Au Pair with Eating Disorder – Should She Leave Early?

by cv harquail on November 14, 2015

We’re a little sensitive here at AuPairMom about the subject of eating disorders among young women. Some of us Moms have struggled with them, and some of us have children who have had or are currently working through eating disorders. So, as we go forward with this conversation, please be especially thoughtful. 

A brand new Au Pair writes (below) that she’s struggling with anorexia.

leavesHer Host Family’s own eating behaviors and their commentary about her appearance (which might be neutral or unremarkable in other situations) are making the situation worse for her. She wants to leave at Christmas.

Trouble is — she’s only been with the family for one month.  That would suggest that she chose to take an Au Pair year, and matched with a family, knowing she had an active eating disorder that would interfere with her ability to be a good au pair.   

If an au pair is sick, whether with an eating disorder, a recurring digestive challenge, a bad back, or other chronic or long term illness, s/he should go home.

If a prospective au pair has any chronic or longterm illness, s/he should either choose not to take an Au Pair Year, or s/he should disclose the illness to the Host Family and discuss whatever accommodations might need to be made, before s/he agrees to take the position.

The fact that this Au Pair didn’t address these issues with her Host Family before matching is upsetting.  If she did not disclose this situation on her Au Pair application, she misrepresented herself, and that’s also upsetting.

Regardless of the wrong decisions that led up to this situation,  this Au Pair should go home.  Anorexia is a serious and life-threatening condition. It requires focused, comprehensive, immediate treatment.

That said, this au pair should do everything that she can to make her departure easy on the Host Family. From their perspective, they’ve put in significant time and energy  choosing this au pair, preparing for her, and training her, all of which is now wasted. Her departure will be a disruption to them, no matter how sympathetic they are to the Au Pair’s condition and needs.

If I were the Host Mom in this situation, I would be pretty angry.  I would also try to be compassionate, because I want what’s best for the Au Pair’s health. But I bet I’d still be angry.

There are applicants who have physical or mental conditions that can be managed effectively enough that they can confidently stay ‘in recovery’ throughout an adventure like an Au Pair Year.  Many people with food allergies, diabetes, depression, eating disorders,  and more can participate fully in au pair life. They can care for kids, be dependable, and
have fun.

And yes, there are some families who would be happy to match with an Au Pair who has a few needs related to his or her ongoing conditions.

For an Au Pair, the Au Pair experience is a lot about taking personal responsibility and learning to stick up for yourself and your needs.  

This Au Pair needs to take care of her health– that’s #1. And, she should address this immediately with her host family and take responsibility — that’s #2.

Parents and Au Pairs, what else do you recommend?


Dear au pair mom —  I have now lived with my au pair family for a month and I’m not quite sure if I should leave earlier than planned. I have anorexia, so it’s very difficult for me to eat anything in the house and in front of the family. I am worried about the effects of my actions considering the children.

They don’t understand why I don’t eat any sweets, and the mother and father say comments all the time about my weight. Since the family does neither eat that healthily, I lose more and more weight, and I think the best thing for me is to leave earlier, so I can get treatment. I’m going home for christmas and I think it’s better if I don’t come back again.      What do you think?





Meg November 14, 2015 at 8:24 pm

I feel for the HF bit what can you do? It’s a life threatening illness. And maybe she didn’t know how bad it was and being away from everything she knew pushed it all into crisis? Either way, I wish that there were better back up options for HF.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 14, 2015 at 11:59 pm

This is a case where the OP put her best foot forward, but in doing so totally misrepresented herself to her HF. My recommendation would be to talk to the LCC first. If she’s good at what she does, then you’re not the first AP to have anorexia. Yes, you have to go home. But, doing the right thing means staying until the HF finds a match (which means if they declare rematch could be shortly after Thanksgiving).

Over the years I have had a series of APs whose poor eating habits have adversely affected my children. It started with AP #2, whom on her first Thanksgiving (when child #2 was just 5) had declared she wasn’t going to eat until dinner. Imagine trying to feed a preschooler – who clearly wasn’t going to make it until dinnertime without food – who was parroting what he heard.

