Riptide: Struggling with and Resurfacing from a Daughter's Eating Disorder

( 8 )

Overview


?Riptide is the raw and revealing account of the author’s journey during the ten years her oldest daughter struggled with anorexia and bulimia, a battle that ended with her death at age 23 in February 2000. Motherhood is about nurturing and protecting your child, yet with eating disorders, as with any addiction complicated by mental illness, parents can feel frustrated with powerlessness and filled with guilt and fear as they watch their beloved child consumed by a condition that has life-threatening power. ...
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Overview


?Riptide is the raw and revealing account of the author’s journey during the ten years her oldest daughter struggled with anorexia and bulimia, a battle that ended with her death at age 23 in February 2000. Motherhood is about nurturing and protecting your child, yet with eating disorders, as with any addiction complicated by mental illness, parents can feel frustrated with powerlessness and filled with guilt and fear as they watch their beloved child consumed by a condition that has life-threatening power. Eating disorders are rampant, 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 and not only try to help these children, but also take care of themselves. Using her unique perspective as a mother and psychotherapist, Barbara Hale-Seubert vividly chronicles her rollercoaster of grief, fear, and powerlessness. Here, Hale-Seubert holds onto the hope that her daughter could salvage some form of a life not fully eclipsed by the disorder, while at the same time learning to surrender what was out of her control and embracing, once again, the grace and value in her own life. Riptide offers other parents the redemptive solace that comes with knowing that they aren’t alone in their struggles.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Riptide will benefit anyone who is dealing with a mentally ill or addicted family member. [Hale-Seubert] writes with genuine authenticity, warmth, compassion, and forgiveness — certainly for her daughter, and finally, for herself." —David Mandelbaum, PhD, family therapist

"Barbara Hale-Seubert has captured something I’ve never seen someone do in writing: the rawness and genuine authenticity of a mother’s pain. In the course of her book, she unlocked that pain and gave mothers permission to acknowledge their own needs and reactions." —Carolyn Hodges, CEO, Nutrition Clinic and Sol Stone Center for Eating Disorders

"A compelling, heart-wrenching journey into her family’s fatal ten-year odyssey. Miraculously, Barbara is able to tell her devastating story in a way that provides hope and guidance to others." —Doris Smeltzer, author, Andrea's Voice: Silenced by Bulimia

"Barbara Hale-Seubert’s raw honesty opens the door for others to walk through. She gives us a space to feel — free of judgment — and a place to honor our pain. In doing so she gives us hope. By sharing her and Erin’s journey, she joins us in ours." —Mary Ellen Clausen, executive director, Ophelia's Place

"A well-written and searingly honest account of a mother’s journey through loss and grief." —Frederic Luskin, PhD, author, Forgive for Good and Forgive for Love

"Hale-Seubert tells the story of a mother's worst nightmare—a daughter's struggle against and ultimate defeat by anorexia and bulimia. . . . Readers may find Hale-Seubert's book painful to read, but they will have a hard time turning away from the author's stark, candid, courageous voice." —Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2011)

Kirkus Reviews

Hale-Seubert tells the story of a mother's worst nightmare—a daughter's struggle against and ultimate defeat by anorexia and bulimia.

The author, a practicing psychotherapist, candidly recounts daughter Erin's slow death at age 23 from the ravages of self-induced starvation. When Erin was 13, a simple school assignment in her Life Skills class became a jarring moment. Erin was asked to list what she had eaten that day, and the author was startled by Erin's answer: very little. Her condition worsened to include bulimia, resulting in many hospitalizations and treatments during the next decade. Erin lied, stole and even spent the night in jail, all so she could buy food to eat and purge. Hale-Seubert lays bare her guilt and frustrations as a mother, admitting to feeling detached, even relieved at times, and her humanity is on display here as she agonizes over the possible causes of her daughter's disease. Was it her parenting style or negative body image? Her ex-husband's anger? Perhaps it was because Erin suffered from Sydenham's chorea as a child, an illness that has been linked to obsessive disorders. There are no clear-cut answers here, nor should there be.

Readers may find Hale-Seubert's book painful to read, but they will have a hard time turning away from the author's stark, candid, courageous voice.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550229950
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2011
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,412,946
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Hale-Seubert is a psychotherapist. She lives in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.

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Read an Excerpt


As I opened the door of Erin’s apartment on a bright summer afternoon in 1999, I took a deep breath. My 22–year–old daughter lay on the daybed in her living room, bird–like legs stretched out over rumpled sheets. She was propped up on one elbow, drawing in a sketch pad, and her ankles were wrapped in thick white gauze and bandages. I tried not to grimace.

I was used to scanning my daughter’s body for signs of deterioration, though it seemed impossible to imagine her more emaciated than she was. Functional starvation, if there was such a term, best described her condition. And now the meager flesh that remained on her ankles had been scalded a week ago when she’d dropped a pot of boiling water on the floor — undoubtedly because her arms no longer had the strength to lift it off the stove. I hadn’t realized it was quite this bad.

Erin looked up at me. “They’re just not healing as fast as they should,” she said, her tone resigned.

I glimpsed the edge of a raw open wound on one spindly leg. Erin was five feet tall and weighed about 60 pounds. How could her starving little body sustain the shock of these deep burns, much less keep her alive? Were painkillers at least softening the agony?

