Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder Paperback – Oct 1 2011
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Not only does Emily weave her real-life story of suffering and recovery from anorexia with research and facts about the illness, this book is also a spiritual guide for those of us who love someone suffering from an eating disorder. As is often the case, a book like this might answer our questions from a physical or even an emotional perspective, yet it often leaves the spiritual perspective untapped. Emily artfully weaves all three perspectives together into a coherent, gracefully written narrative.
I appreciate, for instance, that Emily includes a prayer at the end of each section. So often, when we are ravaged by hopelessness and fear, we simply can't pray, we simply can't find the words. Emily offers these words to us to pray when we fear prayer is impossible.
This book is not a dry, statistic-filled, how-to tome. Written in honest, evocative, lyrical prose, Chasing Silhouettes shines truth, hope and grace into the darkest corners of an illness that ravages so many millions of women and men. And while she doesn't shy from telling the hard truth, Emily also insists that the reader comes away from her story, and this book, with the knowledge that all hope is not lost and that, above all, those who suffer through this disease are never alone.
A person I love struggled with this disease. I dearly wish Emily's book had been available to my family in the midst of that darkness.
After six months of no weight gain, she was placed in an eating disorder facility almost 2 hours from home. It was a relief for me and I didn't have to worry about what she was eating. I didn't have to fight with her too. Thirty days later she emerged a calmer person. I think the thought of going back there kept her eating just enough. It has been about 2 yrs since then, and she has maintain a reasonable weight. She still comments about gaining weight and I believe this will be a life long struggle for her. Emily's book has taught me to put my trust in God because He loves her more than I do. These struggles have purpose and Emily's purpose was to help others and shed light on this disease. She was brought into my life by Divine intervention and I am grateful for her example of faith. This book will help those struggling to love those people in their lives who don't love themselves.
The only con I have to the book is really just a side-effect of one of its strengths. The book is written from many different points of view at different stages of the disorder, so sometimes it can seem a bit disjointed.
But overall I benefited greatly from reading about other people's stories and emotions especially as many of them had faith backgrounds.
Nine years old. Those eyes belonged - still belong - to Emily Wierenga, and she's now writing about what happened.
"Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder" may well be one of the most important books published for the church this year. That's right, I said for the church. Because eating disorders don't just happen outside the church; they happen in the church, too, to pastors' daughters like Wierenga. And the church can do great good - and great harm - in how it responds.
The book is a painful read. It is also a hopeful read.
Wierenga has structured each major section of "Chasing Silhouettes" with a story, including perspectives of both the person with the disorder and family and friends; observations and insights by medical professionals; practical advice on what to do and not do if you're trying to help; and then a prayer.
What this structure does is to provide a comprehensive look at what constitutes an eating disorder - it is physical, biological, emotional, and spiritual. Those are the roads Wierenga takes us down as she opens up her own experience, mind, and heart. And one of the critical points she makes is this - you cannot heal a loved one of an eating disorder. They have to decide that they want to be healed, and you cannot make that decision for them, no matter how much you love them.
And it happens to girls as young as seven. And to young men, whose commitment to physical training crosses a line into obsession.
So this is a book for people suffering eating disorders and the people who often have to watch in pain and agony as someone lives through - and sometimes dies - from an eating disorder. As Wierenga writes in the prologue: "I was that girl you are trying to save. The one who is all rib and screaming and slamming the door., the one who once laughed, who now wants to die. And this is killing you...While I was that girl, I'm now a woman who wants desperately to live."
"Chasing Silhouettes" is about pain and tragedy, yes. But it is mostly about hope.
That love runs through the pages of her book - a book birthed out of the pain of her own suffering - as she reaches out to those with eating disorders.
The book tells the story of her struggle with an eating disorder that nearly took her life. She has included stories from other people, each coming from different circumstances, but all with the same terrible struggle.
Family members and friends tell how living with someone with an eating disorder affects them and offer advice on how to react and what to say. No one escapes the pain. When a loved one suffers, we all suffer.
Then there is the perspective from medical professionals. It is a comprehensive look at a problem faced by so many families. In a time where outward appearance seems to be everything, and the standard so skewed, it offers hope and sound, practical advice.
Emily has included a prayer at the end of every chapter - moving, heartbreaking words to a God who loves us just the way we are.
While reading it, even though I don't suffer from an eating disorder, I found wisdom for my own life. We all have battles we must fight. It is so encouraging to know there is hope.