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

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Bun378
Dear friends,  Does anyone have a child that has never been able to communicate verbally about anorexia?  We are in our 5th year of battle with the monster -- our daughter is 17, hospitalized at 12 -- and she has been in denial the whole time.  We are very close to being weight restored and I 'm still supporting her at most meals.  I ask myself "is it absolutely true that she will not fully recover if she can't talk/admit/acknowledge that she has anorexia?"  The answer is No, I don't know that.  But does anyone else have a child like this? And any advice? thank you so much. I have also been told by her closest friends that she doesnt' share with them.  She refuses FBT (we did FBT for 2 years 3 years ago and she never spoke in those sessions, now she just pain won't go). Of course it is all more complicated (as she has always been a very private person) than this but seeking advice. thank you
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MKR
Hi @Bun378,

Yup, we are stìll in denial here. But I think our daughter understands the basics, ie.:

1. that she was born with this "fragility" or predisposition,
2. that it's not her fault,
3. but that she needs to take regular meals + snacks to keep the danger off.

It's number 3. that we are struggling with, she snaps or explodes whenever I remind her.  This makes me feel that she is not ready to accept that her lifestyle will be different for years, if not forever. 

The words anorexia/ eating disorder were hardly ever used, due to  the terrible emotional reactions from the start of FBT. In the beginning it was safe for us to say "underweight" but only because she was into being "healthy", not "skinny".

It sounds like a long slog for you and finally light seems to show at the end of the tunnel.  I would focus on feeding more and try therapy again later. Or just setting up a contract with Expectations, Rewards and Consequences. 

The goal of FBT at this stage would be compliance,  parents serve meals, the child eats. Then review later, once you are over the target weight (include a little extra as a buffer, too).

For your daughter to engage in therapy effectively, she would need to be at or over WR for a while.  That is the hard-earned wisdom many here have acquired. 

All the best, 
Mum's Kitchen

14-y-o "healthy living" led to AN in 2017 and WR at 16. Current muscle dysmorphia.
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Torie
Hi Bun378,  I don't think my d ever acknowledged that she had AN.  It was a sore subject in the beginning, and then I just stopped using that word.

She has been well and truly weight restored for 4+ years and she is fine.  She knows she needs to eat fully and keep her weight up, and she does that.

So I would say they do not need to acknowledge the illness verbally as long as they acknowledge that they need to achieve and maintain a proper weight. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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Bun378
thank you so much.  I truly appreciate you taking the time to reply.  All the best to you both in your journeys. xoxo
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Foodsupport_AUS
I don't think she needs to admit she is in recovery. My own D has rarely spoken about trying to get better or wanting to get better for that matter. She does admit that she had anorexia but she did have nearly 12 months hospitalisation because of medical instability. For her recovery is more about not wanting to get sick again. 
I think the most important part is that they learn to eat regularly, not follow through with restrictive thoughts and behaviours. It doesn't really matter what motivates them not to go down that path, but avoiding restriction long term I think is the key to physical recovery. As for mental recovery we don't know what thoughts are in their heads. Do they have anxiety, depression, thoughts that interfere with their quality of life? These can be addressed separately or with ED depending on what is going on. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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blondie
I wonder if she feels that there is some sort of stigma associated with the condition - things have undoubtedly come a long way in the last few years but I think it does still exist to a certain extent in some circles...I've also heard incidences of people - even those who are desperately ill - not believing that they are 'sick enough' for the diagnosis
I do remember my sister once saying that she spent every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment having to endure her ED and feeling like "a freak" and so when she got the opportunity to talk to people about "normal" things and feel like/be treated like a "normal person" it was bliss ...
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Bun378
thank you!
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Bun378
thank you!
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Barberton
Yes, us too! My d will never say she has AN, but she writes about it. A huge portion of our 'therapy' together is by writing notes or letters back and forth to one another. She might leave me a note on the floor in front of the door to my bedroom and I'll slip a reply under her pillow before bed. I think for some, this age is very tricky to 'admit' an illness. Teens rarely want to be different from their peers. So I don't think your d has to come right out and do a full on AA Recovery acceptance. As long as she knows she's loved and supported, that should be enough.
D fell down the rabbit hole of AN at age 11 after difficulty swallowing followed by rapid weight loss. Progressing well through recovery, but still climbing our way out of the hole.
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ValentinaGermania
My d refused to talk about it and even acknowledge she is sick until about 1 year after WR. She did not engage in any therapy and it was just the food and a good weight and brain recovery starting that got her to see that it was not normal what she did and that she was sick. She is in good recovery now for about 2,5 years and we can talk about this now like any other disease.

