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Mom6

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Reply with quote  #1 

I have a 15 year old son with anorexia, and was wondering how many others here have sons struggling with this?  Also, I'm curious if you feel like there may be different strategies to help kids eat that seem to work better with sons than with daughters?  I feel like a lot of the really sympathetic, emotional words and actions just don't always work with my son. Not that he doesn't want to be understood and have sympathy, but it seems like we have to take a bit more of a "tough love" approach with him.  Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions about that?  We're sure struggling so any ideas that have helped your son would be greatly appreciated!


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BattyMatty_UK

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Mom6, There's lots of stuff on my blog (check back at the entries for 2011 and 2012) and also in my new book (below) which might (or might not) be of use??
xxx

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Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hello,

I'm not sure how different it is to re-feed and keep re-fed a male versus a female. I'm thinking; age of the patient,  length of active illness, severity of illness, co-morbid disorders may have more to do with it than gender alone.

Is your son weight - restored?

My son was younger ,12.5yrs, when diagnosed. We had 20 minutes of activity and lots of calorie rich foods until he was weight restored. 
We do blind weight-ins. Every 2 weeks I have his vitals and weighted checked by our local pediatrician.  He was weight-restored in 12 weeks.

After weight restoration we had to have him continue to grow and gain.

My son has a very strong commitment to playing soccer -we were able to use soccer as leverage with him.  If he engaged in ED behavior then he couldn't go to soccer practice. If he didn't eat his meals he couldn't go to soccer practice "in order to keep you safe". Does your son really really love something you could use a leverage?


I do think once my son was re-fed and had to keep gaining he seemed to have it a bit easier in terms of how society constantly reminds females of acceptable body images. 

 I don't know if that is helpful to you, I hope so...

 



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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
Hollyhill_USA

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Mom6,

I have a 14 year old son recovering from anorexia. He also suffers from depression and OCD. At first, I thought his being male would make his experience with or presentation of this illness different. Based on all the research and books I have read - and hearing all the stories from people on the forum - I don't know that his being male makes things that different. In fact, for us - I kinda find he is more unlike what I have read from other folks with boys than like them. He is very artistic, creative and musically oriented. Sports of any kind (excluding a desire to run long distances) - have never been his thing. We live in a very football oriented town, so he feels very isolated among boys in our town.

So, I am not sure our story would be what you are looking for in terms of hearing from others with sons, but I wanted to let you know of another forum member with a boy. I know I am always very interested to hear from others with sons.

Please let me know if I can help in anyway. I am certainly willing to share our story.

I will say that "tough love" in general does not and never has worked with our son (even before the illness). However, I have taken a more tough love approach when speaking directly to his eating disorder. My son hears voices with the anorexia and it does work for him to have the ED addressed separately most of the time. So... when applicable, I do talk tough to his eating disorder - making sure it is wrapped up in "I won't let you take my son from me because I love him more than anything" kind of talk. And most of the time it works. In fact just this Friday he was having suicidal thoughts and was kind of engaging in some behaviors which could be hurtful to him. I reacted very tough - but addressed it to the eating disorder - not to him. When I was finished talking, my son's face softened back to his natural face (not angry / ED face) and he thanked me. I think when I react like I have no clue what to do when he gets wrapped up in ED or suicidal thinking - or if I am really gentle - it is less effective. But again, the tough part is never directed at HIM - just ED.

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Casper_USA

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Mom6, another member of the boys club here. My son is 14, and was first diagnosed almost exactly two years ago. We have OCD and ADHD issues, just to get some of the extra baggage we have out on "the dinner table". I will also say up front that we were not a magic plate/rip off the bandaid family.

Like TTP, we used sports for leverage, and spoke in terms of fuel for sports, growth, strength, etc. I think my son's friends were very motivating: he wanted to appear "normal" so would push himself to eat in social settings with them, and when they came to our house, and I do think that there is at least not as much talk about body image, food, and appearance at the boys' tables in the school lunch room. I have the best snacks at my house and made dinner for any friend who appeared. That helped us. On the refeeding front, we put him in the drivers's seat. Life stops until you eat never worked for us, so we adopted a "life continues as along as"...you eat/gain/maintain, etc. This helped us when the OCD behaviors were magnified in the early days, and we were able to slowly get the upper hand as the weight went on. Believe me, it took a long time to figure out what worked -- we had two admissions for medical stabilization, the police, everything.

We were very matter of fact as well. My son hated it when we talked openly in an effort to separate him from the illness, and resulted in some of our most violent episodes. We made it his choice -- if he chose not to eat often enough he knew what the admissions experience looked like and that was the sure route back to the hospital. So, finding a way to work his need for control early on and always defiant nature to our advantage helped us get the ball rolling. Whatever works -- really. I have never gotten a 2,000 calorie shake in him, unfortunately, but he has gained 50+ pounds, grown 5 inches, is in school and is recovering.

