Mumsnet hasn't checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have medical concerns, please seek medical attention; if you think your problem could be acute, do so immediately. Even qualified doctors can't diagnose over the internet, so do bear that in mind when seeking or giving advice. If you need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity.
Teen Eating Disorders - Thread 6
myrtleWilson · 03/02/2022 23:06
Hello everyone, and welcome to anyone looking at these threads for the first time..
Here is a link to thread 5 www.mumsnet.com/Talk/eating_disorders/4360801-Teen-Eating-Disorders-Thread-5
We've seen such an increase in young people facing eating disorders and these threads are testament to that.
With that in mind, we thought we'd try to include at the start of each thread some resources that have helped us along the way to date. No one resource will be a panacea but hopefully this list will be a useful starting off point for any newcomers and a reflection for others. It is our first go at sharing a list of resources on a thread so it won't be perfect!
Valleyofthedollymix · 27/02/2022 16:44
Yes completely agree that DD needs to put on more weight, but I'm thinking only a few more kilos. I also think that there might be a lag from when they get to the right weight to their state catching up (from what I've read of the phases of FBT).
I don't know, there's just some thoughts swirling at the corner of my brain that I can't quite articulate yet. Thoughts about how sometimes I wonder whether I'm making it worse by taking control. I know that goes in the face of all we're told but I've spoken to so many adults about how they got better from adolescent anorexia and it was always that they decided, for whatever reason, that they were done with ED rather than external factors - parents, hospitals, schools, doctors.
I don't know if you remember a post from a recovered anorexic called usernamefornow. It really resonated with me and she spoke about how having the control taken away from the sufferer can ramp everything up. We're at a stage where I think if we could get DD to a weight where she is physically healthy (which I'd say we're close to now although it's still a low weight) then giving her more autonomy might accelerate progress.
I don't know, am really just ruminating out loud.
myrtleWilson · 27/02/2022 17:26
@Valleyofthedollymix - I know where you're coming from and we went through similar. I posted recently about Dh and I, due to the trauma of the past couple of years, defaulting our thinking to "anorexic DD" rather than "DD" - a very clear example for me was about exercise/PT/weights - I immediately defaulted to "it will trigger her exercise compulsion" rather than acknowledging DD was reframing her relationship with her body from ill to strong, Knowing and moving away from that default 'swooping in' has definitely accelerated progress.... (it is a hard mental shift to make though..)
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 27/02/2022 20:18
I know what you mean valley I keep thinking we will never reach a point of proper recovery unless dd decides she wants to recover. That said in the early days when they're in the grips of it there definitely doesn't feel like they're able to make any safe decisions.
I've read about teens that have now recovered who said although they screamed and shouted at the time when FBT was implemented deep down they felt incredibly relieved their parents were now in control.
Plus there's good evidence that it works, I think something like 90% recover with this approach within 2-5 years.
I suppose the hope is that you can get their brains at least to a place where they can think a bit more clearly and by exposing them to the thing they fear again and again eventually the anxiety will reduce.
I know what you mean Myrtle about thinking worst case anorexia by default as well! Dd has had a nice day out with her friends today and my first thought is always 'has she eaten' not 'Hope she's had a nice day' 😕
Valleyofthedollymix · 28/02/2022 11:43
myrtleWilson I think the PT is a brilliant idea and the way you've thought about it seems really sensible. I know a PT who is super strong and charismatic (top weight lifter) who i'm already eyeing up to help DD when she gets to that point. I think a relationship centred around what your body can do is a great way to go.
I agree girliefriend that at the beginning taking over control is really helpful - we used to have conversations with the ED as if it were a separate person and I know the control we took helped to squash the ED voice. I'm just wondering if that's approach for the initial firefighting but needs to evolve now. I know that DD is terrified that she won't be able to eat normally or intuitively ever again so easing her into autonomy might be what is needed now.
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 28/02/2022 12:03
I suppose the risk is letting them have some freedom too soon and risk relapse. With dd I let her decide on snacks now (out of an approved snack box), she can decide which pudding she has (again out of an approved list!) She also is allowed certain freedoms when out with friends and eats without supervision at school.
I suppose you could test the waters and start to allow her some choices, if those choices are always the lowest calorie ones then it's probably too soon.
I know with dd that although she's much better than she was there's no way she'd be able to eat intuitively and respond to hunger cues properly.
My worry with a PT would be about reinforcing the idea of a 'perfect body' when what I want is for dd to accept her perfectly normal female body.
It is such a minefield isn't it 😕
Valleyofthedollymix · 28/02/2022 16:12
It's such a complex interplay of the physical and the mental/emotional with an ED that I think there is no correct protocol for any individual. It's what makes it so hard. My friends who've had breast cancer have always been given a really clear treatment protocol with very defined measures and goals. Of course, cancer is bloody awful but the treatment has to them felt like a steered ship while in EDs it's a slightly crappy raft that sometimes feels like it's drifting away from safety.
It's so woefully misunderstood.
