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

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annabanana
I know many of you might have had your ill child compare with someone, so I would like to hear from those of you that tried to stop the comparison.  In my case, T1 compares everything to T2, and tries to out do her by adding just one more bounce to her steps, or leave that one kernel of rice on the plate, smeared so I can't see well.

Yesterday we went biking because we had a burst of summer for a couple of days here in Toronto area, and toward the end, I heard T1 asking her 2 sisters if their legs were hurting.  T2 of course said yes--opening a car door is a pain for her.  T1 checks the resistance level on T2's bike and it was level 6, while hers was level 2. 

In the evening, her anxiety over the biking incident exploded and she begged me to make it right because it was not fair that she didn't get the workout that her twin got.  I told her that no, we rode the same distance, you had to put the same energy to ride your bike, so I will not.  Needless to say she went bonkers and it was one of the worst ones we've experienced as of now.   She woke up and continued the raging, which at some point I found it funny as she had lost her voice last night.  But I felt that it was a good place to start for us to end this comparison demon.

All night I read previous posts about this--but I have some questions for those of you who experienced this:

1. When/why/how did you decide to stop the comparing? 

2. What did you do to stop the comparison?

3. What were the results and how long did it take for the change to take place?   I read that some people explain what happened but I don't often read the timeline--I guess it's all a blur sometimes.  I am concerned that the anxiety level, which will shoot through the roof with the changes, may make her be even less rational and make her do something, such as self-harm.  I did not sleep last night because of that.

We had our assessment to a local ED program last week, and I got a call this morning that it will be about 2 more weeks before they can figure out who will be working with my girls.  I don't want to wait another 2 weeks as T2 is crying on a daily basis because T1 keeps her like a hostage.  Thank you!

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Torie
Hi annabanana - Good for you to stand your ground, despite the raging!

I'm sorry, I don't have answers to your specific questions, but I wanted to make a general comment: Rational argument doesn't work when dealing with an irrational person.

This was so, so hard for me to put into practice - or even believe - because I have always been one to reason with my kids.  After having a bazillion people here tell me that doesn't work any more, I finally realized they were right.

So in general, I have learned to make a brief sympathetic comment (e.g., "I'm sorry this is so hard" - I learned fast not to say, "I know how hard this is" because she would be enraged since I really didn't know how hard it was) and then change the subject.  Not to let ED suck me into a "discussion" or rationalization or argument because that just makes it worse every time.

I know others will be here with more helpful suggestions, but I wanted to toss that out.

Please know I'll be thinking of you and your d's. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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Foodsupport_AUS
The competing/complaining/comparing is typical of ED and really is representing the anxiety. I decided to deal with it differently once I learned it was not rational, and that reassuring and pandering towards it was just allowing it to perpetuate. It may seem to lessen the anxiety briefly but there was always plenty to take its place. 

There is no reasoning with ED. ED is a terrorist. So how to deal with it is to acknowledge the emotion behind the comparisons but then to deflect. 

So today, when she exploded -- I am sorry that you find it so distressing when things are not as you want them, life is not always fair or even. 

That is don't engage in the emotion or the sentiment, and particularly don't allow it to be seen as a rational argument. 

It slowly settled down over months when D realised that I would no longer engage. You get better with each turn at it. Giving broken record answers can mean that you don't get caught up in the ED minutiae. 
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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atdt31_US
What have you historically done to stop the "fair" thing for your twins?  I have twins, although neither has ED.  BUT, they are have always kept a keen eye out to be sure all things are "fair/equal/same/etc."  I think separating them as much as possible might be a good strategy if they are sure to eat better that way, but truly separating them for every meal, activity, etc,seems next to impossible especially where this is not likely to be a short/concise/known timeframe where you have to navigate this.  Plus the goal is to return to norma ...

We only have the twins, so no third or fourth sibling to work into the equation -- only having to keep life seeming "fair" for two has led to an odd/evens approach.  
If the calendar says it is January 1, the girl with an odd number of letters in her first name gets to pick first --- which bike to ride; which of the identical plates of food; who gets to brush teeth first (or last if that is how it goes that day), etc.  Somehow my kids have never figured out that the odd-girl gets a 31 and then a 1 every couple months.  

