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Son with ED and MH issues (A trigger warning may be needed)
7

mrsparsnip · 23/08/2022 06:56

I do not quite no where to post, but this situation does involve my adult sons, so I will start here.

My son, 21, has an eating disorder. It is one of a cluster of mental illnesses that he has. Indeed, his mental health has been bad since he was 13.

The ED is complex, a mixture or bulimia, over-exercising restricting and self induced vomiting. He has lost weight, but is still, just within the normal range for his age and height.

However, he will not accept help. I have his consent to call the GP, but my son refuses to attend the surgery, and when the GP calls, he will speak openly about his MH, but then refuses to see the GP or take any follow up calls. Yesterday, I had gone out, and he had dragged several bin bags in to look for food I had thrown away a couple of days ago.

He has other issues too. He talks of having graphic thoughts of hurting people or of hurting himself and he says these thoughts are accompanied by happy music and seem like videos playing in his mind. He has talked about these thoughts to the GP on the phone, but refused the follow up appointment.

My problem is that the GPs say there is nothing they can do if my son will not cooperate. We had intervention and support for him when he could not attend school due to his anxiety disorder, but since he left school (with no qualifications), there has been no real support. I have been given the number for the crisis team if I feel things have reached a head, but advised that I may be better off calling the police if I need help urgently because the crisis team is overwhelmed and understaffed.

He does not work, is socially isolated and his father and brother have autism and serious mental illness, so they cannot really help. His brother lives in supported accommodation, and his father lodges with a friend, and is now working with a support team to find more appropriate accommodation. We are still married.

I suppose, I just need to vent. I work from home, and it can be difficult when my son is battling with his disorder (e.g. curled up on the floor trying to decide whether to go on a thirty mile bike ride, or spend the day eating and vomiting), or leaving the house to find every item of food gone, and fearing what the final outcome will be.

Anyway, that's the rant over.

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myrtleWilson · 23/08/2022 07:14

Hi MrsP
You have a great deal going on in your life so feel free to vent/rant. But please do make sure you're taking proper care of yourself too - you can't pour from an empty jug etc

I have a 19yr old Dd with anorexia (she's in recovery now) so I have some sense of the challenges of EDs particularly when they are over 18 and your capacity to pull levers is reduced. Dd has learnt by experience that she still needs structure and support do we haven't had to face the non engagement to the scale you do. I think crisis line or police if you're not able to keep him safe is the best option. I've said many times on the eating disorder support threads that I wish we hadn't been so 'anxious' about calling (then camhs) crisis line. So do use it/police...

is there an aspect of his MH that you feel may be more open to support? You mentioned he's socially isolated so I wondered if there was scope for a social prescribing type engagement, is there a volunteer cycling group. Our experience with anorexia was that the ED wanted to shrink Dds world so pushing back on isolation could be helpful. That said, I've no doubt you'll have thought of all the possibilities so I'll avoid further "what about....' and just say keep venting - it is important

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Punxsutawney · 23/08/2022 07:26

Could he be autistic too? Especially with the genetic link.
My Ds is 18 and is autistic and MH difficulties have been part of his life since around 10 years old.
I've also just got a diagnosis of ASD and again MH difficulties have been very prevalent in my life.
Both Ds and myself have had an eating disorder.

Do the crisis team know he has thoughts of harming other people? I would bypass the GP and tell them exactly that. Surely they would at least need to assess him to ascertain the level of risk to himself or others.

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mrsparsnip · 23/08/2022 11:06

Thank you for these responses. @myrtleWilson , it is really hard, isn't it? I joined a support group with BEAT, but I have found it difficult to get time on my own to attend even virtually.
@Punxsutawney , yes, he was referred for assessment for autism when he was 16, but elected not to pursue diagnosis. He fits the profile for PDA. He is also coming to terms with some of the things that happened in his childhood and adolescence.
His brother (my eldest son) was arrested for making threats to kill and was, at the time , experiencing psychosis. He was sectioned and spent a long time in residential care before moving to supported accommodation. His father (my husband) cannot work, and needs support in some of his decision making (e.g. finding supported living). My youngest is realising that the man he thought was really strong, is incredibly vulnerable.
I have coping mechanisms, but sometimes these don't work, and I fear being too heavy handed, yet I am scared that if I do nothing, my youngest may not make it or may choose to end his life. These are not overwhelming fears, rather they are facts that I am aware of.

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picklemewalnuts · 23/08/2022 11:24

Awful as it sounds, I think this is an oxygen mask situation- you have to look after yourself first.

You need to be able to work- that keeps your home afloat.
Can he move out? and may engage better with MH services without you. You are his support, his buffer between him and the real world.

I understand that's easy for me to say, and hard for you to think about. Flowers

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AceSpades54321 · 23/08/2022 11:29

Could you insist he starts contributing towards bills? That might give him an incentive to get a job and get out of the house, he needs to socialise with people and not withdraw into himself.

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mrsparsnip · 09/09/2022 10:03

Just a quick update. My son has attended three medical appointments: a blood test, an ECG and a GP appointment.

When he was having his blood taken, he began to talk to one of the young medical staff. The young lady sounds wonderful, and she listened to my son, shared some of her experience (about overcoming and eating disorder) and gave my son some advice about setting small goals.

My son talked so positively about this experience, and the fact that someone had taken the time to really listen to him, and how he felt such a connection.

He had his ECG and said he was talking to the practitioner there, and he talked at length with the GP.

His blood was OK, but there are some issues with difficulties clotting, which may be connected to his ED. He has been referred to the mental health team.

What has changed is that he wants to talk, not just to me, but to others. He seems to have so much to thrash out. He says he can remember very little of his childhood, but I believe there is some trauma there. He talked openly to the professionals about his intrusive thoughts, and he even made contact with an old acquaintance from the gym and talked at length to him.

I am really glad that my son is beginning to engage with services and seek social contact. However, I know that a lot of what he wants to talk about will concern his childhood. It was very difficult for him when his father and brother were in crisis (quite a lot of the time). He has talked to me about some things, but never very much about his primary years. I never knew he could not remember these years.

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picklemewalnuts · 09/09/2022 10:24

I'm so glad for you, that there's a shift happening. Of course there will be ups and downs, but movement is good.

Flowers

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