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

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Hi everyone, glad to have this forum as a support and resource. It has been very useful for meal tips now that my daughter is two weeks out of the hospital. She is almost 12, was diagnosed with orthorexia exactly a month ago today and has just gone back to school full time, with about four pounds left til reaching her goal weight. She's motivated to get better and I realize how fortunate we are in that regard.

But here's where I wondered if I could get some feedback. My husband and I chose to tell our friends that our dd was hospitalized (for a week) with chronic stomach problems that got worse. (An explanation that is grounded in a lot of truth. In fact, dd was on a restricted diet for reflux and combined with her rigorous sports schedule, she became underweight...there's more to the story than that, but that was definitely a trigger). 

We live in a small town. Many teachers at dd's school are also parents in town. There is little privacy here. Earlier this fall, I helped my best friend thru her husband's sudden death and thru that experience, saw how well-meaning people's lack of discretion had a negative impact on her family.

So we decided to confide in only one friend --one of my best friends -- in what was going on. I don't want my daughter scrutinized or stigmatized at school or by her friends.

My other best friend,  who I'll call Meg, I didn't feel I could totally trust to not share with anyone what was happening. As a result, she is unaware of how difficult this situation is and the demands of the re-feeding period.

Most of her texts since dd was hospitalized have been either requests for more info about dd beyond the generalities I offer or questions on whether I'm attending her Xmas party. IN the past, we are the type of friends who just immediately step in with offers to get things at the grocery or take each other's kids out for a playdate if someone's sick. But that hasn't happened this time. 

To be fair she and her husband have reached out to my husband with offers of help. He went thru a very busy period at work and was not available much during the first very stressful days dd was out of the hospital. He didn't really tell me about these offers...honestly, they kind of got lost in the crazy shuffle. 

So I guess there's two problems. One is that I am resentful towards my friend, who I feel could have done more to DIRECTLY contact me just with simple offers of help, versus requests for my attendance at her party. 

The second is that my husband is unaware how traumatic this experience has been and thinks I should be more social and also forgive my friend because she didn't respond to our situation the way I would have. (Again, my expectations were formed by how I helped my other best friend when her husband died--I didn't ask questions, just did what needed to be done).

I feel like his job is to empathize with me...we are barely 4 weeks in to a long recovery. In general, he is kind of a "plow ahead and just keep things moving" kind of guy.  But since I was my daughter's principal caretaker, I don't think he understands the impact of that experience.

I realize that my choice to not tell friends what was happening was my own. By the way, the one best friend I did confide in is the one whose husband died just 3 months ago so I can't burden her with the majority of these issues. Obviously, I am feeling a bit in need of support but not sure how to get it outside of a therapist. 

any been there, done that advice would be appreciated. thanks so much.


Hi Kristen,
I'm not sure whether you should take what I have to say as advice, but here's my experience for what it's worth.  We were really careful about who we told, only adding each of our adult friends and relations on a "need to know" basis and making it really clear that we were telling them in confidence.  We are 9 months into our ED/depression experience now, with some progress but no end in sight, and it has got progressively more awkward with close friends whom I didn't tell early on, one in particular.  Fortunately, when I did tell her very recently, she didn't respond with "why didn't you tell me earlier?"! 
If you have a close friend who might be able to help (albeit that she hasn't offered the support you need so far), I would recommend you tell her sooner rather than later and ask her to be very discrete.  You can couch it in terms of the recent experience of your other friend, and that it's very important for both you and D that she keeps schtum.  You know your friend and I don't, but in my experience, when sworn to secrecy, friends do keep secrets.  It also helps if they know who else knows!
I'm not sure what practical help friends can offer in situations such as ours; I've been more glad of opportunities for D to meet with her friends (mostly my friends' daughters) to cheer and distract her, than practical help, but we haven't had the stress and needs caused by hospitalisation.  It can be very easy (again, I share this experience) to resent friends for not offering the help you needed, when actually they didn't know what help you needed.  Your friend perhaps feels you are keeping something from her if you have been vague up to now, and may therefore not be confident of "stepping in" without putting her foot in it.  People always say to ask for the help that you need - easier said than done - but if you don't at least let her know this massive thing is going on in your life she doesn't have a chance of helping.
With regard to husbands, that's a trickier one.  We have definitely fallen into roles where I bear the brunt of the FBT, which follows the roles we've always had; with H in a high-powered high-pressured job and me in a part-time flexible job and being main caregiver.  I also wish sometimes that H understood more, particularly how unremitting the stress is.  I'm finding lately that the weekends are the worst part of my week; during the week I have a few hours when D is at school and someone else is looking out for her, and I can be "me" in the office, but at the weekend it is just me, managing two teenage Ds (one with the ED) and a mentally absent and already-stressed-by-work H.  I have been venting to my friends, rather than to him, as it doesn't feel fair to burden him with any more of the problems at home than necessary. I know that's not a healthy approach, but it's how we operate and works for us in normal circumstances.  In fact do we have the same husband?!  If you get any good advice from others on how to get husbands more on-side without stressing everyone out more, I'll be glad to read it too...
You are your D's best weapon against her illness, and you need all your weapons lined up to help you help her.
Best wishes


D, b.2002, diagnosed with depression, anxiety and EDNOS Spring/Summer 2016.
Some restricting, some vomiting, some self-harm for good measure.
FBT, CBT, now on 3rd type of anti-d's.
D is "cured" of the ED but still on low dose of anti-d's. Will I ever be cured?