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 28/02/2022 22:04
Saw this today and it articulates what we're fighting for beautifully.
My daughter (20 years) struggled with anorexia on and off for about 4 years. She came out of hospital last June and has been in a good recovery place since then. She wrote this letter for Eating Disorder Awareness Week and I thought it might be helpful to some of you.
To those who are caring for a loved one with an eating disorder:
Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for fighting my battle when I couldn’t or just didn’t want to. Thank you for choosing recovery for me before I could chose it for myself. I am so sorry for causing you pain and fear. Please hear this: it’s not your fault.
I’m sorry I caused strain and fear for the whole family. And I’m sorry that you had to give me more attention than my other siblings. But I promise I didn’t do it for attention. I’m not doing it to get recognised or to be noticed. Trust me, I am ashamed that I struggle so much with food. I can’t wait until the day this is all over, and all of this is just a memory.
Thank you for sitting through all of the crying and screaming and still making me eat, driving up to school/work to eat with me, dragging me to doctor’s appointments. Ultimately I do believe that someone needs to truly want to recover before they can actually get better. But my parents kept me alive until I got to the point where I could want it for myself.
So I think most importantly, I would tell any parent whose child is struggling with an eating disorder, do not wait until that person is ready to get better, do not buy into the idea that until someone wants it, that there’s nothing anyone can do. When someone is drowning, you don’t wait for them to clearly say, “I’m having trouble swimming, could you please come in and help me?” You just dive in and grab the person, and you would try and get them out of the water (even if they’re kicking and screaming). You would encourage them to keep going, not to give up regardless of how hard they are fighting back.
Don’t let the fear of losing or damaging your child’s love for you keep you from fighting– that love will come back deeper and stronger when they are healthy, alive, and in recovery. It is not your child that hates you; it is the illness that has taken them hostage. Think of their disorder as a separate person; when your child is yelling, screaming, throwing things, refusing to eat, negotiating meals, begging for the scales, whatever it may be, you are not dealing with your actual child, you are face to face with their disorder. This hate comes from an eating disorder that is losing, so just remember, the more hate you feel from them in these moments, the better job you are doing. Stand strong and unwavering when you are confronted with the demons and struggles you and your child face every day, every meal, every snack.
It is so important to remember that your sick child is not your child. When I was sick, I was not me. Anorexia turned me into a lifeless, unpleasant, and unloving version of myself. It must be the scariest thing for a parent to look at their child but not actually see them; to just see them disappearing more and more each day, both mind and body. It’s crazy to hear people talk about the way they saw me slowly coming back to life through my weight restoration journey. They tell me how they could see it in my eyes, how they once appeared empty, but were finally full of life and personality again. Keep fighting so you too can experience this with your child.
Try, as much as you can, not to take any of what they say at the time personally. I never hated those that were trying to help, I just hated that they were trying to take away from me what I felt at the time I absolutely needed. I know that you haven’t got a clue what to do right now, whatever you say is wrong; too caring and you are ‘suffocating’, too strict and you ‘don’t care’. Here’s the thing about their eating disorder, it’s not them. Some days they have control of it, some days it has control of them. Their eating disorder is a monster which crept into your world in silence and has created havoc, but that monster can be beaten. It will be beaten. That monster is NOT them.
I always said that my parents have probably put in just as much work for my recovery as I have, especially at the beginning. Just as my parents did, you have to want their recovery before they can want it for themselves, you have to choose their recovery for them before they can choose it for themselves, and you have to be their motivation before they find their own. Recovery is not a simple, linear, or easy journey but it is worth it.
I hope this helps anyone in a similar position. I would also say (last thing, I promise) that hope is one of the most powerful things you can offer to someone who is struggling. Everyone around me refused to give up on me, even when I had given up on myself, and for that I am so grateful.
DarkBlueEyes · 03/03/2022 15:34
Hi all, I hope everyone is doing ok. @Girliefriendlikespuppies I saw that too and read it several times, it really made me think.
Bit of an update here, I've not wanted to post this in case I jinx anything but I can feel something has shifted - for now anyway. Although I was warned not to take DD skiing by many on the Facebook page, ski we did and I think it was the right decision. Things started happening while we were away - she asked for, and ate a croissant and a banana (big fear foods), asked her sister for a haribo, and helped herself to one peanut at drinks one night (all very small things in themselves I suppose, but I guess you will all understand). We kept up with 3+3 and she started tasting our food and one day asked if we could halve and share our lunches. Asked to go out to a crepe restaurant for pudding one night, happily had a burger with loads of cheese and tartiflette for our last night! She lost 900g over the week (how the hell did I put on 3kg?) but mentally was in a much better place - back to being her old self, very little dropped on the floor, no zombie behaviour etc. Totally distracted I think.
Since we've been back it's been ok too. She's gained 600g of that loss back and is eating 3+3 pretty well as doing more sport. We have had a few moments when we've seen ED face but it's less and less. Last night she snuggled with me on the sofa and said "I love my mummy". What a contrast to a month ago when she hated all of us and punched and kicked DH.