I’ve had two “vegetarian” APs who were what I call (as a vegetarian who works really hard to mix proteins) “white food eaters.” You know the type – cheese, pasta, rice, potatoes, yogurt, pizza – but not a tossed salad. Child #2 gained a lot of weight emulating their snacking, and child #1 (who has special needs) ate less vegetables than ever (and she likes them!)

Au Pairs are role models – even when they think their HK are not paying attention. OP, it’s obvious that you need more help than your current (in the US) support network can provide. Be honest, but accept the consequences, even if they are not in part of your game plan.

And personally, as a HM of a child with special needs who just took 12 weeks to match, I might not take it well if my AP tanked after a few weeks in the US. Don’t take it personally if your HF does not respond well to your announcement. Your HP have a lot on their platters, too.

NZHM November 15, 2015 at 3:35 am

I think the OP should give her notice. It’s not fair on the family or the kids for her to continue au pairing when she has such a serious illness. I could imagine the family won’t be pleased about it, but I would think they would want you to get the treatment you need too. I won’t go in to the fact that you joined a programme knowing your condition because what’s important is getting treatment and being up front with your host family – don’t just ‘not come back’ that’s not fair or honourable.

AuPair Paris November 15, 2015 at 5:18 am

This situation is rough on everyone. A quick reminder that mental health issues, including eating disorders, mess with your decision making. When I was sick, I was completely delusional about how it would affect my life (basically convinced myself that I wasn’t sick – just pathetic and self-indulgent – and a kick up the arse might force me to snap out of it…). So while I get the frustration – because this seems predictable enough as a problem – it might actually not have been for the AP in question.

In a related way – my HF lately have been *very* restrictive with one of the young children’s food. She is skinny, and active, but loves her food and eats everything and plenty of it. Diet talk is rife, and I worry massively about the poor kid – I don’t agree with this at all. Now, I’ve never had an eating disorder, but as a normal person, a woman, who lives in this society, this attitude makes me self-conscious and miserable. An AP in full-recovery from an eating disorder might find it a very dangerous environment. I wonder if this kind of situation has any impast on the OP’s current state of health?

hOstCDmom November 15, 2015 at 11:28 am

Glad to see that you are posting! Several folks on this board were concerned about you. Wishing you and your HF, friends the best in Paris right now.

AuPair Paris November 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Thank you. It’s grim, and terrifying, but my friends here have all been very lucky to escape it.

Returning HM November 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I am so glad to see you posting, AuPair Paris. I felt a little silly over the last two days stalking this board, hoping to see you post, and I was worried when I didn’t see you. Glad to know you and yours are ok, and we are all sending support from over this side of the Pond.

AuPair Paris November 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Thank you. It’s nice to be thought of at such a scary time.

Mimi November 16, 2015 at 11:56 am


WestMom November 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

Nothing to do here. this was an unfortunate situation. AP suffers from a mental illness (which of course she should have disclosed), and must get treatment.

On a side note, I am always surprised about APs asking to go back home for the holidays. One year is short, why would anyone want to go back home, unless they were already expecting to be homesick (not to say the lack of desire to share an important celebration with the host family)? And if they are, chances are that going back home is NOT going to help.

As a matter of fact, when AP2 was here, 3 APs in our cluster went home for the holidays. One came back and upon her return gave a month notice, one came back to pack and leave, and the third didn’t come back at all!

I have sent one AP home to attend a funeral, which was a different situation and did not affect APs motivation to finish her year. But having an AP ask to come home during the interview process, I would probably pass on the candidate.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Sometimes this blog offers good suggestions for what NOT to disclose at interview. Wanting to go home at Christmas to spend it with your family is clearly one of them hahaha.

WestMom November 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

It would likely not be better to ask after arrival, if that’s what you are suggesting :)

Returning HM November 15, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Our current AP asked to go home for Christmas in his first month with us. Since at that time, we were really struggling with some major things with him – and were being very clear about our struggles and all the areas where we needed to see growth and increased maturity, it came across as incredibly tonedeaf. Here we were having conversations about whether he could do our job at even a basic level, and there he was asking whether he could have additional days off in a few months so he could go home and visit his family – and oh, by the way, could he bring a friend back with him for a week when he returned. It just seemed immature.