Dear Kristen,

One way to get your H to learn whats needed is for him to talk with another husband/dad thats had to realise whats what about eating disorders & what to do to be part of the solution.And even when work must take a back seat even just for as little as a few hours each week or just an hour per day.

We came close to the worst outcome of all when our D relapsed after six years of treatment & me being a sideline dad. In the first couple of years after relapse things got close to the no return edge twice. At these times I was very much part of the recovery process & I think being involved saved us from disaster.

If you find it helpful print any or all of my posts for your H to read or if you can get him to read them on here.

ED Dad

Not sure if this will apply or be helpful, but ... many years ago I realized that when I'm looking for sympathy from my h, what he usually gives me instead is advice.  I learned to tell him straight out: "No. I'm not looking for you to tell me what you think I should do about this or other advice; I just want sympathy right now."

Helped me ... a little.

Best of luck.  Sounds like a tricky wicket you're in. xx



"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
So sorry for your heartache. I truly feel the pain in your post - especially when someone you care about seems to be letting you down. I don't know about you, but it's also hard when you watch others close to you going about their life as normal, even if a bit messy. I know I struggle today with jealousy over other families and friends who have normal teens doing normal things and how it all seems so... normal. Ha. 

I was another who has been somewhat open with my friends and some family about my D's situation. I am not good at wearing a mask - and honestly, it's a relief not to be lying and pretending all of the time. Especially to those you are most close to. I woudl hope if she's as close a friend as you say that she could be trusted with something this important. You can certainly tell her that this is your daughter's story and it affects her most so you've tried to respect that, but that you do trust her and hope she can just be supportive and understanding of how this might affect your friendship and time together. I think it might be important to say that you don't have all the answers - the professionals don't have all the answers - and that you don't expect her or anyone else to. But if they can just extend grace during this hard time, that would be great.

You'll make the right decision. Trust your gut. 
19 yo D. AN - since about 15 years old. WR quickly - but the last four years have been tough. Since Sept. 2017, two residential stays, now in IOP, fighting a relapse. ED is hanging on, mental state not great, can't get her to remain at a weight long enough or high enough to see mental healing. She's on a gap year that will likely now turn into two.
I have found being honest with people has gotten me help in places I would never have expected it.  There have been people who asked how to help and I've told them what I need.  Sometimes we think people should just know but they don't.  We know how we would help but most people want to help and just don't know how to do it.  I have people who know my daughter who have been able to warn me when she is not eating and headed off several serious relapses.  I know it can be hard in a small town but if you are not willing to let people know what is going on, it is really hard to expect anything from them.
With us, it was the fear of finger pointing. We know that EDs are not the parents' fault, nor the child's fault, but sadly the general public still believe the old myths and stigma. And, to be frank, it'd take an age to explain the ins and outs of modern eating disorder thinking. So we told people on a 'need to know' basis e.g. close friends, some neighbours (because of all the yelling), school teachers and relatives. But in an ideal world (and hopefully in the future), talking about an ED in the family should be as socially acceptable and accepted as talking about any serious illness in the family as should offers of 'useful' help.

You ask how others sought and found help and support. In addition to this wonderful forum, I came across TWO FANTASTIC PEOPLE who supported me selflessly throughout the worst period of my teenage son's anorexia. One was the school nurse who went over and beyond the call of duty in looking out for my son at school and giving me hugs and support as well as taking the time to understand what was going on. The other was a fabulous lady called Sue who I met at a local church. I'd given church a go in a bid to get the support I longed for; sadly the vast majority of church goers I met let me down, simply offering 'to pray for' my son rather than offering practical help. Sue was the exception, despite having secondary breast cancer. She took me under her wing and supported me 10000% until the day she so very sadly passed away two years later. I met Sue by chance and I really hope you will (sooner rather than later) come across someone similar in your locality.
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
Our friends and family have been ridiculously helpful but the constant texts and calls saying 'Lets get you out for a wine'....'Can I pop over?'....'Come over for dinner'...or people just popping in with a bottle of wine to 'give me a break'...have been driving me mad. When I am not feeding and dealing with my daughters mental state, I just want to be very quiet and watch a movie or something to help my own mental state. I keep telling people I need to have my wits about me. I know they are just concerned but I feel like saying 'See you in six months!'. (30 people here for christmas day...wish me luck and GOOD LUCK to you too xx)