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noo72

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Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone, i have another thread running but have started this one just to discuss anxiety, low mood, suicidal thoughts and use of screens by my daughter as an emotional crutch.

Obvisously, I wouldn't be on this forum if my daughter didn't have disordered eating, but her actual food intake is pretty good now, i would say. she even agreed to go out for dinner and chose a burger, fries and onion rings at the weekend!

i would say that difficulties with emotional regulation are the main difficulty right now that we are trying to manage day to day. of course, it all goes back to food, but i just mean that we aren't really having battles at mealtimes at the moment.

she has had some friendship problems very recently which has been awful for her.

My daughter is now unable to cope with the school day and is constantly in and out of lessons, cannot concentrate, won't do homework and is falling very behind. She has GCSE exams in the summer (very important here in the uk in order to go to college, get a job etc etc). i put no pressure on her at all but am starting to worry about how failing the exams would impact on her self esteem.

I am desperately searching for something to help her with her mood. she is seeing her counsellor (not a specialist- been seeing her for 18 months)and is being monitored by the eating disorder team at the local hospital but FBT hasn't started. she is now in a normal weight range but is only on about the 27th percentile when historically she has been around 75th. her periods have just re started this week and she's stopped feeling cold all the time. But...I do feel like i am banging my head against a brick wall getting the specialists to respond properly to the fact that she weighs the same age 12 and she does age 15 and a half... i am trying to push ahead and get her to eat as much as possible (not that easy when the referring diet has stopped).

BUT...short term:

I'm very worried about her excessive screen use; she will be on her laptop and phone for 5 hours solidly after school ( i allowed her to use the screens as a distraction when doing the refeeding diet). The trouble is, i feel that she is using screens to block out all emotion and to distract her from her thoughts. i then think that she cannot cope at school because she is not plugged in to her emotion blocking devices.

So what now? She freaks out if i try and take the screens from her. i do sometimes insist but it is a constant battle and she will not do anything else, except a bit of art (but that is now becoming less and less).
Any suggestions?

Cold turkey?
Bribery to limit screen time to an hour or two a day??
Anti- depressants / anti anxiety meds which don't inverse suicide risk? (do they even  exist??)
What other strategies could she be using to deal with the emotion? CBT? Anything else? 

She is eating a good amount but the extent of the low mood is terrifying.

Please help!







deenl

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Posts: 853
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi noo 72,

I only have a very practical tip from my time as a student. Can you find out the rules about postponing the GCSEs or redoing them next year? There is a terrible pressure on kids around these exams with society acting as if they are a once and for all shot whereas they can be postponed / redone / not done. If kids knew the practical options it would relieve some of the stress and self esteem issues.

I don't feel our experiences qualify me to give ideas about the emotional difficulties your poor daughter is experiencing but anxiety is an issue in the family and I have found the following books to be very useful.

Freeing your Child from aAxiety by Tamar Chansky and Rewire your Anxious Brain by Cathering Pittman and Elizabeth Karle?

Warm wishes,
D

__________________
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, tons of variety in food, stepping back into social life. Sept 2017, back to school full time for the first time in 2 years. Happy and relaxed, just usual non ED hassles. 

  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal. (but don't give up on the plan too soon, maybe it just needs a tweak or a bit more time and determination [wink] )
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
noo72

Caregiver
Registered:
Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks deenl. i will check out those titles.


I think i'm going to pay her to engage with other activities. e.g. doing some homework or doing something that involves behaving 'out of the box'. is that morally wrong??
deenl

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Posts: 853
Reply with quote  #4 
I have many mottos to get me through this and one is 'needs must when the devil drives' 

Personally, when our family is not going through a crisis I try to strike a balance. They have chores to contribute to the family community. But I have no problem paying for things too. After all, we work and get paid as adults.

When my son was super sick we gave him an occupational therapy budget. He is very creative so he bought materials for that. Later, he was uncomfortable with getting money for 'nothing' so I paid him to do spring cleaning jobs. It boosted his sense of worth as I was so obviously and genuinely thrilled with the help and he still had money for his hobbies.

Anyway, it doesn't matter what I think. What do you and your husband/partner, if any, think? Trust your parenting instincts. You know your situation and child best.

Warm wishes,

D

__________________
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, tons of variety in food, stepping back into social life. Sept 2017, back to school full time for the first time in 2 years. Happy and relaxed, just usual non ED hassles. 

  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal. (but don't give up on the plan too soon, maybe it just needs a tweak or a bit more time and determination [wink] )
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
noo72

Caregiver
Registered:
Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #5 
thanks deenl. its got to the point that i feel that by letting her do nothing, I'm almost enabling her. i think i will do some kind of reward system as motivation. my husband will be ok with that, i think.
deenl

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 853
Reply with quote  #6 
Trust that gut feel and go for it. Don't forget to tweak it if needs be.
__________________
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, tons of variety in food, stepping back into social life. Sept 2017, back to school full time for the first time in 2 years. Happy and relaxed, just usual non ED hassles. 

