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FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #1 
During my daughter's recovery from ed (which took way too long), she hyperfocused on her school assignments and did extremely well.  However, she was underweight and not fully recovered.  Now at a good weight and very recently in full recovery, she is also in her final semester of college.  She's feeling a loss of the focus that has propelled her through college. I'm not talking about goofing around and not doing her assignments.  She's trying so hard to stay on task, but she just can't stay focused on her work, and everything takes her way too long.  Add to that the perfectionism that has plagued since she was very small, and it's a problem that's causing huge anxiety.

To those of you whose kids are in recovery - is this a normal part of the brain healing process?  Does it get better?  The timing couldn't be worse for her!

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The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

ed_newbie

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Reply with quote  #2 
I absolutely can relate to this.  My d was diagnosed shortly before her 13th birthday and was hyper-focused on academics and she got excellent grades while she was restricting and underweight.  As the weight was restored she found it more and more difficult to focus at school and had a hard time with her homework.  This was never an issue before she fell ill.  It has improved a bit in the past month or so, but she still struggles at times with her ability to pay attention in class, reading, etc.  Is your d taking any medication to help with the anxiety?  My d is taking 40mg fluoxetine.  I'm not sure if it helps with focus issues, but it certainly has helped the depression and obsessive thinking.
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"Lineage, personality and environment may shape you, but they do not define your full potential."    Mollie Marti  

ed_newbie

14 yr old d diagnosed with AN late December 2015 at the age of 12 after a 23 lb weight loss during prior 3 months. Started FBT/Maudsley at home on Christmas Eve with support from amazing local nutritionist specializing in ED and trained in FBT. WR Feb 2016 and now chasing growth and taking one meal at a time.
hertsmum

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Reply with quote  #3 
I can also relate to this as we are currently experiencing a similar situation. My 16 year old daughter has been weight restored for 6 months, and although previously a high-achiever academically she is now struggling to concentrate in school, finds it difficult to read or write notes and is unable to revise for major exams coming up soon. She is on 200mg of Sertraline. Her anxiety is less than it was a few months ago and she is gradually finding it easier to stay in classes without leaving in a panic, but she is starting to really worry about exams and I'd also like advice on whether this improves with time.
Torie

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Reply with quote  #4 
Although my d is still an excellent student, she has never regained the level of focus she had pre-ED.  (Maybe she's a more typical teen now?)  During re-feeding and the months following, she could. not. focus. at. all.  Her perfectionism was in full bloom, which added to the stress.  I had to read her science textbook to her and teach her the concepts.  I did every math problem with her.  Her dad taught her her social studies.  So went her freshman year of high school.  Re-reading that, I think it understates the difficulty.  It was like her brain was on a different planet, and she really couldn't focus at all without constant shoulder taps and other reminders to come back to earth.  Re-reading again, I worry a bit that readers will think I was worried about her grades - actually I didn't give a rip about her grades, but I was desperately worried about keeping my suicidal kid alive.  I don't think she could have handled a bad grade, and she was determined to stay in school.

Anyway. The following year was much better.  Still, she *says* she's doing her homework, but it *looks like* she is socializing electronically with her friends.  That's fine, except that she feels like she is doing hours and hours of homework (much more than she is actually doing, I think), and she ends up staying up too late.  

So I think our timeline was somewhat different than yours - once my d was pretty OK again (AN-wise), she was also pretty OK academically.

I'm pretty sure my d has an anxiety disorder.  I wonder if your d might, too.  Has she tried any meds?

Best of luck, and please keep us posted. xx

-Torie


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ooKoo

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Reply with quote  #5 
I too can relate to this! When my D was very ill, she missed her final six months of school, but still decided to sit all but one of her GCSEs. She did very little revision or preparation (she was admitted to IP the day before her first exam) and passed them all with flying colours. So, definitely a natual academic. She wasbalways very self motivated too.

The following September, when weight recovered, she went to college and within a few months realised that she could not work on any academic subjects, she felt out of her depth. So she dropped academic subjects, and very shortly after that, she had a relapse and we pulled her out of college for the remainder of that academic year, to get well again.

She re-started her first year at college in September last year and has really struggled to focus and concentrate on any of her coursework. It was becomming a struggle, so she has in fact just left college (again) because she has started an amazing apprenticeship in hairdressing at a very good salon locally! She is totally in love with her job and is positively glowing! She will have to attend college one day a week, but there will be a lot of practical work and she is working towards one definite goal. Plus she gets paid to go to college, which is definite plus!

I have always stressed that she can go back to study anything she wants at any time somewhere else down the line - my sister has just qualified as a teacher, aged 43! If she doesnt want to study later on, then thats fine too. Its just fantastic to see my D have a passion for something lagain!

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UK - South East

17.5 yo D

Dx AN Feb 2015 (Aged 15). Pre-existing low self-esteen and high anxiety. 

2015: 3 x medical hospital admissions. 1 month in IP which she self discharged from [eek].
2016: 3 x hospital admissions.
2017: Currently attending CAMHS CBT. WR, at college, living life to the max.

