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I was anorexic and self harmed, cutting and OCD, and my parents did nothing

(26 Posts)
Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 00:02:59

This has stated to haunt me recently. I had anorexia at 13. Although my parents would always provide me with a meal, and would tell me I needed to eat, sometimes shouting at me for the damage I was doing to myself, they never actually got professional help. I never saw a doctor until later on (on my own at 17).

I also used to cut myself age 14. My parents would tell me I was attention seeking and that it was 'dramatic and silly.' One night I remember begging for them to help me because the OCD and cutting was affecting my life so much. I begged them to get me professional help and they just said I needed to get a grip. I remember lying on the floor crying and saying I couldn't cope, and my mum walked off and called me spoilt brat.

I feel so angry with them. I think the reason they didn't get help is they are very proud people and would have hated to have for anyone to have known what was happening. I feel they let me down and turned their back on me and I spent years afterwards trying to fix myself.

I don't know why I'm posting really. Feel so sad about it and angry with them and I dint know if it's fair of me to feel like that.

tinsheddy Fri 26-Aug-16 01:30:46

I can totally relate to what you're saying OP, and I'm sorry this happened to you. I've witnessed this sort of thing in my own life. I think your analysis is spot on about why they didn't help- they were more concerned for their reputations than your welfare (reading between the lines). Again, I'm making an educated guess but their attitude is the likely cause of your problems in the first place. It's totally natural/fair to feel angry.

If it's any consolation, it's my opinion that parents are like this because they are immature both emotionally and socially - although it's possible they may be high achievers professionally and very adept at the more 'practical' aspects of day to day living.
You on the other hand OP sound very 'switched on' in knowing it was the right thing to do to get professional help for your problems. And yes, it's fair in the circs for you to feel angry.

tinsheddy Fri 26-Aug-16 01:32:21

Another thing OP , the fact that you've been so open and honest about your feelings and description of what happens shows imo that you have a high level of emotional maturity x

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 06:50:45

Thanks for replying. I wasn't in a good place when I wrote the post. I agree with what you have said and think that's true. Both my parents are intelligent and work hard, but your comment about social and emotional immaturity is spot on. That is exactly how it is and I had never thought of it like that.

They do many strange things, even now, that shock and upset me. Feeling low about it all today

HappyJanuary Fri 26-Aug-16 07:05:43

I have a friend whose dd is going through something similar. My friend doesn't want to get professional help because she doesn't want it 'to go on her records'. She seems to think it might cause problems in the future with job applications and insurance. She also thinks that professional help will mainly involve 'talking' and that it is therefore pointless. Some of us are working hard to change her mind but just wondering whether your parents had a similar view. Are you able to ask them about it?

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 07:13:55

HappyJanuary, that is interesting and I think would definitely be a reason. The hurt mainly is from the fact they personally did nothing to actually help, didn't address it or talk about it with me, even at my lowest.

If I asked them about it I would be told I was attention seeking and they'd just call me dramatic etc etc - I can't have an adult conversation with them like that.

rainbowglitterunicorn Fri 26-Aug-16 07:25:56

Op I'm just curious but how old are you now and do you have dc's yourself? I have a 12yr old dd and sometimes it is very very hard to talk to her and for her to listen, she can kinda close herself off to us, and I imagine that's only going to get harder over the years. I'm sorry you felt your parents never listened to you and took you seriously. You say they never spoke to you or acknowledged your problems yet in your op said they were telling you to eat and trying to explain the damage you were doing to your body? Also cutting whilst crying for help could be perceived as crying for attention. Obviously with hindsight you did need professional help but until you are in that position with dc it is so so hard to know how you will react. Your parents obviously made a mistake, be that because of shame or just because they couldn't see the true damage I guess know one will know unless you ask them. I'm glad you've manage to get the help you needed eventually though and are getting better flowers

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 07:29:58

Thanks for your reply, maybe I am being too harsh on them. They shouted at me about it and in that way they must have cared, but there was never one moment when they sat down and asked me what was going on. They just wanted it to be ignored. I'm older now and understand the communication problems with teens, I just wish I had felt some sort of love and patience from them. Even now they would have no time for me in a crisis, but are quick to use me as a social talking point with my career. I've found that increasingly hard to accept as time goes on

rainbowglitterunicorn Fri 26-Aug-16 07:38:11

I think the pp who said about them being high achievers so good in the practical aspects of life but not being able to cope with emotional maturity was probably quite right. They probably just didn't know what to do and hoped brushing it under the carpet would make it disappear. I think you have every right to be upset at the lack of support, back in the past and now too, but don't spend too long being angry and anger isn't a healthy emotion especially for something that happened so long ago. By the sounds of it you have clearly done well for yourself, and you should feel very proud of yourself and how far you have come

