Advice re anorexia(12 Posts)
My ds, who is the world's best teenager, told me the other day that he & his friends are all concerned about another friend who he says is not eating. They've noticed she's not eating lunch while they eat, she admits she isn't eating, & she's losing weight. (Is not DS pretending to be concerned about friend when actually himself as he eats like a horse and is a healthy weight).
He says they can't approach the parents as "they think she's perfect" (his group of friends are all high-achieving intellectual types). They won't approach the school as apparently (probably due to mandatory reporting) the kids feel they have zero confidentiality when trying to get help.
We're not in the UK, so can't use specifically UK resources, but am wondering in a general way what to say. I'm really proud of him that he's concerned for his friend & pleased he doesn't think I'm a completely useless adult. I wasn't sure what to say, though, & said I'd have to think about it & get back to him.
No advice on what to do really but as someone who nearly lost their life to Anorexia I beg you to get him to tell someone, and I have a feeling that needs to be the school who will pass on the information to parents. I know that is what he fears and feels the parents won't acknowledge it but at least it will mean more people are looking out for her. Anorexia thrives on secrets and deceit. All evidence points to the fact that the best chance of recovery comes from early intervention.
So even in the parents deny it, or refuse to accept it, it may at least make their ears prick up and alert them enough to keep an eye out.
I think if your ds needs convincing to tell school you need to explain to him how dangerous AN can be, his friends life really could be in danger (more people die from AN than any other psychiatric disorder). Also even if she doesn't look that ill, AN wrecks havoc with electrolytes which put the sufferer at high risk of heart attack and a patient can go from feeling ok to being very critically ill in a scarily short time frame.
I've put a call into the local youth health unit's division on eating disorders. I suspect I know which friend (they're all very smart kids but he's said before about one working herself into a near- nervous breakdown, she wins all the awards, so she seems a bit of a candidate? But that could be completely wrong stereotyping). If it's that girl, she has an older sister, so the kids could perhaps ask her. It's possible the parents do know & are doing something, though my DS thinks not.
I've asked the front desk lady @ the eating disorders division if they come into the schools & she said "sometimes". So if the friends won't go to the counsellors (who they think bumble around & make things worse, the kids blame the staff for a suicide a few years above their year due to ineffective bumbling & police involvement), then I'm thinking maybe the health authority people will be better at it?
I just rang this morning, so don't know when I'll hear back.
Appreciate your response!
He definitely knows, that's why they're worried. Very smart group of kids. They know something needs to be done, they just don't want to exacerbate her stress. I'll see what the health authority says, & I may have to anonymously go to the school.
My DS didn't even want to give a gender, but admitted after a bit that it was a girl. The suicide has, unfortunately, given the kids the impression that the counsellors will only make things worse, though I know they'd be open to trying to get their friend to talk to the people at the specialty unit. Hopefully that unit is accessible w regard to staffing levels etc.
This is a very difficult situation for you, good on your son for telling you. It says a lot for your relationship that he trusted you with this.
Do you know the girl's parents at all? I ask because I was in a similar situation a while back when one of my DC mentioned that they thought one of their friends was getting very thin, they were really worried about her and told me that people at school were gossiping about her. After a bit of persuading, my DC told me who it was and I wasn't entirely surprised - another highly intelligent, high achieving girl.
As it happened, I knew the girl's parents quite well and after fretting about what to do for a couple of days I went to see them & had a - very difficult - chat with them. Fortunately they were receptive & it turned out they were aware and were getting help for their teenager - who incidentally is now well on the road to recovery.
If I hadn't known the parents it would have been a different situation, but I'd have gone to the school, most definitely.
I wish you luck, this is difficult and I understand you need to tread carefully but as Atleast says, you need to do something.
I do know some of his friends' parents but not all as they come from all over the area for their program. These ones I've never met.
My DS assumes her parents won't accept a problem with their kid (very exacting standards apparently), but I'm sure they love her & may be on to it. I'm hoping the health authority will provide some insight.
DS is a great guy, I am very lucky.
My daughter in her mid teens got worryingly thin. It was something her friends were concerned about, I remember asking her once if she'd eaten and she said yes, and her friend behind her shook her head at me to show me she hadn't. I'm sure other parents and kids spotted it and thought we weren't dealing with it, but we were.
Long story short, she got food poisoning, was weighed by doctor, and was forty odd kilos at five foot eight, I exploded and I mean exploded. Told her she was fucking grounded till she got to mid fifties in kilos, asked her if she wanted to spend her life focused on food, never achieving, being someone people spoke about , looked scary, ( I don't mean to offend anyone) , if that's what she was choosing for herself. A miserable fucking life. No boyfriend, no career, soreness all over, constantly hungry. She couldn't believe it, kept saying no that's not what she wanted and " you can't ground me for this!!!" I was all, " just fucking watch me".
Surprisingly it worked, she started eating better, kept coming down stairs and asking me if I wanted to check the scales as she was gaining, that she was trying and she didn't want that life . Got up to a normal weight. She's a size ten now, nineteen years old, very healthy and has been that way for the last three or four years since it happened. She still watches what she eats, and I still keep an eye on it, but at least she's a normal weight and we haven't seen it resurface.
You do have to do something, but don't under estimate the parents and what they see and will do. Sometimes it just takes time. And I guess, sometimes it never works.
Thanks Bluntness. I'm going to talk to the health authority unit first and if they won't go in (or give solid direction) I will go to the school.
I feel I'd prefer to go to the school anonymously as if I say who I am, they'll straightaway get DS in, then he won't trust me and his friends won't trust him. And being seen as trustworthy might be needed at some point down the road.
I do think it's lovely, these kids looking out for one another.
And glad to hear your daughter is well now and also you, atleast
Bluntness I'm glad that approach worked for your daughter but I wouldn't advise it as it holds big risk. Firstly you wrongly imply that an ed is a choice, it really isn't. It's a really serious illness in a similar way cancer is and you'd never lay in to someone with a cancer diagnosis. You also sound hugely judgemental and risk passing on this attitude to your daughter. You have told her that people who are ILL with anorexia will have no life, no career, no boyfriend. Wow. Sorry I am proof alone that that is nothing more than an I'll informed judgement. You're right a life with AN is difficult and does make all those things more difficult, but not impossible.
I'm glad your daughter is better now but beg you to look into the actual facts around ed's before casting such judgements on an Internet forum.
Well, I left a message at the health authority voicemail, told them I was available between x o'clock and x o'clock & this is why I'm calling. The silly bint called me two hours after my latter cut off time so I had to whisper that I was at work & wasn't allowed to take calls. She apparently thought she was doing me a favour calling at all, & sounded mystified/huffy when I said she'd have to call when I was actually available.
I'm theeadjacking myself, but why can't some people grasp that not everyone is able to talk on the phone at work. Fuck's sake.
So am on to plan b, which is talk to the school. Though I don't know which girl, so they've got a group of about 20 to choose from.
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