Can it really be that my beautiful d was diagnosed with anorexia one year ago?
A synopsis for those who don’t know our story: At 12 years old d lost 23 pounds in 4 months leading up to a diagnosis by a nutritional therapist on December 22nd 2015. She had all the symptoms of malnutrition - low heart rate, low blood pressure, hypothermia, hair loss, social isolation, depression, obsession with calories, healthy foods, exercise, etc.
Until it was given a name we had no idea what was going on. Until it was given a name we had no idea what to do about it.
I found support, guidance, and a wealth of information on this forum. I cannot imagine where we would be right now had I not found this incredible group of people and the FEAST website. We started the process of refeeding immediately and brought her back up to her starting weight in two months. It was the most frightening and difficult thing I have ever done in my life. Off the charts anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, decline in basic self-care, compulsive exercise in the middle of the night, suicidal ideation, screaming, crying and just awful distress on a day in / day out basis. All while operating a 24/7 restaurant in our kitchen to keep up with the immense calories needed to restore her back to her original weight and then meet her growing body’s needs. I’m exhausted just thinking back on it. I’m also thankful for the help from others when I most needed it.
Today she is physically amazing. Puberty really took back the reigns with consistent nutrition. Catch up growth has been rapid. She is up 50 pounds from one year ago and has grown about 2 inches in height and continues to grow. A year ago she looked like a little girl. Today she looks like a young woman with all the curves of a Kardashian – please accept my apologies for the poor choice in pop culture reference!
No, it has not been easy. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs. I recall one particularly awful vacation at an all-inclusive resort where she just could not eat despite the incredibly tempting goodies available at every meal. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a buffet in quite the same way again. I am still constantly on the lookout for uneaten lunches, missed snacks, etc. We are only one year into this and I know we have a long way yet to go but it does help to see the physical results.
Mentally she is a work in progress. D still sees her nutritional therapist regularly. We started cognitive behavioral therapy and stopped for several months. We are now re-starting, this time with a new therapist. I can now see a trend with depression peaking during the winter months. She takes 30 mg fluoxetine which has made a dent in the anxiety, depression and obsessive thinking. She is still grieving the loss of her grandfather last year.
My hope for her is to learn how to cope with life’s challenges. To recognize and value her emotions and manage them in a way that’s productive and not destructive. To know herself better than anyone else. To overcome the urges to restrict even when no one is sitting right next to her to help her.
As a brain disorder I realize it will always be lurking in the shadows of her mind. And I won’t be here forever. Along with nutritional oversight my job is to help teach her the skills she needs to live a meaningful, satisfying life and grow into a confident young woman. Could this be even harder than re-feeding? Time will tell.
I feel like we’ve been through a devastating natural disaster. We lost a lot. We are picking up what’s left and rebuilding. But it’s not the same home we had before the disaster struck. It feels different. Does anyone with a loved one in recovery feel similar?