Fast forward two months in which he greatly improved his performance, and we were then happy to discuss the request. He had proved he could listen and take constructive feedback and act upon it and that he could learn to put others’ interests and needs first. He had also proved that he was a contributor and not just taker in the household. At this point, I was very happy to approve the request and even encouraged him to take additional comp days for his trip, in addition to welcoming his friend to return with him.

So it really comes down to timing – and being thoughtful and careful about how you ask for things. Two of our best APs have gone home for Christmas, and both came back doubly committed to doing a great job as an AP and making most of their year here.

There are ways to make requests and times and places for those requests to be made and heard with open minds. Do a great job and show your family you’re committed to the job and to giving 110% to the household, and I’ll bet you find your requests for time off especially at Christmas get heard with openness.

WestMom November 15, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Well said. I agree wholeheartedly that when and how you ask makes a huge difference. It doesn’t help me fully comprehend though, why a newly arrived AP would want to go back for the holidays. It is only one year after all…

Taking a Computer Lunch November 15, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Of the 11 APs I’ve hosted so far, only two returned home for visits at all. When AP #1 decided she wanted to stay in the U.S. (and she had been a pediatric intensive care nurse in her home country, so she had a desirable skill set on my many levels), we attempted to sponsor her as an employer. We also put her on a student visa (fudging the legality) so she could leave the country and return while her application was in process. She went home for two weeks. It was her only trip home in the 3 1/2 years she lived with us.

AP #2 agreed to extend for 6 months on the condition that she could spend her 2nd Christmas at home. She used her 2nd week off to fly home and obtain a new visa (Europeans have that luxury). She also returned and completed her year.

Both women said it was very hard to get back on the plane.

Should be working November 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Before anything else the AP should go first to a doctor here to see if she is in immediate danger. Vitals should be checked, including lying-to-standing blood pressure. She is not the best judge of her own health status right now. If she says she has lost more and more weight, who is to say she isn’t on the cusp of heart attack right now?

Anorexia is such a strange and counterintuitive illness. Anosognosia–not recognizing that you are ill and/or how bad it is–is part of it. CCAP used to include doctors’ reports, which I really appreciated, because I could see height and weight. Now we get something filled out by the AP, so self-reported. Not as good. I try to screen for eating weirdness of any kind but two APs had weird restrictions and one was definitely disordered in some way. Selecting a boy AP who self-reports hearty, unrestricted eating feels more confidence-inspiring.

TexasHM November 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Can I ask a dumb question? (or several) ;) She says “I have anorexia so its difficult for me to eat anything in the house or in front of the family”. She doesn’t eat sweets (that’s not exclusive to people suffering from anorexia) and HF is making comments about her weight (not exclusive to anything).

Ok – so how does she know she is anorexic? I will admit, I am NOT well versed in this field. I have, however, had two friends at different times in my life that suffered from this or had recovered and neither one of them said “I have anorexia”. SBW you hit on this a bit when you talked about anosognosia. The friends/acquaintances I suspected that were later diagnosed denied their condition to the end – and even in the hospital! Maybe I just don’t have enough exposure or maybe she meant to say she had a history with anorexia (as in, sought treatment and recovered but now this experience is triggering some previous behavior) but this statement alone right away raised flags for me that we are missing something here.

And let’s say somehow she knew she had anorexia and she came here. How does that have anything to do with eating in the house? I am trying to figure out if it is an ESL issue and she is trying to say she is a recovered anorexic that is living in an unhealthy household because if so, then no, I don’t necessarily think she would have to return home. Would she have to buy her own food or discuss a grocery allowance with her family? Yes. Would she have to be hypervigilant to manage and make she she doesn’t slide back into old patterns? Absolutely. I am just taking this path a bit because 3 times she points to the family/foods. They eat sweets – she doesn’t. She can’t eat anything in the house (because it’s only got unhealthy food?) and since the “HF doesn’t eat healthily” she is losing weight (because she doesn’t eat junk food?).

Soo…am I crazy or could this possibly be an AP that has a mismatch in eating habits with her HF and is perhaps taking that to an extreme as a justification to go home?

I just find it hard to believe that an AP/her family/physician would let her go abroad while suffering from anorexia. Am I missing something?

Returning HM November 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm

I actually had the same thought as TexasHM….whether there is an ESL issue going on here or something else we are not understanding.

