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Can an adult be anorexic? If so I think I might be

(28 Posts)
VeryEmbarassed Thu 09-Dec-04 12:30:21

I'm not contributing this under my normal name because I'm highly embarassed and ashamed of myself. I like to think of myself as a normal well balanced person and mum. I'd be incredibly grateful if you didn't try to work out who I am because I'd have to slink away in complete horror.

Life has dealt me a lot of bad blows recently and 4 months ago I went onto antidepressants. This had the effect of "curbing" my appetite. Add in all the stress I was under and my appetite disappeared. I started to loose weight. The problem is that my appetite has definitely returned but I'm still not eating much and I'm still loosing weight. To everyone around me I tell them I'm too stressed to eat but that's not strictly true. I've been enjoying the weight loss despite it being a really stupid way of doing it. This is going to sound mad - but it was something good. I started to fit clothes I haven't been in for years and it was fun. The problem is that I need to stop. I know full well what I'm doing is not only unhealthy but postiviely dangerous. The thing is my weight loss is the only thing I feel in control of at the moment and that feels good. I'm scared that in trying to start eating again I'll end up putting all the weight back on. I keep saying I'll stop at that date etc, but then that date comes and goes. I don't need to loose any more weight. I'd naturally like not to put it back on, but the weight loss itself seems to have come to represent something else inside me - goodness knows what though! I can understand teenagers doing this but I was normal, just stressed. Now I feel like a freak - mad almost.

By the way I do understand how unhealthy and dangerous I'm being - why doesn't that get through to me! I'm really anti stupid diets so what the hell am I doing.

I feel really ashamed of myself.

By the way I haven't spoken of this to anyone at all, just carrying this all around in my head. Hope it doesn't disgust anyone.

Yorkiegirl Thu 09-Dec-04 12:32:17

Message withdrawn

spacedonkey Thu 09-Dec-04 12:33:24

VE, are you actually underweight?

buffettheturkeylayer2 Thu 09-Dec-04 12:38:12

Not disgusted at all. I've taken ad's in the past and it struck me that, as you are on ad's, you must have felt overwhelmed by things recently - and that this might be a way of taking some control over one element of your life that is controllable. Whatever your reasoning, you mustn't be ashamed but should talk to your gp or similar before this gets completely out of control and you get ill.

PamiNativity Thu 09-Dec-04 12:38:45

Yes. My SIL became anorexic in her mid-twenties. For her it was also a control thing - she felt that her personal life and career were out of control but that her weight was something, the only thing, that she had a say in.
More than 2 years on she is in recovery. It has been a slow and painful process. She visits a counsellor every week, who has helped her examine her life and her background in detail, and at a certain point she decided that she wasn't going to let it beat her and from that moment on she has really really tried.
Please go to see your GP and see what help you can get. ((hugs))

popsycal Thu 09-Dec-04 12:38:49

Yes, you mst certainly can be anorexic as an adult. And being very underweight is only one symptom of it.

Do post some more

MariNativityPlay Thu 09-Dec-04 12:39:16

There is nothing disgusting about your post at all, VE. But you do need to see a GP quickly to discuss this. You have been able to describe some of the reasons for what you are doing very clearly, I am sure they will be able to help you get to the bottom of this before your health is seriously affected.
Wishing you lots of luck. Plenty of adults do develop eating disorders, what has happened to you is not unusual.

Donbean Thu 09-Dec-04 12:41:17

Hello mrs embarrased, i dont feel disgusted at you in the least and i doubt that any one else will either. In actual fact i see where you are coming from completely.
Ive been ill and lost a bit of weight and want to carry it on and DEFINITELY do not want to put it all on again. Its so very easy to go down this route isnt it. For ages ive been feeling down and fed up with bieng fat. Now im losing it i have confidence and im looking at clothes that i havent looked at for several years. Its a very nice feeling, one i havent experienced in a long time.
Although i havent not been eating, im sticking to things like cerials and fruit with plates full of veg (im vegetarian) because i know that these foods wont put any weight on me.
Not one person has commented on my weight loss so i still think that i must still look fat to every one which makes it worse.
I feel like im on a roll as it were as i find losing weight near impossible and very very hard work. This way isnt too hard.
I dont want to rant on at you, you have said that you feel bad enough, i just want you to know that i understand.

