WARNING: IT’S LONG!
It’s a year since we started our journey, D has been wr+ since the end of June 2019.
It was February the 9th, we went to a restaurant to celebrate my SIL´s birthday. My D (13 at the time) did not want to come; that in itself was weird, but I let her, I thought it was a teen thing. Luckily, my sister, much younger than me, the cool aunt, took her to eat sushi. She called me next day, worried: my D didn’t eat or order anything but miso soup WHAT?! sushi was a favorite foo d.D told her she would rather not have to eat, EVER. My sister has a friend who suffered anorexia long time ago, before they met, but they have talked about it, she (sister) said she was worried about D. We’ve had signs before; my husband mentioned something about breakfast (she wanted nothing but fruit and vegetable smoothies), it kind of sounded normal to me (teen thing, healthy, let her be, blah , blah). My mother said ONCE that d didn’t have much for dinner at her house after dance class, didn’t think much of it (it happened only once and she DID eat one of the choices grandma offered). Sushi however, made alarm bells ring LOUD and together with grandma a dad observations, I knew we had a problem. The Sushi meal was on February 9, Granma and dad observations, on January. At that point I remember older brother (my stepson), mentioned something in December, D and him were in Starbucks and she said she wanted to be as thin as X. Mid February D had an interview in a new school she wanted to attend. The psychologist called me to say she wanted to meet, she said my D was very bright but had social anxiety through the roof (on hindsight D has all the personality traits that may put you at risk for ED, perfectionist, anxious, people pleaser, etc). I called the psychologist from the school she attended at the time and went to see her. She told me my D wasn’t eating at school, WHAT?¡ WHY NOBODY TOLD ME??? She said D had an eating disorder probably anorexia and that it was ALWAYS about the relationship with mom (argghhh), but not to worry she would talk to her, she herself (the psychologist) had had a bit of bulimia (sic) as a teen but talked herself out of it (I know!!). I was beside myself, that same day after dance class I bought my daughter a brownie (I had recently discovered the best brownies in a café nearby). I told her that she had to eat some, and she did. We had a little talk, I don’t really remember much of what we said, but she admitted she wasn’t eating at school/breakfast (only fruit and vegetable juice). The psychologist told me my daughter would be required to eat at school and they would supervise, for this and despite everything else she said, I’m grateful (she delivered). She told my D too, you have to eat, PERIOD. Interestingly, my D replied, my mom knows everything now, so I´ll have to eat.
I remember feeling devastated. I stayed very late looking for information online, I have a PhD in biology so I know how to do research, but luckily I also found the forum (that I wasn’t looking for) that same night! Honestly I don’t remember exactly how a landed here but I remember the immense sense of relief. After a while (a few hours of reading) I actually was able to sleep, and the next day I had a sense of purpose instead of hopelessness (little I knew what refeeding really meant, and all that we would go through). We started to give her a proper breakfast, lunch, etc. However she had a school trip the following Wednesday and we let her go (I know, I know), the school psychologist was going with them and she assured me she would supervise (she did, obviously she didn’t worry about quantity or cals). In hindsight, it wasn’t so bad that D went to the trip. I used that time on my own (younger S went too) to read EVERYTHING I could, and I could read a lot in 3 days. I did NOTHING ELSE but read (ATDT, FEAST EVE MUSBY, watched C & M videos, researched meal plans etc.) so I was much better prepared when she came back. The minute she came off the bus I started refeeding properly. My husband was away, he came home that night, I had been sending him bits and pieces, we talked and talked about that night, he was totally on board. I had order Eva Musby’s book and read everything that was on her website in the meantime. Refeeding started. We kind of ripped off the band aid. I was yelled at, kicked, bruised, you all know what I’m talking about. I read and read at night; just knowing that what was happening was “normal” in the ED world and what others had done helped immensely. Talking to my husband (he was away often, she would be more violent when he wasn’t around), telling D that if she was violent I would call my brother (he lives nearby, is tall, and thank god gets it!) also helped. There’s no FBT where I live, so we weighted her at her pediatrician and read ATDT. She put on weight. We had a trip in April that we couldn’t postpone (we were prepared to take turns in staying with her in the room, but it wasn’t necessary), we took the risk and went. First day was difficult, second day tense, the rest not too bad, better than at home actually. She never missed school; they did supervise and made a good job at it. The lovely lady who was in charge of supervising actually called me a couple of times to say D was giving her lunch away to friends and that she (the lady) would give her something else (she told me what she gave to her and saw her eating it).
The weight kept coming up, the meltdowns and violence became less intense, less frequent. We let her keep dance class (only twice a week, she was never obsessed with exercise, I watch her like a hawk nevertheless, day and night). In June she got a tummy bug, I panicked but luckily she sprained her ankle in dance class (this funny illness makes you consider “ good luck” that your daughter gets injured at class!) and she had to be at home resting for 2 weeks, she was practically in bed watching tv all that time. We took advantage of that and were able to take her above her growth curve (after the tummy bug, I wanted some cushion). We were lucky also that by the time ED showed up in our lives my D had had her period for a year (she never missed one), so no more growth spurts (she has grown a bit more, but slowly). She was in the 50% percentile from 7-11 yo, with puberty (11-13 yo) she was between 50-75% percentile but was always lean (height 75-91%), she started eating “healthy” a little bit after her 13 birthday. We took her to the 91% percentile in weight during the time she had to use crutches and stopped going to dance class. She wanted to go back to her class ASAP but took it well when I said she couldn’t, so eventually I let her go back. By around that time I let her go to a sleepover (best friend’s birthday), the mom knew, the friend knew, they promised to supervise and I guess they did a good job because she was in a good mood when we picked her up (with snack in hand). I can always tell when she skips due to her mood (especially if I offer a snack straight away). She had been to another birthday before, only for a few hours, and the first thing the mom said (in front of her) was, she ate nothing. D was furious but I was ever so grateful to that mom for informing me. D didn’t do much more socializing after that for a couple of months. She went to a drama summer course in July, and ate her snack everyday unsupervised. Things have been going from good to better since then. She is homeschooled now (not our choice and not ED or bulling related, but it turned out to be a blessing re. ED recovery). She eats snacks unsupervised if I’m not at home, or semi supervised if she is with her tutor (this tutor was a teacher at her school last year and was one of the teachers who reported that D was not eating). D’s birthday (October) was tricky but ultimately a success, and from then on, our lives are almost back to (the new) normal.
