F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

AppleFalling
I want to start by saying how wonderful this community is. I posted once before and the responses I got honestly felt like a hug from a long lost friend who understood exactly what I was going through, and what I needed to hear.

So I have another question. My 12-yr old D has been out of school for 2 weeks to allow us to begin refeeding, 5 meals a day monitored. Pulling her out of school was the only way we could functionally manage monitoring both the eating and the hour after eating as she will purge when given the chance. She's gained over 8.5 lbs since starting the program 2 weeks ago  (compared to her weight in December when this came out), which I think is good (the doctor keeps saying we are all doing really well - I am not there for the weighing but we have talked about numbers), but wow an almost 10% weight gain is kind of insane. I'm sure much of it was water, maybe even time of day and just a readjustment to eating, but still it's a lot for anyone to adjust to.

Needless to say, she's freaking out. She's still fairly compliant, but she is miserable, snaps at me regularly, and she feels like a failure.  She says she feels so much worse now than when we started (she's very unhappy) and that is just evidence for the fact that she's a terrible person because she's supposed to be getting better (to her, getting better will mean she will start feeling happier and more like herself again) and she's failing at that.

Today, she was out for lunch without us for the first time since starting this (to attend a birthday party). They ordered food - pizza, fries, chicken fingers etc - for the kids but she requested something on the menu (soup). I was happy she advocated for herself to order something she would eat (and then ate in front of her peers) so I thought that was successful.

Tonight, she's telling me that she can't stand to see her friends or be seen by them. She says it's because it reminds her that she is fat (she is now on the low but healthy end of the BMI) because she says all the girls are skinny and she isn't (this is simply not true on any level). She is worried she is going to panic when people see her at school (she's had panic attacks before when she felt people could see her body) when she goes back on Monday. I am at a loss. Is it normal for kids to want to completely isolate themselves because they think (wrongly) that everyone else is skinnier than them and that everyone is staring at them? How do I guide her through this when it's totally irrational? Is this just going to take time? We see the doctor for 1.5 hours a week but it's never enough and the FBT sometimes makes it hard for me to ask these kinds of questions.

I'm starting to wonder if anxiety medication could help. I have no idea at this point. Her anxiety is crippling.

I'm not sure what my question is. But I'm grateful for just being able to put this out there as I feel like we're pretty alone with all of this. She's getting more and more depressed and it terrifies me.
Quote
tina72

Tonight, she's telling me that she can't stand to see her friends or be seen by them. She says it's because it reminds her that she is fat (she is now on the low but healthy end of the BMI) because she says all the girls are skinny and she isn't (this is simply not true on any level). She is worried she is going to panic when people see her at school (she's had panic attacks before when she felt people could see her body) when she goes back on Monday. I am at a loss. Is it normal for kids to want to completely isolate themselves because they think (wrongly) that everyone else is skinnier than them and that everyone is staring at them? How do I guide her through this when it's totally irrational? Is this just going to take time? We see the doctor for 1.5 hours a week but it's never enough and the FBT sometimes makes it hard for me to ask these kinds of questions.


That is totally normal. ED wants to seperate her from all normal life to control her. She does not see that she is very thin and really believes she is fat (body dysmorphia).
You cannot discuss that with logic. You can only wait for it getting better with weight gain and brain recovery.
But you need to try to get her back to school and socialize with friends because your d wants that, it is ED who does not want it and what ED wants he will for sure NOT get. So get her back with a reduced schedule first and take her home for lunch and no afternoon lessons for the start and no tests and see what happens. My d complained every morning that she cannot go to school and I need to drive her there and when I fetched her up a few hours later and asked how her day was she mostly said "it was o.k.".
Do not be afraid of something ED is afraid of. It is normal to see friends and to go to school.

I'm starting to wonder if anxiety medication could help. I have no idea at this point. Her anxiety is crippling.


Normally these meds do not work with low weight but maybe worth a try. Start with some over the counter plant meds for example. That cannot do great harm and you can see if it has an impact or not.
It is normal that their anxiety goes through the roof with every change in routine but in fact in most cases it is accepted after 2 or 3 days. Just try to get through that.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Quote
Kali
Hi Applefalling,

My d. was out of school for 10 months while going through treatment and weight restoration. She was also purging and it is so very very important to work towards interrupting that.

It might be early days for your daughter since you have only been refeeding for two weeks. When there is purging involved it is not only the weight gain which is important, it is making sure she has a day structured which leaves no opportunity for that symptom to occur. I'm sorry, this is probably not what you want to hear. 

Quote:
Pulling her out of school was the only way we could functionally manage monitoring both the eating and the hour after eating as she will purge when given the chance.


To experience anxiety at this point is very common and many families have reported the same. Some have chosen to try anti anxiety meds. You could ask your dr about that. What other on the ground help does your family and your daughter have? 

warmly,
Kali

Food=Love
Quote
scaredmom

HI Applefalling,

 Great job on the weight gain!! That is amazing but it is only the beginning. It takes months to get where she may need to be and some needed more weight to see brain healing (My hand is up). The anxiety is part of it . My d went on sertraline/zoloft and not sure if it is really helpful, but it is not harmful.
Time and more weight helped the anxiety. 

You are doing really well!!

XXX

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Quote
scaredmom
As she is going back to school, do you have an eating plan in place? Where her eating will be monitored? It would be a shame for her not to be able to eat and lose weight when she gets back.
As Kali says she will need structure and a good routine to be successful especially with purging. How would they monitor that at school? 
Take it slow, the reintroduction to “normal life” It is still very early days.