Finally, meds were a turning point for us -- Zyprexa for about a year and ongoing Prozac. That's just part of our story to share. Hang in there, and keep trying. My son fainted after a stand off in the kitchen before his first admission and the first words he spoke after he regained consciousness were " Help me." It makes me weep every time I think about it.
Hollyhill_USA

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Reply with quote  #6 
Oh that makes me weep too, Casper....
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gobsmacked_US

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hope you don't mind my stepping in to ask a question (it's my daughter who has ED).

I've gotten the sense from many of the posts I've seen here about boys that boys are more likely, if they are violent due to their illness, to be able to overpower the parent. It seems more difficult for parents (at least Moms -- most of what I see here) of boys to cope with their sons' physical resistence  at home than it is for parents of girls to cope with their daughters' violence.

Do you think there is any truth to this?
Goingtobeatthis_AUS

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Reply with quote  #8 
Gobsmacked - is it gender or size?? My d is over 6ft and is a bit taller than me- the violence was pretty terrifying at the time as he strength seemed superhuman when in distress.
I imagine there may be less contact for boys with triggering conversations etc but then a boy my d knows recently got approached by ?Abercrombie and Fitch (just opening in Oz for first time) to become a 'greeter' or something and he started texting d about his plans to tighten his stomach dand lose a bit of weight. Fortunately she told him she didn't want to have that conversation, made her highly anxious and he backed right off so maybe not a girl thing anymore....
I think they all need to know that we will keep them safe and the ED at bay until they are able to. I also got teary at your sons cry for "help", Casper

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Belinda Caldwell FEAST Executive Director. D 21 now well into recovery after developing AN in 2011. Inpatient 5 weeks, FBT and then just lots of time, love and vigilance.
Hollyhill_USA

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Reply with quote  #9 
My son has never been violent towards me or anyone really. The thing I have feared (in terms of physical things) is just that if he got the idea to run away or to tried to exert some kind of physical authority in any situation, I couldn't overpower him (and he is just now grown to my height- i still weigh more). But like Goingthroughthis said - I think that fear would be the same for a son or a daughter.

In terms of it "not being a girl thing anymore" - I know that to be true (obvviously as I have a son, and we see that on the forum . I think it is harder for boys to get diagnosed just because it isn't your first thought. I watched my son suffer for 2 years - had him in and out of all sorts of various doctors, therapists - nutritionists because he was severely depressed and also not eating. And none of the doctors and specialists ever mentioned anorexia as an option. It wasnt on their radar - and It wasn't on my radar until about a month and a half before we had to hospitalize him as he was so dangerously thin and dying in front of me. Even though he was under the 1st percentile in weight, I still had to ask our pediatrician 3 times for a doctor's excuse to get him out of athletics. Our doctor felt waiting things out was ok - the little pep talk he had given my son in the office about eating more should work -check back in one month - BLURG! He was hospitalized in the next few days! So.. Our experience was that doctors don't seem to have it on their radar for boys (I know this happens with girls too).

When my son was inpatient - there were about 16 kids inpatient or in partials. At all times there were boys (ages rangin from 8 to 18). And then once my son stepped down to IOP there was a whole flood of boys that we noticed that had come on the unit. So... Definitely, it is not a girl thing anymore.

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trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #10 
This thread is so helpful to me thank you all for sharing.

Casper, your son's words that you quoted here "help me" made me weep too. It's as if the child has been possessed by a powerful deadly force and cannot fight it alone and its all happening in their brain. Your son's words make it crystal clear.

I'm not sure if its gender or size or the severity of the ED or how long the ED has had a grip on the child or how threatened the ED feels by being challenged. I do know if my son were to have gotten sick now at 14.5yrs, 5'11' @ 171 lbs and a full fledged soccer player - His father and I could not control him.

Its a long process of recovery- but there is recovery.

First, the challenge of weight restoration as soon as possible (2/11 - 5/11). My son was on 5mg of Zyprexa to help with this. He needed to re-gain 34 lbs. Lots of food - high calorie/low volume food. He had 3 meals and 2 snacks daily. I gave him 2 choices for meals and let him pick - he only ate 3 different meals in the beginning. Very little activity for 3 months and lots of distractions. No mirrors, no locks on doors, doors off hinges, no bathroom for 1 hr after meals, not allowed in kitchen and not in grocery store. I never left him alone with his thoughts - never. I always checked on him while he was in the bathroom by asking "are you ok" because he had the overwhelming urge to do crunches. I gave him a hot water bottle after dinner (that was his hardest meal since an idiot nutritionist told him that he weighed more at night) and always a warm bath while I sat of the floor in the hall and read him riddles, jokes etc etc. He was not in school as this time. He doesn't remember much of the details of life during re-feeding. Although I do think he remembers the tenderness I gave him. Now we are extremely close - I stand between him and his eating disorder.

