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.

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KatieR
Sorry to ask so many questions but this group saves my sanity at times! My daughter (14) maintained this week despite being in charge of her lunch and snack at school (packed lunch etc provided by us) so that was a win but my husband and I are absolutely drained by it all. She will eat what we put in front of her (with some distress but not loads) but feels awful afterwards. She seems to be absolutely ok as long as we are with her watching tv or doing what she wants. As soon as we say you need to do your homework or something that isn't what she wants (or even if I just need to leave the room to feed the dog) she goes into meltdown, rolling on the floor crying how fat she feels and how she feels sick. It feels like a control thing and I don't think we should have to spend 24/7 by her side distracting her. She is going to need to be by herself sometimes and we need to get on and do stuff. I feel like a terrible mother just saying that but it feels like it is an attention-seeking thing or she is just trying to get out doing something she doesn't want to do.
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Enn

Hi there, 
I will address the issue with the upset. Hard to know the motivation and no I don't think you need to distract 24/7. How have you been responding to her and how does she react? How long does it last and what makes it better or worse?

Understanding the context of the situation and dissecting it a bit more may make it a bit more clear/objective. Some have just let the tantrums happen, we did. But we just ensured she was in a safe place when they happened. 

When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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KatieR
I have been keeping calm and using her favourite Youtube videos to distract and sometimes we just chat about stuff other than food. As long as she has 100% of my attention she is fine but if I even pick up my phone and stop interacting for a couple of minutes she starts saying I feel sick, I feel fat, I can't do this etc. It is absolutely draining and I can't get anything else done.  It feels like a toddler tantrum and she is very snappy and short with us both all the time unless we are doing what she wants. I wouldn't have put up with it under normal circumstances and feel that life can't stop completely (as it already has done pretty much for the last 3 months) and she has to be a member of the family as well but then she starts saying how she doesn't want to be a burden. I don't think it's healthy to give in to her all the time but we are so new to this ED stuff, is the only way we can get her better?
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Enn
So parent her your normal way. If she were to have done that pre-Ed what would you have done? It is worth a try. Also they do need you to parent them through difficult behaviours. This should not be different. For us there was such ferocity to her upsets that is why we had to come up with a safe place.. her room. And rules for no violence. That is what we needed to do.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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KatieR
Thank you, I always feel more empowered after coming on here. Pre-Ed I would have calmly said it was unacceptable and left her to her tantrum (as long as she was safe). I would have pulled her up when she spoke to us like that (she is normally a really good kid and we had a great relationship) and basically set boundaries. It feels like the ED is trying to control us all
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Kali
Hi KatieR,
It sounds as though she may need your voice and support to override the eating disorder thoughts. But it is certainly exhausting if you have to be 100% focused on her all of the time. Are there any activities she likes to do which could distract her so that you can take a little break? You could try to validate her distress and then try to redirect her to do something else.

Has she been evaluated for anxiety and is she on any medication for that?

And yes, the ED is very controlling. At some point, when I used to feel controlled by it, I came to the realization that it was so much worse for her inside her own head and what I was hearing might be only a fraction of what she was going through internally. 

warmly,

Kali
Food=Love
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KatieR
Thanks Kali. If I try to re-direct her she wants me to do it with her. She is seeing a psychologist for anxiety along with her ED so hopefully there will be progress there. She is not on any medication
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deenl
How about side by side? You take care if your emails or iron or whatever and she watches YouTube or does homework close by. I do think it sounds like homework etc does not drown out the ED thoughts enough. Maybe some music while she does her homework? Just throwing out some ideas.

Warm wishes 

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

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • 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.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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Foodsupport_AUS
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 It feels like a toddler tantrum and she is very snappy and short with us both all the time unless we are doing what she wants.


It probably is a toddler tantrum. Regression in behaviour is a huge part of this illness. As mentioned she may be struggling to manage on her own to deal with her ED thoughts and this is a way she is managing those thoughts. Truly exhausting, but I did find when my D was very ill that expecting her to act the age she was, was entirely unreasonable. She was incapable on many fronts. The tricky part of course is speaking to her as a teen, and managing her behaviour as a toddler. As she gets better it will stop and her maturity will rapidly increase. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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KatieR
Thanks for the advice. I try to do things side by side but unfortunately she wants my full attention at all times. In the meantime, I am going to try and manage her tantrums like I would a toddler. I know this isn't her and it breaks my heart that this thing is invading her head and making her life unbearable. She really is the most wonderful daughter and I just want to take all this pain away. Please God she can get through this and live the life of a 'normal' teenager and have fun again
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Torie
Hi Katie, You can only do what you can do - we are only human after all.  But as FoodSupport said, it is surely MUCH worse for her than it is for you - a fact that helps increase my tolerance immeasurably.  It is hard to overstate how miserable this vile illness makes them.  

Can you get (more) help with everyday tasks like laundry, cleaning, weeding, etc?  Does it help if you invite a friend to join you? (Your friend or hers).  I can't remember if you have other kids - they can often help a lot with the distractions.  Many here have called on friends, family, church, neighbors, whoever to help out wherever possible.  It is truly too much to manage as just one person.

Keep swimming. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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jobe
Katie, I feel for you! You sound like you are doing a great job. All kids are different so take this as my experience which may not be relevant to your child! My D wanted so much attention and it felt manipulative and finally we learned she had been sexually abused and felt so bad about herself, that combined with actual abandonment as a baby (we adopted her) she saw the world as unsafe and herself as unlovable. I went against all my parenting instincts and poured attention and love on her. I let my house go to heck and realized we could live in a messy and frankly, dirty, house, and when the bills start arriving in red envelopes then I finally notice and pay them. Because it is so exhausting, something else has to give for me to stay sane. So I just validate, validate, validate and told her when I'm leaving the room when I will be back etc. I'm trying to get her (and myself) to make room for bad feelings instead of trying to make them go away. Anyway, our relationship is 1000% improved and she is getting better slowly. I try to balance my needs for keeping my emotional stability with her need for my attention. But the housework gets neglected.

Same for homework. This may not sound like a success story--I stopped pushing homework because she was so impacted by PTSD that she was sleeping only 2 hours a night. That plus her need to get perfect scores was making her worse, in my opinion. Even though I told her I wasn't worried about grades she insisted on studying and finally could not sustain it. She dropped out, which still bothers me, and 6 months later is studying for her GED. Not what I want for her but she has to be in control of her own healing (very important with PTSD and sexual abuse) and she is getting better, not worse, and me parenting the way I was parented (firm, loving, and in control) was not working. But all kids and situations are different! 

Jobe
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KatieR
Thanks Jobe and Torie - it really helps. When she was little and going through a difficult phase I 'love-bombed' her like you say Jobe and found that it worked so I will give that another try. She has been a delight today and nowhere near so needy so it is now really obvious that yesterday was super tough for her and she needed me around. It has really helped to clarify things and given me hope that with our support she can get through this. She worries so much about school work and is a complete perfectionist (despite us saying that grades don't matter) and it would cause her immense anxiety if she didn't do her homework so I'm just trying to support her as her she does it. Like any mother, I just wish I could take the pain and hurt away. I'm going to take my cues from her and what she needs.
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Barberton
@KatieR don't forget to state the obvious with words like "You are safe" "You are loved" "I will be right back". Sometimes we assume they must know this, but saying it is a powerful reminder. You're doing a great job!
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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