her to learn to love and there is not just one. 

Ellie: What did you find? 

Beth Ayn: We discovered fishing. 

Ellie: Oh, really? 

Beth Ayn: We both enjoyed being out on the water and I had a canoe and fishing poles. They talked a lot about mindfulness [00:23:00] and being in the moment and spending time just being connected especially with nature. It was just a perfect transition. One of the time we were out casting one afternoon, the sun was setting over the lake, and she made a comment to me in regards to the running. She said, "You know you, are right. I really did not-- It was something I had to do. [00:23:30] It was something I didn't enjoy like you did." It was still hard and we talked about that. 

There were a lot of changes. They were really hard, but she's 20 years old now and recovered from the eating disorder. She'll have to navigate life with the anxiety and at times the depression, but she is in a spot I never ever thought she would be in [00:24:00] prior to the eating disorder. She's just so engaged and so a part of our community now with a smile on her face. A real smile. 

Ellie: To learn more about why Eating Recovery Center believes families are invaluable to the recovery process, I spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Easton. Can you just introduce yourself real quickly? 

Dr. Elizabeth Easton: Sure. I'm Elizabeth Easton. I'm the National Senior Director of Child and Adolescent Services at Eating Recovery Center. 

Ellie: Perfect, thanks for being here. [00:24:30] 

Dr. Easton: Sure. 

Ellie: Can you just tell me little bit about the importance of families being connected with support because this is such a long journey for Beth Ayn. It's been a long journey for other families the same way. Why is it so important to find that support in the long run? 

Dr. Easton: I wish I could say that there's no longer stigma about eating disorders. It has been around for so long and we've worked hard to break the stigma, that it's the child's fault, let alone the parent's fault. None of that is seen to be true anymore. [00:25:00] Yet with people who don't understand the disorder or don't understand mental illness in general, both the patient as well as the parents and caregivers can still be accused, can still be blamed. 

I see a lot of our work as helping to bring that to communities to say, "No more. That's not how this works," and really it's you supporting those caregivers and those caregivers supporting each other that's really going to get that message out there. Organizations that can pull together, [00:25:30] that can connect these families so they can talk about their experience and breakthrough that shame and that fear, they're incredible. They're going to be how this work really changes. It's very essential that people don't feel alone and isolated in this work. 

Ellie: I think that really rings true. There's this when I hear people say sometimes if your kid has cancer people are going to be running to your door with casseroles, and eating disorders are not like that. People don't even talk about it [00:26:00] or they don't know what to say. If I name that community that does know how to talk about it. It seems really important. 

Dr. Easton: Absolutely. 

Ellie: What would you say if you could just provide some very basic education that you wish people in general knew and understood about eating disorders or how to recognize it? What's just some of the general information you would wish people knew? 

Dr. Easton: It's not just about the media. The environment is one piece of it and yes it is an important piece than our culture [00:26:30] in the United States is focusing on thin is best, focusing on cutting out certain types of foods, the diet mentality, it does play a part. There is another piece to it that really is more nature. There is a epigenetic basis for eating disorders. That genetics are leading to a predisposition for this disorder just like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders have their own genetic basis and yes, the environment may bring it up to the surface, [00:27:00] but it is an interplay between the two and it is never a parent's fault. 

Parents will even blame themselves for the genetics they give their kids. This is an illness that leads to a lot of shame so it's important that people understand that genetics and the environment come together and can lead to this illness really showing itself. Looking for kids who become very body-conscious, kids or adults that become very body-conscious, [00:27:30] very aware of size and shape, that become very food conscious, aware of healthy foods, or they are labeled as good or bad foods. 

Recognizing that some of those are the early signs especially when that starts to immediately lead to behavior changes whether that is over-exercising, avoiding eating, really understanding that those are not typical behaviors and they could be the beginning of something bigger, so staying aware of it and opening communication [00:28:00] with your loved one. 

If you see those behaviors coming out, what is that about for you? What is going on for you? Was any of this related to stress about something over how you view yourself, how you view how other peoples view you, all of that can be playing a part. Recognizing communication early on can really help prevent later issues. 

Ellie: I agree and I really love what you said too about caregivers and family members are not the cause. Genetics are part of that, but they are not the cause, but they can be part of the solution if really addressing it and going through the process [00:28:30] with their loved one. 

Dr. Easton: Right. 

Ellie: Dr. Easton thanks so much for talking with us. Thanks for being here. 

[music] 

Ellie: I want to hear a little bit more about when you came back. You both discovered fishing, but you also had been given all these new tools. You learned a lot about an eating disorder. You're still working full time and taking care of your other child. I'm sure you had to then educate everyone around you. 

Beth Ayn: I did. [00:29:00] 

Ellie: Would you call yourself an advocate? 

Beth Ayn: Yes, yes. 

Ellie: Absolutely, what did you notice was really helpful as you came back and have the school involved? 

Beth Ayn: I left the Eating Recovery Center equipped to do this. 

Ellie: That's amazing. 

Beth Ayn: You leave with a binder. The transition plan is set up so that you don't feel like you're going home on your own to do this. Her treatment team, they had been in touch with Eating Recovery Center. Everyone was on-board. [00:29:30] Everyone had heard the same message so that the eating disorder could not form a wedge between any of us, including her school. They were on-board. I spent a lot of time up front talking to her teachers, working with their school counselor, the public health nurse. There was a lot of planning that went into our return. 

Actually what transpired because of my outreach to the community, almost a plea for, [00:30:00] "Please help me." Her treatment team approached me and suggested, "Would you consider starting a parent support group?" 

