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

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kjs16
Sorry to post twice in a day, but I thought there might be feedback on another issue (this is not to do with the immediate problem of violence):

Situation: Refeeding 14 yo d at home. She is eating as directed, and after one week is beginning to restore weight (just shy of 2 lbs first week). She is lashing out, sullen, varying between not talking and yelling insults, cursing, etc., retreating and trying to run off. (And violent, see other post.)

All that aside, she is totally obsessed with weight gain and distorted body image, and Mom keeps catching her staring in the mirror. She looks at herself in every reflection, be it a window or an excuse to go to the bathroom. Her entire attention, when not lashing out to resist eating etc., appears to be focused on this. (Note, she has just moved to Seattle area from years out of the country, and so she has no activities, school, friends or anything like that to occupy her time or attention. We are working on that, but it will take time, especially since the refeeding takes almost all available energy.)

This is only a very minor piece of the big picture, but does anyone have any thoughts on plusses and minuses of removing or covering all mirrors in the house? The idea would be that all three now living there - D, Mom and Grandma - would take the position that they are all unhealthily obsessed with how they look (D only more so than others), that looking at oneself in the mirror is an unhealthy mindset, and that removing the mirrors is part of a collective effort to start to train the mind to understand that we look fine, don't worry about it. 

Mom thinks D will just tear the covers off the mirrors or stare at herself in the window reflection, and meanwhile no mirrors inconveniences everyone else living in the house. Dad thinks that since he rarely looks at himself in the mirror and never worries about how he looks, that there is a mindset to be achieved where you just don't worry about how you look, it does not occupy mental attention, you look fine, and that removing and covering mirrors might start to reinforce this mindset.

Anyway, posting for thoughts on something a little lighter than the general horror we are dealing with. D's obsession and delusions with how she looks seems to be a huge part of her ED's evil reaction. Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks.
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Francie
Hi KJS16, When our d came back from a php program in 2013 we covered the mirrors with cloth. She covered her bedroom mirror with pictures of herself as a young child/toddler. It is gone now but it was a sweet collage to look at and I hope was a reminder to her of the girl she really is.

This request to cover mirrors was something we discussed with her so she bought in to the idea. She was 15 at the time.

I think it may be a good idea to cover mirrors, and I like your idea of making it a team decision.

I read your other post regarding the violence. So scary and you are smart to address it right away. I like how you've decided to handle it.

Best of luck! Francie

Francie

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K63
Hi Kjs16, don't worry post as many times as you like it's not a problem as this illness is so complex we all have many different things to ask about We have slide robes in my daughters room and when she became ill I asked the psychiatrist about covering them up as she could constantly see herself even if she was lying in bed . He said she would see herself in shop mirrors or widow reflections and felt it was unnecessary . My son saw her a few times standing in front of it looking and checking herself . While she was ip I covered them all except her bathroom mirror with a plain wallpaper. She didn't mind at all I think it gave her a break from constantly being able to see herself at every turn in the mirror. She still has access to our slide robes but not all day every day as she only goes into our room to get some clothes. She can still use her bathroom mirror but it's not full length . It's now like they were always covered and she never mentions them.
Daughter started restricting in February 2014, tried re feeding at home hospital admission 4 1/2 months weight restored started restricting post discharge, back on meal plan full supervision weight restored april 2016. Starting to hand back responsibility for meals it's scary. 
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Psycho_Mom
Hi,

We had to limit bathroom time to 5 min. I explained to d that we were going to do everything to keep her safe from her illness, and that right now looking in mirrors wasn't a safe activity. (True, I think. Obsessive thoughts make changing behaviors and eating, harder. It's best to interrupt obsessive thoughts as much as possible.) She was outraged!!! But she agreed that limiting time was better than the other options, such as removing or covering mirrors or having me in the bathroom with her. You can always make an option more palatable by offering an even worse option with it.

I don't think your whole family needs to forego mirrors, unless their lives actually would be improved. The rest of your family doesn't have a deadly illness. You could tell your d however, that many other sufferers have also had to limit mirror time early in recovery (it always helped my d to know that she wasn't "a freak" and that her parents weren't completely insane or making stuff up).

You can search for "mirror" on this site and probably get a lot of other ideas for what people have done. Covered mirrors with paper or photos, or used that window paint or window marker stuff to draw pictures on it. Some people have removed mirrors, removed doors, etc. You do what you need to do.

best wishes,



D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.
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Psycho_Mom
Hi again,

The obsessions and delusions about how she looks WILL GO AWAY. After she reaches wr and stays there long enough for her brain to heal. 
Really. Really, really.
In the meantime, you can try to validate the emotion, ignore the logic, and then distract.
"It sounds like that is so upsetting for you. I'm so sorry. Things will get better. Let's play dominoes." 
D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.
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bks76
We did remove the full length mirror from son's room. He still has a non full length in bathroom, but we felt like the full length just stared at him from the moment he got out of bed. His obsessive body checking and thoughts have gotten much better with WR and time. It's true, it really does get better!

Psychomom has the BEST advice on how to address (or not really) the obsessive/anxiety talk. This validate emotion and distract is really, really important. It took us too long to learn that part. We just didn't get it at first, but all the obsessive thoughts on body are symptoms of the ED. I would listen and try to have rational conversations....not helpful at all.