XXX
Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Quote
tina72
Just wanted to add that my d was 4 months out of school and had no problems to catch up with everything when she went back again and if your gut says that she should stay at home for some time x to get into the new routine then do it.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Quote
Foodsupport_AUS
I would agree this is very normal, especially at this early stage. My D also isolated herself for similar reasons. She was out of school 18 months, mainly due to medical instability but the last four months were outright school refusal. I did not push this as much early on. She was still struggling to eat so much that I accepted that addressing the anxiety about eating was the first problem to tackle. 

After she did go back however, her first few days we anxiety ridden. After that things settled down very quickly and she was in fact happy to be there because it gave her some distraction from her ED thoughts.
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Quote
debra18
You said fbt makes it difficult to ask questions. Is that because your daughter is in the room with you? Can you email or call the therapist between sessions to discuss things with them privately? There is really no way to address the body dysmorphia. It's best to just change the subject. I found it helpful for my daughter to learn new hobbies and be distracted all the time. She stated taking piano lessons and identifies herself as being "musical's instead of "healthy" and "skinny". 
Quote
AppleFalling
You are all truly amazing. I have spent the day out and have only been able to read replies and just am getting to my computer now so I can respond. THANK YOU , Thank you, thank you. This was exactly what I needed to hear.

I appreciate all of your input, and I took something from each of you that replied. I feel much more confident with our next steps. It's also relieving to hear you validate that we can and should ease back in to things. It does feel like a lot has happened, fast, to me (so I can't imagine how it feels to her 🙂).

We are very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive VP at the school who has offered to play a key role in managing lunch. There is a small room in the school with big, bright windows and she has offered to spend lunch with my D and eat together and make herbal tea 🙂. She will accompany her back to class when the food is done and the teacher for her next class will know she is not allowed bathroom breaks. We are going to try this for a couple of days and see if it seems to work. I know it's not a forever solution but it feels like it's worth a try.

As for the anxiety and meds, I am going to talk to her doctor. I just thought I'd see if there was a strong consensus here before pursuing that angle further. 

We're just going to try to do three days this week and see how it goes.  I'm going to leave work early to be there for after school snack. We'll see how it works.

Debra, your comment about distraction feels SO key to me. She tells me that 99% of her thoughts are about calories and weight, but I can see when I get her away and distracted, she can be happy and I know in those moments she's not thinking about weight. I truly think she needs something new to be her "thing". That seems to be the one thing we can help do...forcing outings with friends, taking her to lessons, etc. 

Tina, Kali, Scaredmom, Mimi, Foodsupport-AUS, Debra...❤ more than you know. 
Quote
Mamaroo
Hi AppleFalling and welcome for me as well.

My d was also very anxious about what her friends would think about her. She also thought she was the fattest kid in class, then she fixated on her hair, then it was her voice, then her eyes and so on. It was as if we were chasing the anxiety all over her body. Luckily after a couple of month post WR, the anxiety was greatly reduced and now at normal teenager levels. During refeeding when her weight started to go up, her anxiety also increased a lot, that is just part of the process and very normal. Expect to see improvement in her mood between 6 and 12 months after WR. It takes time for the brain to heal, unfortunately. 

It looks like you have a good plan for when she goes back to school, that is an excellent start.

Sending you lots of hugs!!!!
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
Quote
cm72
Hi there. A little late to the game. We are six months into this and about 5-10 pounds away from where she should be. My daughter's anxiety is MASSIVE and she has completely isolated herself by being rude and mean to her friends. We have recently been exploring medication but as everyone says on here, food is the medicine. So we have decided to go to UCSD for their eating disorder program and really push the calorie increase. If after we get her weight to where it should be, we find she's still super anxious, we will start with the Zoloft. I don't think there's anything wrong with the medicine but we would rather try this first. Hopefully the past two days went okay for you. Let us know how you are doing.
Quote
scaredmom
Hi Applefalling,
Just checking in. How is it going?
XXX
Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Quote
AppleFalling
Thank you all for your support. We got through Monday ok at school with support from the amazing VP, who has been so helpful. She's given our D an extra responsibility which she's excited about (and it ties into the lunch hour so sort of makes sense for her to spend lunch there). I was hoping we could get back into a routine after a decent first day back, but then we were hit with bad weather so the school was closed (yesterday), and today the VP is at a conference so another supportive teacher was going to meet her. Tomorrow and Friday she'll be off school (for appointments and a school PD day).

This morning was rough. She was in a terrible mood and really didn't want to go to school. She told me this morning that she just feels awful and ugly. I never know what to say to that - she is in no way ugly (I don't even think she's in an awkward phase), but me saying that won't mean anything to her so I try to avoid making comments other than to say that I know my words can't make it better, but that I'm really sorry she's feeling that way and that it must be difficult. I haven't heard from her via text during the day though which is unusual and is of course making me worry.

All we can do is push forward and trust that if we stick to the path, things will eventually improve. Right now I'm just really tired. 

Thank you again. xo
Quote
scaredmom
You are right that nothing you say can help. It is a matter of time. Distraction and what you are doing now, can be helpful. 
Did she text you? 
Tired is the best word for all this. Take some time and rest. Can someone help out so you get some time to yourself?
Glad it is going well at school. These transitions can be difficult. You are smart to take it slow.
XXX
Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
Quote
Mamaroo

This morning was rough. She was in a terrible mood and really didn't want to go to school. She told me this morning that she just feels awful and ugly. I never know what to say to that - she is in no way ugly (I don't even think she's in an awkward phase),


My d used to say that as well, I would tell her that she was very pretty even if she was not able to see it herself. We would look through books/websites on optical illusions, my favourite was the dress, because I saw it as white and gold, while my d saw it as blue and black and no matter how hard I tried, I could not see the correct colour. It just shows you that you cannot trust your eyes always.

I hope her (and your) day improved.
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
Quote

        

WTadmin