The point of this I suppose is that I couldn't have believed this could happen 6 months ago. I thought either she or I was going to die. Having three weeks in hospital was just the beginning and God knows it's been utterly impossible at times, we have social services involvement, she's been violent and I actually packed up and left the house a month ago or so and shoved her out of the way to get out the door (to my shame). She's gone from 77% wfh to 97.14 as of Sunday. She has a party this weekend and this has really helped her motivation as we are clear that we would cancel if she lost weight. She knows we mean it - we stopped her sport in the last week of term as she had lost weight, and she sobbed and sobbed but we held firm. She also knew that she would only get to ski part of the week so she worked really hard and put on 1.5kg in a week!
And one final thing, I hope this makes you smile. She came home from school last week and said "mummy I'm on a mission". What mission I ask? "I want double Ds she said" lol I did explain that meant eating and she rolled her eyes at me as if to say, I know that you stupid woman!
I never thought we could get through this. We aren't through this. I'm sure there will be setbacks and relapses but I can see my gorgeous daughter re-appearing, a bit like those books where you paint on water and the picture slowly appears.
Keep going everyone, keep holding your boundaries, and keep venting on here. You've all been the most amazing support.
myrtleWilson · 03/03/2022 17:31
What an awesome post @DarkBlueEyes - teared up reading it! Love the analogy of the water painting - absolutely brilliant.
I too am hopeful we're on a surer footing wobble yesterday when the chaplain at school delivered a Lent message about fasting - at an all girls school too
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 03/03/2022 20:20
Blimey dark that's an amazing update, made me feel a bit teary as well. The watercolour picture is perfectly put and I know exactly what you mean.
The fact you've got your dd to make such a leap in wfh in a relatively short space of time is also astounding and gold medal worthy!!
Amazing 🥰 well done.
threestars · 06/03/2022 19:39
@DarkBlueEyes What an inspiring post. I really have everything crossed for you and DD.
I've been lurking for a bit. Initially when I suspected a problem with my 13 yr old DD and thought "Nah, she's OK" and then after GP appointment when her blood pressure and circulation was concerning and ECG worrying and no periods. And since. We're about five sessions in with a local ED clinic.
My question is how do you cope day to day?
DD eats her evening meal, but breakfast, lunch and snacks are a struggle. When I think of her when I'm at work I get tearful, as all I see in my mind's eye is her tiny waist and skinny arms and legs while she asks me if she looks fat 😞. I don't show her this at home, but she does know I'm concerned - in fact she's convinced I want to make her 'fat' even though I explain how I just want her body to work again.
Do your real-life friends know what is going on?
I feel DD has a right to privacy about her health - she doesn't even want her closest friends to know - but that it would help to be able to talk to my friends. A close work colleague knows and is very supportive but she's on Mat leave now and has enough to deal with.
I also feel blamed if ED clinic shows she's still lost weight (all but one of her sessions so far).
It just feels heavy on my shoulders as I'm sure your experiences do for you.
How do you cope??!
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 06/03/2022 20:23
Hi threestars sorry you've had to find us, do you know your dds wfh? She sounds quite unwell, what have the ED team said about school? If she's right in the grips of it she might need to come out of school for a bit and you out of work to just focus on getting the food in 24/7.
Do school supervise lunch and snacks?
cantthinkofabetterusername · 07/03/2022 08:24
My dd started her FBT on Thursday, she was really open which is good.
They've given her a meal plan of eating breakfast and evening meal plus a snack for a week in the aim of gradually building it up.
I was expecting issues this morning but she's had a bowl of weetabix and I've dropped her off at school.
Hope everyone is okay
Valleyofthedollymix · 07/03/2022 14:44
@threestars i've been really open with my friends about it from the start for myriad reasons:
a) don't think MH issues are anything to be ashamed of
b) I need their support
c) I think eating disorders thrive in the dark, like funghi.
DD knows my friends know. It took a long time to tell her friends - like many anorexics she's got imposter syndrome - that she's not thin enough, ill enough, mad enough to be a 'real' anorexic.
I too feel chastened when DD hasn't put on weight. She managed to lose a kg last week and told the nutritionist all the ways in which we'd failed to implement the meal plan.
Girliefriendlikespuppies · 07/03/2022 19:52
Threestars I'm not sure if Lougle is still about but she's the one who works out the wfh. I think it's a big ask of any child with anorexia to eat unsupervised at school, it sets them up to fail really. Either you go in and supervise or the school supervise. Personally I think you will probably need to pull your dd out of school for a bit until she is gaining weight and eating 3 plus 3 regularly.
I'm sorry to hear that re the loss valley 🙁 has your dd been restricting more than usual?
As always we're plodding on here, had a good day Ystd as went to see a show called Fire dance with Gorka and Karen from Strictly in it! Dd managed two thirds of a small tub of ice cream in the interval which I was happy with 😊 had to convince her it was part of her lunch but it sort of nudges her towards normal a bit.
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.