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Possible anorexia in 12 year old

(17 Posts)
FjordMor Tue 03-Jul-12 21:40:11

I'm worried that my 12 year old DSD might be developing anorexia.

She has lost a lot of weight in the past 6 months (going from chubby to skinny) that we had put down to a growth spurt. However, recently she has gone from keen on food to always saying she isn't hungry, doesn't want dinner, ate earlier, only wants a tiny bit and today I saw her throw most of the dinner she took in the bin (usually what they don't eat gets left on their plates for us to clear up). She has low blood pressure, is always very lethargic and sleepy and often visits the loo before meals are over. Today after throwing away dinner, she did ask for popcorn a few hours later and more popcorn but that is a relatively low calorie food. She was never fussy about food so it's not that and she was always a 2nd helpings girl who was a bit chubby as a child. DP always described her as a kid 'who really loves her food'.

Also she is taking a strong interest in drinking coffee/energy drinks which I saw as a big warning sign. I am particularly worried as one of her best friends who she holds on a pedestal (but doesn't see that often) is suffering from full blown anorexia (she is a year older). We thought it might open her eyes to the alarming nature of it but her grandmother worries she might be 'inspired' by all the 'special attention' this girl gets for it. She gets very upset, anxious and whiny when her dad tries to insist she needs a meal and must eat it, often with tears.

I'm feeling super-worried tonight. I know DP is too. He even works with kids with anorexia (an inpatient psychiatric facility) but I'm worried he's in denial, convinced she won't lie to him and desperately doesn't want to accept it. He tried talking to her mother about it but she's out at work or at the gym a lot and didn't seem to have noticed anything. (Her mother is in a rather neurotic state about remaining slim herself at the moment). Perhaps it's me that's over-reacting? Any insight from experience as to how we should handle it at this stage gratefully received.

GooseyLoosey Wed 04-Jul-12 08:17:51

Have no experience of this but have seen it in one of dd's school mates and it's terrible to watch.

Bumping for you in case anyone else has any advice.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Jul-12 08:26:27

Yes, your DSD is almost certainly anorexic. It sounds quite advanced.

GooseyLoosey Wed 04-Jul-12 08:28:36

Can you make an appointment with the Dr to talk about what you should do? Do any of your DP's colleagues have any suggestions - even if he does not accept it is a problem, maybe he could be persuaded to ask for advice in case it should become one?

FjordMor Wed 04-Jul-12 10:16:45

Thanks for your replies. Bonsoir, this was my feeling and I guess it will help me persuade DP to talk again to her mum and set up a doctor appt like you suggest Goosey, if I can show him this thread. Somehow my opinions are easier to ignore as fussing and worrying although when he woke this morning I did say to him "I'm very worried about 'DSD1'" and he said "yes, me too". So perhaps we have a starting point to start tackling this and not bury it under the 'guilt carpet' until it goes much further. I'm pregnant and currently more and more beside myself with worry about her as what her friend's family are going through with anorexia is absolute hell. Also makes me feel guilty that somehow her feelings about this new addition may have contributed to her developing this problem. I'm trying not to feel it's our fault somehow as her friend's family are happily married, not a 'broken home' so I know it can happen to any kid. Just breaks my heart is all - she's such a beautiful, intelligent and popular girl.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Jul-12 10:20:32

Don't feel guilty! It is most unlikely to have anything to do with you or your baby. We as stepmothers (I have been one for ages) don't have much impact on our stepchildren's emotional lives, providing we are normally kind and functional adults (though we can be very important when it comes to structuring their domestic lives and managing the progression through school etc).

Jobob66 Thu 05-Jul-12 08:09:35

My daughter is anorexic and one of the features is how well they hide it. Get her to the GP and insist on a referral to CAMHS. Find out her weight and how much she has lost. She can't get help too early.

And this absolutely is not your fault. Anorexia develops in clever, motivated young women and often has no cause whatsoever. You need to be strong for her. The best book I read is Caring for a Loved One with An Eating Disorder by Janet Treasure. It helped me work out what I needed to do while we were waiting for help. Good luck

Jobob66 Thu 05-Jul-12 08:15:24

Ps, I blog about this as One More Mum, if that helps. Also, your partner is her father and he has every right to take her to the GP. I thought all the same things. My daughter loved food, was a healthy eater, she is clever, hard working and popular. Turned out all these are features of most anorexics. The illness makes her lie but often because she is trying to protect us all. Really hope you get help

blameitonthecaffeine Thu 05-Jul-12 22:53:24

Please don't blame yourself. Well done for picking up on it and I hope you can get her the help that she needs.

