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Anxiety/food issues

(12 Posts)
TobyLeWolef Wed 14-Sep-11 10:50:49

I posted about this a while ago, and received some very helpful advice (thank you!)
Now I need some more...

My partner has some anxiety issues, mainly (but not exclusively) revolving around food and eating. Until very recently it has mostly been confined to eating in public, but lately it has been affecting eating at home, too.

He is often refusing dinner at home. He doesn't eat breakfast. I don't know what he eats at lunchtime at work, but I know it's not a lot, if anything.

I am aware that he is an adult, and he is neither under- nor overweight, and so my concerns are not particularly health-related at the moment. He can choose what and when to eat, as is his right. It's a bit annoying when I've cooked for him and he decides he doesn't want to eat, but I let it go. It's even more annoying when he tells me he really fancies something, so I go to all the trouble of making it and then he doesn't touch it at all, but I let that go too.

Yesterday lunchtime he texted me out of the blue to tell me that he has made an appointment with his GP for next week, to try and get this sorted out. I have vaguely mentioned doing so a couple of times, but I would never try to force him or nag him to do it.

He said he knows it's annoying for me (which it is, but I try really hard not to show it, honestly!) and he thinks he's embarrassing himself. I told him I'm proud of him for starting to do something about it, and that he's not embarrassing himself. I also told him that he needs to do it for himself, not because he thinks it's annoying to other people.

So, my questions are these:

1/ What should he expect? Will it be CBT? And if it is CBT, can he go private, in order to avoid long waiting lists?
2/ What questions should he ask?
3/ What can I do to support him more?

TIA smile

diyvspse Wed 14-Sep-11 21:03:43

No idea what kind of therapy the GP will advise but it is such a huge step in the right direction. Just offer your unerring support and never show your frustration at his food habits. If you do notice he becomes more relaxed about eating dont make a huge deal about it but again be supportive.

madmouse Wed 14-Sep-11 21:14:56

Hi Toby I remember talking to you about this. Well done him going to the GP!

It may well be CBT, for one CBT is suited for changing behaviour and that is what this all about. Secondly, CBT is relatively 'bloke friendly' as it is here and now and solution focused. There are correlations and arrow and plans and not a lot of softly softly digging in the past.

The only thing that would go against CBT is if there is a significant past behind this that needs exploring first.

Hard to suggest how you can support him more - I think you're doing fab!

ThatsNotYours Wed 14-Sep-11 22:30:54

Well done DP and you for what you have already done by yourselves! X

TobyLeWolef Thu 15-Sep-11 10:05:30

Thanks, all smile

Thanks for coming back, madmouse. You were very helpful last time!

The last time we discussed it I told him that the immediate suggestion would probably be CBT. He doesn't really want to go down the whole "how was your childhood?" route -- he didn't have a horrendous childhood or anything, but he just doesn't think it would be helpful. But I really like the sound of the solution-focused arrows and plans! He is very intelligent and very logical and is very much more impressed by 'science' than all that arty farty counselling stuff.

I will redouble my efforts not to be frustrated if he doesn't eat. It's hard because I'm worried about him, but he's ok at the moment and it's his right to refuse dinner if he wants to. I'm so proud of him for making this step.

His appointment is on Wednesday, so I think on Tuesday night I will sit down with him and see if he wants to make a list of things to remember to say/ask. I hope the doctor takes him seriously and doesn't fob him off.

TobyLeWolef Mon 19-Sep-11 17:19:45

Just bumping this in case there's any more advice -- his appointment is on Weds.

I told him the other night that I think we should sit down and make a list for him to take with him. Then I panicked a bit and immediately said "of course, if you want me to just mind my own business and leave you to it, just tell me!". But he said he wants me involved and it's not something he wants to hide. His mum is also very supportive.

So if there's anything you can think of that he should ask, please let me know, if you don't mind.

Weirdly enough, he's been a bit better this week! Hasn't refused dinner, which is a bonus.

slavetofilofax Thu 22-Sep-11 10:40:48

I'm not sure I can offer much advice, but I do have lots of sympathy and understanding.

My DH has a food phobia, which got to the point of taking ver his life, and left him diabetic sad

His eating is much much better now, and he can eat almost normally, but it was very very har in the past. I felt huge rejection when he didn't want to eat things I had made for him, and until I pointed out that what he had was actually a phobia, he honestly didn't know. He would google eating disorders, because that's what he thought he had, and obviously come up with stuff about anorexia and bulimia, then end up feeling like he was the only person in the world to be dealing with what he was.

He put in a lot of effort himself, and had CBT at the same time as hypnotherapy. We went private to avoid waiting lists. He said he felt like something just changed suddenly in his head, and while it was still difficult, it wasn't as hard as he thought it was before.

