Preventing anorexia from starting - help(9 Posts)
16yo DD (1st year 6th form) says she feels like an elephant next to her friends. She feels she eats way more than them. She says she 'doesn't want to eat' (as opposed to 'not hungry').
She is emotionally very vulnerable due to her past (she is adopted).
She wasn't eating as much as normal before Easter holidays, but ate fine over the holidays, especially when we went away. Now back at college her eating patterns have got worse again.
She finds college hard both academically but also socially. Many of her friends have their own 'issues'.
She is petite and slim, not underweight yet imo. But I'm concerned she is on the edge of a slippery slope. Pastoral care at college is patchy, I miss the support she had at school.
I don't know what to do for the best. Whether I am worrying unnecessarily. Whether I need to step back or what. Do I need to wait for a clear problem before it can be addressed or can I head it off at the pass?
You are not worrying unnecessarily. I endured years of anorexia/bulimia.
Keep lines of communication open, do not let your anxiety become anger/frustration. Empathise.
Biggest corner turned for me when I started playing rugby. Big and strong is valued and esteemed highly; also the seemingly whippet thin wingers get in the showers and you realise they have cellulite/lumps and bumps/imperfect bodies despite looking incredible in clothes. Also, having always been a n awkward fish, I found my people. Great friends and awesome social life. You don't have to be a talented/coordinated person either, we even have a dyspraxic player. They have found their niche in lifting in line outs and scrummaging.
Could your dd join rugby, football, or Martial arts? Or, if she is coordinated, hockey or lacrosse?
She has Dyspraxia/DCD - pretty uncoordinated and a weak core stability. Doesn't do any sport. She likes drama, but isn't as good as most people who are still doing it at her age iyswim? She is a bit of a fish out of water with her peer group, which makes 'youth' activities hard.
self esteem & aspiration are the best protections against most teenage off-rails stuff ... unfortunately OP's DD has a lot of baggage outside OP's control.
I'm speaking as an amateur but ex-sufferer of ED... can she talk to you? Can she talk to any friends? When you can talk thru your problems then they get outside you & less likely to fester & eat you up from the inside.
What does she do that makes her feel good about herself? Do more of that.
Can you find her a sport or activity she does enjoy? I loathed team sports at school as I'm a bit of an introvert, but I rode horses and after I gave that up discovered I loved cycling and swimming. So I was fairly fit and have generally had a habit of staying active since then. I'm pretty sure now that saved me from major body issues as a teenager despite an unhappy home life that would have made me a prime candidate for an eating disorder, plus I'm a large frame (10 stone is very underweight for me) but instead I tried to teach myself to take pride in being strong and healthy. Overall it worked and I've had a habit of staying active ever since.
If she's uncoordinated with a weak core, what about seeing if she likes yoga? If she's 16 there's no reason she shouldn't do an adult class. It's fantastic for core stability, doesn't require rapid reactions and IME has benefits in terms of mental health and an overall feeling of groundedness too which might help if she struggles with anxiety.
Taking risks can be tremendously helpful for self-esteem. Like doing martial arts teaches you to lose with grace, or riding roller coasters can teach you that you can deal with being scared.
Another tactic is Helping people with their problems makes you realise that if you can help improve their lives, that your own problems may not be so insurmountable, either. What is she studying at college?
Thank you. Helpful ideas.
She was meant to be doing yoga at college but missed around half the sessions (mainly due to spurious reasons). Anyway that's now stopped due to exams etc. I could see whether there is a regular evening group she could go to, but she is pretty shattered after a day at college. Maybe I should go too.
What does she do that makes her feel good about herself? Do more of that
Thank you for reminding me about this. I think we should go ice skating at the weekend. Shame it's so far away though. Or there is a rock climbing place nearby which she would enjoy I think. I wish she had local friends, it would make life so much easier.
At college she's doing a BTEC and an A level. She's kind of too hard-working for the BTEC kids, but not bright enough for the A level ones. (The dyspraxia affects her thinking and organisation). College is an hour away (because of the mix of courses) and only a small handful from her school went there, and her school friends (such as she had) are all scattered and aren't local anyway.
She has boyfriend who is nice enough, but due to 'events' very early on and the fact his thinking-through skills are even worse than hers, we are quite hesitant as to how healthy the relationship really is. Also we think she has 'clung' on to him which means she hasn't tried as hard as she would have to make other friends.
I do my best, but I'm not a great emotional talker, and I do feel wrung out after the last 18 months. Also my DD2 is doing y6 SATs and finds school hard and needs support too. DH is lovely but can bury his head in the sand with emotional things in the hope it all just goes away, so I tend to be the one actively tackling things.
Relationship with DD is also just more fragile than the norm, as we've only had her just over half her life, so independence was coming before we'd strengthened ties through dependence.
I feel like I'm failing her.
If that's a Fail then Lord Help the rest of us.
I just wondered if the subjects she was studying suggested ways to feel useful. Like if she's studying hairdressing she could volunteer to help old ladies in a nursing home to do their hair (or summat)
I have a metaphor in my head that I am DD's rock cliff against her moody seas. Sea is often calm or even cheerful, but maybe with undercurrents & riptides. Sea may be raging wild. I am solid & most important, always there. So I don't have to be emotional when she is, my most valuable role is just to be steady, the sounding board.
DD could inventory my faults at length... but she does seem to talk to me & I'm sure someone to talk to is 2/3 the battle to fending off mental illness (of the things we can control). When DD is in the worst tizz I may even say "You're being completely ridiculous... but why is that? What set you off & how do we avoid it in future?" So still sharing her problems. Helping her find solutions, not imposing them on her. I do insist that problems have solutions. Sympathise about the crappy bits of life, too.
She's doing Travel&Tourism and Spanish. We are currently trying to find her work experience for the summer but that isn't proving fruitful either.
I just wish something would be easy for her (and us) for once. She has battled with so much to be where she is, but everything has to be fought for and it's exhausting.
Thank you lljkk .
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