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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P123_lakeo
Good afternoon!
Our daughter K was diagnosed in December with Anorexia Nervosa Restriction and after a brief hospital stay was admitted to a wonderful clinic.  She is health restored and back to school and on the road to dealing with her chronic disease. We are very grateful. But I still feel mother's guilt and shame. The message to parents at the clinic was, "You didn't cause it. She didn't choose it." But for some reason, despite providing a loving, stable home it seems like we must have. This certainly wasn't the current thinking I had before our own child was diagnosed. Anyone have any thoughts? 
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scaredmom

Hi there P123_lakeo,
I welcome you to the club. Having this diagnosis can be a blow to many, if not all families. May I ask how old your D is? And did you do FBT? 
It is not your fault at all. I will say it again as it bears a repeat: IT. IS. NOT. YOUR. FAULT! We all thought our families were normal and so how could this have happened, so  it is natural to question. As a mom, I have felt guilty about my kids ever since I gave birth to my first 21 years ago. 
It is a biological illness and she had the predisposition in her. I am so glad she is doing well. And I found after my d was doing great, that is when I fell apart. The time spent refeeding and worrying about every bit of food and how I was going to get more into her etc.. takes its toll. And once it got so much better and I could relax a bit,  It left me shaking, and panicked and overwhelmed with grief. I forgot who I was.

Why do you feel that you have caused this? You don't need to answer, it is just something to think about. 
We all felt that somehow there was a message or a way of living life that tripped the ED wire and they got sick. 
I would like to reframe a bit here, if she had type 1 diabetes or cancer would you think you were to blame? I don't think so and it is the same. Unfortunately there is still so much stigma about Eds in the world and that can make us feel we are to blame and that is just WRONG.

I really feel ED are biologically based and research points that out too. 

https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/genetic-factors-eating-disorders

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170612094212.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21243475

https://www.mirror-mirror.org/genetics-and-eating-disorders.htm

I do not wish to inundate you with "stuff" but thought maybe these articles above could help you.

Are you getting support for yourself right now? I did need to sit and talk to a therapist about my issues too. I do feel we suffer PTSD after something like that and that is well documented in the research. Care givers of those with chronic illness can suffer greatly. 
Also you mention that she is dealing with the chronic illness, I am not sure what you mean? I do feel that recovery is possible for most of our kids even if it takes years. There is always hope. She was just diagnosed in Dec and so it is really still early days. It took my d about 4 months after WR and that was about 8 months after diagnosis to be more like herself in her mood and personality. So please try to be patient. I know you have endured so much with ED in the home and it does really get better, it really ,really does.

Please ask all the questions you have. We really wish to help.
Welcome again. 



When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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P123_lakeo
Thank you so much for your gracious response. Our daughter is 18. She was in a FBT treatment and I think now that she is doing better I can think. I should say I have the brain space to think about more than the details of the meal plan and recovery. We are certainly settling into a new mornal, but the old stigmas around ED are hard to shake. I suppose we parents have PTSD in a way. We are still in relationship with our Family Therapist. I will try to share some of this with her. I will read the articles you sent.
Thank you again for your kind response.
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cm72
I fully blamed myself since I was on a pretty strict no sugar no grains diet for two years before she become anorexic. I always preached about reducing sugar to the kids. It was really hard for me to let go that I wasn't the sole cause. 
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Ronson
I blame myself - I was on slimming world and really happy as was at a good healthy weight.  It’s hard to believe my negative body talk didn’t have an impact.  Whilst I get told it’s biological I still blame myself.  I wonder if I unwittingly let her slip into a calorie deficit and started it all off. 
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scaredmom
cm72 and Ronson, 