I am sure you have found some refrain over the years, before ED.  Keep that mantra and adjust it slightly now that health is at the forefront  -- but keep telling them what they have always heard on this -- I am sure some version of "life is not always fair" "fair is not equal" "we are each different people with different needs at different times" -- even if they are both refeeding now so have similar needs, that will likely change and you want them prepped as much as possible that one might progress through faster and leave one still in refeedng while one is wr -- even though they are not thinking right, be consistent that each has their own needs and you are there to be sure they have their individual needs met.  

Twins who want to compare like that are irrational -- the older my kids get, thankfully, the less we have these issues.  Clearly the ED has reverted your kids to the sorts of comparisons young twins make.  Sorry -- stick to your mantras and try to let them win when it does not impact health (if you think family bike rides are on the menu, alternate which twin picks bikes first, etc).  At least that is what I would try.  I would not try to rationalize or reason -- they are not ready for that from the sounds of it.  


Mom of either pre-diagnosis or non-ed underweight 12 yoa (as of March 2018) kid here to learn how to achieve weight gain.  BMI steadily in the mid 12's for nearly her entire life.  Born 2006. UPDATE:  April 2018 diagnosed ARFID, based solely on weight being less than 75% of Ideal Body Weight.  Mildly picky, but mostly the problem is a volume/early satiety issue, along with abdominal discomfort and chronic constipation, all present since birth.  UPDATE:  July 2019 diagnosed with PANS. Dr. said likely started first PANS episode at less than 1 or 2 years of age.  On long-term daily prophylactic antibiotics. BMI now about 16 after period of intense refeeding prior to PANS dx,  followed by stagnation as we sort out what is next. FWIW ED-D is a fraternal twin and we have no other kids.
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mjkz
My daughter used to do similar things to me.  I had to eat exactly what she did, etc.  I never did and kept telling her people were different and needed different things so I drew the line in the sand immediately. I'm so glad you are doing this as T2 is being held hostage and it's not fair to either one of them.

TF has great suggestions.  I would make sure that T1 never saw what T2 ate and feed them at different times.  If T1 asks T2 a question to compare, I'd tell T2 not to answer.  I'd tell T1 that all comparisons stop now and make sure that if I heard T1 asking a comparison question to T2, I'd interrupt and remind them that no comparisons are to be made.

Like Food_support, I found that paying attention to the meltdowns and raging simply fed the fire.  I would say something to my daughter along the lines of I'm sorry this is so difficult and that was it.  I would send her to her room if she couldn't control herself to give her time to collect herself (heck I went to my room at times when she was out of control).  It took less than a week for the rages and meltdowns to stop when she realized I wasn't going to give it any attention.

Yes, her anxiety is going to sky rocket but you will have to do this sooner or later.  I really think from what you say that both of them need it to happen ASAP.  The longer you wait, the more entrenched T1 will be.
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annabanana
Thank you, and yes, thanks to your posts, I'm learning to not 'feed' ED by arguing, but I do explain why I am not appeasing her, and tell her that I will be back in a bit to check on her and leave.  Then go to the bathroom and cry.  I certainly don't stay there the whole time and get the brunt of what ED has to say to me.  I stay mainly because when she's extremely anxious, she does things like pulling her hair out (she's got a nice bald patch already) or scratch her arms and face so I want to make sure she's physically safe.

Just to explain a bit more, I've never been the mom to be 'fair' to all my 3 girls, so this wasn't an issue before ED.  And yes, in the beginning T1 did compare herself to me (so I stopped working out for about 5 months) but eventually I was able to wean her out of it.  I haven't been able to this time, partly because it didn't start right away when T2 asked to stay home to continue her recovery as well, just like her sister.  T1 was afraid to have T2 at home, but I couldn't ignore T2 as she was having difficulty dealing with so much of stress from school and trying to recover from ED.  At that time our wait for an ED unit was 5 more months, so I felt I had to do something myself instead of waiting!