  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal. (but don't give up on the plan too soon, maybe it just needs a tweak or a bit more time and determination [wink] )
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
kazi67

Caregiver
Registered:
Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #7 
I pay my daughter to do house work
She has left school though and had to stop her job (as she wasn't coping) so is financially depended on us
My d had low mood/depression for a while and expressed that she didn't want to live
I found making up a timetable helped with anxiety and gave her reason to get up in the morning
In hind sight I would have taken her out of school sooner (as it cause her so much anxiety) and if I knew that would have manifested into an ed we most certainly would have done that (if only we had a crystal ball)
She is now enrolled in an online course to keep her mind active
So she studies a few hours a few days a week and does a bit of housework a few hours a day
This gives her some pocket money to socialise with her friends (which we are happy for her to do) as while she was quite low she became very withdrawn and that was very sad to see when prior to ed she was a very bubbly happy social girl
Screen time is a tricky one for my d it's how she keeps "connected" with friends and with being 18 I wouldn't take this away now although I did in the beginning when she was refusing to eat so I guess giving her a certain time limit (a few hours per day)? that's what I would do if my d was still at school
So my advise is do what works for you and your d and don't worry about what anyone thinks
It can be so hard when you see your friends kids growing/thriving/getting on with life and we are just stuck just trying to WR
But they have no idea what we are going through so it's hard, I smile and say great that's fantastic your kid is travelling or got that new job or whatever, on the inside I am SO sad that we are just dealing with this crappy illness not really planning for the future just day by day meal by meal
But I am positive thatvwith our support we will get there
Your doing an amazing job!
Take care x
mjkz

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Posts: 1,264
Reply with quote  #8 
I'd look into online courses and school if she can't concentrate at school.  She obviously can concentrate if she is spending that amount of time online.

Alternatively you could set up a plan where she earns screen time by doing things she needs to do like homework, etc.  There are studies coming out linking screen time with depression in youth so limiting her screen time may actually help with depression.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743515000316
hertsmum

Caregiver
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Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #9 
My daughter (now 17) also used to use her phone nearly all the time (mostly obsessively playing games over and over and listening to loud music for distraction from the frightening thoughts rushing through her head), and during meal times we used to choose a YouTube video/Ted Talk to distract her.. As Kazi67 says, I think you do whatever it takes to get through the difficult period. I have noticed that the anxiety has eased up as her weight increased (she was also born around 75th centile and is now back up there), she uses her phone far less, and her concentration in school has almost returned to what it was. Miraculously she managed to get through GCSEs last summer (despite missing tonnes of school over the previous 18 months), achieving good grades and she has now started A Levels.
xianjaneway

Caregiver
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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #10 

I'd get her evaluated for ADHD--yes, she can concentrate, but only on things that snag her attention. That's **textbook** ADHD, and it's a very common comorbidity w/ ED's.

My daughter actually couldn't feel hunger cues *at all* until we started her on stimulant medication, and everyone was terrified to prescribe it for her, since it can reduce the appetite. Nope--she had exactly the opposite reaction. So did my husband, who likely had an undiagnosed ED as a young man. 

 


__________________
Mother to 12yr old with ARFID, Aspergers, OCD, ADHD, SPD, ODD, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Inpatient helped her gain 20% of her weight & height. Mom needs chocolate.  http://www.iprefercaptain.com has a lot of our ED story.
EC_Mom

Caregiver
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Posts: 238
Reply with quote  #11 
Great job on your progress!

I wonder if it makes sense to reframe your concern about screens. As she seems to have a lot left to regain I'm assuming your daughter is being tortured by ED thoughts and its punishing voice. If you think this is the case, maybe all that screen time is keeping her distracted from ED thoughts and emotions. In which case I would not rush to
get her less distracted.

My d had way too much screen time during refeeding--when measured by standards of a healthy kid. But I thought if it as a months-long bad airplane ride: not the time to insist on less screens.

Obviously some other distractions might be a good idea. I got my d volunteering 2 hrs/week reading to under privileged preschoolers. I begged friends with small kids to ask her to babysit. Got a colleague with a new puppy to
visit. But your d is sick and fighting, so in my view excessive screen time is not a priority concern.
Mamaroo

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Posts: 156
Reply with quote  #12 

Hi Noo72

 

My d also loved her tablet (which was mine first, then started playing games to distract her during refeeding and it gradually became hers). She would be on the tablet for hours, not spending time with us at all. So I started to limit her tablet time, saying no tablet time after dinner. I made sure to replace the tablet time with another activity and we decided to watch TV together as a family. We chose comedy such as "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Mr Bean".  initially I had to drag her, but it became easier after a while. Then I started limiting tablet time to 1 hour on week days and 2 on weekends. However, I noticed that when they were not on the screens physically, they were still on it in their minds. Mentally making a list of the websites they are going to access when that hour arrives. That made them very anxious and agitated. Eventually I just took the tablets away. It's not easy, because they need the tablets for school, but I made arrangement that they could do their homework, which required internet, after school in the library. The whole process took months and I only started reducing screen time when she was close to WR. As EC_Mom said it is a good distraction while refeeding.

 

Here is a good article describing the addictive effect of tablets: http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

 

I do believe some people are more prone to addiction than others and some experts think anorexia is an extreme form of addition, see attached article. 

 

You have sympathy with regard to target weight. You are quite right, she can't weigh the same as when she was 12 and be considered WR. I took my d's weight for age chart with me to appointments, reminding the dr that my d was a big baby and that 50% or even 75% curve was too low for her. Eventually I convinced the dieticien, who increased her intake and 4 months later she was WR. Her anxiety was still very high. It was only after 6 months that her anxiety levels dropped to normal. Don't forget you are in control of what she eats, so you can always include high calorie foods without her knowledge.

 

My d was not prescribed any anti anxiety or anti depressants, so I got some from the pharmacy.  I used EQ control, which contains Ashwagandha and 5htp. Both need to be taken after meals as they are quite strong on the stomach. Ashwagandha is a herbal remedy and 5htp is an amino acid, which the brain converts to serotonin (just a side note, 5htp should not be taken with SSRI meds). They worked very well and managed to reduce her anxiety levels. 

 

Lastly I used a reward system to get her to follow the meal plan. Worked very well, until she was close to WR and able to eat without rewards. You d will get there and be well. 

 

Best wishes

 
Attached Files
pdf Addicted_to_starvation.pdf (315.81 KB, 13 views)


__________________
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9. Started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for a year and WR at age 11 in March 2017. Challenging fear foods and behaviours now.

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