Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Scales

Working with people who struggle with eating disorders can be a challenging task. This story is about a young man who I was helping, mentoring, and adding life skills along the way. He gave this writer permission to share a glimpse of his world with other teenagers who may be suffering from a eating disorder and anxiety. I met him through a referral from a church youth group pastor. The first day I went to his house and visited with his parents. As I was sitting down at the table, I remember seeing a white, iron scale that was in the middle of the table. Then I recall, several note cards with dates and pencil sketched numbers. The young man came into kitchen where we were meeting. He was cold, defiant, and told me, "to get the fuck out of here". I looked at his parents, who were both scrambling for words, and trying to apologize as they were talking over each other. The young man then abruptly sat down at the table. I looked at him, he gave me the deep, dark, stare. Staying in my health, I decided to ask about the elephant in the room, the scale. He then jumped up, and pointed to his stomach, and lifted his shirt up. I could visibly see his pants were almost falling off, and he was frail. At this point, his mother was crying, his father was yelling something, I to this date can't remember the exact details. I then asked if I could open the deck screen door, and gently picked up the scale, and launched it to the back yard. (I honestly did not realize I threw it that far) The teen then started to laugh, and his mother started to laugh. The father was looking like who is this mental health professional in my house- did I get the wrong guy? Scales are only measuring tools for one's weight, right? We need to utilize this tool when we are in a hospital, clinic, or another helping setting. I decided not to make the negative energy about the scale, and the fact that this teen was not eating, and in desperate stages of hospital care- which can be a very good thing, if the client was motivated. The problem, he was not at this positive energy transition in his life. Over the next three weeks, I gleaned first hand how this teen was bullied beyond belief growing up. It was the fifth session that we had a break through, no I did not throw another scale out the back yard! We began to look at the body as a blank CD, and decided we would use his body, and make up songs that he believed were flaws on his body-hence he did not want to eat- but more importantly wanted to loose weight, because of the bullying. Five songs were created, and then the next session, two more songs, or actually lyrics. The next month, he decided to take a music class at the high school. We had to finagle our way into the class, but the school was willing to give him a opportunity. I think it may have helped that I agreed to give a talk to their health class to on addiction education! Over the next few weeks, the family began to see a different kid. I was very eager to see if he was gaining weight, it looked like he was eating again, and he did not purge to my knowledge. He turned 17 last month. I took him to our favorite spot to get milk shakes and play cards. Then something amazing happened. We walked through the mall, and I could see him drift off to Macys. The next thing I know, he wanted to look in the mirror at HIMSELF while trying on a shirt. I grabbed that shirt out of his hand so quickly he said, paid for it right there. He smiled, I was tearing up, but holding it in. Then as we walked out, there was a scale section. "Watch this he said," got up, on, 138 pounds he murmured. I'm going in my own thoughts, this is good right. Gained 9 pounds. Self-Balance-Higher Power-Fun