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

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Hello there,

thanks for the answers to my first posting!  We are now one week refeeding and my d is eating. On the one hand, my h and I feel glad about it, but on the other hand we realize a change in her behaviour: since she cannot act compulsive in her eating habits, she now shifts the compulsive behaviour to studying for school.

Before ED, she was an average student and not very ambitious. She didn't have to work hard to get average grades. But along with the AN, she became more and more ambitious and disciplined. She said, the AN "gave her" the strength to work hard for school and that she's afraid that this will stop during recovery. We don't know what to do, because she wants to study all the time and is getting quite angry when I insist on breaks and relaxing time. Furthermore, she pointed out, that she knows how important it is for school success that she is relaxed, but she doesn't know how to achieve relaxation. I sat down with her and did some "meditation" which worked not bad for the moment, but you could tell that she was quite uneasy, because she wanted to go back to studying. Is this normal behaviour von AN girls?

Furthtermore she's terrified, that she will not like her body when she eventually reaches a healthy weight. Everything you say to her doesn't seem to comfort and satisfy her.

Does this sound familiar for anyone? Can anyone help? This is sooooooooo straining... 

Warm greetings

It sounds like you are doing really well. 
All that you describe sounds remarkably normal. FWIW my D is now much better at studying but it took a long time. Part of the issues is that the anxiety pokes out in all other ways than food. In schooling it drives them to spend as much time as possible so that no mistakes can be made. The worry about their bodies of course is also the illness. 
Reassuring her about her body may not work so well as letting her know that lots of people struggle with liking their body, a healthy body is what we all need. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Thank you Foodsupport_AUS! It's a little bit relieving to learn that this is normal for AN girls. I already figured that this is the illness trying to sneak through, but I was not sure. When you watch your child behaving atypically, it's so weird, you hardly recognize it.

What also strikes me: since she is AN and especially since the start of refeeding she has no more humor and no empathy for others at all. Hardly speaking and if she says something, it's in a very unfriendly and dismissive way. To every family member, but especially to me, because I am the main enemy - the one who monitors her meals and who's friendly but still determined and who doesn't get involved in discussions she wants to start about the smallest details concerning her food. I know this is all her illness, but sometimes I'm crying inside...  It's hard to deal with this rejection from your child. But, of course, I'm gonna go ahead and help my kid, no matter what.

Many greetings to you all!
A lot of patients digg into compulsive behaviour with learning and many learn the whole night and do not sleep any more and cannot stop that.
If that is the case you need to help her stop that as this is part of the ED behaviour. Set rules for lessons and put away the books afterwards. Lock them away if needed.

She cannot relax at the moment. Her anxiety levels are high and she cannot sleep or calm down. That is also normal. You can try some plant meds like balm to help her. Some helped a weighed blanked. Some parents had progress with melatonin. This will fade slowly with recovery but it sucks.

She will learn to accept her new body but that takes time. At the moment she has body dismorphia and sees herself fat no matter how thin she is. This is not rational, it is only in her brain, and therefor no rational discussions and no comforting words can help her. Try to get through this state. When she complains, say something like "mmh" to show her you feel with her and then try to change the subject. You cannot win a discussion with AN.

AN patients do not feel fun or empathy any more. This part of the brain is blocked for AN thoughts. And you get the most hate because to AN you are the biggest enemy. You give the food.
This will also get better by time. Try to ignore her behaviour or set rules if it is too mean and nasty. If there are siblings suffering tell them that her sister is very sick and therefor saying these things and that it will get better when she recovers.

This will fade away slowly with every kg she gains and you will never forget that day when she first hugs you again and says "thank you, mom".
My d knows today that we saved her life and although she did not talk with us for months and did not even let us touch her we now get all the missed love back every single day. You will get all the missed hugs and kisses back, I dare to promise that.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, my D compulsively studied and was highly dependent on me to help her study and extremely anxious and agitated if I wasn’t immediately ready to support her. She still struggles with concentration to read/study herself but this is improving as her brain is healing and her compulsion is less as she is socialising more. 
I will never forget the beautiful moment probably about 4 months into refeeding when D played a trick on me - a sign of her sense of humour returning. The brain heals. It takes time and food but it heals!! 

Of course you are crying inside. It is really distressing and incredibly hard to believe that this awful illness has affected your beautiful child. We all understand that.
Really great that your D is eating. Sending you a huge hug. Xx
Courage is not the absence of despair; it is rather the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair

I remember taking a picture, from a distance, one afternoon. All of our kids were sitting at the table together and s was participating in conversation and they were telling jokes together. It was something so normal, something I took for granted all of the years prior to AN. 

S wasn’t “better” and still is working through things, but it was the first glimmer of his normal self. Those moments, in time, came more and more often. He would play with siblings again, play tricks on us, just came back to himself. Keep feeding her. Each meal and bite in will bring her back. 

I agree with the poster above on putting limits with her school work. That’s very much an ED behavior to being hyper-focused there. Have her put it away and rest, go for a drive, etc. 

Thinking of you. You’re doing a great job. 


I thank you all for your answers, you're helping me so much! Now a lot has become clear to me and I can deal with this behaviour better now.

Many greetings to you all,

Read Carrie Arnolds "Decoding Anorexia" and you will understand much better how this disease works and what malnurtition does with the brain. It opened my eyes for a lot of strange behaviour my d had.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.