I do hope that you both know deep in your heart of hearts that neither of you nor me nor any other parent has caused this. 
It is hard as a parent to not look inside themselves and wonder. That is natural and I wonder if the culture today is : "If I do X my kids will turn out perfectly" that is such a heavy burden to bear. 
I think through the work of FEAST, ATDT and other organizations we have come so far and we have so much more knowledge that the real evidence is that we are not to blame. And I will reframe: If we were the cause then why are WE, we the parents, the solution? It is us, the parents, the care givers, the ones who are raising them, the ones that love them the most and would never want harm to fall on them, the ones who will and have sacrificed so much, that are the reason they get better and they recover. Please remember that. If we were the cause, then why are they in our charge? The evidence is clear, that WE are the true healers of this illness. 
It is us, you, me and all the other parents that we know and don't know that are way for our kids to have a life without ED.
XXX
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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sk8r31
Beautifully put, scaredmom.  I don't think there is a parent on the forum who hasn't thought, especially at the beginning, that if only they'd done X, or if they hadn't done Y, their kid would be fine.  I think that if one has the biological propensity towards an ED, there can always be a 'trigger', which we can wrongly assume is the 'cause'.  
Our kids get better because of our efforts; we do not cause the illness.  It can take time to truly believe this; I hope all parents who think that they had a hand in their loved one's ED can accept in time that this was not so.  And PTSD is real...our d is in strong recovery and has been for several years.  My h still says that his stomach clenches whenever our d mentions any anxiety or feels unwell.  As if she might suddenly relapse...and I remind him that we keep an eye out for any concerning behaviors, and that we have the skills, tools and professional resources to jump in if need be.  Just knowing that gives me tremendous peace of mind.

Warmly,
sk8r31
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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edengirl
I can so relate.  I too had been on a diet the year before my d became sick.  She was all in to helping me pack my lunch for the next day and all into helping me count calories.  Little did I know all this was being stored in her brain and would become such a weapon ED used against her.  It is so hard to sort all this out isn't it?  I mean we are frowned upon by our pediatrician if our kids are  overweight so being a perfectionist myself I always watched this with my 3 girls.  Their dad and I tried to live a healthy lifestyle- nothing crazy...just being active... hiking, bike riding..etc.  Having dessert after dinner was not the norm but instead a treat.  We didn't have "junk food" in the house but tried to have healthy options.  I honestly thought we were doing pretty well at teaching our kids to make healthy choices that would help them become healthy adults.  Like you all, my world is reeling now as I want to do a dance when I see d eating junk food.  It is truly an upside down world we find ourselves in isn't it?  D is really doing well, WR and no real fear foods left.  Anxiety is pretty much gone.  I am left with what I am sure is PTSD but she is unbelievably good for such a short period of time. 

H and I were just talking today about how we figure out the way forward.  Adjusting all we have known as "healthy" into a world d can thrive in.  No more "bad" food talk when everything in me is screaming out that this doesn't feel right.  After what we have been through the last 12 months I know we can figure it out but it will take some time for sure to find a new normal to keep her mentally and physically healthy. 

There is not a parent on here that doesn't feel responsible on some level I am sure.  How did we miss this monster taking over our kids one day at a time?  I feel more guilty about that than anything.  Was I too busy to notice?  Was she crying out for help and I didn't recognize it?  Did I pride myself on having a kid that ate an apple while the rest of her team was eating candy bars? Honestly the answer is probably yes to all those.  My only relief from this guilt is once we did identify the monster, we, like all you I'm sure, would have given our own lives to save our kids.  Anyone who fights this battle is a warrior mom/dad like no other.  I compare it to being handed my child and told to carry her across a mine field.  Any wrong step and you risk losing her.  All the right steps and you could still risk losing her.  No guide, no map, no training...just go...and go fast...no wonder we end this with PTSD symptoms.  At the end of the day we all deeply love our babies and would have never done anything to cause this if we would have known this was possible.  We have to find a way to be kind and forgiving to ourselves.   ED has been hard enough on all of us for a lifetime of repayment for anything we may have unknowing done with only the best intentions.  There is nothing worse than watching your child suffer...we have payed enough and so have they.  Prayers for everyone fighting this monster one day at a time....
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blondie
As someone who has had an ED, I can assure you that I have never once blamed my parents for it - so many things triggered it but it definitely wasn't them - in fact the only thing that was down to them was my initially getting help - and my getting through it - I never would have been able to recover without them - especially my mum. I'm ashamed to say there were days when I behaved appallingly - said the most dreadful things - wanted to give up -but they put their own lives on hold to help me - and I will be forever grateful that they did.
I'm sure your daughter feels exactly the same - the fact that she comes from a loving and stable home has probably been fundamental in her getting to where she has now - so rather than feeling shame, please feel proud that your family have been through such an awful time and come out the other side as close as ever- that doesn't always happen   
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tina72
P123_lakeo wrote:
Good afternoon!
Our daughter K was diagnosed in December with Anorexia Nervosa Restriction and after a brief hospital stay was admitted to a wonderful clinic.  She is health restored and back to school and on the road to dealing with her chronic disease. We are very grateful. But I still feel mother's guilt and shame. The message to parents at the clinic was, "You didn't cause it. She didn't choose it." But for some reason, despite providing a loving, stable home it seems like we must have. This certainly wasn't the current thinking I had before our own child was diagnosed. Anyone have any thoughts? 