Unfortunately, I have a fair bit of experience with friends and family members with anorexia, and myself struggled when I was young with bulemia, and I can’t remember anyone, when they were going through their issues, admitting to having an eating disorder and annoucing that they needed to get treatment. Others may have different experiences, but as SBW wrote, anorexia in particular usually comes with a strong thread of denial about anything being wrong, since usually the person dealing with it thinks the only thing “wrong” with her eating is that she is eating too much and not too little. So the way this note is written strikes me as peculiar.

But that said, if the OP is indeed dealing with anorexia and finds that it is flaring up in her HF’s house, she should go home NOW and not at Christmas. She should call her LCC tonight, tell her what is going on, and tell her HF tomorrow that she is leaving. By the end of the week, she should be home and getting help. If she truly is struggling with anorexia, then every day matters, not only because her health and indeed life are at risk but also because the research is clear that the sooner anorexia is treated, the better chance there is of recovery. So much of this illness is behavioral that the sooner the behaviors get addressed and replaced, the better the chance for recovery. I therefore do not recommend waiting until CHristmas at all. By then, you could be in such bad shape that you aren’t able to do your job anymore, and on top of it, you could be delaying and making your recovery that much harder and longer of a process.

Obviously this completely stinks for the HF no matter what. They are going to have a terrible time and will need to find a new AP. But surely they would rather that their AP go home immediately and get help, even if it means leaving them stranded, than having her stay but likely be unable to work and potentially put their children – in addition to the AP herself – in great danger. APs who don’t eat will have trouble playing with children…and driving…and walking up and down stairs…God forbid the AP should pass out while caring for the children or driving them or overseeing them swimming — this could then truly harm the children (and potentially kill the AP) and not just be an inconvenience the way rematch is

So if this truly is a situation of anorexia (and not an English translation issue), OP, please call your LCC now and go home in the next couple of days. If it is anorexia, as I said above, it is a very unusual person afflicted with it who is so up front about having it and so eager for treatment. So I’d say “strike while the iron is hot” and go home and start your treatment, because if you have this kind of self-awareness and clarity, you should take advantage of it and get started with treatment and your recovery.

Old China Hand November 15, 2015 at 10:24 pm

I agree with you, texashm. Something didn’t add up right when I read the post. I think we may be missing information.

Should be working November 16, 2015 at 1:18 am

From the amazingly helpful “” forum I have heard of young adults who have been actively anorexic, or recovering, or relapsing, who could acknowledge that they are anorexic without seeing that as a “problem” the way the rest of us would. They might for instance even read about other anorexics’ practices to glean tips on how to starve better, and they may embrace the anorexic identity. So they might know they are anorexic without necessarily wanting to get better. Or they might want to get better, but the voice in the head is just too strong and the soothing from starvation (yes, it is a biological brain disorder) too attractive. This email sounds like it might be from someone who is relapsing and has some consciousness of that–especially “losing more and more weight”. It might be combined with a desire to simply go home, and who knows if she really will go to treatment, but maybe. Or maybe it’s a fabrication–but if she has lost so much weight in one month I doubt it.

The worries about not eating healthy are from my limited experience and reading totally typical for restrictive anorexia. Lots of anorexics start out as “trying to eat healthier”, and that was an early alibi for my kid. The “healthy eating” is not at all enough to maintain or gain weight, but it is what the “voice” in their heads gives permission for if anything is to be eaten at all. Plenty of families get stuck trying to meet the demands of “healthy eating” before accepting that it’s beyond rationality, that ultimately nothing is healthy enough.

Not being able to eat in front of the family is to me also a big red flag. Eating in front of others is really really hard for many people with the illness. We had this too.

And I agree totally with ReturningHM about how dangerous this situation is, for her and for the HKs in her care. Her au pair time is over, way over. She says she has only been there a month and has lost “more and more” weight. She needs to go to the doctor TODAY to see if she is ok enough to travel, and leave immediately to get treatment.

If I were the HF I would be furious, would have plenty of questions about the doctor’s report, and so on, but everyone’s safety requires that this be dealt with quickly.

Didi November 18, 2015 at 3:28 am

I think it’s good she is recognizing the problem and she is willing to work on her health, but I do think it would be good idea to talk to host parents about it and see what is their point of view.

