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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kentmum
we are early into this- my D was diagnosed with Anorexia mid October and despite an in-patient admission for her physical health for 3 days, and a somewhat rocky road, her eating has improved somewhat - I would say about 1800 calories a day - we are having 2-3 weekly outpatient appointments, using the FBT approach and she is managing to go to school - however her thinking remains rigid, and she has many OCD symptoms but overall i recognise that it could be much worse 

however our family life is floored by this - my husband, her step-father has coped poorly and it has highlighted the problems in their relationship - and there has been a lot of conflict, where I have been stuck in the middle, most recently (last sunday) where we had a row, which she overheard, and whereby she said she really hated him and wouldn't eat if he was in the house - as a consequence, he moved out - things got a lot calmer and easier at home, but I feel bereft at both what is happening to my D and to my marriage - the normal rules don't rely here, and I feel beholden to the ED, and am beyond myself with rage with her (biological) father, who has absented himself from the whole thing

I am very anxious about my D's future, my own - how I might continue to work and pay the bills, with limited support - it feels like a nightmare and I feel continually guilty with all that I have done wrong or not done at all

Help

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Foodsupport_AUS
I am so sorry that things seem to be so hard at the moment. You must be terribly stressed and distressed. 
As regards  your relationship, I can only recommend educating as much as possible to help him understand that D is not entirely responsible for her own actions or even her thoughts at the moment. ED tends to focus on weak points and push every one away from them, and that may include destroying relationships. 

As regards the re-feeding, it is great that she is managing school, however I would suggest that 1800 per day is too low. It would be surprising to see progressive weight gain on this, and that is what is needed. Weight restoration is not a magic fix, in fact at times it can seem to make things worse for a while, but it is the only way to get to a point where the brain can heal and those behaviours and thoughts can reduce. What can you do to get more food in?
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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melstevUK
kentmum,

I am so very sorry for what has happened and is happening to you.  EDs are hard enough on families it is but can be even harder when there are step parents.  My partner walked out on me near the beginning of my d's illness because he couldn't see being able to cope (he came back a few days later).

Can you find the time to speak alone with your husband, explain that this is not an illness of choice and that it will be a long and hard road but that you still love him and want him to be with you?

Relationships between step parent and teenagers can also be rocky without and ed so this is horrendously hard on you.  However, I would tell your d straight that she has a really serious illness, and though she is not choosing to be ill, you expect that she manages some of her behaviours.  She absolutely cannot tell you that she refuses to eat while her stepfather is in the house and that this is totally not acceptable.  Food is her medicine and she needs to eat it whoever is present and in any place and at whatever time it needs to happen.  Ensure your d understands this - because this is the ed speaking and putting obstacles up to try and stop eating happening.  She is trying to put you over a barrel here - and she cannot be allowed to do this.

In the meantime, tell your h not to take any of this personally; when he returns, try and ensure that you and he stay calm and that if any of the high emotion behaviours occur, they come from your d and then the pair of you work together to bring the emotion down.

You are all new to this highly distressing and frustrating situation.  You also need to discuss openly with CAMHS in front of your d what she has said and done because they will understand that this is part of the ed too, if they really understand the illness.  In private I would speak to the lead clinician and have your d told openly in front of you that she needs to eat more.  I agree with Foodsupport that your d's intake is not enough to support school and growth and her mood may improve if she is fed more rather than less.

Don't despair, have a discussion with your husband and get him on board.  My partner and d did not really get on for many years - he kept right out of having anything to do with the illness because he could not speak in the right tone or the right way about it and would just get angry so I managed her on my own.  We took longer than most because we had either no or worse than useless clinical support, and you at least sound as if you have people supporting you who know what they are doing.