My DD1 developed anorexia when she was nearly 12. She's 14 now and recently come out of her 2nd inpatient stay. I didn't spot it nearly soon enough (she was a slim, pre pubescent dancer but still, no excuse).

Early treatment is so important.

FjordMor Fri 06-Jul-12 17:31:27

Thanks for all the supportive comments and sorry to hear others on here living with eating disorder in their young daughters. It is heartbreaking. Had a long chat with my OH about it & he's going to to talk to her this weekend. Jobob66 - I will check out your blog. I'm hoping that this is early enough days that we can stop this getting worse. She seems 'better' some days than others but we're watching her very closely now.

scottishmummy Fri 06-Jul-12 17:43:00

no one online can diagnose whether she is anorexic or not. irresponsible to do so
see a need a face to face assessment,social and medical history by camhs and psych
best wishes, and hope this resolves

Bonsoir Fri 06-Jul-12 18:18:03

It's called support and encouragement, scottishmummy, not diagnosis.

scottishmummy Fri 06-Jul-12 18:35:09

no.its not supportive or encouraging to guess online or speculate "advanced"
its misplaced and unhelpful given cannot substantiate claim
a face to face assessment is required

TodaysAGoodDay Fri 06-Jul-12 18:47:15

Almost all people with anorexia are compulsive liars. They will lie to to anybody in order to avoid food. They will always be 'not hungry' or have 'eaten earlier' or 'had a big lunch'. If forced to eat, some will vomit or take laxatives. Or cry, or run off, or threaten.

Your daughter will have been influenced by her best friend with anorexia. Even if the word itself isn't used, there will be much talk of types of food i.e good or bad, calories, exercise, etc. This is a very easy world to get sucked into if you are an easily persuaded person.

I used to work in a private hospital with clients who had anorexia. Please PM me if you need more info or have questions you feel you can't ask on here.

Bonsoir Fri 06-Jul-12 19:48:41

You are positively Orwellian, scottishmummy...

FjordMor Fri 06-Jul-12 20:26:53

I'm not taking it as a confirmed diagnosis - just wanted some indication from those with experience as to whether these were indeed signs. My OH works with psychiatrists and would never assume anything about his own child without getting confirmation. However, he also has a lot of experience of clinically managing anorexics and is now also worried.

With regard to CAMHS, I'm not sure what that is but we live in Norway so I expect it is inapplicable here if it's a UK organisation. We would go the GP management/close monitoring/watch and wait route as was the case with DSDs friend. The GP would refer them to psychiatry here when he/she has assessed them as needing it.

I'm grateful for all the supportive comments and insights here but please be assured I'm not putting the cart before the horse. Just wanted to gauge how worried we should be. I remember girls 'sharing tips for weightloss' that involved instructions as to how to count calories/throw up when I was a teen but not until around 15 or so. 12 seems so young to become food avoidant. As a stepmum I have to find balance between being too neurotic and interfering. I'm more observant of DSD's eating behaviour than her dad but I didn't want to push this issue with him unless I could be sure my suspicions might well have some weight. It's a sensitive issue in a family like ours as, if the Mum hasn't noticed these behaviours (she's out at work and the gym a lot, leaving her daughters to it with food prep & housework), she may assume this is an 'acting out' behaviour reserved for when her daughter is with us (she holds some animosity still for the breakdown of her marriage) or that we are somehow 'blaming' her for something as she herself is rather neurotic about losing weight currently (working out for 2 hours after work every day) and I'm super keen that my DSD should not become the centre of any conflict as I only have her welfare above anything else as my chief concern.

TOMAGCRO Sat 06-Apr-13 22:12:38

I am a dad of a daughter with anorexia. Involve dads sooner if you can. There are a number of books which may help. I am reading about the Maudsley method which is worth researching. It advocates the family working as a uni to help the chlild.

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