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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hopeinChrist
How did you all go about beginning to tell school friends and family and those who will figure out something is up when kids is no longer going to school or can’t do anything?  S doesn’t want anyone to know but seems to realize that there a signs everywhere for them to figure out something is up.  We need a plan how to address people without sharing all his details.  
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scaredmom
Hi and welcome!
For my d I did reach out to my d’s friends’ mothers to explain. Some I told the whole truth and to some I said she had a heart issue. 
They were all very kind.
My d did have some girls over one at a time but it was in between meals or snacks.
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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hopeinChrist
Thank you scaredmom.  I fear since S is not wanting friends to know, I don’t want to be the one to tell them.  It’s becoming obvious there is something to be told.  I just don’t want to betray his request to “not tell.”  I don’t wish to perpetuate the disorder by keeping it a secret but I also don’t want him to lose trust in me during refeeding.  
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sandie
I told very few people and wish I had told even fewer as people did not understand.
We told people socially she had complications of flu affecting her heart but I think heart condition as excuse is better- needs rest and no exercise.
my D confided in a couple of friends and story spread like wildfire which was very tough for her. 
Be prepared that in my experience very few people understand and can offer the support needed. Well-meaning family offering their opinions can be source of great stress. 

Everyone will  of course have different experiences and a friend or family member who will listen, and accept your reality and give you a hug is gold-dust. Someone who can offer practical support you need also fantastic. 
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scaredmom
I understand and believe me I tried to keep it quiet here as well. The other kids are very aware that something is wrong and I worried that other kids would ostracize my d. They were more frightened for her when she got pulled out of school to be hospitalized.  Once she got back to school I did tell those moms
and they in turn told their children. What we found here is that the kids did not care. They treated her kindly and did not ask any difficult questions. They just wanted to hang out with her and have their friend group back.  We found that they just wanted to get back to normal friendships. No one was cruel as they understood. Also it helped them to know that she could not hang out all the time and that there was a good reason and not that she did not like to be with them. 
ED thrives in secrecy. You are not betraying him. You don’t have to say he has ED but that he has a heart condition or other non specified illness, that is what we did here. So it explained why she could not do many physical things. 
I did tell d that her friends had a right to understand that she was not well and that to hold that back was unfair to them. It was not fair to pretend she was ok when she wasn’t. If they did not know and she kept refusing to be with them she could have risked them not calling on her anymore. I phrased it as if one of her friends was ill and how helpful she could be to that friend if she understood their circumstances. That type of reframe helped her understand their concerns position. Those friends and mothers did not share that with the other kids. 
 Of course the school knew as she was out for one month.
that was our experience and I know others will be here with theirs soon.
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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teecee
We chose to be open from the outset. Yes we got some unhelpful responses but I educated with mantras wherever I could. 
My D had a couple of tough occasions at school with the odd small minded person but the majority were supportive. As a result she only has true friends around her now. We are in the same position as parents...some people came to us to be supportive and others turned away. I certainly don’t have time for those to be around us anyway...time is precious and so it was easier to know who to share my time with. 
I no longer measure friendships due to the length of time known. Some of my best friends are people who were on the perimeter of our lives but showed up when it mattered. Others I’ve known 30 yrs but you wouldn’t know as I’ve not heard a peep!!! 
Focusing energies in to yourselves as a family unit and not others with sift the wheat from the chaff...

I also found that people ive known for years were confiding in me that they were/are sufferers or carers to kids with EDSs....it makes the world a warmer place when we realise we’re not all that different. 
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HopeNZ
Although, like you, I didn't want to buy in to the secrecy and implied shame around my d having an ed, I did want to respect her wishes.  She felt strongly that she wanted to share the diagnosis with close friends and family on her own terms.  So we gave out that she had developed a metabolic condition that meant her heart was severely compromised (all true!).  To be honest, anyone with eyes could see what the problem really was, but this seemed to be a compromise that worked in those early days.  As the truth seeped out, my d found valuable support from close friends and teachers at school.  I think as more and more people became aware of the real problem, they took their cue from my husband and me.  We were open and honest, and were ready with facts and information about the current understanding of the causes of eds. Once my d was more comfortable with the information being 'out there', I took the approach that people who minded didn't matter, and people who mattered didn't mind!

The flip side of keeping it under wraps is that, if people don't know, they can't help.  My husband in particular shared it with colleagues at work (a traditionally macho, show-no-weakness profession), and was amazed at the support he found there.  All sorts of unexpected people had wives/friends/relatives/children who had experienced the same thing.  This helped him enormously.

(By the way, 18 months after being so desperate to hide the fact that she had anorexia, my d stood up in front of the entire school and shared her story.  So the secrecy doesn't have to last forever!)