It will get better but it will be a rocky road and it would be wrong to say otherwise - but there is hope and there will be a way through. 
Good luck and let us know how things are.
Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
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kentmum
thank you both - this is helpful, and MelstevUK thank you for sharing your own experiences, the step-family dynamic certainly makes it feel a lot harder.  

you both make the point about her calorie intake, and food support about whether she should be at school. I have been on this site before specifically to explore this, and the majority of responders told me that she should be eating more and shouldn't be at school until she does, however this directly contradicts what the CAMHS ED service have said, and they are adamant that she should be at school - and certainly things have not got worse she has been back at school, and despite the awfulness, slightly better.

This whole ED world is still really new to me, and managing conflicting advice is tricky, and it did keep me off this site, as this potentially feels like one further thing to get your head around, one of the things which I have found most challenging is the complete loss of confidence in your own judgement as a mother. I do however value your insights from your own expereinces  

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ooKoo
Dear KentMum,

What a horrible situation for you all.

Sadly, eating disorders thrive on pitting family members against each other, presumambly because it feels more threatend by a force of two people at home.  Please explain this to your Husband.  It is also important to explain that this isnt your D, but the eating disorder (it always helped me to separate my D from her illness).  I do hope that you are able to talk to him alone, and help him to understand.

Kx
UK - South East

19 yo D

Dx AN Feb 2015 (Aged 15). Pre-existing low self-esteen and high anxiety. 

2015: 3 x medical hospital admissions. 1 month in IP which she self discharged from [eek].
2016: 3 x hospital admissions. 
2017: CAMHS CBT. WR, dropped out of 2 different colleges and started an apprenticeship.  Started having grand mal seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy in Nov 2017. Sacked from job because of this.  Tribunal ensued.
2018 - doing a Psychology degree through Open University and working in retail to pay her way in life. Relapses with eating disorder in June 18 and Nov 18 😢. 

On particularly rough days when I am sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. [Author Unknown]
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BattyMatty_UK
Dear Kentmum, I really feel for you - what an awful situation. MelStev's advice is really good (as her advice always is!) When my son was very sick with anorexia (in 2010), we ended up having to take him out of school. His growing volatility made it impossible for him to be there - and he was spending more time in the medical centre than in the classroom, so he wasn't learning anything! Being at home also meant that I was able to be there for meals and ensure he did actually eat. I was fortunate in that I work from home and I know that other working parents don't have this luxury. Our CAMHS supported me in the decision, thankfully.

So sorry to hear about your husband. Yes, as ooKoo says, eating disorders thrive on putting a wedge between family members. It took quite a while for my H to 'get it' and for ages we argued, often in front of our son, which wasn't ideal to say the least. I remember he used to refer to the help I got on this forum as "Your cronies on that @@**!! forum"!! Thankfully, once he 'got it' things improved massively as he and I stood together united against the eating disorder.

I can offer you hope in that my son is now fully recovered and getting on with his life - believe me, there was a MASSIVE period when I thought this would never, ever happen and that he would never get well, but I found massive support on this forum. It was a lifesaver. xxxxx
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
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kentmum
Thank you - I do value the comments x
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Torie
kentmum wrote:
This whole ED world is still really new to me, and managing conflicting advice is tricky, and it did keep me off this site, as this potentially feels like one further thing to get your head around, one of the things which I have found most challenging is the complete loss of confidence in your own judgement as a mother. I do however value your insights from your own expereinces  x


Listen, no one knows your d better than you, and no one loves her more than you do.  We are just a bunch of well-meaning strangers on the Internet who have never met your d.  (Granted, we know a whole lot more about AN than any of us ever wanted to, but ...)

One of the forum mottos (-oes?) is to take what advice you want and ignore the rest.  We don't get offended by that, and we don't judge.  

Dealing with this vile illness is enough to rock anyone's confidence as a parent. On top of that, it's completely counter-intuitive. And on top of that, your h has walked out.

Sheesh. So unfair.