Without sounding disrespectful, yshe might be judged and maybe even forced to go home if she admits she is anorexic, but based on that email it seems that she is mature and aware of her problem and she could be function, work and live as an au pair if her hf knew and supported her.

There are many au pairs who have different eating habits, who eat in their bedroom, alone, or in different time and if it’s approached properly it shouldn’t be a big deal.

AnonymousNanny November 19, 2015 at 10:40 am

I’ve been a long time lurker on this site, I almost went abroad as an au pair when I was 18, but because of my active eating disorder, decided against it. I’ve never felt a need to comment before, but TexasHM and ReturningHM, I just wanted to gently point out that your comments are extremely invalidating. I have struggled with anorexia for 4 years now. I am able to admit quite easily that I have an eating disorder, and when I’m in need, I am able to speak up myself and ask for help. When I was 17 and my eating disorder began, I caught it myself before anyone around me. I KNEW that what I was doing was not normal for me, and it did not feel good. Unfortunately, because I was so quick to admit that I thought I had an eating disorder, no one believed me because, like you both have said, “Someone with a real eating disorder would never admit it and ask for help.”

6 months later after a suicide attempt I was finally admitted into inpatient treatment for my anorexia. I struggle today. My eating disorder is very real, even though I am not in denial.

The OP’s eating disorder also could be very real. She should be encouraged for admitting that she has a problem, NOT doubted.

TexasHM November 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Anonymous Nanny please reread my post. I never said anything even remotely close to resembling your misquote of my statements. I admitted I have limited knowledge of anorexia and expressed my concern that there could potentially be ESL challenges making the context unclear. We had a very short email clearly written by someone still learning English and I had hoped the OP might chime in and clarify. There are several things in the original post that don’t make sense and when one piece starts to not make sense it’s natural to question the whole piece by piece to make sure we are understanding correctly and several responded that they were confused or it didn’t make sense to them as well so this isn’t about questioning anyone that says they have an eating disorder, this was only questioning this poster to better learn history (if there is some), context (how was she or is she diagnosed) and triggers so we can all better answer her original question which was should she return or not.

I wish you nothing but the best and prayers for your recovery.

Returning HM November 29, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Thanks for clarifying, TexasHM. AnonymousNanny, I am sorry you have suffered so long from your eating disorder.

I would just suggest that maybe your sensitivity to the situation caused you to misread and therefore misunderstand what TexasHM and I both wrote. Best of luck addressing your illness.

WarmStateMomma November 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm

I’m a bit confused as well about the OP’s situation. If an AP thinks he or she has a major, long-term health problem (like anorexia) that endangers the AP or the kids, the AP should tell the HPs as soon as possible and make arrangements to go home for treatment.

I’m sure the family won’t be happy that the AP hid this from them during matching, but it’s important to minimize the damage at this point. Asking the parents to pay the stipend during the AP’s Christmas vacation, while the parents cover child care, and then spring on the parents that the AP won’t return (when the parents likely have used any vacation time/employer good will to be home with kids) – is pretty rotten. My advice is to just tell them now and figure out the best plan for getting home to get treatment. It’s the best thing for the AP and the family.

Best of luck to the AP in her recovery!

AuPair in Europe December 11, 2015 at 6:38 am

I started with bulimia for the first time after 6 months of being with my first HF. A year before I had lost a very important person but somehow I had managed to block that pain and I thought I was doing fine.

After some months living with my HF I gained a lot of weight because I joined their eating habits, once I stared wanting to lose some weight the eating disorder began. I never dared to tell the family, I was not afraid of their reaction, they were very understanding people and I know they would have helped me, but I was very ashamed of what was happening to me. I stayed with this family 1.6 years.

To be honest, being with the HK made me feel happy and I was afraid that going back home would only make me have painful memories. Sadly, all of my free time I would use it to binge and purge and it just kept getting worse, so finally I decided to get some treatment and went back home. After 7 months on therapy and with the help of my friends and family I overcame it and now I’m au pairing in another country. I’m still learning to enjoy food in a healthy way and being with a HF who eats very healthy is helping too. The thing is, I didn’t tell my bulimia story to this second family, I’m not ashamed anymore, but I assumed no host family would have taken me if I admitted it.