Chuffingoodtime Thu 09-Dec-04 12:45:32

Tons of support here. Are you still within normal limits for your height/weight?
Rather than set a date what about setting a realistic weight goal and not think of 'all the weight on' or 'all the weight off'.
Another idea is maybe taking control over what you eat by doing a 'what I'm going to eat today menu type thing' in the morning or evening before and sticking with it. Keeping the control but staying healthy and it would prevent you putting it all back on which is obviously something you are afraid of.
You don't need any more stress by the sound of it so don't let this stress you out more. Take it one step at a time but it is a really common problem and don't be embarrassed about asking for more help.

popsycal Thu 09-Dec-04 12:46:49

You need to talk to someone about seems to me that the way you are thinking about your weight loss is a problem even if your height and weight are still in the ;normal' range

Donbean Thu 09-Dec-04 12:47:30

See, you are amongst friends without judgements or shame. Take good care of yourself. xx

horseshoe Thu 09-Dec-04 12:49:10

VE, It sounds like you may be experiencing the beginnings of anorexia, please please stop for yours and your babies sake. I know its hard for you.

It does sounds like you are chanelling your depression through your weight like you fear. Could you possibly turn this into a positive thing and go to the gym to keep the weight off?? it's better to be overweight and healthy!!! Please try and eat something, even if it's fruit and veg

I dont want to scare you or anything but please remember this when you are feeling down and dont want to eat....I've had two friends that have suffered. One has recently been told she has 6 months to live if she doesn't change her ways, nothing we say or do can make her eat and it's awful not be able to do anything. The other friend was also told she had 6 months but rather than get better she comitted suicide by driving her car into a wall as she couldn't bear the thought of starving to death.

Im sorry and i realise you are fragile and maybe i shouldn't tell you but i believe anorexia is a state of mind and you have to want to get better. It sounds from your post that you really do but just need to channel your feelings into something else.....

vict17 Thu 09-Dec-04 12:52:12

Agree with what has already been said. Firstly go to your gp and determine if you are underweight and to get advice and support. Secondly Chuffed's idea of planning what you eat is a very good idea - then you can still feel in control. Also do you exercise? How about making a deal with yourself that if you sit down for a healthy meal then go for a long walk afterwards and you won't feel bad about yourself. Lastly do you have any close frieds/family you could talk to? Or your dp/dh if you have one. Do you have children? Anorexia is a serious illness and not one to be ashamed of. hth

PamiNativity Thu 09-Dec-04 12:59:08

Agree with the suggestion of meal plans - it has helped SIL enormously. She knows that she has her cereal at 8am or whatever, a banana at 10am, lunch at 12.30pm, yoghurt and apple at 2.30pm and so on. Means she doesn't have to think about it or get worried. Little and often seems to be the best thing.

shepherdswatchtheircatsbynight Thu 09-Dec-04 13:13:41

I had aneroxia for 3 years, and mainly it was, like you said, so i could control some aspect of my life. Frankly it's a bit of a mirical i have dd, as i got so ill, docs said i may not be able to have children.

Firstly, don't be ashamed at all.

Secondly, well done on talking about and aknowledging it.

It does sound to me like you certainly have got the beginnings of it, and i know too well how it can trap you into a vicious circle of wanting to get better but being too afraid to put on any weight. If you eat wondering and being terrified of just how big your theighs are going to look when you've finished.

Horseshoe is right. You can turn this into something positive and change it.
Go to your gp first off and tell him or her, exactly what you've posted here.
It'll take a lot of courage but believe me you can do it.
The doctor will probably talke about reffering you to a counsellor, which is something you should definatly consider. When i eventually got help, mine was wonderful and heped me put clarity to parts of my life, that previously i had attempted to blot out by not eating.
When you start to feel better (and you really, really will) You can start taking control of eating in a healthy and safe way.
Do join a gym and eat sensibly. You will look fantastic and gain a new confidence you never new existed.

Talk to people you love about this as well. They can help you more than you think they can.

I know how desperate and frightened you can feel, but please try not to be. This isn't beyond your control and you can get yourself well and healthy again.

