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

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Caterpillar_1
I’ve been quietly using this site as a resource over the past 15 months - it has been really helpful in navigating my 16 year old sons ED journey - thank you to everyone. 
We are currently in Phase 3 of his journey and the concept of “body checking” has come up. This is something I have not encountered in my reading.
Can anyone suggest some resources which might help me understand this a bit better?
My son asked last night if we could remove the mirrored cupboard doors from his bedroom something that his Psychologist had previously mentioned as a possibility but we didn’t jump to straight away. 
We have turned the doors around so the mirrors are now on  the inside.
Both my husband and adult daughter have both suggested that it feels like a “backward step” in his journey to be removing his mirrors. 
I see it a bit differently - as him acknowledging something that is difficult and taking steps to address it.
Any feedback would be appreciated - thankyou
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Scaredmom2019
I think in early recovery, which of course can last a LONG time, you should absolutely praise him for his openness and sharing of what might trigger him. It may only be a temporary removal but if my D told me that something was stressing her out in regards to ED, and I could fix it, I would. 
I intentionally do not have any long mirrors in my home. One parent in group told me her D was using mirrors to body check and she asked for ideas on what to do. I suggested she remove them until body checking behaviors are long gone. Her D was really mad about the removal. So if your S is asking to remove -i vote to remove 🙂 
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Barberton
It's super that he has asked for your help! We covered up all the mirrors early on in our journey but ended up taking the covers down. Body checking is normal and especially when weight gain starts as it goes to the middle first before it redistributes. When I sense my d is body checking, I say, "Darling, you are safe." It reminds her that even if she feels compelled to look at her profile, she is safe and doing the right thing. 
D fell down the rabbit hole of AN at age 11 after difficulty swallowing followed by rapid weight loss. Progressing well through recovery, but still climbing our way out of the hole.
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workingthrough

Definitely cover them up. This is one of the behaviors (for us) that goes hand in hand with getting enough food in. As soon as s is negative his body checking goes up so quickly. It’s great that your s told you and suggested covering them. He might be heading into a growth spurt or possibly need a little more food for some time (again, this might just be us). 


We thought s was just using mirrors to body check. We covered them but have found sooo many other reflective devices: windows, television, even his own phone. I’d watch all of those places a bit.


For us, when s was declining, body checking almost became an OCD thing, a ritual of sorts. S just couldn’t stop. We had to remove everything and distract whenever he was pacing looking for a place to check. 

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Torie
I agree with the others; cover up those mirrors!   Your son is a wise and brave young man to let you know that would help him. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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ValentinaGermania
I am a bit concerned that the body checking comes up in phase 3....
Are you sure he is on a good weight? Seems to still have AN thoughts...
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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teecee

It sounds like he’s identified a major trigger and just needs help in trying to eradicate it once and for all. We’ve taken a full length mirror down that she had to walk past every day and also painted a chrome towel holder as when she got out of the shower it was a bad habit to look straight at it. Since doing this she has felt a lot stronger at dealing with seeing her body unexpectedly in a shop window for example. I see this as a real positive. Ask him if there is anything else other than the mirror that is difficult. That’s how we found out about the towel holder bizarrely! 

We have a full length mirror in another bedroom but this is not an issue as you gave to deliberately go in the room to see it. 

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Foodsupport_AUS
Welcome to the forum. Great job on getting the weight back on your son and that he appears to be managing his eating himself. 

I agree with the others that it is great that he has mentioned things that he finds distressing. Dealing with distressing thoughts is unfortunately part of recovery and relapse prevention. Your D's thought of this as a backwards step has some merit. At the same time he is telling you that he is not quite ready for dealing with the mirrors just yet. 
A few thoughts. If you are to remove them, what would the steps that looked towards reintroduction. Is this going to be permanent? How will he manage mirrors elsewhere? Can you look at graded exposure to get him to accept the mirrors better?
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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Torie
In those early dark days, I asked my d if it would help to cover the mirrors.  That made her practically hysterical, and she begged me not to do that because "if you cover the mirrors, I will know that I really do look as horrible as I think I do - so horrible that I shouldn't have to look at myself."  Heartbreaking, but that's another topic.

They literally see a distorted image when they look in the mirror.  So weird.  I read about a study that tested this.  When a person goes through a narrow doorway, they automatically turn somewhat sideways to help them get through.  The AN sufferers in the study would do this going through a doorway that was plenty wide for them, while the neurotypicals just walked straight through that same door.

I seem to remember that PsychoMom's d thought she literally "blew up" and looked many sizes bigger after eating a meal.

Maybe having the mirrors up reinforces this malfunctioning neural glitch, and taking them down will help lay the normal pathway back down.  

Maybe this is a sign that he is getting strong enough to fight back against ED.

Who knows?

I stand by my opinion that this is a positive development (his request).

I do, however, think Valentina and Foodsupport have a point that phase 3 is not where we usually hear about this so it would be prudent to make doubly sure that he is well and truly weight restored.  Setting the target weight too low is the most common error made by clinicians.  Sucks that this is still so common even now in 2020!!  xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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Caterpillar_1
Thanks so much for the feedback - I appreciate it immensely. It certainly has given me some things to consider.
*is he fully weight restored?
*is this a temporary or permanent removal of mirrors - given it is only in his room and not the whole house I’ll think this one through.
*given he has just started Year 11 at school - how much this might be impacting him

anyway it is helpful to have other people who have shared similar journeys to give their perspective.
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MKR
I wonder if the mirrors are annoying him because they bring memories of any dark moments when he was uncomfortable with himself. Good on him to focus instead on the present. I think boys in general like things simplified, uncluttered. And having a distracting reflection of himself (or anything in the room) might make it harder for him to relax. 
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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Caterpillar_1
MKR wrote:
I wonder if the mirrors are annoying him because they bring memories of any dark moments when he was uncomfortable with himself. Good on him to focus instead on the present. I think boys in general like things simplified, uncluttered. And having a distracting reflection of himself (or anything in the room) might make it harder for him to relax. 
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Caterpillar_1
You could be right there. We are trying to make his bedroom a place that is associated with sleeping - something that has been very difficult over the past 15 months. Maybe this is one more step towards making improvements in this area. 



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MKR
Whatever helps him relax! Must have been an exhausting 15 months. ☹

Keep in mind that WR is a moving target, as he grows taller and his muscles and bones get heavier, he will need to keep gaining weight for some time. 

Enjoy Phase 3, but feeding more will have to continue 😀.
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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MKR
Mirror, mirror...

I saw this at my local breast clinic. You can't see full body width if you try.

I would have mirror panes even more narrow - to allow checking for buttons all done up, shirts tucked/ untucked or that bit of food stuck between my teeth. 

But of course, with boys (and my daughter) checking muscle size, absence of any mirror works best.
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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