Good luck
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mjkz
I was another one who was up front from the very beginning.  I found that the rumors that went around were rampant and much worse than what was actually going on.  At one point she was dying of cancer, trying to lose weight because she was pregnant (scary but she had a classmate who delivered her baby on the day of eighth grade graduation who had the same name), had tried to commit suicide, had successfully killed herself, etc.
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Foodsupport_AUS
Another child here who desperately did not want others to know. I was up front with close family and friends, and got mixed responses, some great, some very unhelpful. I did not want to buy into secrecy about this illness and many had noted how much weight D had lost. As for school the senior teachers were advised as she had to withdraw from school for some time - in the end it was 18 months - but we didn't tell students. D told a very select few of her friends when she was hospitalised. She told the remaining students she had a stomach issue however as time went on, and the rumours of cancer went around in the end everyone found out. If I had my time over I would have been even more up front about it. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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Beth
Hi, Im new to the blog.  We are ten years in to the eating disorder journey.  This has wrecked our family.  I told very few people especially at first because everyone blames me.  My daughter will be 28 next month and in grad school.  She looks good from the outside, but has started to hit my husband (her father) and me.  I don't want to press charges as that will affect her future job possibilities and we have paid so much for her already.  We are at a loss and devastated.  I feel alone in this.  I'm a professional woman and can't believe I'm living this life and this secret.  I'm seeing a counselor and we have down family counseling without success.
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scaredmom

HI Beth, Welcome to the forum. 
I do hope that we can provide the support you need. I am so sorry that you are going through all of this! 

Please know you are not alone. This illness is a bear on our lives and you are so right that it is hard to believe this can happen. I am glad that you have support from a counsellor. 
Just a question: How does she support herself? Is she getting treatment/therapy/professional support? Many with ED have co-morbid mental health issues as well, like anxiety, depression, and many others? Has she been assessed for other issues? 

I am sending you a hug! You are really not alone. Many have been there. I know others will be here shortly to offer a kind word, hug and camaraderie.

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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workingthrough

We told very few as well. We did tell close family members (uncle/grandparent) who were able to step in and help with our other kids (and us) in supporting s in the beginning. We told two other close family friends. They are people we felt we could trust. They were phenomenal and went above/beyond in inviting our other kids over, checking in, and supporting. We would have told others if they had asked - to be honest, we were very surprised how few sincerely noticed/cared. It was a dark time. S’s school counselor was aware and asked his teachers to keep a close eye on him, details weren’t shared. His school counselor was incredible and checked on him multiple times every day.


I shared with a couple co-workers as I was struggling balancing things. Very mixed support and some negative comments were made. People just don’t understand. We tried to carry on and felt thankful for the love and support we did have. 


I’m sorry you’re going through this. Please know that we’re here. We’re ~year out right now and I can honestly say it’s the hardest things we’ve been through. We’re still not out and things are hard in getting/keeping everyone in a good place. It’s brought us to our knees - but we are in a better place. Sending a huge hug your way tonight. 

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deenl
Beth wrote:
I'm a professional woman and can't believe I'm living this life and this secret.


Dear Beth,

Welcome to the forum although I am so sorry theat you are going through such a difficult experience. There was domestic violence in my family during my teens so I can absolutely empathise with the feeling that you have a life that looks fine on the outside but the reality is completely different along with the difficulty in effecting changes. If you would like to post on a new thread, you will be more likely to get more responses with support and possible ideas to try. 

Wishing you continued strength and courage,

2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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PurpleRain
Welcome to this wonderful forum. We are 7 months in the recovery journey, my d is w/r and doing well although we have a long way ahead. Wechave told very few people about all this, my parents, my brother and sister, school, she has talked to a few friends, my husband to one or two trusted friends. I am usually a very private person and also I have been through other difficult situations and know who's who in my life so to speak, I know who will be supportive and who would judge or won't be able to cope and be supportive. My D's friends have been supportive specially her best friend.
13 yo d started to eat "healthy" september 2018, she had a growth spur a bit later, followed by tummy bug. She started restricitng breakfast and school lunch in january 2019 (that we know). We are refeeding at home (succesfully I think) since the beginning of march.
I have found inner strenght, patience and compassion that i did not know I had. Never retreat, never surrender
Just keep feeding
 
