I have been asked many times how I came up with our name. Many people think that it was arbitrary and was chosen based on its attractive flow. It was not.
The Edelweiss is a flower that survives in the harshest and most adverse conditions of the mountains. Over time, this flower has developed many defense mechanisms to survive the extreme climates and circumstances high in the Alps, where other life cannot.
Edelweiss flowers survive on mountains, and in ravines and rock terrain at high altitudes, but remain strong and resilient despite these conditions that for other flowers would not allow for survival. Because of the surroundings and the environment, Edelweiss flowers have developed extraordinary adaptation mechanisms. What choice did they have?
During my time working with people suffering from eating disorders, I have recognized the similarities between these strong and beautiful flowers and what these individuals experience every day. Each and every one of them is enduring life in the harsh conditions of their eating disorder and many are surviving, recovering and thriving in spite of them.
I chose the name Edelweiss Behavioral Health because I could not think of a better example of the struggle and also the strength and beauty that is part of asking for help and working toward the difficult and often daunting task of recovery.
Can you imagine having to face your biggest fear three to six, or more, times per day? Your biggest fear that many other people enjoy and even look forward to. Can you imagine the confusion that takes place when others say, “just eat, you’ll be fine,” while you feel like the world is crumbling around you?
In my time working with individuals suffering from eating disorders, it has become obvious to me that their motivation for recovery has to be different and their drive for recovery has to be strong and internal. I think having an eating disorder can cause a loneliness that others do not understand, as it isolates in a way that is hopefully unintentional but definitely present. How does someone with so many things working against them fight that adversity and come out on the other side?
This is why I work with individuals struggling with eating disorders. I am not strong in that way. I do not know how they do it. But they do. They survive it through the ups and the downs, through the internal conflict and struggle, and all the while with society and sometimes even their own support people, pushing back at them, not understanding their struggle. They are courageous, driven and focused. They will have difficult times but they learn from them and continue to push forward. They know that there will be more moments of harsh and difficult conditions. But they keep pushing. They are survivors.
An Edelweiss flower is symbolic of being courageous, daring, noble and pure. Theses flowers are survivors. Our patients are survivors.
The Edelweiss is also a symbol of true love. There are many tales of men traveling to these severe conditions and climates to pick an Edelweiss flower for the one they love. “Should man be brave and stout, an Edelweiss might be the right flower to profess his love. This flower can be a great symbol of love when daring men take hold of the mountains and elevate their way through dangers of falling and inclement weather.” Oftentimes these men would not survive, however as the story goes, the Edelweiss would be clutched in their hands…alive.
I opened Edelweiss Behavioral Health three years ago in the hope of helping even just one person through this difficult process. I want those suffering to know that even though eating disorder recovery is hard, it is also possible and beautiful. I want to be able to go on this journey with all of you who are struggling and help you to recognize and embrace moments of hope, healing, and ultimately recovery in its most pure form.
Working toward eating disorder recovery is about being brave, having true love for yourself and recognizing the difficulties that you may face throughout the recovery journey, and allowing the love for yourself to shine through. To all of those who are fighting in this daily fight, may your strength and courage lead you and “may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever.”