On another note, when removing the mirror we also removed the lock on son's door. We have not regretted that decision one bit.
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momtobeauty
Hi there- I posted the same question a few months back when we were at the beginning of refeeding and I also asked the ED therapist about it. My d was also using her full length mirror more than was healthy. The therapist recommended not removing the mirror at the beginning stages (but I think she might have advised it if it became an on-going issue). Our fight with the ED turned out to be intense but brief compared to some others here. Now she is weight restored and not obsessed with her image but she has said that she looks the same now as she did back then. She was so underweight and unhealthy before and she still thinks that she looks the same so clearly her perception was distorted. My daughter needed more weight to actually be able to cope with her reflection. A bit counter-intuitive.
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bconnelly
we removed the mirrors at her "trigger" locations - her room, the powder room and the bathroom with the shower. We left the mirror in our room - she never uses it - and we left the one in the other bathroom as that is the one her brother uses so she doesn't go in it. It was a huge source of anxiety for her - and boy was she ticked when she came home from school and they were gone - but it helps. We've had way less tantrums at times when she would be changing and showering - that's for sure.

Good luck!
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Sotired
I found that mirrors or not, my d body checked constantly.you know when they sit there, pinching their thighs or their stomach incessantly?yeah,we had lots of that.we never removed any mirrors but we only have one full length one in the house anyway and like pyschomum we limited bathroom time to five mins as this stopped not only body checking but also exercising.when our d was vomiting a lot we made her answer questions whilst showering and toile ting ,annoying as hell for all concerned but as they learn to vomit silently after a while a complete necessity.
They always find some way to look at their body so I personally don't think it makes any difference.
Sotired42
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Torie
I asked my d about covering up the mirrors when she was in the throes of Ed, and she begged me not to. She said if I did that, she would KNOW she looked so unspeakably horrid that we had to protect her from the sight of herself.

It's a tough call sometimes. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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happiness
Hi everyone,

I am so sick and tired of this constant body checking and these constant conversations about there is fat here and there, and there is some skin here and there and it wasn't there before! I am a very patient person but at the moment it is too much. She can not stop checking her body, constantly, even when I am with her.
I am about to remove the mirror in her room. She spends soo much time in front of it. I have tried sticking something on it but she removed in in one of her rages.

When will that ever stop???? Do you engage at all in that talk or do you just step away from it or distract? What do you do? She clearly wants to talk about it so do I just leave her on her own with those thoughts or do I engage??? She is only a few kg short of her w/r but is finding it harder than ever before.

Any tips are very welcome! Thank you ever so much!


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Torie
happiness wrote:
Do you engage at all in that talk ...?


The consensus seems to be no fat talk. Before I found the forum, I tried to reason with my d about this type of thing, but as others pointed out, it is worse than useless to try to reason with someone who's irrational. And, although our Ed-kids can be models of rational thinking in areas unrelated to food/weight/size, they are, by definition, irrational about those topics.

If you feel you must respond, "normal" is a great word. (Ed twists "healthy," "good," etc. into "fat," but seems powerless against "normal.")

So maybe something like, "Looks normal to me. How do you like my new giraffe socks?"

Keep swimming. xx

-Torie

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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bks76
Happiness,

I absolutely understand what you are going through. My son was an obsessive body checker, and would ask everyone in the family if he "still had his abs" many times a day. He would cry that he couldn't ever be happy or be himself without abs. I too at first struggled with the idea that he must need to talk about this since he did it all the time, and I would rationalize and try to reassure. This was a mistake. Psychomom and Torie and others have great advice on this, do not engage, as much as humanly possible. It's really hard to do. A therapist also helped by explaining this is a faulty or unhelpful obsessive neuro pathway that unfortunately in the throes of ED is wide and clear so it's "easy" for his brain to follow. But that we need to try to minimize the time traveling this pathway by not engaging. The hours of talking about fat or abs only strengthens this ED pathway. Our job was to try to minimize time traveling this pathway, and then it would weaken or shrink or something and other more normal pathways would start widening. This neuro pathway stuff is of course dependent on brain healing which requires full nutrition, lots of dietary fats, and weight restoration.

It never seemed like it would in the day to day, but somehow over the months it has gotten so much better! He rarely (like can't remember the last time) talks about his abs, can't remember the last time he pinched his skin to check. These body checking symptoms have improved dramatically! Keep focusing on feeding for 1-2 lb a week weight gain, try to not engage with these body checking and fat talk symptoms of ED, and remember it really, really does get better!
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happiness
Thank you Tori and bks76,

I like to think of a wide pathway in the brain and making it smaller by not engaging. I will try that. I will not engage anymore. However you just want to tell them that their thinking is all wrong and that they are still very tiny and skinny. This illness just makes no sense. How do people get through this?

I don't know what I would do without this forum! It is so great to have you all and knowing that everyone understands without much explanation!
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Psycho_Mom
Hi,

My d used to peek at her stomach. Just a quick chin tuck and a lifting of her shirt. I guess the illness made her fear her tummy was going to start pooching out. I don't know. She did this, like, ALL THE TIME. God I hated it. That was the most irritating thing ever. So absolutely stupid. That behavior lasted way past wr. She did it once on the basketball court and got whacked in the head with the ball. Ha!! I enjoyed that moment (I am a terrible mom.) 

Here to tell you though, that it did go away. Gradually. Lots of behaviors and thoughts went away more quickly, but that stupid tummy checking hung on and wasn't completely gone until maybe 18 months post wr.

Try to empathize with the emotion, try to remember that body checking is a symptom of illness, and distract. 

And get that weight on asap!!!!
best wishes,
D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.
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NellyMac_UK
We covered some mirrors during refeeding because D was very distressed by her reflection. She had a whole mirrored wall in her bedroom so it was totally understandable that she would find that difficult! So we covered the mirror in her bedroom and a full length mirror in the hallway but left the others as they were.  I felt this way she could be comfortable and hopefully have moments of peace in her own bedroom but not be shocked by her reflection when out and about. 

The day that I went into her bedroom after w/r and she had taken down the mirror covering was a memory I cherish.

Diagnosed RAN October 2013, w/r but struggling with depression and anxiety.
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