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Thoughts on Eating Disorders – Guest blog post

by Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I was newly eighteen and had just started my first year of college; I was taking a handful of English and psychology classes and wanted to write for the campus paper. I pitched an idea about eating disorder to the editor. I explained that they were becoming more prevalent in society and people needed to be educated on the topic; women needed to guard their health in a world which defined women, largely, by the way in which they looked.

I wrote in the article:

“Extreme thinness is glamorized in popular culture…Mainstream fashion magazines encourage women to “celebrate our bodies” and feature many articles on the subject. The irony of this message lay between the articles of self acceptance where scantily clad women smile seductively with protruding hipbones…the most famous model to grace the cover of Vogue was “twiggy”−all 97 pounds of her. Apparently, bones are sexy.

I interviewed a lovely woman who had recovered from anorexia and told her story to me. The feature was well received.

I went home that day, a copy of the paper in my hands, ate three bowls of cereal and made myself throw-up. It was ironic, certainly, but I wrote the article out of personal experience. I wanted to interview someone who had escaped the clutches of eating disorders. I was cowardly in that I did not mention my own eating disorder. I was in denial: I truly thought that starving myself since the age of 15 and throwing up three, four, five times a day wasn’t a problem. Well, maybe a little, but nothing like anorexia.

Like addiction, eating disorders require denial to thrive, and thrive they do. My article went on to explain that, “Eating disorders…like chemical addictions, are resistant to outside intervention methods, while being in desperate need of them.” I was able to recognize the parallels of what I wrote and my behavior but was not able to stop.

I was twenty years old the first time I walked into an eating disorders clinic. I was not, technically, underweight. I was of average weight and this is often the case with eating disorders. Those afflicted are not diagnosed based on weight but on behavior. I was certain that I did not belong in the clinic but sat on the couch while a therapist and dietician explained how to eat healthy. They told me it was okay to eat, to nourish my body, and I would not become fat. Fat was not just a world to me it was a state of being; it was how I defined myself. As I later learned, that word is only as powerful as you make it.

I walked out of the clinic with papers explaining how to eat “normally.” What was normal? I threw them in the garbage, binged on whatever I could find in the fridge, and spent an hour throwing up and shortly after passing out in bed only to wake up and do it all over again. And again.

Slowly, as I felt confident in other areas of my life, such as writing and academics, I moved further and further away from disordered eating.

Eight years later I consider myself lucky. I am twenty-six years old and have not binged and purged since I was twenty-two. I taught myself how to eat healthy, albeit slowly and with my heart beating faster than it should, and exercise. I slowly realized that my body would carry me through life and if I did not take care of it I might die. The old adage: your body is your temple is accurate.

Recovering from an eating disorder is never easy and often requires professional assistance and an excellent support system: this is integral. Young women, and increasingly men, feel pressure to be thin and beautiful and sometimes they work to attain this in unhealthy ways. It’s important to remember and reinforce that we are all different; people come in all shapes and sizes, this is what makes us unique, and this is what makes life interesting.



Natalie Jeanne Champagne has published poetry in various anthologies and regularly contributes to mental health and addiction publications. At the age of twenty-six, after many years struggling with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder at the age of twelve and various addiction later in life, she walked the road less traveled and somehow found her way home. You can find out more about Natalie, contact information and resources on her website, www.thethirdsunrise . She currently lives in British Columbia, Canada.  The Third Sunrise is her first novel.

Looking for some free and fun things to do? Here are some suggestions

How does a free concert at the Hatch Shell sound? Starting tonight and every Wednesday night through the end of August, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra presents free summer concerts on the Esplanade

2011 Free Fun Fridays, no tickets or registration required
Highland Street Foundation

Free Summer Weekdays at DeCordova Museum & Sculpture Park
The free summer weekday program runs Tuesdays through Fridays from July 5 through September 2 from 10:00am – 5:00pm with extended evening hours on Thursdays until 8 pm.

Color in Freedom: Journey along the Underground Railroad
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat from 6/16/11 – 8/18/11,
10:00AM to 7:00PM

“Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus,” by photographer Quang Tuan Luong is on view at the National Heritage Museum through September 10, 2011.
Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-4:30 pm

Harbor Loop Concert Series 2011
Presented by the City Of Gloucester and Cape Ann Concerts / Pardee Entertainment.

Every Thursday through September 1 at 6:30 p.m. Outdoors at the Fitz Henry Lane House, Harbor Loop, Gloucester. (Schedule is subject to change without notice)

August 18 @ 6:30 p.m.
Dented School Bus

August 25 @ 6:30 p.m.
Souls of the Sea, Fly & JB Amero with Friends

September 1 @ 6:30 p.m.
TBA/Rain date


Stage Fort Park, Hough Ave., Gloucester, MA

The Free Summer Concert Series returns to the Antonio Gentile Bandstand in Stage Fort Park on the edge of Gloucester harbor Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. through August 28. These concerts offer a wide range of musical styles to enjoy in the beautiful summer weather with a view of picturesque Gloucester Harbor. Ample free parking and restrooms available. Bring picnic dinners, lawn chairs and blankets.

