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To be worried about leaving DW next week to work away?

(31 Posts)
dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 21:26:02

Have nced. I'll try to keep it brief, 3 years ago DW was diagnosed with an eating disorder after coming out of an abusive relationship- we weren't together then but very close friends. She was in hospital for several months and finally recovered about 1 year later, but has had a few relapses since, thankfully all dealt with in early stages. Aside from these she has a few health problems remaining but mostly is fine. Before she was diagnosed and we were together I was working abroad on projects for a few weeks/months at a time, when DW and I got together and I was caring for her I took time off and was able to go back to work without travelling when she recovered.

Next week is meant to be my first time working abroad since DW was diagnosed, as it's temporary we will not be relocating, I will be away for 4 weeks and she will be here with 10 YO DD. When I agreed to this trip I was obviously concerned as this will be the first time I'll be away but as DW had been well for a while I thought it would be OK. However this week I've noticed the warning signs of a relapse and am worried that me being away for a long period of time might be enough to tip her over the edge. On the other hand, I know she wants me to go as this is a big part of my job I haven't been able to do in a long time, and I do wonder if perhaps she's worried about it now but it will all be fine when it happens. Not sure what to do really.

GotMyGoat Mon 24-Mar-14 21:28:45

Do you have any family who can pop in for dinner every now and then? Also - are you speaking to your wife about your concerns?

Salmotrutta Mon 24-Mar-14 21:40:30

I second the suggestion of family keeping a weather eye out if at all possible?

Do you have family members who could invite her round for tea/lunch etc?

I'm sorry if that's rubbish advice - I've not been in your shoes.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 21:47:56

Dw's family all live locally so can come over for dinner- they do this quite a lot anyway as she can struggle to eat something she's cooked herself, although this has been getting better recently. The only problem with that is one of her tactics she's used in the past is if she knows she won't be able to get out of eating a meal in front of people she'll go without for the rest of the day/day after to 'compensate'. We have discussed me being away although perhaps not as much as we should. She's adamant she'll be fine which I believed, I've only started to think she might be relapsing over the last couple of days. The last thing I want to do is make it worse just as I'm about to go away- it's a difficult one really.

Salmotrutta Mon 24-Mar-14 21:56:55

Could you sit down and really try talking to her?

Or would that not work?

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 22:00:02

Not rubbish Salmotrutta- it's a really difficult situation. It sounds awful to say I can't always trust her but unfortunately that can be how it is. Hopefully her mum is going to bring round meals every few days to defrost when needed which should help with the cooking issue- shop bought ready meals not really an option due to calorie content and lactose intolerance.

Dahlen Mon 24-Mar-14 22:03:57

Are your family really supportive and clued up on EDs?

I really feel you should go. I think if you pull out or try to be too obviously monitoring her in your absence, she will feel resentful and distrusted and that could set her back much more.

But I understand your concerns, and if you can't discuss them with your DW a few people checking her very subtly might be enough.

Good luck.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 22:04:28

Talking hasn't worked in the past until she can't really deny that she's relapsed IYSWIM. Anorexics are notorious liars- when she was diagnosed about 3 years ago she was insisting right up until she went into hospital that she was eating normally, despite having a BMI of 15.8 and DD telling us she was lying to practically everyone about how much she was eating. This is what's making me worried about being away- I have no way of knowing what's going on but her word.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 22:06:34

Sorry, cross post. That's my concern Dahlen, the last thing I want her to think is that I don't trust her. Her family are fantastic, but there's really no way of getting the full picture without living with her. It's a pity a week isn't an option really.

ICanSeeTheSun Mon 24-Mar-14 22:08:24

Would the 10 year old be able to tell an adult if her mum hasn't eaten a meal.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 22:27:56

DD should be able to tell her grandparents, I'll make sure I've spoken to her about this before I leave next week. DW has in the past told DD she had breakfast before she woke up/is going to eat dinner later etc so perhaps we need a set in stone all meals together rule. But in general DD is quite good at keeping an eye on her.

snice Mon 24-Mar-14 22:37:16

it sounds like a lot of responsibility for the 10 yr old though

LEMmingaround Mon 24-Mar-14 22:38:05

That is quite a responsibility to put on a 10yo, i woud tread very carefully there because if something does go wrong and her mum slips back into a difficult situation she may feel terribly guilty, when of course it wouldn't be her fault, she would feel that it was.

Have you had a conversation with your wife about what she is going to do to prevent herself from slipping, what her backup plan is? professionals to call on maybe? When you go off, she will be totally responsible for your DD so maybe that will be enough to keep her on track? Can you reassure her that you will be able to return if she can't cope?

You sound lovely by the way smile

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 23:00:57

It is definitely an awful lot to place on a 10 year old, plus DD obviously can't monitor while she's at school etc. We do have back up plans in place but in the past when Dw has relapsed it's tended to be downhill fairly quickly and past a certain point she can't see that she's relapsed, so far anyway. It's definitely something she's going to have to deal with for the rest of her life. She knows I will come back asap if she needs me to LEM, I just worry she won't recognise that she needs me to.

NoodleOodle Mon 24-Mar-14 23:10:11

I think you should go. Express your concerns, put a few measures in place like family visiting, but don't let her monster dictate your life to you. It can be a concious or unconscious thing, but EDs can be very manipulative. Do you want to be tethered to her for all eternity, never allowed to venture away for fear of her relapsing?

