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Tired of being the whipping boy

(19 Posts)

(Not a thread about my DH..he is a lovely man and I'm very grateful..)

My eldest DD is 19 and is battling with an eating disorder which came on during her first ,very stressful, year at Uni. She came home a 6 stone anorexic (she is 5 ft 9 and was pretty much hospitalisable)

She has had good support..such as IS available here and physically has made massive progress..gained a lot of weight with a rapid refeeding programme and looks a lot healthier already. However her utter control has switched to utter UNcontrol..now binging. We knew this might happen and while it's NOT a weight issue (long way to go) it is a massive psychological issue and we/I am trying to help her thro it.

But some days I just struggle to deal with the emotional backlash.. I'm the one she needs to help her but I'm the one she strops at (think large 3 yr old!) and some days it just feels like too much. I KNOW it is massively terrifying for her and we are trying to do everything we have been told, but it just hurts so much to be the one who is always the 'bad guy'.

She is having CBT with a friend who is a therapist and today has been invited to spend the day and night with the family..it will all be jolly, she won't be raiding their fridge at 3am, it will be all, happy eating together and 'this is is how it is if you do it right' and I feel enormously resentful and just plain sad. I just get all the shit stuff and the emotional fall out.

Just a whine really.. but any tips for how to stay sane and not feel so hurt would be appreciatedsad

LesserOfTwoWeevils Wed 27-Jul-11 12:59:48

No helpful advice, Medusa, just a hug.
Hang in there and one day when it's all over your DD will be well and happy and back to her real self and will appreciate your love and endless patience.

hester Wed 27-Jul-11 13:08:39

You poor thing. I have been in your dd's position and I am fully aware of how terrible I was to live with. As you have found out, for many anorexics the really hellish bit is when you regain the weight (this is also the time when most anorexic deaths occur - either organ failure or suicide). Rapid weight gain is massively stressful, both physically and psychologically, and that is why it so often tips into bingeing and/or bulimia. In addition, the months or years of starvation (many years, in my case) act to damp down and quieten feelings and emotions (part of the attraction) and once the weight goes on that lid is lifted and all kinds of difficult and dangerous feelings come surging to the surface.

I don't have much useful advice to give, other than to get as much support as you can for yourself. Oh, and to remind you that just because your dd has a psychological illness that does not entitle her to treat you like shit. You can still set boundaries and insist on respectful behaviour (or at least try to!). You will not make your daughter lose weight again by telling her to observe certain behaviour conventions while under your roof.

Final point: when I was in treatment the focus was pretty much all on my relationship with my mother, and I did go through periods of intense anger and blaming. But even at the time I knew there were many causes, and many relationships were a factor, and it wasn't in any simple way my mum's fault. Now, many years into recovery, I see other factors, really important ones, that were completely ignored by the pscyhiatrist because, frankly, they weren't fashionable or interesting and they didn't fit into the archetypal anorexic pattern.

Being anorexic was hell, but in many ways it was valuable. I went through scorching fires of self-examination, and left it determined not to waste any more of my life attacking myself and the people around me. I wish your daughter a speedy recovery so that you and she can move on and repair your relationship.

coffeeinbed Wed 27-Jul-11 13:09:33

It's tough.
I went through something similar with DC and it drained the life out of me. I struggled to cope with it.
Someone I trust told me, and it saved my sanity - it's not your job to sort this out, you cannot do it.
Let a therapist do their job.
It's ok for you to feel at the end of your tether.

oldwomaninashoe Wed 27-Jul-11 13:39:50

OP just a thought, iss your DD going back to Uni? Obviously her problems stemmed from her experiences there.

One of my DS's went to Uni when I felt he was not emotionally mature enough to cope without his family , and as predicted it was an unmitigated disaster. 3 years down the line he still talks vaguely about returning , but I don't see it as important, he is working hass a lovely girlfriend and seems settled.

What I'm trying to say is unless she is adamant about returning , don't push it.

Good Luck and enjoy your weekend.

coffeeinbed Wed 27-Jul-11 16:53:18

Sorry, Medusa, I think I might have come across as too abrupt.
I didn't mean to.
It's soul destroying and a horrid situation to be in.
I feel for you.
It will get better.

barbiegrows Wed 27-Jul-11 17:37:26

How awful for you. I saw something recently where a woman talked about her experience and said it were as though she was being taken over by something else and it was that thing that wasn't letting her eat. Perhaps if you see it that when your daughter has the strops, it is not really her that is saying it?

Interesting about the 'blame your mother' fashion of psychotherapists - worth bearing in mind that experts are experts, but they too are subject to the whims of fashion. It sounds refreshing that you have a friend involved who is also a psychotherapist.

If there is a broken bond (not saying yours is broken but it sounds damaged) between a parent and child, one way to repair it is through gradually building up closeness. Try to find a way to do this - it will give you as much strength as it gives her.

Use your 'time off' tonight to build up your strength, without feeling guilty about it. Don't resent your friend.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 27-Jul-11 17:51:27

Oh OP <un-MN hugs>

I'm sure you are doing a brilliant job and you WILL get through it. Another one here saying she doesn't have to go back to uni now if it's making her ill. A close friend of mine was basically driven mad by various circumstances around her uni life (distance from home, hard to make friends, problematic course, overwork etc etc) and took several months to recover at home. She regained all the weight and started again a couple of years later doing a completely different course which has led her to a great career and a lovely happy life.

Just thought a hopeful story might help smile

Wisedupwoman Wed 27-Jul-11 18:01:58

Just curious, Medusa - how come a friend is giving your DD psychotherapy?