Directions: Take Route 128 North to Exit 14. Route 133 East to end, right onto Route 127, left into Stage Fort Park. For further information call 978-281-0543 or visit the website.  http://www.davidlbenjamin.com/


Back Beach Bandstand, Sunday nights 7-8:30 pm

Rockport Legion Band
Cape Ann’s Community Concert Band Since 1933

Special feature! The Creagan More Bagpipe Band

Concerts are free. Children of all ages welcome. Popcorn and tonics are available. Bring chairs and blankets. Music will include selections from the opera, the stage, the street, the movies, and popular radio.

As always, remember to bring a blanket or chairs to sit on. Children are always welcome at these family-friendly events, and portions of the program are scheduled for activities for the young (and young-at-heart!). This week, if the children would like to bring a small percussion instrument (home-made shakers are a good idea), they are welcome to play and march along during these special pieces. If the weather is inclement, the performance will be held in the Legion Hall.

The band finished recording our new CD, “Parade,” this past Spring, and copies of “Parade” will be available at the concert. The cover features a painting by the Rockport’s own Henry Kaplan. Our first CD, “We Are The Rockport Legion Band” will also be available. Visit us online at http://rockportlegionband.wordpress.com/



Kurt N. Schwartz, Director

400 Worcester Road


With the extremely hot weather the Commonwealth is experiencing, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is advising people to be cautious and is offering some tips to help keep cool and safe.

“A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during this hot, humid weather.”

  • Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.  Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Attempt to stay hydrated.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.  They can actually dehydrate your body.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.  Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun.  Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.
  • Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
  • Check with your community for information about possible local ‘cooling centers’. You may also want to call 2-1-1 for ‘cooling center’ information or go to www.mass211.org.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers.  Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
  • Avoid too much sunshine.  Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself.  If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors.

In normal weather, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body.  However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Nominate qualified and enthusiastic representatives for the NAMI Mass Board of Directors

Dear NAMI Massachusetts Members,

We need your help to elect a strong new Board!

At the State Conference NAMI Massachusetts elects the Board of Directors for the coming year. Annually the term of one third of the current board ends and they need to be reelected or replaced. This process keeps our organization vibrant, alive and meaningful to the membership. It is also an opportunity to elect new members to the board to represent you and your affiliate, your interests and perspectives.

This email is to encourage you and your affiliate to nominate qualified and enthusiastic representatives for this election at the State convention on October 15. Please give this careful thought and discuss within your Affiliate. We will elect your new board members. Are your views represented?

Schedule:Nominations must be received by September 1.

For your information:

The 18 NAMI Massachusetts Directors are:

  • Elected for a three years period (Six directors are elected each year and may be reelected twice)
  • In “Good Standing” as defined in the bylaws (Section 4)
  • Required to meet the Conflict of Interest Guidelines (Bylaws Section 6)
  • NAMI Members. 75% of whom are persons with mental illness or parents or relatives thereof.

The 18 directors are either:

  • At Large – Must be a Massachusetts Resident
  • Geographic Representative (at least one from Western Mass., Central Mass., Northeast, Greater Boston, Southeast , and Metro-West)
  • Director Emeriti

Duties of a Director are:

  • To attend a minimum of four board meetings a year
  • Be in “Good Standing” as defined in the bylaw (Section 4)

Members seeking to be elected require:

  • NAMI membership.
  • A nominator and a seconded.
  • Certification of good standing (See Section 4 of the NAMI Mass bylaws)
  • A brief resume

Other information:

  • Four of the six current board members whose term is expiring have agreed to run again for office
  • At least one of the other board members is retiring
  • The board needs new members and the current board members running again need competition!

This is your chance to nominate your favorite candidate to represent your Affiliate!

Need more information?

Tom Scurfield, Chairman of Nominations Committee

NAMI Massachusetts


Compared to FY 2011, MA funding for mental health programs increases by $19.7 million!

On Monday, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a $30.6 billion annual state budget, putting a spending blueprint featuring government reforms and no new taxes on the books 11 days into the new fiscal year. The bottom line on the new budget is $750 million less than projected spending in fiscal 2011, a year when Patrick and the Legislature adopted numerous midyear spending bills that drove the state’s spending baseline higher.

NAMI Mass is pleased to inform you that in a budget that relies primarily on cuts as savings to close a $1.9 billion budget gap, our collective efforts on Beacon Hill help buck that trend and ensured that the budget included a total of $648.0 million for mental health services, $34.3 million higher than what the House proposed, and slightly above the Senate’s funding level. Compared to FY 2011, funding for mental health programs increases by $19.7 million.