Keeping him re-fed and gaining and growing. 5mg Zyprexa, food but without boost+ and Benecalorie supplements. All of the same rules applied. This was during the summer of 2011. He was able to go back to soccer - but soccer has a light schedule over the summer which worked in our favor. 

For the next 18 months (6/2011 - 12/2012) we had the same rules and Zyprexa was decreased to 2.5 mg. Local doctor visits  (I trained him) for vitals every 2 weeks. My son slowly added Chipolte, Five Guys, Subway and Red Robin to places to eat out or get take out. He started school in the fall on time. He ended up missing or being late many days that fall but over time he got better and better. His trigger is seeing guys with ripped abs without their shirts on - so beach, pool and any picture of men with six-packs are a challenge for him.

The past 4 months have been the best. He can be left alone while I run an errand for 1 hr or so. He can go to bathroom with no fear of him doing crunches. No trouble getting to school on time - in fact he is insistent that we not be late. He plays soccer and travels with his team. He is able to eat out 2 meals and a snack while on the bus with his team - this is very recent. We cut the Zyprexa down to 1.25 mg and 2 weeks ago today he stopped taking it. He was on Zyprexa longer than most but his RAN was severe. He doesn't make any of his meals but the truth is neither does my other son (17) or husband - LOL.

Since being re-fed he has grown 3" inches and gained 20 lbs per year.
  
In the beginning it was one moment at a time, then one meal at a time, then one day at a time. 

One day at a time works well for our family.

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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
Casper_USA

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Reply with quote  #11 
It's been said here many times that clinicians have little (read: no) understanding of the 24/7 at home experience with a child suffering from an ED, including violent, aggressive behavior -- and that often the most outrageous stuff is directed towards mothers. It wasn't until I showed up here and read about what was going on in other people's homes that I understood that this is common. It's about the illness and size, not gender, for me.

EDs are very underdiagnosed in boys. I talked to Mark Warren (Cleveland Center for ED) when I was first looking for treatment -- and a program that accepted adolescent boys -- and he told me that sports and "boy behaviors" like spitting cover the illness, and then doctors don't think to consider it as a possibility.
Casper_USA

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Reply with quote  #12 
TTP, this was exactly how we stepped down off the Zyprexa and we had no issues. That's great. Even though it may not be a therapeutic dose, it seemed to work at some level.

I have never shared my son's words after he fainted with anyone until now -- painful still -- but it was a real turning point for me.
gobsmacked_US

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Reply with quote  #13 
GTBT & Hollyhill -- I was talking about size. I am pretty sure girls are as likely to run away, throw things, or show violence, but a healthy parent is often bigger than a daughter with anorexia. After two tries, my husband and I were able to keep my daughter from running out of out house by strategically positioning ourselves. If our daughter had been bigger or stronger, that might not have been possible.

trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #14 
Casper - I talked to Mark Warren too back when my son was so ill and I had just figured out what was wrong. I had a chance to thank him at the last FEAST conference. We are sister/EDmothers.

And yes in my experience most practitioners don't have/want any hands on experience with re-feeding a child with an eating disorder - it is hard, shi*ty work. Even my own pediatrician confessed to me later that when I first brought my son in for not eating he knew immediately what was wrong but he didn't tell me the diagnosis because there is "no hope" for kids with eating disorders. Two weeks later my son was so ill and we almost lost him. Rest assured he has been educated on eating disorders and so has one other doctor in the practice.

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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
AnnieK_USA

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Reply with quote  #15 
Casper I, too, shed some tears at your description of your dear son's plea for help. I remember SO well the first time my D so bravely went against the dictates of her ED, shortly before she was hospitalized as an 11 year-old, when she answered with a positive shake of her head and fearful raised eyes to my question of whether she was physically in trouble or not. Oh, my. We are all such incredible warriors, as are our kids.
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Daughter age 28, restrictive anorexia (RAN) age 11-18, then alternating RAN with binge eating disorder and bulimia with laxatives, is in remission from EDs for 3 years after finally finding effective individual therapy. Treatment continues for comorbid disorders of anxiety, ADD and depression. "Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo
Casper_USA

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Reply with quote  #16 
Glad that pediatrician got an education. A censure from the licensing board would have been in order, too. Unbelievable.
trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #17 
Oddly enough and against my better judgement at the time I was encouraged to stay with that doc and help to educate him instead of starting with a new doc who didn't know me or my son or out family at all. Smart advice in hindsight.  Since my son's illness onset this doc has seen my son recover and he has been privy to the treatment plan we went with. He has actually been in touch with Dr O'Toole for advice for other patients. A small miracle.
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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
Casper_USA

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Reply with quote  #18 
TTP, it's great that your pediatrician has taken the initiative to learn from you and your experience. But, to confess that he did not share a serious diagnosis with you? I'm not sure I could move past that; you have set a powerful example for me.