As your d is not WR up to now this keeps her sick and brain recovery cannot start. Get her WR and give the brain time to recover and I am quite sure she can get there. Use all the power and leverage you have, my d was also 17 when we started refeeding and you are not that helpess as you possibly think at that age.

" I ask myself "is it absolutely true that she will not fully recover if she can't talk/admit/acknowledge that she has anorexia?"

I think she does not need to talk about it or acknowedge that she is sick in recovery and she can fully recover without talking about it. She probably will talk about it AFTER recovery.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Bun378
thank you all so much. I am so touched and grateful for your loving responses.  My best to you all.
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ValentinaGermania
Please come here to ask and to vent if needed. We are all here to help you. We know how hard that all is as we have been in your shoes.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Bun378
ValentinaG.  You mentioned that your daughter was 17.  My daughter will be 18 in Sept and keeps threatening "that I cannot tell her what to do anymore once I turn 18."  She has been saving and saving to go to Europe this summer (summer is in Dec, I am in New Zealand) and then live in dorm at University.  How to I respond to this?  I am just saying "I will always be your mother and always care about you."   My counselor says that I should not "support" her going to Europe or to college if we don't feel that she is well enough.  But here in NZ the first year of Uni is free so we can't really "stop" her?  Or stop her going to Europe?  sigh thank you.
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Foodsupport_AUS
No you can't stop her from going. In that situation, I would offer concerns about her ability to manage well on her own, and make it clear that you will not pay or support this in any way. You will however always support her in trying to maintain good health.
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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ValentinaGermania
Bun378 wrote:
ValentinaG.  You mentioned that your daughter was 17.  My daughter will be 18 in Sept and keeps threatening "that I cannot tell her what to do anymore once I turn 18."  She has been saving and saving to go to Europe this summer (summer is in Dec, I am in New Zealand) and then live in dorm at University.  How to I respond to this?  I am just saying "I will always be your mother and always care about you."   My counselor says that I should not "support" her going to Europe or to college if we don't feel that she is well enough.  But here in NZ the first year of Uni is free so we can't really "stop" her?  Or stop her going to Europe?  sigh thank you.


Your councellor is correct and as long as you earn the money and she is financially depended you set the rules.
If the first year Uni in NZ is free, what about accomodation and food and books? For sure not free...
Going to Europe is very easy to stop. Living here is VERY expensive for a student. She will need at least 1000 € each months. I am quite sure she has not enough money herself...
My d said the same but I respondet to her:
"Nothing will change when you get 18. Only that you are allowed to vote, to drive and to sign papers.
Our health system does not allow someone to starve himself to death if your are adult. So if you do not listen to me and the doctors the court will stop you and send you to a closed ward (that is true here).
We will help you to fulfil all your dreams and we will pay for everything regarding college and car and all that you want but we will not support ED with one single €."

We had a contract written down when she turned 18 and we wrote down what we will do for her and what we will pay for and what she needs to do for that. She was very surprised when we added the sum what university and phone and car and insurance and food and everything costs....🙂
Now she is 20 and we still have a say here and when she wants to go abroads she needs to ask and we will set limits (at the moment EU is allowed but no long distances as this is not covered by insurance).

That is another problem your d might not have realised up to now: no student health insurance here in Europe covers metal health issues. So she will be all on private bills here...
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Bun378
thank you
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Bun378
thank you
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