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 07:41:53

Thanks Rainbow. Anytime there is friction with my parents I start to remember all the shit things that happened and it makes me feel horrendous. I'm so much better now I live far away from them, even though we speak regularly. I guess I just need to learn to manage these feeling a bit better when they come

passportmess Fri 26-Aug-16 07:50:24

Halfway I have similar feeling about the way my parents handled my teen anxiety issues. I was shouted at for being weak because I had panic attacks. Their parenting style was very authoritarian and emotinally they were very absent. I do struggle with this treatment and would never do this to my child. Even in my 40s they still display a very aggressive attitude. Like yours they live far away. I was once very sad about this physical distance but now, on reflection, I can see it gives me much needed space. Some people are very limited as parents but it is possible to rise above it as offspring. Well done for getting help.

booellesmum Fri 26-Aug-16 07:58:35

You are doing brilliantly despite your parents.
My parents were not the best. I had OCD from age 9 after my GF died and self harmed for a time in my teens. I remember once feeling so miserable that I told my Dad I felt like I wanted to kill myself - he told me not to be so stupid.
It has taken me until my 40's with 2 kids of my own to be able to sort it out in my head and draw a line under it.
They were also professional people who put on a front. They were very good at it - everyone thought they had a perfect marriage, but they were vile to each other behind closed doors.
I am very jealous of my kids(in a good way).They know they are loved no matter what and that I will always have their back.

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 08:02:08

Booells... I'm sorry you had such a tough time. That sounds so hard. I think it's interesting what you say about always having your dcs back. I have never felt like that with my parents, not really and truly. What comes first to them is saving face. For example I would never be able to say to them that someone hadn't been nice to me at work. They would automatically look o criticise my own behaviour. I used to be so jealous of people who's parents were on their side always and always wanted to understand. It's hard isn't it.

JennyMe Fri 26-Aug-16 08:02:33

Halfwayoranges, I haven't got time to post much at the moment but I have had the same experience. I've OD'd and had an eating disorder in my teens and although my parents knew, they didn't even talk to me about it.
I'm in my 40's now and with various other issues that have come about as a results I am finally getting my life to a better place.

Lottapianos Fri 26-Aug-16 08:16:15

OP, anger is a perfectly normal and healthy emotion and like any other emotion, it can't just be switched off at will. You are absolutely entitled to feel angry at your parents' lack of support for you, even if it was 'a long time ago'. I experienced a similar lack of support and desire to sweep emotional stuff under the carpet from my own parents so I very much relate to how you feel.

When you doubt yourself, and you wonder if you're being too harsh, ask yourself how you would feel if a friend told you the same story. Would it seem fair or supportive of parents to shout at someone who was crying and begging for help? We're often a lot kinder with other people than we are with ourselves

You were not a spoiled brat, you were in terrible pain and the people you relied on most in the world let you down very badly. You have every right to have strong feelings about that

cauliflowercheese14 Fri 26-Aug-16 08:18:44

OP I'm sorry you had this experience but yo have overcome so much. If you have done well since, it is despite your parents, not because of them. I can't imagine not gathering all the support I could muster if one of my dds was experiencing such distress, mental health is a fragile thing that needs much nurturing. I can only imagine they were not capable of coping with your distress rather than malicious.
If you are feeling haunted perhaps some counseling would help you organize your thoughts and future response to your parents? You are already scrutinizing your experiences and perhaps doing that systematically with a neutral person would be really useful in not letting these experiences cast a shadow over the rest of your life. Best of luck anyway!

itsbetterthanabox Fri 26-Aug-16 08:32:01

I was the same op and never got professional help, I went to the GP once and my mum told me off.
How old are you? I'm 27 now.
I do think help for mental health issues has vastly improved since I was a teenager. Schools care more and provide more, there's more public awareness, mental health services, although now being cut sadly, are better.
I genuinely think my parents were trying their best. And if it were now it would be dealt with differently. They wanted to help me and make me happier. Thankfully I no longer self harm or have an eating disorder. I knew they were there for me even if it was through shouting at me. I think it's must be frustrating and painful to watch your child hurt themselves. I know it could have turned out differently and early intervention can really help someone but I don't feel resentment.

passportmess Fri 26-Aug-16 08:44:36

Cauliflower that is a good explanation of how counselling might be helpful. I am tentatively considering it for myself. I may not need it but from your post, I can see how it would be a useful tool.