Hang in there. It really does get better. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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aloha
Remember it's not really your daughter it's the horrible thoughts putting us against each other.
Try stick together ...it puts a massive strain but two against is far better. She will have blow outs god I know about it !!!
My last is 14 and is recovering from this scourge a.n.
Is a brain disorder and few people get it. All forum behind you my dear.
A.
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aloha
Putting ye.... I mean
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kentmum
saw H last night, and he remains convinced that he is unable to return home as he cannot (? will not) be able to cope with D's ED 

In addition to the on-going slog of refeeding, D remains highly critical of me, both in relation to step-father and more generally, and shows no awareness of the impact of her illness on me, regardless of the fact that it is me who is now her one only care-giver.

My sister is a good support, but my parents are no longer alive and I have no other siblings. My daugther's biological father has opted out of the whole thing, as there is some support from his mother, but not much and my in-law's do not live locally

The unfairness of the situation feels immense, and I feel quite consumed by this - I am finding it increasingly hard to hold it all together on my own

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BattyMatty_UK
Oh Sweetie, I wish I could give you a great big hug and do something to help!! Believe me, although your D doesn't appear to be aware of what the illness is doing to you, deep down I am sure she is. My (now recovered) son told me that, underneath it all, the 'real him' was crying out for help, and valued my constant support and love MASSIVELY. He was just unable to show it because of the ED. This is something he has told me several times since he recovered from the ED. Every year on my birthday, and on Mothers Day, he sends me cards with lovely poems, thanking me for 'being the one who never gave up' during those dark times. It's as if he is making up for all those months / years when the ED dominated everything in his being and gagged the 'real' boy. I am saying all of this to hopefully give you some hope and motivation to carry on doing what you are doing and showing love and support. Deep, deep, deep down your D will be sooooooo thankful that you aren't giving up on her, that you are there for her. One day she will tell you this and, if you're like me, you'll bawl your eyes out with happiness!!!!

I am so sorry you don't have the support you so desperately need. I know what that's like. You will find support on this forum and you may also make good local friends who you can meet up with, like I have done over the years. MelStev is a shining example. Back in the 'dark bad old days' she'd meet me for coffee on her occasional visits to my city, and offer me the most amazing support. We still meet up. Have you joined any of our Facebook pages? I found this a great starting point for getting to know some of the mums better rather than the anonymity of this forum. Look me up on FB (I have 2 pages under my name below), friend me and I'll recommend friends for you.

Is there a local carers' group you could join?

Also so sorry you are having problems with your H and the ED. Sorry I can't offer any help for you on this other than to say I'm sending you a huge virtual hug!!

B xx
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
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Torie
I'd like to join BattyMatty in sending the virtual cuppa.  No one should have to endure this.

You will get through it, though, because there is no way to go around or under. One step at a time, one day at a time, one hour or minute or meal or bite at a time ....

Although it sucks that your h is doing this, it might be better than having him there with you and your d.  Many others here have had to fight through this solo so it can be done.

The first thing is to be sure to take care of yourself as best you can.  Not sure if we have already talked about that on this particular thread, but you are your d's ace in the hole so you have to stay as strong as you can.  It's important to find the time to do nice little things for yourself each day, and also accept whatever help you can find - friends, church, neighbors, and as BattyMatty said, fellow forum members can provide lots of companionship and moral support.

If anyone owes you favors, now's the time to call them in.  And if not, now's the time to start racking up some debts.

The fact that our Ed-kids are the opposite of warm and appreciative makes it harder, too, I know.  A while back, my d surprised me by saying that she ate for me: "I wasn't eating for myself, Mom, I was eating for you."

So they really do care, even though they don't let on at the time.  

Hang in there. Please let us know how we can help. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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EDAction
Quoted from Torie:
I'd like to join BattyMatty in sending the virtual cuppa.  No one should have to endure this.



DITTO from me.

You are right - it is unfair.  But you can do it.  We are here for you.

