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Suspected anorexia....help needed

(14 Posts)
msann Mon 24-Jan-05 12:02:15

i believe that my sister (who lives miles away) has anorexia. She used to b just under 9 stone & pretty slim build....she now weighs less that 6 stone & looks emaciated & horrible.
Around 6 months ago she said she was having probs eating as everything she ate made her feel bloated & gave her trapped wind/constipation etc etc. She self prescribed a diet which cut out most foods at different times to see if she was allergic to something. This did not work..at one stage she was eating only fruit & rice cakes & was drinking herbal tea and/or soya milk. Eventually she went to a doc who has done/sent her for lots of tests. The end result is irritable bowel syndrome....however...my sister still will not eat anything much. Her doc told her to eat high fibre diet - but she will not as she says this makes her feel bloated/ill.
She will however eat normally if we go out for a meal (very occassionally) like this weekend where she ate a 3 course meal...& a pizza on the way home. after she has done this she says she cannot eat for days.
I do not know what to do/say & i fear that there are going to b serious consequences. I did mention anorexia to her several moths ago - but she said its not that she doesnt want to eat its that she cant eat....is this just the denial of an anorexic???

help!

msann Mon 24-Jan-05 12:13:53

bump

nasa Mon 24-Jan-05 12:16:15

sorry no direct experience but you might find this useful (also has good links) here

helsi Mon 24-Jan-05 12:28:26

If she is saying she can't eat then it might be something else. She neds to seek medical advice again. Why not offer to go with her as support - I know she lives a long way away but could you make the journey in order to give her support? She might be anxious of going on her own.

msann Mon 24-Jan-05 12:30:43

but dont anorexics say that they cant eat ? eg they do not accept that they are anorexic? much of the stuff in the link given applies to her...irregular heartbeat, constipation etc etc...i need to find out how 2 get her to realise this!

nasa Mon 24-Jan-05 12:33:10

if you go to this website
http://www.edauk.com/
it's the eating disorders association and they deal with what to do if someone doesn't acknowledge they have a problem

msann Mon 24-Jan-05 12:35:27

ty nasa... just looking

mummylonglegs Mon 24-Jan-05 12:38:34

Hmmm ... it's a tricky one. Clearly she can't have a major medical complaint as she wouldn't be able to eat such a huge meal when you saw her that time. Having said that IBS can lead to quite severe weight loss. She may also be suffering from various anxieties about eating which make her feel physically unwell but which are not anorexia. Anorexia is characterised by a distorted body image - do you think she thinks she's fat? Does she know she's lost too much weight and seem at all worried about it? What height is she by the way? And how are things in her life right now?

helsi Mon 24-Jan-05 12:42:01

Lack of appetie can be a sign of various things that need looking at - not just anorexia. As an recovered anorexic I know that I could not have eaten such a big meal then nothing for days - I just didn't eat full stop. Unless she binge eats and has bulimia - but that is another issue and will need looking at too.

msann Mon 24-Jan-05 12:43:27

she knows shes thin...she bought a pair of size 6 trousers on saturday & had to wear a belt to keep them up. i do worry that she 'enjoys' the attention that shes getting. she is always asking me if our parents ask about her. she doesnt seem worried about her weight loss at all. i think shes around 5ft4inches. Things in her life r much same as they have always been - so dont think thats root of problem

motherpeculiar Mon 24-Jan-05 13:01:09

I agree with mummylonglegs about the "distorted body image" thing - how did she seem when she was buying the trousers at the weekend - was she hapy with how she looked, worried she was too thin, worried she was too fat?

often anorexics do enjoy the attention part of things - especially of they haven't received much before, have low self esteem etc. Her eating such a large meal when with you would lead me to suspect bulimia too - although bulimics generally aren't very underweight. Hmm, maybe she just did it as a one-off to "shut you up"

you have my sympathy - I was anorexic then bulimic for years and caused my poor family no end of grief (and puzzlement)

anorexics also often cite "health reasons" to excuse their lack of eating - GPs are often not the best port of call - a nutritionist/counsellor might be better placed to detrmine what is up - if you could a) find one with the right approach and b) persaude her to go

hope things work out for you both - it must be very worrying

msann Mon 24-Jan-05 13:27:02

have considered counsellor/dietician...mentioned it to her once...but that was at same time as i mentioned anorexia so perhaps she wasnt as receptive as she cud have been...with ref to buying trousers i wasnt with her at time...but she put them on at my house & said 'you cant borrow my belt as my new trousers will fall down' she also was talking of her bra saying its great now that she can actually wear a top without having to wear a bra (she used to be a c/d cup)

motherpeculiar Tue 25-Jan-05 10:28:45

it all sounds quite worrying. I would try again with the dietician/counsellor route - but without mentioning your suspicion of anorexia. You'll need to find someone who is experienced with probing but not too obvious questions because if she is anorexic and smells a rat she probably won't tell the truth.

An experienced homeopath might be another option - I am just racking my brains for anyone who might be qualified to ask the kind of questions that would build a picture of her mental state in relation to her body and appetite. As you know, anorexia is primarily a psychological rather than physical problem, although, as I seem to recall, when the body weight goes down by enough of a margin it does seem to become very physiological, with chemical and mineral imbalances upsetting the sufferer's equilibrium even more.

How old is your sister?

geekgrrl Tue 25-Jan-05 10:44:13

hi msann, as a former anorexic I think this sounds very much like anorexia to me. I think the
explanation that eating causes her discomfort is mostly a crap excuse, although lots of anorexics also misuse laxatives and if you eat very erratic amounts your body is bound to complain. To be honest, I don't think there's a lot you can do. In a way anorexia is like a drug addiction and unless you want to quit yourself there's not much others can do (apart from having you sectioned under the mental health act and tube fed in hospital). The Eating Disorders Association has a good website and I think they also have a helpline. Maybe they can offer some advice?

When I had anorexia I saw a counsellor every week; but it didn't really make much difference to me as I wasn't ready, in a way it even encouraged it because they made such a big hoo-ha about any weight loss. I found the more I focused on it - reading websites, books etc, the worse it got.

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