The burns were bad, but I could handle that. Injuries heal. It was the rest of her that, over the past decade of brutal anorexia and depression, left me limp. I felt as though I’d washed up on the beach after alternately struggling to pull my daughter to shore and trying to free myself from a stranglehold that threatened to pull me under along with her.

Close friends knew our family’s private pain, but the community at large could only guess at what was wrong when they saw Erin walk up Main Street, her skeletal frame somewhat disguised by baggy clothes, each step an obvious effort. She was a familiar sight in town. Weighed down by her ever–present tote bag stuffed with artificial sweetener packets, herbal tea, sketch pad and colored pencils, she would stop in at the espresso shop and ask for hot water for her tea, or perhaps meet an unemployed friend at Mister Donut. She identified with those whose lives were on the periphery of the 9–to–5 world. Once a gifted student, dancer, and artist, Erin now qualified for Social Security Disability benefits. Instead of anticipating graduate school or a challenging job, she hoped for an apartment in the housing program for the disabled, and underwent partial hospitalization three days a week.

We had exiled Erin to this small apartment several months after she returned from her final failed long–term treatment. She was 21, and after years of having her alternating every few months between living with her father and with me, it was intolerable for either of us to have her in our home. The chronic stealing, bingeing, and purging that ruled her life made living with her a nightmare of missing money, discarded food containers, and clogged drains. Holiday celebrations and family birthday dinners were strained by our tense, surreptitious monitoring. Would the festive meal be flushed down the toilet once again, after she’d filled her shrunken stomach with turkey, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls? Or would we feel equally frustrated and powerless as her bony jaw chewed, trance–like, on unadorned salad and naked vegetables? She either gorged or fasted, and we’d long since learned that there was nothing we could do. The happiness and well–being of my three younger daughters helped to redeem my motherhood and cushion my despair. Yet I was Erin’s mother, too, and I feared I had failed her.

I walked across the room and sat down on the daybed, the weight of my body pulling her closer to me. Gently, I stroked her head.

“I’ve thought of so many ways to commit suicide,” she said flatly. “But each one I’ve either already tried, or known someone where it didn’t work or was even worse afterwards. I’m not going to try anymore.”

I flashed back to the night she’d swallowed half a bottle of pills. Why was she telling me this now? Did she think I would be relieved, or did she want me to know how desperate she still felt? I didn’t say anything. All my words had been used up, my heart frayed by the fear, sadness, and frustration that had consumed me for a decade. I continued to stroke her hair. That I could do.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 23, 2011

    A must-read for all families struggling with a child's mental illness.

    Barbara Hale-Seubert writes a deeply moving memoir of her journey through her daughter Erin's 10-year struggle with an eating disorder. Erin is the oldest of Hale-Seubert's four daughters. The outward sign of the beginning of her battle begins at age 12 with a school assignment's diary of everything she eats. Although she is shocked at how little Erin had listed as eating for the day, Hale-Seubert doesn't push, knowing that her daughter would only push back harder. That caution quickly fades, as Erin first stops growing, and then turns into a skeletal version of herself from eating less and less. But Riptide is far more than a chronicle of a daughter's serious illness; it is a voyage into the heart and soul of Hale-Seubert herself. Although parents can seldom be held responsible directly for the course of their children's lives, we all carry our own baggage that affects them. As Hale-Seubert examines her own life and how to live it in the context of Erin's disease, she discovers her own views on food and body image, and that of her mother and grandmother. She learns how she had subconsciously absorbed the attitudes of generations before her, not seeing at the time how her family's outlook on food shaped her own. Hale-Seubert's view of herself, and her relationships with her parents, her first husband, and later her second husband, also shape the lives of her daughters, as does the girls' father's behavior toward them. The struggles Hale-Seubert writes about are with herself as much as with Erin. Over the years, she discovers her true inner self and learns the importance of being true to herself even as she makes all the traditional sacrifices mothers make for their children. In the end, Hale-Seubert's memoir brings parents a message of hope amid the tragedy of not being able to save her daughter. As she learns, the only one who can save Erin is Erin herself. And the only one who can save Hale-Seubert is herself. We suffer with her, and rejoice with her. We grieve with her, and celebrate with her. As painful as this journey is, it ends with self-discovery that provides Hale-Seubert with forgiveness and redemption. Hale-Seubert bares open her heart and soul first to herself, and then to the readers, with harsh honesty. I couldn't help but be moved by her pain and then peace. She gives hope to all parents who ride the roller coaster of feeling they're not doing enough for their children, yet facing the need to authentically live their own lives. I recommend this book not only for parents who are struggling with a child's serious mental illness, but for all parents who wonder and worry that they are not doing enough for their children, including sacrificing living their own lives. And in reality, isn't that all of us?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Birds

    Hopped around in serch of worms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    Gentlepaw

    He hopped out of a bush with a Vole dangling from his mouth. He saw Fiercepaw and hissed "Why is HE here Spottepaw?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Darkness

    Swipes a buck's head, and carrys it in his miuth back to camp.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    TO TIGERSTRIKE

    Respond at secret res two!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Bloodpaw

    He sneaks up on a rabbit...he caught it and another one...he saw a mouse and he killed it...he caught a sparrow also...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013

    Training hollow

    Training hollow

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2011

    EXCELLENT JUST READ B on Opra if she still Had show.

    JUST READ B on Opra if she still Had show.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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