On particularly rough days when I am sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. [Author Unknown]
FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #6 
Torie, my daughter definitely suffers from anxiety, but she's not on any meds.  She says that though she's experienced focus problems from anxiety in the past, this is different.  Now the lack of focus and concentration are the root problem, and the anxiety results from that.  She's pretty resistant to meds - she's seen all the side effects her sister has dealt with.
__________________

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

melstevUK

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Reply with quote  #7 
I think when there are anxiety issues - and they invariably accompany eating disorders, there are a lot of practical things that can be done to help our kids.

FatihKeepsMeGoing,  there are a lot of issues here, which are worth discussing with your d.  Given that she is in her final semester of college, I would be encouraging her to see it through so she gets the qualification she needs.

However, I would also be asking about what kind of result she is wanting.  Is she putting pressure on herself because she wants to get the top grade?  In which case I would be telling her that passing is the important thing here, not the grade.  There is no need for her to put all this pressure on and you need to reinforce that message because she probably cannot make that leap herself.

Secondly - she is struggling with focusing  Has she lost interest in what she is doing?  Is she maybe less motivated because she now feels this is not what she wants to do?  If so, again I would still encourage her to try and see it through - but she can always find something else to do later on.

Also, is she worried about failing?  If so, if we have anxiety issues the best thing we can do is think right through to the end of our anxiety and plan for the worst thing that could happen.  So she fails her final exam, she won't feel very good about herself but she still has a supportive family, she can make other choices - but she is not going to be homeless, destitute, and have a future without hope.  Thinking about the very worst thing that can happen in any scenario can go a long way into dispelling anxiety - because when we realise that the result is not half as bad as we think, we can relax about it more.

If she is still struggling with focusing after discussing all these issues - I would still take a relaxed approach.  She is struggling at the moment - so she just has to be kind to herself and take breaks while she is studying, or give herself more thinking time.  It may be related to the recovery - but also the brain takes years to mature and even without eds adolescence is incredibly difficult to get through, even for 'healthy' children.

She needs some breathing and thinking space and reassurance from you that everything is fine and she will be ok and that her future is still bright because you are there to support her. 

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Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
melstevUK

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Reply with quote  #8 
Ookoo,

Great that your d has found something she is passionate about and enjoying - this is so important for wellness.  If what we are doing is not working - then we just need to change direction.  Great news.

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Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
braveMom

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Reply with quote  #9 
Hi FaithKeepsMeGoing, My daughter is in solid recovery and is a freshman in college and is also struggling with focus. In her early stages of recovery (1 - 11/2 years into recovery), she was doing online classes to finish her credits to graduate high school and had lot of difficulty working on classes. She complained that she could not focus and her not being able to do classes was worsening her anxiety, depression - it was like a cycle, anxiety and mental health not helping her focus and her not able to focus adding to her anxiety and depression as she didn't see a future for herself. At that point she could not even start working on her classes. Her psychiatrist prescribed Vyvanse which helped tremendously with focus. She was accepted into her dream college and that combined with Vyvanse helped her graduate high school. So at that point we thought that her lack of focus was her main cause of anxiety and depression.

To answer your question, her focus is definitely better now (2 1/2 years into recovery) but not to the extent that is needed for full time load. She's able to attend classes and work on her classes for the first 5-6 weeks of semester very well and then gets overwhelmed. She dropped two classes last semester and was able to manage 2 classes for the rest of the semester. As she was repeating the 2 classes she dropped, she had registered for 4 classes this semester. And same thing happened. She did very well the first few weeks when the load is low and went into deep depression (that comes from overwhelming anxiety) couple of weeks ago. We dropped one class and met with advisor and are having discussions for reduced work load (just 2 courses per semester) starting next semester. She realizes that she will do lot better if she takes a lesser load. She also wants to see either a school counselor or therapist outside school to manage anxiety and we have an appointment next week. And I help, like Torie, with school work teaching her the concepts etc. I see that she gets the material but it's her anxiety that is stopping her from doing things completely on her own. She was also not in a classroom setting for the last 1 1/2 years of high school. I'm hoping it'll get better as time passes. And yes we do see progress, although very slow. Now we think it's her anxiety that is the main issue because as long as the load is less she is able to manage. I'm sure there is still some brain healing to be done and that may be the reason she can't focus for too long. She definitely can't study for more than a certain amount of time without Vyvanse. But the amount of time she can focus without meds has increased with time. She personally thinks that it'll get better and she will be able to handle more in the future and needs help with stress/anxiety at the moment.

I see that medications have helped your children with anxiety. I see ed_newbie uses Prozac and hertsmum uses Sertraline. I would like to hear if there's any med that really helped with anxiety although I understand each one reacts differently, so I can ask her psychiatrist on Monday (Mar 6). My d doesn't want to take Vyvanse because that doesn't help her with stress and depression, although helps get her work done. She uses it sparingly as needed. It is her decision to see the counselor and work on anxiety without meds. But I'm thinking she might need some anti anxiety medication as she works on herself. But I may not be able to convince her...
Torie

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by melstevUK
Is she putting pressure on herself because she wants to get the top grade?  In which case I would be telling her that passing is the important thing here, not the grade.  There is no need for her to put all this pressure on and you need to reinforce that message because she probably cannot make that leap herself.think, we can relax about it more.


