Episode 87: The Importance of Individualizing Care with Madison Hanson
**Content warning: This episode includes discussions around suicidal thinking and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Please use your discretion when listening and speak with your support system as needed. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources that can help. Contact the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by texting or calling 988.
In Episode 85 of Peace Meal, we heard from Holly Thorssen about her experience parenting her daughter Madison through an eating disorder. Today, we pass the microphone to Madison, who tells us her recovery story in her own words. Madison begins by recounting her life with an eating disorder. As is often the case, her illness was all-consuming, depleting her ability to be fully present, clouding her values and belief system, and offering a sense of false happiness. At age 12, Madison experienced a barrage of depressive symptoms, which she connects to the onset of her disordered eating. In the absence of healthy coping skills, Madison’s eating disorder numbed her inner pain and released the emotional pressure of her depression.
Entering treatment at The Emily Program marked a shift in Madison’s recovery resistance. She emphasizes the impact of a whole-person care model and shares several takeaways from treatment that have been helpful to her healing. Reflecting on the adversities of her mental health journey, Madison explains why she’s fired up about enacting policy change that supports compassionate, individualized, evidence-based care so that no one feels hopeless about their mental health. Says Madison, “There’s always hope.”
In addition to being Holly’s daughter, Madison Hanson is a senior at North Dakota State University, double majoring in social work and human development and family science. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work after graduation next spring. Madison’s specific interest lies in macro social work and advocacy for stronger mental health laws to protect those struggling with mental illness. Outside of school, she enjoys yoga, traveling, and spending time with her dog, Leo.
- The role of a co-occurring mental health diagnosis in potentially triggering and maintaining an eating disorder
- How to find separation between yourself and your eating disorder
- The challenging process of overcoming food fears
- The crucial work of protecting your healing and mental health in recovery
- The need for a paradigm shift in mental health services—specifically one that priorities individualized care
In Madison’s words:
- On the importance of a holistic, person-centered care model: “The Emily Program was actually the only place that incorporated the aspect of the whole person approach. I found that [approach] in the program very helpful… Accepting the help and support was a lot easier after I learned this whole other way of going about [treatment].”
- On protecting her recovery: “For me, it almost [requires] treating the eating disorder as an addiction. And when I say that, I mean I don’t weigh myself at home anymore. I don’t follow diet culture or buy diet products or any of that. I completely cut it out because there is no way of living half in the eating disorder and half out. It’s kind of either all or nothing. And so by doing that, I don’t have to think about it as much.”
- On imagining life in recovery: “I would ask that person to close their eyes and think about if they didn’t have their eating disorder or their mental illness. What would your dream life be? … Just imagine this. And then I would ask them to open their eyes, and I would tell them, you know what? It’s actually going to be ten times better than that. And I know you probably don’t believe it right now, and you might not believe it tomorrow, but I promise you, if you take those first steps, (even if you don’t believe them)… it’s going to get easier, and it’s going to get so much better.”
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