I want to go back to something you said, and that we've touched on in other threads about boys and issues around independent eating. You joked a little about serving your son, but that you also serve your older son and husband. The same is true at my house, and I feel the need to see if my son can fend for himself if I am not home. So, how much is AN, how much is teen, how much is boy, how much is me? My brothers sat at the dining room table and the plates appeared in front of them, but they were also drinking straight out of the fridge and eating a half a loaf of bread off the counter if my mother wasn't home. I'm not seeing that.
gobsmacked_US

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Reply with quote  #19 
I want to point you all to the sticky thread at the top of ATDT regarding boys with EDs.
Polly

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Reply with quote  #20 
Hi there - I too am a mother of a son with AN. My son developed it in 2009 at 14. He was displaying obvious symptoms for about a month when I took him to his pediatrician. His doctor just thought he was underweight and prone to being slender. It was a school trip that landed him in the hospital. Five days of not eating and I knew he was on death's doorstep. I took him to emerg and he was there for 2 months. The first year of refeeding was HELL. This forum saved my mind and helped tremendously with strategies and shared knowledge.

Here's the happy news. My s is now 17. The first year of refeeding, he grew 1 cm - a 14 year old boy! That should have been his peak growing phase. His twin grew 6 cm in the same year. But since then, he is now 6' 4.5" - he has grown 7.5" - while being "weight restored." (Sorry for switching b/w cm's and inches).

Even though he was weight restored, his AN is still present in his thinking. I still determine what he needs to eat. Somewhere on this forum someone suggested that the illness has a better chance of lifting, if the patient has a bmi of 22. I finally got my son there in the last month. I was told it could take up to 6 months of being at that weight for the symptoms to disappear. My s looks the picture of health that's for sure. And his sense of humour and lightness of being have returned. I will report back if this experiment is a success. If not, then we'll be doing weight management training with him. He wants to go to university next year. Ed needs to be gone or firmly under control for that to happen. Regardless my S is once again a joy to be around. I'm so grateful for that. The only way out is through.
trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #21 
Polly your story of your son's growth makes me shed tears of joy! I imagine it was challenging to keep his weight up with all that sprouting up. BMI of 22 - thanks that helps with goal setting.

Please keep us posted yours a story of love and determination!


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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
trusttheprocessUSA

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Reply with quote  #22 
Casper -  I'm not seeing my son grab any extra food either he may do that at school with friends. I pray every day that I will before he graduates from high school - I have 4 years. 

I'm not sure what the future holds for him. My son just recently added an egg roll to his Chinese food dinner - for me this is progress. Slow and steady I will introduce additional options and portions so he can eat more freely but I fully expect him to eat in an ordered way for the foreseeable future. If he is able to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks on a regular basis whether I feed him or he feed himself he'll be fine.   

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Son diagnosed @ 12.5 yrs old with Severe RAN 2/11. Co-morbids - anxiety, Active restriction for 3 months. He stopped eating completely 2x. He needed immediate, aggressive treatment from a provider who specialized in eating disorders, adolescents and males. We got that at Kartini Clinic. WR since 5/11. 2017 getting ready to graduate slipping lost 8lbs. Fighting our way back.
pdxmom

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Reply with quote  #23 
Thanks for this topic. It's still overwhelming as my 12 yr old son is still inpt & orthostatic. . I'm grateful that this forum is here & will be reading it alot as we begin our journey. For now, just getti.g thru the night with no Boost Plus is a victory.
Red

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Reply with quote  #24 
it is a victory. Stick with it and there'll be many more!
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The future is not set; there is no fate but that which we make for ourselves.

"Not my daughter, you bitch." Mrs. Weasley
SeminarLady

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Reply with quote  #25 
Casper,

My heart was heavy in reading your words ... son saying "help me".

So many of us can relate.

Polly - how wonderful to read your update. What an amazing transformation for your son. May the progress continue to full recovery.

Mom6 -

I think that while each child is individual (male or female), we see so many of the same things with many - depression, OCD, behaviors, etc.

As to the Zyprexa, my daughter was on that for about six months in the dire strait stages of recovery and it did help.

Getting off of it was no problem for her.

Casper, BattyMatty, Polly and so many of the other moms/mums who have sons can be of so much help to you Mom6.

You might want to get BattyMatty's book.

Hugs!

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Cathy V.
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