Good points, melstev.

I wonder if she realizes how little a few poor grades will change her GPA.  Maybe a rough calculation would help her see that as long as she passes her classes, her GPA won't change much.  For example, if she has a 3.0 so far and barely passes the final semester with a 1.0, it would only lower her overall GPA by 0.25 (My kids have pointed that out to me, with relief). And as melstev said, it doesn't really matter that much anyway. xx

-Torie

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"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thank you for all the support!  It's helped my daughter just to know that other recovering patients have experienced similar difficulties with focus.  She thought that something was "wrong" with her.

Melstev, this issues you've brought up are really important.  Fortunately, she has not lost interest in what she's doing - in fact the opposite.  She was late in choosing her field of study, which is linguistics.  She really loves her classes, and one of the things that bothers her about her lack of focus is that she really wants to learn everything she can while she has the chance!  (She just looked at next year's course offerings and feels bad that she's graduating, but there are still more courses she's interested in taking.)  So I know this isn't a problem, although uncertainty about her future beyond her undergraduate degree is certainly contributing to her anxiety.  She has received top grades in all of her courses thus far, while hyperfocusing on academics.  We've had talks in recent weeks about the need to just get through the last couple of months, accepting whatever grades come, because it just isn't that important.  She tells me, and I think I understand where she's coming from, that she has a hard time figuring out how hard to work when she doesn't push to extremes.  It's almost like there's something inside saying, "Well, if you can't push for perfection, why bother at all?"  She can't accept that, of course, but struggles in finding a middle ground.  Meanwhile, the concentration difficulty just  means that she gets far less done, for any time invested, than what she's used to.  I'm now convinced that it's part of the brain healing process, as several people here have mentioned.  The timing is just difficult, as it always is.

BraveMom, I'm so glad, for you daughter's sake, that she has noted some improvement over these last 2 1/2 years.  And that's also encouraging for me to hear.  I'm wondering whether she'd be willing to ask her doctor about Vyvanse, especially since she only needs to get through a couple of months.  Fortunately, she only has 3 classes this semester. 

One thing that bothers me is that she always blames herself for everything.  She can't help the illness she had, nor can she help the side effects that currently plague her.  But she always takes it on herself.  How I love her and just want her to be happy!

__________________

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

momof4_US

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Reply with quote  #12 
This is an interesting topic which I have thought about a lot. My daughter is now in her last semester of college. It took 5 years but she will graduate. It was extremely difficult for my daughter to focus in school having had to retake classes, and sometimes withdraw. She changed her major to a less stressful path which helped tremendously.  My daughter's weight recovery happened during this time too.  In high school she was hyperfocused and would study and re-study for hours.  At the time I was impressed at her ability to concentrate.  We were at a loss as to why she could not concentrate. Little did I know that this hyper focus was feeding not only her pre-exisiting anxiety but the ED as well.  We discussed with her psychiatrist about possible ADHD. Rather then prescribing a stimulate he recommended a complete psychological assessment with all the different tests.  Her IQ remained very high and in fact the other tests did not indicate ADHD.  When my daughter became weight restored she used avoidance as a way to deal with feelings of being anxious. My daughter takes 200mg/day of Zoloft which seems to have helped the anxiety.  Structure and a less rigorous course load helped with the avoidance and the attention in classes.
FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #13 
My poor daughter is still struggling so much with her anxiety.  Papers are due a few weeks from now, and I'm sure she'll get them done, but it hurts to see her struggling through.  I've been helping her by being with her to "poke" her when she zones out, helping her to see the bigger picture (just on her paper topic), when she can't keep focused or can't focus on anything but the little details.  

I feel so bad for her - recovering to an appropriate weight and resumption of menses was supposed to make things better.  Instead, it feels worse.  Sigh.

__________________

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #14 
It was like her brain was on a different planet, and she really couldn't focus at all without constant shoulder taps and other reminders to come back to earth. 


Torie, I can identify!  It's so frustrating to her because she wants her brain back, and sometimes I think she despairs of it happening.  

__________________

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

myson

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Reply with quote  #15 
My sons just about to do his GCSE'S and I can relate to all of this. It's nice to read as I just thought it was him that had trouble now concentrating. It's good to see it's part of the illness and nothing else.
Thank you for this subject.
hertsmum

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Reply with quote  #16 
I'm sitting watching my daughter struggling to revise for GCSEs right now and it is so sad to observe. She sits with headphones on and says playing very loud music helps drown the anxious thoughts, but still she can't concentrate for long. She is determined to take the exams that are a few weeks away but she's unlikely to get the grades she'll need to continue at her school (where she's desperate to stay) as she has managed so little revision and has missed loads of school over last 2 years.
FaithKeepsMeGoing

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Reply with quote  #17 
It hurts to see our kids struggling so much when they've already suffered so much from this illness.  I feel for you myson and hertsmum.
__________________

The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in.  St. Peter says, “Of course. Show us your scars.”  But the man replies, “I have no scars.”   St. Peter shakes his head and says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

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