EarthboundMisfit Fri 26-Aug-16 08:54:56

Similar situation here with compulaive behaviour and binge eating disorder. I rationalise it to myself by thinking 'things were different then, people didn't understand these things', but really, it was that my parents were desperate for us to achieve, afraid our problems reflected on them and of the school that believes if you ignore an issue, it might go away.

EarthboundMisfit Fri 26-Aug-16 08:57:52

I should add that I struggled badly in my 20s, but as I've got older I've learned aelf-acceptance and self-care, which I didn't learn in childhood.

junebirthdaygirl Fri 26-Aug-16 08:58:47

I'm not making excuses for your parents but lm in my 50s and never heard of self harming until about 12 years ago. Not much about ocd either.I was fully aware of anorexia as that was talked about more. People are much more open now. At that time parents rarely spoke to other parents and kept what was happening in their own homes private. My friends and l say everything out and it does help as a parent to hear others stories and get advice.
Obviously you're parents were very lacking but if you carry this stuff with you its going to affect your life not theirs. Have you had counselling where you can get that stuff out. I never had major stuff as a teenager but my dm was extremely controlling and in my 20s l was very angry with her. Engaging with her stirred it all up and sometimes l was actually physically sick afterwards. Counselling really helped me.

Halfwayoranges Fri 26-Aug-16 08:58:51

Thanks for the replies. It's made me see that the neglect wasn't lack of care, more likely not knowing how to deal with it. This is helpful for me to consider.

I feel so different to my parents, they are very very difficult to communicate with and life seems to be about them totally, they cannot see anyone else's problems, nobody else is ever as busy as them etc etc

passportmess Fri 26-Aug-16 09:12:18

My mother only fully understood panic attacks when she had one herself as an older woman. She did admit that they did not understand anxiety when I was a teen.

tinsheddy Fri 26-Aug-16 09:33:17

OP, you're welcome re: my advice you mentioned upthread as this is an issue I have (unfortunately) much experience of! In fact the only reason I was able to reply at the time I did was the fact that I'm dealing in many ways with my own anger issues regarding a very similar situation! (at least we can laugh at the irony of this). TBH, I could write an extremely lengthy post about my experiences! I didn't self harm or have anorexia or OCD as a teenager but I had low self esteem, was bullied etc, I was fat and had problems with occasional binge/comfort eating and had clear emotional problems. So not enough, perhaps for a recognised psychiatric/psychological disorder but the beginning of 'little red flags' iyswim.
What was swept under the carpet was my mother's alcoholism and sometimes violent behaviour. She used to have drink fuelled temper tantrums - like a child - be aggressive, and my father accommodated it/acted as if nothing happened. Whenever I complained about my mother's drunkenness, I got a very aggressive response - no compassion - despite being still primary school age!
Subsequently, it has affected my ability to express myself and I've been somewhat submissive in relationships with my peers, a lot of the time - as I've had 'the message' - that it's wrong/selfish to express how you really feel.

I'm not surprised you feel the way you do, a background like this is difficult, though not impossible to overcome. Like pp have said, it sounds like you've come a long way.

RebelRogue Fri 26-Aug-16 10:00:56

I had the same in my childhood. I could write a novel,but I'll try to keep it short. There was an obvious lack of support and brushing things under the carpet. From things happening to me,to the emotional problems and self harm that resulted from that. While i genuinely believe dad did not know how to deal with it,and he was mostly kept in the dark anyways, i know my mum ignored for the sake of "public opinion". What would people say was more important than my mental and physical well being. That i cannot forgive. Not only was i not offered any help or support,but any attempt at talking was met with "you're a kid,you have nothing to be depressed about. Just wait till you're a grown up with a job and kids and having to pay the bills and then you'll have something to be depressed about". I just muddled on and found various ways to cope so i'm ok now. Thankfully due to distance when my mum tries to revert back to her old way putting the phone down stops her in her tracks. One of the things that really helped was realising that i will never be good enough,so i just stopped trying. I'm happy with myself and my life and that is enough.

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