Ellie: As a result of these hard-fought victories, Beth Ayn became a natural resource to other people going through similar times. Word spread quickly and Beth Ayn began to find a community she truly resonated with. 

Beth Ayn: We were at a good spot, still challenged. It took a good year and a half, actually, for Carly to start letting her guard down and to be [00:30:30] able to move through things independent of me and some identified family members. 

Ellie: I spoke with Beth Ayn's daughter, Carly. She wanted to add that part of her recovery journey included a time of relapse where she both binged and purged. While this proved challenging, she wanted you to know that there's hope and treatment for all eating disorders. If you'd like to learn more about recovery from binge eating disorder or bulimia, check out episodes 4, 12, or 16. 

Beth Ayn: Anyway, [00:31:00] so we started this parent support group, and then it just seemed to grow. Word was out on the street, if you will, that there's a parent support group for caregivers that are supporting loved ones moving through recovery. Then, we had to expand to two support groups, and the schools now were on board, and they wanted to be a part of this. We were able to start offering presentations to school counselors and health and PE teachers so that they could better understand [00:31:30] and support and help us identify early on and share information with parents. A lot happened after we came home that I didn't expect. 

Ellie: That was all in that first year. Wow. 

Beth Ayn: Yes, it was. 

Ellie: Tell us a little bit of how that has developed and grown. Now, you are the founder of Stay Strong Virginia. 

Beth Ayn: Yes. After that initial support group, again, we decided we had such a high attendance that we needed to split the groups up. Again, I'm not [00:32:00] a therapist, I'm not a registered dietician, but I could go in and facilitate and help educate, provide resources to other parents, and give them a place where they felt comfortable, where they could cry, they could scream, they could vent, and at the same time have some ongoing learning take place as well so that when they went home that evening, they would have a golden nugget, [00:32:30] something to take back with them to say, "Wow, we'll try this. This should help." 

Once the newsletter was created and developed and we started sending that out to these same parents, and to our treatment providers, and to the schools, again, highlighting resources, I decided we really needed to turn this thing into a nonprofit. We've been a nonprofit, Stay Strong Virginia, for a year. 

Ellie: Where do you see your advocacy work and Stay Strong Virginia heading? [00:33:00] 

Beth Ayn: We've also now have school counselors that are a part of our programming. They have now taken on the task, which has been extremely helpful for me, of actually doing the presentations in the school systems. We've also now decided to implement the body-positive so that we can actually start working with the students directly around body image and what health at every size really looks and means, what is that all about. [00:33:30] 

That has now freed me up to spend more time with mental health agencies, identifying providers across the state of Virginia, so when we receive a phone call or an email, I can quickly refer out and send them to quality providers, folks that really do understand anxiety, depression, an important piece, substance use as well, and of course eating disorders. 

All of the treatment providers, [00:34:00] all of the treatment facilities that we work with, where I see my role at this point in time is growing our nonprofit across the state of Virginia, we just want to focus on our state. There are some other amazing nonprofits, Rock Recovery up here in the DC area. In addition to working with the state of Virginia, we're partnering with those as well. 

Ellie: You're doing amazing things. It's so important for all those providers to be connected with each other and [00:34:30] for schools to be able to recognize eating disorders. 

Beth Ayn: Yes it is. Yes. 

Ellie: Let me ask you, if there's a family member that's listening to this podcast and they're thinking, "Oh, my gosh, I can relate with her story," what words of hope or what advice, I guess, would you have for them? 

Beth Ayn: Recovery is absolutely possible. What I have seen happen over the last five years with the research and the treatment modalities that are now offered, it's [00:35:00] just unbelievable. Kids are returning to our area, they're moving through recovery, they are recovered. I'd say hang on to that hope, and in those moments when you're frustrated, and you're lonely, and you feel like you can't do this one more day, you go to bed, you wake up the next morning, you put your feet on the ground, and you say, "I can do this. My daughter, my son, [00:35:30] my husband, my wife, they are going to move through recovery, we're going to do this." 

For those families that are not seeing change, then it's okay to make a shift in your approach. It might mean that you need to make a shift in your treatment providers, that's all okay. Everybody's doing the best they can and we're humans, so it's all right if you need to step back and say, [00:36:00] "I need to either change my approach or maybe we need to take a look at making a change within the treatment itself." That's all right, give yourself permission to do that. 

Ellie: I feel your passion right now, and I just want to say thank you because I believe what you're saying, and I believe that you fully believe and hope and know it's possible, and Carly's story and your own personal journey have just changed your life. Thank you for dedicating your life to this work. [00:36:30] 

[music] 

Ellie: It's easy to gloss over buzzwords like community and connection, but Beth Ayn's story shows us just how powerful they can be. Community transforms isolation and hopelessness into companionship and the will to grow. Her values ensured that she not only would help her daughter back to a full life, but she would also open up the idea of recovery to hundreds of other families unsure of where to turn. She's the classic definition of a hero, [00:37:00] just without those snazzy tights and the cape. 

Thanks for listening to Mental Note Podcast. Our show is sponsored by the dedicated team of professional therapists, dieticians, and medical doctors at Eating Recovery Center and Insight Behavioral Health Centers. Their model of bringing the best minds in their field under one roof ensures that they're able to equip people like Beth Ayn with the tools needed to find recovery and build a supportive community. 

They even moderate a free Facebook [00:37:30] page called Eating Disorders Family Connection where family members can join to ask questions and gather more resources. You can reach out to them for a free consultation with a licensed professional at 877 411 9578. Today's episode was produced by Sam Pike, edited by Josh Wright and Erica Prather, and I'm Ellie Pike. Until next time. [00:38:00] 

[00:38:14] [END OF AUDIO] 

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