Thinking of you.
DD diagnosed with anorexia at 14; FBT at home with the help of psychologist and medical dr; 3+ years later and doing well (knock on wood)
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kentmum
Thank you x will follow up on FB and support group options
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BattyMatty_UK
Yes, do reach out wherever you can. Not everyone will 'get' it, sadly. But you might just meet a true friend that way, hopefully someone local to you. This happened to me back in the dark days when I reached out to find support - I bumped into someone who became the most amazing and supportive friend you could ever have. I hope you find someone, too. xxx
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
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melstevUK
kentmum,

I can imagine the utter turmoil you are in and the utter despair that you are feeling.

With regard to your husband, I would give him some space and thinking time - right now he is having to cope with your d's rejection of him and not just her illness and that can be tough. What was their relationship like before the illness set in?

Have you spoken to your d about the requirement to eat, whoever is present and wherever you are?  This is crucial.
Also, right now you are going to get a lot of hostility from your d, because of her age and the illness and it is important that you do not allow yourself to feel hurt by it because you are the closest to her and are going to be the one she takes her anger out on.  It is important that you acknowledge how difficult things are for her - both in terms of her illness, which she has not chosen, and also because of the relationship with your husband, which she will perceive as taking you away from her on many levels.  You have to stand your ground on this one and tell her that, while she may not be happy with the situation right now, she has to accept it - you love her and nothing about the marriage changes that.  

I don't know how long you and your husband have been together.  If you can weather this together you can weather anything.  We had many difficult years, several when we were never together at weekends (separate issues apart from the illness) and I used to wonder if my relationship had caused my d's illness.  But we have all come through and while my d and partner will never be that fond of each other, there is at least a willingness to make an effort to get on with each other.  

Your husband also needs to be less sensitive about your d's behaviour and attitude which, while not acceptable, are all part and parcel of the complex situation you are all in.  

Unfortunately you are the one at present who needs to stay 'adult' about everything and that is hard, when you yourself need support.  You need to let CAMHS know what is happening so that they appreciate the strain you are under right now, and it may be worth speaking to your GP to see if he/she can help.  
The diagnosis is still so recent so you are bound to be still in shock.  If you are having difficulty sleeping, for example, you may find sleeping tablets may help.  Many parents have had to be on antidepressant medication themselves to help them stay the course.  

As Bev says there may be someone in the area who can help - there may be some kind of support group locally too.

Big hugs - you deserve and need them.


Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
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ed_newbie
Hello kentmum,

I have no added words of wisdom to share right now but I think the others have given you some excellent suggestions.  I just want to welcome you to the forum and to encourage you to use it frequently to vent, get advice, feel supported, etc. It's been a lifesaver for me!   

"Lineage, personality and environment may shape you, but they do not define your full potential."    Mollie Marti  

ed_newbie

15 yr old d diagnosed with AN late December 2015 at the age of 12 after a 23 lb weight loss during prior 3 months. Started FBT/Maudsley at home on Christmas Eve with support from amazing local nutritionist specializing in ED and trained in FBT. WR Feb 2016 and pushing our way through puberty and rapid growth.
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AUSSIEedfamily
Dear kentmum,

I understand how your H feels as in some part I have been where he is. One really hard thing for some of us males to do is to do a separation between what we experience from our child (or step child) and what the disease is doing to our child.

So please ask your H to read my posts. You can print them out if he wont come here.

Read all the other dad posts too.

Then there is the situation of an eating disorder being just the best expert at triangulation/splitting between parents/family.

I will e-mail you with my contact details if your H wants to e-mail or call me.

From my experience here on atdt & with other families it seems as though the mums more easily pick up on the ed than the dads.

ED Dad
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kentmum
Thank you ED dad, and for your email -I will pass to my H

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toughbattler
Hi Kent mum
Have you been in touch with Jenny Langley?
She runs fantastic workshops teaching skills for carers on a regular basis, which are based on New Maudsley approach, in both Tonbridge and Sevdnoaks. Also a monthly support group.
She is happy to be contacted directly under boysgetamorexiatoo website. Very well networked so might be able to refer you directly to others in the area in a similar position.
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