I can understand you totally and it took a lot of time for us not to feel guilty any more. A big change was reading Carrie Arnolds "Decoding Anorexia" for both of us (I even read some parts to my d and that helped her not to feel guilty any more and to accept that it is a normal disease like diabetes). Maybe worth a try?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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sandie
I understand that we are not cause and our love is the solution. But I feel huge guilt as well for being so blind and so stupid in not recognising that my child was starving.I expect that is natural feeling. And guilt for anything I have done to make her more anxious, which may have contributed to her illness, like times I have argued with my husband in her earshot which likely made her feel more insecure. Thank you Edengirl for expressing a lot about how I feel. Reading this trail has made me cry. And made me think that its probably a good idea to talk more about feelings to reduce the risk of PTSD.
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scaredmom
It is a great idea to talk about your feelings, always.
We need support too, and getting help is essential.
please reach out to your health professionals for what you need. 
We are human and we do our best with what we have at that moment in time. Learning to forgive oneself comes in time. Be kind to yourself. 
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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tina72
sandie wrote:
I understand that we are not cause and our love is the solution. But I feel huge guilt as well for being so blind and so stupid in not recognising that my child was starving.I expect that is natural feeling. And guilt for anything I have done to make her more anxious, which may have contributed to her illness, like times I have argued with my husband in her earshot which likely made her feel more insecure. Thank you Edengirl for expressing a lot about how I feel. Reading this trail has made me cry. And made me think that its probably a good idea to talk more about feelings to reduce the risk of PTSD.


You could not have known that. Somebody said here "this was not in the baby books". Nobody expects you to be prepared for THAT. It is such an extreme situation and the illness is so tricky. It took us 9 months to realise that our d has lost more than 10 kg and we took her to "experts" and meds and got no help until she went to ER and was fighting for her life.
I was full of that guilt in the first year of recovery but now in year 3 it is really better. Try not to look backwards what you have NOT done but to look forward and see what you HAVE done. You have saved the life of your d. I think there are not many people who can say that from themselves. Yes, we made a lot mistakes but the result is that counts. And  I see in your post a great result: "She is health restored and back to school and on the road to dealing with her chronic disease. "
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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sk8r31
It is completely natural to doubt yourself, blame yourself, and try to look backward to tabulate all the things that you as parents have done to 'cause' an ED.  I just have to jump in to say that it takes away valuable time and energy for the task at hand...to help your loved one recover.  It is not your fault, nor was it your loved one's choice.

I, too, spent far too much time trying to 'figure out' the cause, and if it was my fault, and trying to find the 'perfect' solution.  You just have to jump in, terrified, and get the 'on the job' training that is necessary to help fight this illness.  The peer support on this forum, and the evidence-based resources on the main F.E.A.S.T. site are invaluable.  

Good self-care is an essential component of the tool kit.  Taking the best possible care of yourself, in order to have the strength and endurance to help your loved one.  A couple of days ago, there was a terrific 'FaceBook Live' chat between Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director, and Nicki Wilson, Chair of EDANZ (Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand) and F.E.A.S.T. Board Chair.  I think it is inspirational in its message that all of us have the courage and stamina to help our loved ones into recovery from an ED.

Please don't look backward for cause or blame, but look ahead to the hope of recovery, and spend your efforts there.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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tina72
I was blamed by family and some friends that I thought were my best but they are no experts and know NOTHING about EDs. It is society and stupid people that blame parents for that. You did nothing wrong. It is a genetic disease. Your d would have become sick when she lost weight even WITH that pony. My d had all that and we were a totally normal and happy family and she got sick. It is the same stupid thing as some people say you get diabetes from eating chocolate.

