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To be unsure about having my cousins 15 year old aneroxic dd to stay during February halfterm

(28 Posts)
stormforce10 Tue 08-Jan-13 22:23:15

To start I will have her. My cousin really needs a break and she's always been good to me but I really don't know how I'm going to look after her.

She's been in and out of hospital with aneroxia since she was 13. When she's well she's a lovely friendly girl but when she's not she's a major worry. At the moment she's reasonably well but I'm very nervous about what will happen if she relapses while she's with us or finds it too much pressure being with us.

We are just a normal family - me, dp, 8 year old dd and 5 month old ds. my cousin is hoping she'll find baby a distraction as she loves babies and hopes to go into childcare when she's older.

I'm just worried I'll mess it up or make her worse. AIBU? PRobably this should be somewhere else so if there's a better place please tell me and I'll ask for it to be moved. In the meantime advice would be appreciated please.

Don't mention food, don't comment on her weight, don't try to get her well, don't mention the annorexia. Its only a week, you can't cure her, just make it as easy an experience as possible.

Trills Tue 08-Jan-13 22:26:08

What do you think you'll do to make it worse?

If you are worried about her you can always phone her mum.

It's very kind of you to be considering doing this.

whois Tue 08-Jan-13 22:26:58

YANBU to be worried, but try not to stress and just make it a low pressure stay for the girl. I'm sure her mum can give you tips on what not to do and the change and distraction of the baby might do her good.

Has the psychology behind her anorexia been addressed? Why has she been in and out of hospital and suffer relapses? How come she is still suffering?

I would not mention weight, or food, just ensure her portions are not too big. Not too fatty and not too greasy. Stick with lean healthy food. Not your job to "fatten her up" or make her eat. Just put healthy good food in front of her. Food that she wont find too much or difficult to tolerate.

Anorexia is as much a control issue, as an eating issue.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 08-Jan-13 22:32:58

Would your cousin let you have a word with any of the professionals that are working with her dd so that you could get some advice specific to her? Or are there any charities that you could look to for advice?

blameitonthecaffeine Tue 08-Jan-13 22:33:25

I have a 14 year old anorexic dd who has also been out of hospital for the past few years.

I think the key is that you say she is doing well at the moment. A relapse isn't an instant thing. If she is still doing well by half term then 1 week with you isn't going to irrevocably damage her health or her mental well being, given that you sound both caring and clued up.

However, I understand that you feel it could be stressful. And I would perhaps consider not having her stay if she is visibly or obviously unwell at that point because your own dd is at a vulnerable age.

StuntGirl Tue 08-Jan-13 22:34:00

Don't mention food, don't comment on her weight, don't try to get her well, don't mention the annorexia. Its only a week, you can't cure her, just make it as easy an experience as possible.

^This.

cheesesarnie Tue 08-Jan-13 22:34:31

talk to your cousin about about your worries. i bet she'll be having the same worries.
you all need to talk about what will happen if.. and any boundaries.

timidviper Tue 08-Jan-13 22:37:26

I would have her to stay, it's only a week, the distraction would do her good and it would give your cousin a break.

Don't overthink it, serve normal food but don't pressure her. Just try to enjoy your time together, I'm sure she will appreciate it.

larks35 Tue 08-Jan-13 22:37:35

notactuallyme is completely right and PureQuintessence wrt the type of food to offer her. I'm sure it will be a lovely visit but don't be tempted to talk to her about her illness unless, of course, she decides to speak to you.

Flojobunny Tue 08-Jan-13 22:40:58

It's only a week. You will be fine.

VBisme Tue 08-Jan-13 22:41:04

I do think that being with your family, especially your 5 month old DS. As the others have said, don't make a big deal of food, if you put stuff in serving dishes and let everyone help themselves that might be easiest on her.