I could talk on this subject for ages! I hope your DH's appointment went well, let us know how you both get on.

TobyLeWolef Thu 22-Sep-11 11:09:28

Thanks, slave.

I was actually classed as anorexic, and treated as such, between the ages of 11 and 17. I had all the signs, refused all food for weeks at a time at the worst points, was hospitalised twice and weighed 5st at age 16. I was talking to my mum about it the other day, and I'm now almost certain that it was more to do with anxiety and a food phobia than actual anorexia. I'm emetophobic (much better now, since having two little darlings to clean up after!), but I distinctly remember my reasoning being that if I didn't eat, I couldn't be sick. I never thought I was fat.

So I really get it. And I'm so glad that your DH is so much better now. That is really encouraging, so thanks smile Feel free to 'go on about the subject for ages'!

His appointment was a bit useless, it would seem. He got very anxious beforehand. His doctor gave him some 'DIY CBT' info and a prescription for diazepam 'for emergencies'. DP wasn't impressed! He doesn't want to take pills -- he wants to actually sort it out so that he can live a normal life. He's very determined to do this, which is great.

We're going to go over the info he was given, and give it a go. Considering what CBT is, theoretically he should be able to try doing some of the techniques himself. He's shoved the diazepam in his work bag and left it there.

My mum is a psych nurse. He's happy to talk to her about it, so we'll try the techniques from the doctor for 2 weeks until my mum comes back from holiday. During those 2 weeks, we have a party to go to, and it's my birthday. So he'll have a few occasions to put his techniques to good use. Then he'll talk to her and get some more advice. I know he can self-refer, so perhaps he'll end up doing that.

madmouse Thu 22-Sep-11 14:19:24

So dp braves it and gets fobbed off with self help materials and some of the most addictive tablets know to man? I'm fuming tbh!

Is he meant to take those when he doesn't want to eat so he feels like eating?


If it wasn't for your MIL getting involved and I'm sure giving good advice I would say get private CBT...

TobyLeWolef Thu 22-Sep-11 14:28:32

Yes, madmouse. That's about the size of it. I told them that it sounded like bollocks to me, so it's good to hear someone else's opinion that it probably is.

He has no intention of taking the diazepam. I'm guessing that what she meant by 'emergencies' was if he had to go to a big work dinner or something.

He'll definitely go for private CBT I think. He's got 2 weeks while my mum's on holiday to try out the self-help stuff and then he'll talk to her and she'll recommend something/someone for him.

Thanks for replying, and for being angry on his behalf!

slavetofilofax Thu 22-Sep-11 14:48:30

I agree, I'm shock that they gave him tablets like that!

I sometimes think that doctors don't like these sorts of problems because they are not 'physical' if you know what I mean, and they seem to underestimate the impact that food issues can have on a life.

Your story about being treated for anorexia is interesting, I'm sorry you had to go through that though. But it makes you wonder how many people are being treated in the worng way for things.

Your dh is lucky to have someone like you that really understands, because I know my dh used to feel ery isolated in dealing with this, and it helped him a lot to know that his food issues actually weren't that uncommon.

He still finds it hard sometimes when it comes to trying new foods especially 'wet' type foods with lots of sauce. He has to try really hard to remember that the very worst that can happen is that he will have to spit it out. A lot of it was about building his confidence in new public situations where there was going to be food around that he was unsure of. He would get quite nervous before weddings for example. And it rubbed off on me too, there are times when I find myself worrying about it on his behalf, but then when I talk to him about it, he tells me that he's completely ok with it. Now he knows that he is capable of eating quite a wide range of food, and it is ok to just be known as a bit fussy!

I really wish you and your DH all the best with this. I hope you manage to find a good CBT practitioner, it really could make a huge difference.

TobyLeWolef Thu 22-Sep-11 14:56:59

Thank you so much. And it sounds like your DH has made huge progress, slave. His story is really very encouraging and I will retell it to my DP, if I may, so as to show him that there may very well be light at the end of the tunnel.

We're going to have a proper look at the materials he was given tonight, and I know he'll give them a fair go, if only so that he can go to someone and say "I was given this material, I tried, it hasn't helped, what else can I do?". And of course, best case scenario is that his anxiety is actually helped before it gets any worse.

I'm sure that in the big scheme of things it's fairly mild at the moment. I'm not sure if catching it early makes a difference with anxiety/social phobias, but it would make sense if it did.

I'm being as supportive as humanly possible because I know it's hard. He told me on Wednesday how much he appreciates it. I told him that I have every reason to be supportive -- if he's happy, I'm happy, so it's not entirely selfless!

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