All real experts and the parents here tell you the truth. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
So now try to forget that thought and think about what you can do to save her life and to give her best recovery possible and do not lose one more day and energy (which is really a precious thing) on that thought. It is wasted time and energy. 🙂
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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cm72
Change of subject but every time someone posts on here that their 8 or 9 year old has AN, my heart just breaks. I thought my D was young at 10 but that young-my God! They are just babies. 
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Mcmum
Just wanted to chime in that this whole post pretty much sums up my entire feelings about ed. I know logically that I didn't cause it but it's impossible to get beyond feeling responsible on so many different levels.  Reading this, you can feel the heart break in every single family.
Also, cm72 , having like you , a younger child with an, the feeling that you were unable to protect them during what should havebeen an innocent and trouble free period of their lives is a killer! !
Love to you all xx
 
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scaredmom


https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/hemendinger-family-successfully-reaches-summit-mt-kilimanjaro-raise-funds-neda

https://more-love.org/2016/10/11/your-childs-eating-disorder-is-not-a-reflection-of-you/

https://anorexiafamily.com/parents-guide-causes-of-anorexia/

I hope one or more of these references above are helpful to someone.
Again this guilt, shame can be a manifestation of grief. Please look forward. The past is gone get help if you need. We all have learned so much because of what we have gone through. Now that we know better, we can do better. The feelings you have are  to be validated first, so accept them and then let them go. It is better for you (all of us)  to  release this to the universe. Today is a new day. 
I know these words cannot make the feelings go away so easily. I truly believe these challenges we face do make us stronger and more compassionate people and we grow in ways we never thought possible. 
XXX
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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Lildil
You have all made me cry today, so many truths and feelings that I have had just like you, THANK YOU for reminding me that I'm not alone in this and that it is not my fault, I also has close relatives blame me and my husband, that was hard, so I just don't communicate much to them right now. My favorite saying this week that I have tatood to my hand with a pen is " What if I fall, oh my darling, what if you fly"
I believe I can fly.
Lildil
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tina72
We did not want to make you cry, lildil. You are not alone. It is so unfair that we are blamed for that. We can only hope that society will change their opinion and work on more information and spreading more truth about EDs.
I like the idea of tatooing a saying on my hand, maybe I will do that, too. And the saying is great.
You can fly, you can do that and you will be so strong and nothing will get into your way when you have survived that. If there is one positive about ED (not sure if I can dare to say that) is that I now know what love is, who my friends are and what is important in life.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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scaredmom
I wonder lildil, if your tears are the relief and release you feel for the connection you found here!  ( happy tears at being heard and seen) That is what I found. And if so then by all means cry. It is a good thing. Let it out and let it go!
Big hug 🤗
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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scaredmom
hi P123_lakeo
as you can see you are not alone in these feelings. 
How are you doing? I have been thinking about you and hope you are well.
XXX
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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Lildil
I am hanging in here, they are good tears Tina, I cry at the drop of a hat, actually that has been one good thing about this trial is I'm learning how to keep my emotions in check a little, like breathing when I feel them rising. 
I ended up going out of town for 4 days last week, I worried but my h did a great job taking care of him, even since I've been home they have continued eating together. We have been trying different things, like trusting him with snacks. He was up 2 pounds last week while I was gone and I'm terrible but I asked my husband if he checked his pockets and legs. Because for him 2 lbs is a lot. He is getting more spontaneous and eating things at school that have shocked us.
Fly my friends fly.
Lildil
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kazi67
I blamed myself a lot too
not noticing d had lost so much weight, not noticing I seemed to be throwing out a lot of uneaten dinners (assumed d was buying food) at this point she worked 2 jobs
how did I not notice, or my older d not notice when she went to spend some time with her???
i have learned (through a good therapist) NOT to look back only forward and be that one meal or day at a time 
my AN d tells me herself regularly IT WAS NOT MY FAULT!!!!
she also tells me I am the best most perfect mother ever!!!!
take that AN 👊
we are all the best parents ever 
fighting for our kids lives!!!!
never give up!!!
big hugs x
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P123_lakeo
Thank you for checking in. I had a bit of personal growth this week. I went on a church women’s retreat and was slightly more open sharing our journey.
I was astonished at the kindness and understanding that people shared in return.
I’m feeling hopeful and a little refreshed.
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