What do you think? Is it wrong that I kept it from them? Would you have taken an Au Pair with an ED’s past such as mine?

Kate January 7, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Firstly, before sending her home. I would talk to her. Just to make sure that the email is correct and it’s not a simple case of language miscommunication. First, she states that she has an eating disorder, and then goes on to say that the host family doesn’t eat healthy. That she doesn’t want to eat sugar. There is nothing wrong with that. Many schools are implementing healthy lunches that involve no sugar to improve the health of their students. Again, I would talk to her to determine if it is just a healthy lifestyle choice, or a mental illness she is trying to cope with.

Anon fpr this one January 11, 2016 at 9:56 am

I have stated time and time again, people with eating disorders and people with mental health issues, should NOT enter the AP programme, i.e. anyone who has a compulsive disorder, that they cannot control, which can effect their mood, personality, sleep patterns and ultimately their decision making progress, should NOT be allowed in the programme.

Host Families are not equipped (nor should they have to be) to deal with any of the above issues.

That is the cold hard truth of the situation.

And if you do not disclose then you are already lying to your Host Family by withholding a material fact that they should be aware of, i.e. would you disclose that you have epilepsy?? that you might have a seizure and therefore you cannot drive (although I know that if you have not had a seizure for X amount of time, then you can drive).

It is the same with a young women who is starving herself or engaging in unsafe eating habits, what is she fainted while driving or while looking after an infant and the kitchen stove was on?

The are reasons why there are exclusions to the AP programme – those reasons are safeguards – they are there to protect the families and the children – from potential (albeit non-intentional) dangers – they also protect the persons excluded from living with a lifetime of guilt from one bad decision, one bad episode when they weren’t thinking straight.

shelovesparis95 March 28, 2016 at 6:44 pm

I saw this post and decided to try to revive it after a two-month break. Mostly because today left me with an “au pair plus eating disorder equals what?” concern that is only partially addressed in the comments.
I am currently recovering from an eating disorder (an ED), namely anorexia. I’m seeing a treatment team at an ED clinic nearby. Recently I’ve felt pretty good about recovery, and a few weeks ago decided I would love to au pair in France, just for the summer. So I found a family, accepted a job, etc. not feeling like telling them about the ED “history” was really necessary.
However, today left me with a problem. I need a doctor’s note to get a work permit in France. So I went to see a new physician today, who took one look at my health history and said “I can’t write a letter today. I just don’t think traveling internationally is safe for you at the point. Especially because you will have no support system there” (as opposed to my 5 person team here).
So now I’m stuck. Because I still want to do it, and I still think I can do it. But others clearly don’t. My therapist of two years said we could skype weekly, which I think would be really, really helpful. But I’m just confused where to go from here. I already accepted the job! She thinks I’m coming in 2 1/2 months!

Should be working March 29, 2016 at 9:46 pm

1. First you need to let the HM know that you aren’t sure you can come.

2. Second you need to reconsider letting the HF know your history. This is about maturity and responsibility. You didn’t feel like telling them, but telling people is one part of coming to terms with your history of this illness. Keeping it secret leaves ways for the ED to reemerge. That’s about you. But also what about them? They want to know as much as possible about their new au pair, and definitely they want to know things that affect the au pair’s life at home, in their kitchen, with their children. Withholding important medical info is not a great way to start a relationship with a host family. And if the rules are that you provide a medical history, then it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel it is necessary.

3. Just about you: If you are in ED treatment it is not the time to go abroad, put yourself in an unpredictable and possibly stressful situation, and have a family and children depending on you. ED recovery takes a long time, longer than anyone involved wants it to–sufferers, parents, siblings. You need to practice relapse prevention for a while. You do not want to slip back into the ED, which is all too possible if you leave your treatment team.

4. If you have a doctor who doesn’t want to write a note, maybe that should be a cue to you that your recovery is not as solid as you want it to be. It will get there, but it maybe is not there yet.

5. It’s great to have goals and ambitions, and to feel positive about achieving them. But thinking you can do it is different than being able to do it safely and responsibly. Sometimes ED has a component of rigid thinking (my daughter is recovering); perhaps your positive, can-do approach has some rigidity, namely “I think I can do it, why won’t they let me?” Seems to me like there are good reasons not to do it at this time.

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