Is there none available from an eating disorder service where you are? They should not just re-feed and let her go - re-feeding is only a part of the story and treats only the physical malnutrition. The real work begins when the body is nourished and psychologically the mind can challenge the anorexic thoughts - the hardest part.

hester Wed 27-Jul-11 20:08:45

I just wanted to add that CBT alone doesn't sound like adequate treatment to me. I'm not knocking CBT, but I'd be very surprised if it can do the job because it's orientated to correcting behaviours rather than understanding root causes. Is your dd seeing a psychiatrist? I'm not necessarily saying my treatment was any kind of model, but I was a psychiatrist (for years), a psychotherapist, and went to a self-help group.

Wisedupwoman.. she is waiting for CBT thro the local ED unit.. but there is a waitsad It is coincidence that a friend (well friend's husband) is a CBT therapist and kindly offered to help over the holidays while we were waiting.. I trust him utterly and he is a very good 'match' for my daughter, however obviously being a friend it is a little different.

She is also going to be seen back at Uni where she will need long term support but all these things seem to take a while to set up and she needed immediate helpsad

In any other circumstance I think we would have urged DD to pull out of Uni and come closer to home, but she is doing Medicine.. very hard to take a year out and she won't contemplate it. Thankfully her actual living situation will be massively better next year (no bully in her flat!) and she now has a good friendship group there who are now aware and supportive also so I am really hoping that she will come thro this.

Our actual bond isn't broken .. far from it. Rather it has reverted to a parent -child stage, when she had left to go to Uni as a confident young adult.. and like a child she needs me terribly but also takes out all the horrible stress and anxiety and anger on me. My head understands it, but it it is still very hurtful to cope with . In between the horrible bits she has been her loving self, so I hang onto the thought that the lovely young woman she was before the ED is just waiting to come back to the surface ..we just have to beat the ED alter ego!

Thankyou for the replies..they really do help!

garlicbutter Wed 27-Jul-11 20:35:42

Hi, Medusa. I, too, had eating disorders in my youth and one of my nieces has only recently come out of long-term residential care for her anorexia. The niece isn't "fixed" but she is now functioning fine, and stays at her minimum healthy weight. She's also a lot more self-aware, which makes her a pleasure to be around instead of the agonising emotional sink she was for so long. I sympathise.

My advice to you is to find your own counsellor, specifically to learn "tools" to protect your own mental health. The sort I have in mind are extremely simple visualisations and memory-joggers, however they work best when taught face-to-face by an experienced practitioner. A couple of sessions should be enough, though you may find counselling a personal release and choose to continue with it.

You seem to be aware of the need to support DD, while recognising that you can't make her better. Compassionate detachment is easy enough to describe, but can be incredibly difficult to achieve! You definitely deserve any support you can access, some techniques to help you keep your cool, and plenty of "you" time. Take care of yourself smile Good luck to DD, too!

hester Wed 27-Jul-11 20:50:37

beat (previously the Eating Disorders Association) used to run support groups for parents - worth contacting them to see if they still do?

esperance Wed 27-Jul-11 21:03:27

Medusa.
As a psychologist I was immediately alarmed to read that your daughter is staying overnight in the home of her therapist. ( I hope that I have not misinterpreted your post.) I am a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D and I have, for more decades than I care to say, always tried to adhere to the code of practice of the British Psychological Society.

This sort of therapist/client (or patient) relationship would undoubtedly be considered by the BPS to be not only unethical but potentially harmful to the patient, especially a young woman with eating disorders.

What the hell is going on here? Are you paying this friend/therapist? What exactly are his qualifications and what professional organisation does he belong to?

Esperance.. panic not.. she is having a sleepover with the family today..she enjoys helping with the children and they are building a chicken run together today.. NOT with him in any sense other than the whole family have been friends of mine for years.

He is helping her with her anxiety (mostly relaxation stuff ) while we wait for the NHS wheels to grind..and it is helping . He is not taking any payment and is using his skills as I would use mine if they needed help with their computers! (that sounds glib but hopefully you see what I mean) We usually go over together and then I catch up with his wife while DD and he do relaxation stuff!

Thankyou to those who have suggested links/help for me too.. I feel I am doing a rubbish job trying support her at the mo and need more tools to be helpful AND stay sane :/

esperance Wed 27-Jul-11 22:52:28

Medusa. I am so glad to hear this.
You have been given some great advice here about how to help yourself. You have been dealing with soul-destroying stuff and, as you have anticipated, there is more to come.
Do what you can to stay strong.
My best wishes,
E

Wisedupwoman Thu 28-Jul-11 18:13:27

I still don't get how come she's been so seriously ill and yet the service isn't meeting her needs for continued treatment!! I also wonder at the wisdom of a rapid re-feeding programme, and i'm not surprised she's tipped into bingeing. She should have been re-fed with a goal of 500g-1kg per week IMO.

Was she in treatment away from home and now she's back is awaiting treatment locally? Even if that's the case, I'm a bit gob smacked that she hasn't been taken on as a priority tbh.

Anyway, I know it's tough being the rellie of someone close with an ED. Have you tried the Anti-anorexia league website? I would link it but every time I try, I fail but you could google it.

I think the problem has been that she is needing treatment in two places.. she only started seing her GP in May..at Uni.. but the GP there couldn't refer to the ED unit at home (ridiculous) so was monitoring her at Uni while trying to get her seen there...by the time we had any communication she was home (can't get her to Uni once a week in the hols as it's hundreds of miles awaysad) so they will see her in september. meanwhile we had to start again as a temp patient at home... more delay. No one service appears to be communicating with the other sad

We too thought she would have been priority but apparently notsad

I will google..!smile

PercyPigPie Thu 28-Jul-11 21:16:16

So sorry OP sad. Is it a good idea to have a therapist who is a family friend? Doesn't it need to be someone more independent?

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