Some highlights of the FY2012 Budget include:

  • Funding for Line Item 5095-0015 (Inpatient Services) $19.2M above House 1.  This funding will avoid the need to simultaneously close beds while taking the necessary actions to consolidate capacity and funding into the New (Worcester) Hospital.  In addition the budget provides for a revenue retention account of $10M that can be transferred to support the transition costs associated with the opening of the New Hospital as well as support inpatient and community continuing care systems
  • Restoration of the reductions within the 5046-0000 (Adult Mental Health Services) contained within House 1; in addition provides $3.9M in community enhancement funding above the restoration of cuts.
    Restoration of the reductions within the 5042-5000 (Child Adolescent Services) contained within House 1.
  • Funding for Line Item the 5047-0001 $1M above House 1 and $900K above Maintenance.  This funding is to support community enhancement.
  • Funding for Line Item the 5011-0100 $263K above House 1 and the remaining accounts are in line with House 1.
  • Level funding for the DMH rental subsidy line item 7004-9033.
  • Suicide Prevention is level funded online at $3,569,444


Please take a minute to contact the legislators below as well as your own one more time to thank them all for their support.

Please call:

Senate President Therese Murray  (617-722-1500)

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo  (617-722-2500)

Conference Committee Members

Stephen M. Brewer- Senate Ways and Means Chair  (617-722-1540)

Senator Steven A. Baddour  (617-722-1604)

Senator Michael R. Knapik  (617-722-1415)

Rep. Brian S. Dempsey- House Ways and Means Chair  (617-722-2990)

Rep. Viriato Manuel deMacedo  (617-722-2100)

Rep. Stephen Kulik  (617-722-2380)

Your Senators and Representatives

If you know your Senator and need their phone number: click here

If you know your Representative and need their phone number: click here

To identify your Senator or Representative: click here

Hoarding and OCD, Stats, Characteristics, Causes, Treatment and Resources (Infographic)

The Psychology of Hoarding
Via: Psychology Degree

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)[Infographic]

This “What is PTSD?” infographic outlines the symptoms, causes and treatments for the various types of traumatic events, and we hope this serves as a good starting point to spread awareness.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD Awareness
Brought to you by: Masters in Social Work | MSW@USC

Report of the Mass. Dept. of Mental Health Task Force on Staff and Client Safety June, 2011

Report of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Task Force on Staff and Client Safety June, 2011 (PDF)


Secretary JudyAnn Bigby and I met with members of the Task Force on Staff and Client Safety yesterday to discuss the group’s report and recommendations. We expressed our appreciation to the Task Force for its work over the last several months and discussed its process and recommendations development.

After the tragic death of Stephanie Moulton, I established the Task Force to conduct a thorough review of the department’s policies and practices pertaining to safety, especially for the workforce. As you know, DMH has a dual obligation to provide a full array of recovery-based services and treatment while taking measures to help assure public safety.

Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health Services Marcia Fowler and Acting State Medical Director Dr. Debra Pinals will convene a team of staff within a couple of weeks to evaluate, prioritize and implement the array of recommendations. We are already reviewing the report and its recommendations and will use it to inform specific action steps that we can take to promote safety for workers and consumers.

In the short-term, we are committed to taking the following steps:

• Personal safety training: DMH will develop and provide safety training for all DMH and vendor community staff. We anticipate that training will be available in 3 to 6 months.

• Safety Plans: DMH will ensure that client safety plans are up to date, as required by our service contracts.

Many of Task Force’s recommendations involve activities currently underway by DMH and its providers, and the report will inform our efforts to continue or complete them, including:

• Risk Management: Each DMH Area currently has regularly scheduled risk management meetings with its providers. As recommended by the Task Force, DMH will standardize this activity, taking best practices from each Area.

• Partnering with police and other agencies: DMH has been taking an active role in engaging with police and emergency service providers to learn and develop best practices to help manage acute issues in the community. We will continue these efforts.

• Treatment Planning and Referrals: Efforts are underway and will continue to ensure that providers receive appropriate information about individuals referred to them for services and that providers have sufficient time to plan for service provision.

The Department will review all of the recommendations in the coming weeks and develop a detailed implementation plan that reflects further assessment of:

• Specific interventions directly related to improving worker safety, and

• How to ensure that the recommendations, once implemented will lead to the desired improvements.

DMH agrees with the Task Force report that the vast majority of DMH consumers receiving community services live safely and successfully in the community. To that end, DMH will continue to ensure that providers meet standards of excellence in their contracted services. Stigma is known to be the greatest barrier to individuals getting treatment for mental illness. As such, we need to remind ourselves and the community that we must devote ourselves to combating the stigma of mental illness, so that individuals are no longer discouraged from receiving treatment.

Your daily dedication makes a tremendous difference in the lives of individuals with mental illness and their families. Every person at DMH has a vital role and makes valuable contributions to ensure that the entire continuum of services and supports is available for persons in acute distress, as well as individuals who are further along in their recovery. That means we are responsible for providing high quality inpatient continuing care services and the full range of clinical, medical and recovery and rehabilitative services and supports for individuals to live successfully and independently in the community.

I am very proud of your work and commitment to innovation, problem solving and team work. Your partnerships with consumers and their families and significant others, the provider community, and sister agencies offer the expertise and positive interventions necessary to support DMH in accomplishing its mission. I am honored to work with a talented team of professionals and to serve as Commissioner of the Department.

As we enter the holiday weekend, I hope you can enjoy and relax with your families and friends. For those of you working this weekend, we thank you for your service over the holiday.


Barbara A. Leadholm, Commissioner