This can actualy make you stronger. When you have beaten this you'll realize you can beat anything

Keep poting here, we are all here to help. You will get through this. As difficult it feels now, I promise.


VeryEmbarassed Thu 09-Dec-04 13:39:51

Goodgrief. I never ever thought I'd get so many wonderful responses. There's no way I feel strong enough to tell my gp. Because I'm on ads I already have a counsellor (part of the agreement with my gp when I was put on ads). I can't bring myself to talk to her and admit it. I keep hoping that if we sort out the other areas that somehow we'll sort out this as well. DP is a sweetheart but thinks I don't have any appetite. I've never lied to him before and feel really uncomfortable about this. I'm too frightened to tell him, I'm so disgusted with myself that I can only imagine that he will be disgusted with me too and I couldn't bare that ontop of everything else. In terms of weight I am now extactly what I'm supposed to be (for the first time in 10 years)i.e. around a size 10. So I should stop now. But I now I wont but I can't logic out why. It has to be control, because it can't be weight. The thing is the loss of weight feels great, I feel confident about myself in ways I haven't felt in soooo many years.

Donbean - its great to know there are others to share this with it makes me feel less like a freak.

I go swimming - loads - a little bit obsessional about it.

horseshoe Thu 09-Dec-04 14:18:37

This feeling of confidence will soon be replaced by lack of self esteem and energy if you continue..

I know you dont want to go to your GP but remember she see's people like you have a illness in the depression and it needs to be treated. All things like anorexia, bullima, OCD, anxiety stems from depression and it's just another way of your sub-consiousness getting to you through the anorexia. Talk to her she may be able to change your AD's or something it could even be a side-effect of them.

I know how hard it is to talk to people close to you.....i still cant talk to my partner about the things that go on in my head maybe because of pride or feeling too embarrassed to i dont know i just clam up.

WigWamBam Thu 09-Dec-04 14:31:23

I know that it's hard to tell people, but you can't beat this thing on your own. I can't tell my dh all of the things that go on in my head, either - he knows I have depression, but I have had OCD for ten years now and I have still not told him. I have told my doctor, who was incredibly supportive and non-judgmental; it was hard for me to tell him, but he addressed the problem just as if it was something as simple as a sore throat. If I hadn't told him, he couldn't have treated me and I wouldn't be on the road to recovery.

A common side effect of some anti-depressants is loss of appetite, something as simple as changing anti-depressant could help, but you would still need to see your doctor and discuss this truthfully with him.

I have an anorexic friend who became anorexic simply because she was depressed and had no self-confidence, and found losing weight was something she was good at, and although she felt in control at first, it very rapidly bagan to control her, and recovery for herhas been very long. Anorexia is something which will take over your life - and if you want the hard truth, taken to extremes it could lose you your life. Please don't let it.

princessinapeartree Thu 09-Dec-04 14:52:44

veryembarrassed, you are right, anorexia is entirely about control, about having control over one aspect of your life when other parts of it are out of your control, or too difficult to deal with etc. It is all tied up in your depression, and you should really really try and be strong enough to mention it in your counselling. I know you say that you want to sort out some other things first, but I think it is a big mistake to see your eating issue as something "separate" to everything else - it isn't, it is all tied up in self-esteem and stress and control and all those other things. I think you have done brilliantly well to identify this as a problem at an early stage, and brilliantly well to post such a lucid and self aware post - but you need to start dealing with it now, at this early stage, and you need to start dealing with it in conjunction with everything else.

At your next counselling session, take a deep breath, think of everyone here on mumsnet willing you on and supporting you, and just say very quickly "I think I am developing a problem with food" or however you want to phrase it. It is really so easy to do, although it will seem difficult in the 10 seconds before you do it, and it will make ALL the difference having it out in the open with your counseller NOW, and not next week or after christmas or if it isn't sorted by easter or whatever.

Please please do that?

VeryEmbarassed Thu 09-Dec-04 20:44:27

I hadn't really thought about it being a part of my depression. I suppose that makes a lot of sense. WWB - if I may, what is OCD?