I was very tense around Christmas and January (it was in January last year when she started restricting, started eating “healthy” a few months earlier). The weight redistributed 6 months after WR+. I panicked because she looked a LOT leaner. We weighted her and she was still above her growth curve, phew!.
February has been great! I had a bit of PTSD at the beginning of the month, remembering everything we went through last year but the last couple of weeks have been really good. I still worry every day, she still doesn’t ask for seconds, I’m scared of her going back to school in August, I grieve for everything that got lost in the battle (significant birthdays for both my husband and myself, once upon a time I was planning a big trip for my Ds 15 birthday, you know, dreams, hopes, plans).
Stage 2 IS HARD (we don’t really do stages since we didn´t really do FBT although a few months after WR, I was lucky to find in my country, through ATDT, a wonderful pediatrician who does FBT and recently become part of FEAST. She lives hours away but we communicate by phone or WhatsApp). What I mean by stage 2 since I don’t have to do it by the book, is slooowly (and I mean slOOOOOOOOOwly) giving back options to my D (flavour, sweet or sour), sometimes she prepares her snack with supervision, sometimes she eats at home and I’m not sitting next to her (I come and go). Me or H ALWAYS sit with her for breakfast, main meal (not dinner around here), and dinner. But, we are able to let her sleep in and to sleep in ourselves on weekends; she was able to go to six flags with friends for many hours and she ate with them, she participated in a film and had many meals there, sometimes I was around, sometimes I wasn’t. Because of the film, she missed dance class for a month, not an issue. Sometimes she balks at something I give her or I say about food, but not frequently. Yesterday, I offered banana with cream, she didn’t want it, she said she preferred berries with cream, perfectly acceptable answer BUT something within me tingled, so she will be having banana with cream SOON.
Me? I AM A MESS, I have read A LOT about STAGE 2 in the forum, and about PTSD , and I know is normal to feel this way once the emergency is over, once things are slowly going back to normal. I feel depleted. I feel like fun was sucked out of my live, joy was sucked out of parenting. I used to love being a mom, and I hate to feel like this. I have a younger S who deserves to feel that I enjoy being her mom; that I can be/have fun, but I just don’t have the energy, sometimes I just don’t care anymore. What helps me is coming to the forum to read, others have come before me and prevail. I do small things for me, but it’s hard. Today I’m enjoying (yes, actually enjoying) my day (its school trip time again, my younger S is away, my D is going to stay with her best friend for a couple of days, I have reminded the mom that D is still on a 3 meals 2 snacks, we never did 3), thinking how long we’ve come in a year.
I plan to keep her in a 3 meals 2 snacks regime for a LOOOOONG TIME. I plan to have her on maintenance (not same weight, same growth curve, since she is only 14). I still cook with lots of canola oil, cream, butter, I still give her my magic shake ( berries, granola, canola oil, nuts/peanut butter/nutella, lindseed, honey, full fat milk, Carnation milk, HWC/ice cream, banana) every morning, and plan to keep doing it when she starts school next academic year. I plan to keep watching her like a hawk during that transition, snacks and lunch at a new school can be difficult. She will be starting high school; she has some friends in the new school but not the ones who were at her side during refeeding, so I can’t really relax just yet. What I can and will try very hard to do is more self-care, more time with hubby, more fun with younger S and in general. Something that really helped me (I read it in the forum, as most of the things that have been REALLY useful) is the term Radical Acceptance, I haven’t read the book but the concept, just to say it, really helps me.
My D was anxious since the day she was born, so I’m looking into CBT or something like that in my city, it’s expensive, far from home, the insurance won’t cover it so we’ll see. We are still not at 12 months after WR, so we’ll wait and see. I use exposure therapy with her, not only for food (also social things, heights, etc.) and it works really well. The other day she asked me, when can I start to learn to drive! (At 15 where we live) she used to be terrified, she used to say (before ED) that she would never drive; now she is asking when she can start! She changed her WhatsApp profile to one that has PINK FLOWERS! (She was all black during ED, and hasn’t wear anything remotely girly in more than a year) I almost cried. Nobody but you guys would understand things like that (and my wonderful H, he was also ecstatic about the profile). Clothes wise she is also doing sooo much better, used to be dad’s t-shirts EVERY DAY. She still wears sweatshirts (at least her size, some are not black, and some are cute and short), we yet need to get her a new swimsuit, but we are moving forward. And it’s all thanks to FEAST and ATDT, I have no doubt in my mind and heart, FEAST and ATDT saved my child, my family, my sanity. Thank you all, thanks to Laura Collins, and the many, many members that have shared their stories; every time I had a question, or something happened that made me doubt myself, I would find the answer here, I would find support, hope, strength. Writing all this helps me so much! I hope it can be useful to some of you out there in the trenches. ATDT rocks!!!