As far as separating the girls, there's only one of me, so I don't think I can do that at this time. We are in a foreign country without extended families and some of my friends have done more damage trying to help us and I've decided it's better for them to not come around on a regular basis.  My husband is not helpful at this time, sadly, because he resisted the girls' recovery earlier on (he didn't think it would get this bad and that I was over-reacting) and the girls resent him for it.  It's his biggest regret at this time, but unfortunately, the damage has been done.

T1 is a perfectionist, so setting a goal and achieving it gives her a high.  (Actually I think hearing people's praise of her accomplishments is the big part!)  So I am hoping to use it against her ED.  At times, she'll complain that their snacks are not as big as they should be, or they should be eating fear foods more often and we joke that her perfectionism for the recovery is going against the ED voices.  She's tormented for sure.  We took one step yesterday by not having T1 check snacks for one week.  We hope to add one more by the end of that week and keep on adding.  I'm ready for her freakouts.

Once the hospital calls us in to actually start the program (assessment was last week)--I can't believe how slow things are here in Toronto area--she knows many things will come to end.  I felt that the main thing I needed to do for a long time was to get her weight up so I minimized changes before to keep anxiety low.  This was really a catch 22 for us.

So thanks again for your advice, and your encouragement.  I really appreciate hearing your stories!!!




 



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mrscar
I too have twins- I posted my story for the first time under the topic Maulsby pros/cons.  

I avoided being on here when in the thick of the disorder- but now wished I would have- so many similarities. 

The comparing things was a daily battle for us too.  Not surprising since the little voice that played in T1's head prior to getting anorexia was, "I can't tell you apart but I Know T1 is the heavier one" (by innocent little 3rd graders two year prior) also, the who has better.. was kinda there since toddler if not birth. 

I realized It was not fair to T2 and I also started to see T2 fall into the rhythm of T1 to make her happy (scheduled snacks...not eating extras like she would) I am not pretty confident that she wan't trying to "loose" or anything.. but the rhythm was causing her to eat less.  On the flip side.. her sister wanted her to eat more.  The same comparison came from what activity T2 got to do that T1 didnt. 

Here is what eventually helped for us
- Creating planned opportunities for the twins to eat separately. Once a week one would go with grandma for a special date and the other with me.  It was the best thing for the non-anorexic twin.  She would say how nice it was just to eat and not have to deal with all the things that came along with it - even though she loved and supported her sister as best she could for a 10-11 year old.. she was wearing down. 
-constantly reminded the other T1 that her sister was at a healthy weight and was eating and doing what her body could handle. 
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 I was terrible at ideal threats. I think if I would have been stronger- I would have made faster progress.. I would often say - if you compare or bother your sister - I will have to do separate meals/activities for both of your sakes.  I was better at planning this.. but never took the risk to upset the meal she so desperately needed.  Wish twin 2 didn't have to take on so much responsibility.. but their sisters.. they have that special bound. 

And as hard as it is to believe- and my FBT therapist was so right- it is going to happen no matter what (I know a family who has a 15 year old that compares to her 13-year-old sister that has a totally different body shape)  but it was not until T1 had gained weight and the brain was working better that it stopped.. gradually.  Not totally.. but for the most part. 

Good or bad- the comparison part is working in our favor now.  She is now healthy enough to see that her sister is strong and healthy even though she is heavier and taller (before taller meant she had to be heavier) and she is now seeing that as a positive thing. 


Stay strong- give the other twin some space- have hope- food is the medicine and hopefully you too will see it slip away as she gains weight. 
Thankfulparent
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mjkz
This was one of the reasons I never ate what my daughter did.  I very vividly remember her first hospital stay where comparing intake, weight loss, how to lose weight, etc. were all the topics of conversations when the staff wasn't around.  Eating disorders can be so competitive which is pretty scary.  I know a lot of people here eat what their kids eat to keep them eating but I just reinforced from day 1 that every single person is different and has different needs.  It really helped to stop the comparison.  Obviously more weight and getting her into recovery helped a lot too!!!
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