You're right that I need to talk to my counsellor but its complex. I swing from being horrified to embarrased to deciding that I'm blowing this out of proporition and being melodramatic. I'm still hungry and figure that all I need to do is eat therefore I can't possibly be anorexic. But I also recognise the signs that I get a buzz out of not eating a lot for the day. The less I eat the more successful and pleased with myself I feel at the end of the day - I mean how sick is that? I had this disease when I was a teenager over 22 odd years ago. I didn't suffer it for long and when my life settled down the weight came back on and I stopped being silly. It was during my parents divorce and my A'Levels and also involved such dramatics as me running away from home for 6 months. At the time I think I was a mixture of anorexic and bullimic. On the odd occassion when I did eat I'd stick my fingers down my throat. The heads up for this bout was a few weeks ago when my dp bought a chinese in an attempt to persaude me to eat and I found myself seriously contemplating sticking my fingers down my throat. I didn't by the way but it horrified me. I've been carrying the guilt and disgust around with me ever since. Considering posting on here but running out of courage every time. I think I need to find a way to start eating again but focus on the same time on not putting weight on.

Carla Thu 09-Dec-04 21:04:29

I had a really 'fat' teens/twenties, now I don't eat till suppertime. Size 10 now. Ring any bells?

Jodiesmum Fri 10-Dec-04 09:36:00

VE, I don't mean to sound heartless but do you really want to get over this? I suspect that not eating eating is offering you more than it's taking away at the moment, if you see what I mean, so you haven't got a real incentive to change. I know you're worried and ashamed but if this is the price you're paying for a fantastic sense of achievement and control, maybe it's worth it? Please don't think I'm judging you - I've struggled with the same thing myself and I know how hard it is to give up. So my suggestion is a bit different. Maybe once you've reached a weight you feel good at - which may be lower than other people think is right for you, by the way - you could put all your energy into trying to stick at exactly that point, instead of losing more. This might be a bit less of a buzz but it could still give you a great feeling of control and achievement and provided you're also eating healthily, it would be a really good compromise. I know the ideal might be to forget about your weight completely and just eat "normally" (whatever that is) but how many women can really manage that?

ItllBeLonelymumThisChristmas Fri 10-Dec-04 09:49:13

I'm no psychologist, but you talk of enjoying being in control of your weight loss. Can't you transfer that now to being in control of maaintaining the weight you are? I wonder if you are underweight or not. You say you are a size 10 but without your height, it is impoosible to know if that is the right size for you. I am as skinny as a rake, but I'm 5 feet 8 inches so I am a size 12.

I am not sure I understand why you are disgusted with yourself. I don't feel disgust for anything you said or say you have done. As long as you are not making yourself ill and you know when to stop the weight loss, you are not doing anything contemptible.

Can you try to explain more why you don't want to stop losing weight? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and think you look fat? You say you can fit into clothes that have been too small for you for ages. That's great! But surely you don't want them to become too big for you now? Or do you?

VeryEmbarassed Fri 10-Dec-04 22:04:49

Jodiesmum, I don't think you're being heartless at all. Quite the opposite, I think you have hit the nail on the head. I have got a wonderful high from fitting thinner clothes and people have commented and that's even better. Your suggestion is great. Had the same thought myself. The problem is that I had the same thought about 6 weeks ago! That's the problem! I keep saying I'll just keep going until.... At the moment I've persauded myself that if I just lost another 7 pounds it would give me "room" to come off gradually without being too upset. But then I said that a stone ago. I do accept that I'm not making rational decisions here and I like to think of myself as rational therefore I don't like what I'm doing.

It'll be... I'm working on what a chart says I'm supposed to be. Yes I still think my bottom, hips, thighs and boobs are too big.

Jodiesmum Sat 11-Dec-04 19:08:07

Hi again VE, so glad what I said made sense. Like i said, i don't think it matters if your ideal weight is lower than other people want you to be, as long as it's not so low you're unhealthy. Obviously this is hard to judge and i think a lot of the charts are mad - the weights they give seem really heavy to me. My big indicator is that if I get too thin, my periods stop - then I know it's gone too far. Also at this time of year, you start feeling the cold too much. I would say keep going for a bit longer, if it's making you feel good, but do keep an eye on your health - as a mum, you can't afford to let yourself go. Are you taking a good multi vitamin by the waY? i always find this hard to do but it's really worth it i think.

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