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Ronson
We told very few people and didn’t tell any of d friends.  The people we did tell have not been as supportive as I would hope.  And to be honest we all feel increasingly isolated.  I would be wary about sharing.  But perhaps our experience has been unusual 
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tina72
We were open with school friends and family too because we hoped to get help from them (which worked at least with school). I would do that again because it stopped all rumors at once and the near friends and family knew it anyway. Part of the problems with this disease is that society makes a big secret about it. We should not continue to do that I think.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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kazi67
Agree with you Tina 100 percent!!
being secret and not talking keeps the stigma of ED illness’s going 
even though we didn’t always get the support or understanding from people we told (even a school physcologist said to me one day “jeez all the kids these days think they’ve got anxiety  they need to toughen up) 😳
this individual knew my d had spent the best part of 2 years in hospital 🙁 very upsetting to say the least BUT we hold our heads high as she is fighting a life threatening illness and only a pity we don’t get the same support as if she was diagnosed with cancer or other such illnesses and only through being brave and advocating and educating and speaking up will this happen 
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mom50
My d did not want us tell anyone.  At first we didn't, but eventually I realized that I needed to tell my mom and sister and a few close friends, in order to get support for myself.  I told my d that I had told a few people because I needed support.  She was very upset at first, but finally seemed ok with them knowing.  I did ask the people I told to keep it confidential.  
When we were having a rough time with our d not wanting to eat, I would text a couple of friends the word "pray" and they knew that I was in a tough situation and needed their prayers.  It was always comforting to know they were there for me.
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scaredmom
I guess all I would say is tell who you wish and see how it goes. Regroup if it does not go well. At the beginning it is so overwhelming you don’t know up from down.  I was so vulnerable and beating myself up, to did not need others knowing and beating me up too. We were so vulnerable and I did not want other kids taunting my d until we knew who we could trust outside of the school. Take it slow. Our respective families do not know and would blame my h and me for everything. That is not a place I will go. As it is they live far away. 
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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debra18
I am finding it frustrating that people, including my husband, don't understand why I am still supervising my daughter. They think that she should be able to eat on her own and it's her choice not to. She is only 13 and I think I will be supervising and feeding for quite a while. I am not sure there is a way to know who will be supportive and who won't. 
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tina72
debra18 wrote:
I am finding it frustrating that people, including my husband, don't understand why I am still supervising my daughter. They think that she should be able to eat on her own and it's her choice not to. She is only 13 and I think I will be supervising and feeding for quite a while. I am not sure there is a way to know who will be supportive and who won't. 


Ask that people if she had cancer would they also think it is her decision to take the chemotherapy meds or die at age 13???
I cannot understand why people do not get that this is a life threatening illness. And that they are CHILDREN at age 13 and not in charge for their health.

Keep supervising and keep feeding. The longer you keep that safety net alert the better her recovery chances are. You are her mum, you know her best, and you need to live with the consequences of a relapse and nobody else.

You are totally right, you will not know who will be supportive and who not before.
My family was not supportive and left us all alone and blamed us for everything.
Most friends were the same. Sad but true. But one friend was extremly supportive and called me every week and helped me through the dark days.
And school was very supportive to. I did not expect it at all but her head teacher was a former ED patient and nobody did supervise her snacks as perfect as she did because she knew all the tricks 🙂.
So reach out for help and find out who your true friends are. The group will be limited but you may be surprised by some people. I know families where the neighbours started to cut their lawn and to do the grocery for them. Neighbors they did not know before.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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sandie
Yes it is surprising. I told a medical colleague on my return to work who said”at least it is not anything serious!” It was then I decided not to tell anyone else. 
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workingthrough
sandie wrote:
Yes it is surprising. I told a medical colleague on my return to work who said”at least it is not anything serious!” It was then I decided not to tell anyone else. 


This is heartbreaking. 
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sk8r31
Really it is upsetting when people, even our nearest & dearest, don't 'get it'.  At 13, your d will likely need supervision for quite some time debra18.  That is just par for the course.  I'm not sure what can help our friends and family to better understand, other than doing some reading, or hearing from others in similar situations.  For my h, hearing from other families (and dads) with a kid who had an ED dx was very helpful.  

Transitions are times when we need to pay closer attention to our family members with an ED, even in strong recovery.  Starting a new school year, starting a new job, getting married, becoming pregnant....any other 'life change' that brings stress is a time to keep an extra eye on how eating and behaviors are going.

We live in a smaller city.  Lots of 'intersecting circles' of friends and acquaintances.  I let people know about d's ED on a 'need to know' basis, school counselor, a few trusted teachers, skating coaches (who were marvelous by the way...most helpful in stressing to d that 'health was the most important thing').  I confided in a few of my closest friends, to get the support that I needed for myself.  A couple of d's closest friends' parents.  Otherwise, we didn't share a lot.  I think deciding on who to share dx with depends on your own family situation.  My parents and siblings couldn't really 'get it'.  But I did have enough support for myself from a few trusted friends, and loads of peer support here on the forum and in person with other parents facing the same situation with their family member.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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CED123
We've been very mixed about who we have told. My work know - as I spend so much time out of it - and they have all been great. Currently they are all covering for me as I am at home.  It's also great to have an environment in which I can talk about it.  H's work also know and are supportive.  4 colleagues at work (out of 60) have all told me that they previously had an ED and are now recovered. Sadly one of them who suffered in early 20s has never told her mum as she didn't want to worry her.

But we have been more careful with social circles that overlap with D's as she doesn't want anyone to know - so close friends who have children same age/same school don't know, except for 1-2 of my friends. A small number of teachers know (1-2), but most don't.  Only grand parents know in the family (and I have to pretend to D that my parents don't which makes it difficult at times) - but they have been pretty good and my mum has been reading up/gathering info. not much practical help as they are miles away but they have realised why we don't visit etc. So we have been really lucky. A couple of S's friends parents know too as I have a tendency to cry in the playground at times.
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