I understand your worries, but I think it's lovely that you are willing to have her (it will also give her mum a break).

frogspoon Tue 08-Jan-13 23:00:50

Make sure you know in advance the foods she is more comfortable eating and are less likely to trigger her anorexia. Communal serving dishes are not always the best idea as they can be overwhelming for some anorexics. It might be better just to give her a small portion,

I would also keep an eye on your 8yo, and the influence her cousin could have on her eating habits. Girls younger than this can develop anorexia. Just something to be aware of e.g. if anorexic cousin refuses to eat 8yo may also refuse

HopAndSkip Wed 09-Jan-13 01:39:54

It will help her having a change of scenery. Try to do "serve youself" meals if your concerned, eg cook something and put it in the middle rather than dishing it out, as a large amount placed infront of her could put her off.

If theres any food you know she finds easier to eat then you could get those in too.

You won't make it worse, just like her mum hasnt caused it. It's a personal thing not the fault of surrounding family etc. Try to compliment her on things (not relating to weight) too, eg. you're really good with DS, i like how you've done your hair, or similar, as self confidence can be a part of some eating disorders.

achillea Wed 09-Jan-13 01:50:40

I think you will regret NOT having her round.

Try to be positive and think of the benefit you could be to this poor girl. Anorexia is very very dangerous as it becomes a downward spiral but you taking her in might help her in some way. Having a baby around her may make her see the world differently and give her a sense of being important in the future of her extended family. Being with an 8 year old may help her to remember a time when she was happy and enjoy doing 8 year old things.

As far as I know anorexia isn't catching so I'm not sure what frogspoon's on about!

I wouldn't make any special arrangements - be yourselves. Treat her as you would any house guest.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 09-Jan-13 01:55:16

YANBU to worry but...just treat her normally.

And do not say "you are looking well". I have been fine for years now and still that phrase instantly makes me think "I am fat,I must lose weight".

If it gets too much you can call your cousin. With eating disorders the most important thing is to not make any weight/eating related comments.

Hope the half term stay goes well OP.

Monty27 Wed 09-Jan-13 01:59:18

Google the sites, there'll be a list of do's and don'ts to treat people with eating disorders with the utmost respect and sensitivity, not making their condition an issue etc.

You never know, it could be just what she needs, a break from the day to day pressure she is under.

Hope she enjoys the baby smile

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 09-Jan-13 02:45:21

frogspoon with respect, anorexia and indeed eating disorders, are not contagious anymore than depression is. They are mental illnesses.

OP's 8 year old is more likely to be confused by her cousin refusing to eat certain things than immediately trying to emulate that behaviour.

stormforce10 Wed 09-Jan-13 12:02:24

thank you so much this is really helpful.

I've talked to my cousin again and been honest about my concerns and she's talked me through what she understands about the trigger points and what sort of foods to give her. Then later I spoke to her DD who is really excited about coming and has lots of ideas about what she wants to do with the baby. She said that when she was in hospital a lady in there taught her about baby signing and she really wants to try it with ds (not sure what baby signing is but she sounded very excited about it) smile

Feeling much more confident now thanks to your advice and conversation with cousin and her DD. My cousin is going off with her DH to a little hotel somewhere in Scotland and can't wait for the break

Absolutely yes to NOT saying "You look well/healthy". As with Alisvolatpropiis is still interpret this as "You are looking fat" and think it means I need to lose weight. So yeah, just no comments at all on her weight/health/eating and it should be a relaxed and lovely visit smile

Also, you are lovely, seem clued up and concerned about the right things. Huray! wink

cumfy Wed 09-Jan-13 12:37:09

What worries me is your cousin.

Why is she so content leaving her DD with someone who has not really been properly briefed (nor could be expected to be) ?
It sounds like she may be taking "a break" from DN.

Do you really know enough about DN's history and current medical needs ?

I would be seeking clarification from her med team/GP that this is OK.

I do hope everything goes well, at half-term.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 09-Jan-13 12:45:32

Glad you are feeling more confident, came to this too late to say anything that hasn't been mentioned. I know it's like the elephant in the room, not mentioning anything in connection with something that has obviously been a major source of conflict and worry. I assume your cousin knows you well enough to entrust her DD with you, every parent can do with a "break" occasionally, all the more so if there's been a prolonged period of heightened concern and vigilance.

magimedi88 Wed 09-Jan-13 12:47:56

Your cousin does not worry me at all - she is obviously confident in you & knows you'd call her if there are any major worried.

I think you are really lovely to be doing this & it sounds like a great break for your cousin & her DD.

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