Maybe she has some anxiety about you leaving, which is manifesting in her showing signs of relapsing, rather than her being emotionally mature or emotionally literate enough to articulate these with her?

If you don't go, you may be setting yourself up, and you both up, for a pattern of behaviour where any time you plan to go away or do anything that causes her stress or anxiety, she relapses.

I don't mean to sound harsh, I currently have a BMI in the 15s, and think you should go - she's an adult and needs to not be able to control you with her eating.

NoodleOodle Mon 24-Mar-14 23:12:20

*articulate these with you

GimmeDaBoobehz Mon 24-Mar-14 23:24:12

I haven't got much more useful advice I'm afraid.

I don't know what I'd do.

On one hand I think it's probably likely she's nervous about you going away because she's not sure if she can trust herself to feed herself properly and is feeling guilty but also at the same time wanting to have that time so she can 'lose more weight' if you see what I mean. But then she doesn't want to because it makes her ill, yet she just feels like a little bit wont be too bad. Thinking like this can go either way and it's difficult to know as you say when the tipping balance is.

Is there a possibility that her Mum could come every evening for an hour or two, perhaps even have dinner with them? I know it's a big ask as it's a long time, but if they live nearby it might be doable, or every other day at least?

I hope she does OK. Perhaps it's just something she has to go through (you going away that is) to test herself and prove to herself she can handle it.

It's not an easy decision to make though. I'd see what she thinks, what you feel and how her family and friends feel it should go and see what it all adds up to.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 23:27:01

It probably does dictate things more than it should, she was in hospital for about 3 months post diagnosis (not ED related) and terrified of being on her own for a while. We definitely do need to start tackling me not being there, I just worry 4 weeks is too long to test it first time.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 23:33:00

Gimme her mum and grandma are both fantastic and live locally so we should be able to sort something out, I'll bring it up. She's at the point now where normally she's not thinking about losing more weight, but if she does/has relapsed that mindset has developed again quickly in the past. She couldn't physically eat for about a month after she was hospitalised for something unrelated which probably didn't help and became lactose intolerant as a result of the anorexia- we were told this would subside as she recovered but it didn't. So it's never been a case of back to normal which does make it harder for her. I'll try and discuss it with her and see what she thinks.

Theoscargoesto Mon 24-Mar-14 23:33:58

Hi. Having had a daughter with anorexia, I can empathise with your position. Once my dd was in a position to take responsibility, we had to start to trust her again. It's a real double bind, because i first had to trust her, before she could prove that she could be trusted. I don't honestly think that anyone who hasn't been in this position understands just how devious an eating disorder can be, but for me it was important to remember that it is the eating disorder that behaves this way, not the sufferer.

This trip is a chance to prove that you can trust her, but I can see that, for you and dd, the stakes are very high. In recovery, an eating disordered person has to take responsibility for his or her own well being, so the trip is, again, an opportunity for her to do that.

I think its normal for her and you to be concerned about your trip, and this may have provoked some of the signs you see, and it may be ok whilst you are away. If not, is there a safety net in place (for example, is Dw getting some professional help?) as well as family to keep a look out?

You say your being away may 'tip her over the edge', but that is her responsibility, not yours. You can't force feed her, nor tie her to a chair to stop her exercising. All you can do is make the best decision you can on the information available, and whatever happens, remember that you did your best.

I do know that my post may seem harsh, and for that I apologise. I have no idea how to PM or reply to a PM, but will check this thread in case you would like to talk more.

Theoscargoesto Mon 24-Mar-14 23:35:59

And since typing my post, I have read what Noodle has to say, and think it is spot on.

dancersdad Mon 24-Mar-14 23:56:02

No I don't think you're being harsh at all Theo, in all honesty I do think she needs to take more responsibility for her eating than she has done. It's so difficult isn't it, I know if I trust her either it's going to be a success or I'm going to have to pick up the pieces- in the past it's been the latter. I have to admit I do sometimes question the extent to which struggling to eat most things she's cooked herself can be considered a recovery.

wouldbemedic Tue 25-Mar-14 00:14:19

I don't think you should leave DD in any kind of reporting/care taking role. Mother daughter relationships can be fraught enough as it is and it sounds like this 10 year old has had to grow up a bit fast already. I do wonder if your DD is worried about your going away - perhaps you need to consider the potential fall out for her as well?

I don't have any experience of eating disorders but do wonder if your leaving without open dialogue and agreed coping strategies etc. is well judged. If you have previously played a care giving role, it's bound to be a very big deal if you take yourself out of the picture, regardless of how well your DW has been managing.

wouldbemedic Tue 25-Mar-14 00:19:10

Reading other posts, I would suggest you don't step away from DW and think of her as possibly trying to control her. As for 'tethering yourself to her for all eternity' - any relationship comes with obligations and you knew when getting into this that the responsibilities were pretty high. You don't want to seem like you don't trust your DW on the eating front, yet some of the advice here seems likely to drive a wedge of distrust between you on all sorts of fronts.

ICanSeeTheSun Tue 25-Mar-14 00:32:43

Would contacting this help. Perhaps they would be able to give you the help you need

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