Watching a daughter suffer daily with an eating disorder spurred Israel mom, Judy Krasna, to channel her anxiety into global advocacy, helping others however she can.
After years of parent blaming culture and the use of non-evidence-based treatment for eating disorders, the winds of change are blowing in Israel. Part of me is extraordinarily grateful, and part of me is upset that it’s taking so long. I am impatient for the winds of change to yield actual, palpable improvements. This is just one example of the dichotomy between my deep and genuine appreciation for those working tirelessly to improve patient care in Israel, where I live, and my frustration that change is not happening fast enough; as a result, patients and their families are suffering far more than necessary.
Since my foray into the eating disorders advocacy world and the establishment of my blog, I have developed somewhat of a reputation for launching criticism on the way that parents are excluded from treatment, for regularly expressing my outrage over the sad fact that most parents in Israel are not given any education, empowerment, resources, skills, or tools that they need to support their child through an eating disorder, and for decrying the use of non-evidence-based treatment as standard care.
Advocacy is my way of coping with adversity
Everyone has different ways of dealing with adversity. I struggle with the enormity of my daughter’s eating disorder. She suffers every day of her life, and this hurts me beyond words. By all accounts, not just through the lens of a biased Jewish mother, my daughter is an extraordinary, brilliant human being with a kind, generous soul and a heart of gold. Watching her battle this illness crushes me. The only way that I can cope is to use my lived experience to help others; to guide new parents through the fog of the early diagnosis stage, to offer advice and support to parents who are totally clueless about where to turn to for treatment, to write about my experience in the hopes of shedding light on an illness that is often misunderstood, and to advocate for better eating disorder treatment both in Israel and throughout the world. My advocacy comes from a deeply personal place.
Taking the gloves off
My personality is very much at odds with being a natural advocate. I am quiet, shy, and inclined to avoid confrontation of all types. Being an eating disorders advocate often requires me to take the gloves off, and to be more outgoing and assertive than I am comfortable with. Honestly, I struggle with that. I get super nervous sitting across the table from very impressive people who represent the professional eating disorder establishment in Israel and expressing my opinions about what they, as a common entity, could be doing better to help more patients recover. I push for risk reduction, early detection, early intervention, and evidence-based treatment. I keep pushing for parents to be included in treatment, because they are in the best position to help guide their child toward recovery.
One-day conference for families
Much to my delight, change is really happening. I don’t take credit, for the change has been mostly fueled by a few caring clinicians who want better outcomes for their patients.
A one-day conference is scheduled in Israel for the end of May designed for families of eating disorders patients. While this type of event may be standard in other regions, this will be the first time that professionals and families are coming together and engaging in dialogue. This is truly mind-blowing progress. More than winds of change, it’s a beautiful tornado, and I am positively mesmerized watching it swirl.
Why change is imperative
I am genuinely excited to participate in both the planning and in the program of this monumental conference; and yet, I remain deeply bothered by how far we have to go to truly impact and improve patient care. I want to sit back and relax and let the change happen, but I don’t have that luxury, because my daughter remains ill. Her fellow patients are not recovering. The parents of new patients who I counsel are reporting the same gaps and flaws in patient care that my family experienced more than 11 years ago. So, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and this is disheartening.
Things CANNOT stay the same. They must change! We have to find ways to reduce the suffering of patients and their families. We have to use treatment methods with proven efficacy as the uniform standard of care. Clinicians have to understand that a supported family leads to a supported patient, and that the support of loved ones is a crucial component for recovery.
No, I cannot sit and be patient
I have been told more times than I can possibly count that I need to be patient, that I need to let change happen from within, to be thankful for the change that is taking place, and stop pushing the envelope. I promise that I hear all of that. I understand where it’s coming from. Under different circumstances, I would consider taking the directive. But in this case, no. No can do. The cause is too personal. I can’t sit back and be patient. Even if I can’t change a damn thing, even if I can’t budge the needle at all, even if I have no effect as an advocate, I feel obligated as a mother to try.
The fact that I will keep on advocating doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the changes that are being put into motion. On the contrary, I am sincerely grateful. However, time is of the essence, and the time for change is now. Eating disorders can’t afford to wait.
About World Eating Disorders Action Day 2019
This year grassroots activists, volunteers, and over 250 organizations in 40+ countries are calling for caregivers to receive support, health care workers to be properly trained, and access to immediate, evidence-based treatment.
Why We Can’t Afford to Wait
- Worldwide over 70 million people are estimated to be affected by an eating disorder,
- Eating disorders have the HIGHEST MORTALITY RATE of any psychiatric illness
- Eating disorders affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic class, abilities, races, and ethnic backgrounds. It is time to take action.
- Good news! When treated EARLY and correctly, eating disorders have the highest and fastest recovery rate!
How to support World Eating Disorders Action Day, June 2, 2019
- Join the movement, show your purple on social media! Use hashtag #ShowUsYourPurple
- Follow conversation on social media. Use hashtags #ShowUsYourPurple #WeDoActNow
- Host or attend an event. See http://www.worldeatingdisordersday.org/2019-events-2/
- Donate. To support the work see http://www.worldeatingdisordersday.org/get-involved/participating-organisations/.
- Discuss eating disorders. Through open, supportive dialogue, we can create change.
E-book release: Come as you are, eating disorders can’t wait
As a Participating Organisation supporting 2019 World Eating Disorder Action Day, The Diary Healerhas released a new ebook, . Stories from around the world illustrate that recovery from an eating disorder IS possible, at every age. The first step, is to seek help. to purchase a copy for $9.97 (AUD) – all profits support eating disorder services.
Judy Krasna is the mom of four, including a daughter with an eating disorder, and the grandmother of two. She is a professional event planner. She is also an eating disorders parent advocate in Israel, where she lives. Judy is the co-chair of the AED’s Experts by Experience Committee, the co-chair of the AED’s Stakeholders United SIG, a member of the F.E.A.S.T Board of Directors, and founder of the F.E.A.S.T Israel Task Force. In addition to offering peer support to fellow parents, Judy writes a blogon Times of Israel that is mostly centered on eating disorder related issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy dedicates this blog post to the caring clinicians who treat her daughter, and others like her, with unwavering commitment. She writes: ‘I know that you are giving your all, and I can’t thank you enough.’