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louises

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi. my daughter has been suffering with an ED for 2 years. We have been following the maudsley model and refeeding at home. Her weight is a lot better ( although she still has to be supported when eating) and she is having CBT. She is also taking sertraline. She is currently in her final year of GCSES and is putting herself under the Most immense pressure working all hours refusing to take breaks and becoming more and more routine driven. The school and teachers are very supportive and support her eating and have let her drop a subject and have tried to encourage her not to work so hard . I was just wondering if anyone had any experience of their child in their GCSE year and any tips on helping them get through it. Any help would be really appreciated. Thanks
OneToughMomma

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Reply with quote  #2 
Dear Louises,

I don't think I have the complete answer to your problems, but I'd like to throw a couple of ideas around and see if they stick.

How is d's weight gain going?  You say it is better, but is she continuing to gain appropriately?  Back in May you said you were getting some good, calorie rich food into her with relatively ease.  Has that changed?  If you could continue to keep her weight going up, that would be a bonus.

If she is routine-driven, then maybe you could change the routine.  You might find an article like this one that says 8 hours of sleep aid school results.  Say that you are absolutely enforcing that (or supporting her in that), and find a way to make it work.  You could start a good routine with media off at a particular time, a warm milk or whatever, and a reasonable bed time.  One of my kids occasionally takes Valerian, melatonin or the like. I don't care if it's the herbs or the placebo effect, but it does seem to work for her. Everything's better with a good night's sleep.

Maybe talk to her doctors about adjusting her meds.  A little tweak might make all the difference.  My d's last school year stress calmed dramatically on medication.

We know how hard this is, so be sure to take care of yourself, too.

xoOTM

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D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
Foodsupport_AUS

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Reply with quote  #3 
Those are some great tips OTM. My D has done all of her critical school exams whilst still ill with her AN. Things that have helped are exactly those that you mentioned. Clear attention to routine and sleep hygiene. Regular meals at regular times. Giving her space to study but also insisting there was a time to stop. Teaching her skills for mindfulness - as a method of learning how to calm and sooth herself when anxious. 

Meanwhile, never backing down on that weight gain. Ideally she should be fully weight restored by now, this will long term help to reduce the anxiety and perfectionism, and should reduce those AN thoughts too. 

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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.
tina72

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi louises,
my d is doing her final high school exams right now, so we have the same problems.
I do what the others suggested, too: regular meals and sleep times, some distraction in the evening (mostly TV at the moment). I force her to go out with her friends once a week [wink] and I try to ask her to do something for the household now and then to keep her away from her work. But she is very stressed about all the stuff to learn and about the grades...I hate it, really.
Ah, and I try to offer her a massage every evening to get her down before sleeping. The works mostly because she likes to be touched now again.
I hope it will be better after the writing exams in march.
Watch carefully that she doesn´t eat less because of the stress.
Hope we both get through that soon [wink]
Tina72
louises

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you all so much for your help.
In answer to your questions OTM and foodsupport, I think weight has a part to play in this. She managed to gain weight ( mainly from all the suggestions you all gave me on here and not following the advice of CAMHS). She is currently having CBT through CAMHS which has really helped in some areas. But the focus has gone off the weight gain. Having said that she has now had several periods which is great. I have asked for a review meeting with CAMHs to discuss this.
Fortunately her obsession with routine does mean she gets lots of sleep and routine meal times.
But currently she is working 15 hours a day and just screams and crys when I try to encourage her to do anything else. Yet it is obviously becoming too much for her. She has agreed to drop one subject but no more and has already dropped further maths.
Tina72 I’m so sorry to hear you are going through the same thing. It’s so hard as your heart says pull them out of school but you know that this will cause more problems. Let’s just hope they can get through these next few months. I will certainly try some of the things you suggest.
On a positive note she has agreed reluctantly to come to the theatre tonight.
Thank you all so much for your help. Like you all, you feel so desperately on your own sometimes and I struggle juggling work, another child doing A levels and a child with ED on my own. I know I should come on the forum more often but find little time in my day.
tina72

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hi louises,
I don´t know wether your d has to write long tests for her exam, but here in Germany that is the case.
My d must write 3 tests in March each about 5 hours long, so she needs to have a snack while writing and lunch will be later this day. Thank god there are 2 "normal days" between the test days.
I thought about what will be good to take into the classroom: granola bars, carotts and she asked for some glucose sweets. It must be something easy to eat with one hand and not too much noise making by eating [wink]
Any ideas?
I never though about pulling her out of school, I am more anxious about the time after school is finished in June and she will be sitting at home for some months. [wink]
School itself is not the problem, it is that AN thinking that tells her that only the best grade is a good one. But she is working on that and I hope it will get better after the exam.
If your d gets enough food and sleep with this routine, leave it until the exam is over. Now is not the time for big changes and struggles. If that is done, everyone will have power for the next step. It is a long journey and I think you will not miss anything if you get some stress off her at the moment.
Tina72
louises

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thank you Tina72
Most of her tests are shorter but she has about 20 exams in total. The only long one is her art exam. But she will not eat on her own so she will have to come out to eat with one of the teachers.
I agree about after the exams. I think the level of anxiety will be really high waiting for the results and then if they don’t get top grades they will punish themselves.
My daughter does get plenty of sleep as her whole routine is very rigid and she has to go to bed at the same time every night. So at least that is good.
I am really concerned about the number of hours she is working but you may be right, as if I try to get her to take more breaks she just gets so stressed and is even worse.
I really can’t wait until these exams are over xx
tina72

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Reply with quote  #8 
What you maybe can do is kicking her routine now and then a little bit. My d has a strict routine with eating times and I try to serve lunch for example 5 min earlier. That makes not too much stress but tells ED that you are still there...
So maybe you can do the same with the bed time. Just a few minutes. You can ask her to help you with something for example or offer her a short massage before sleeping time.
Is there someting she is really interested in besides working at the moment? I try to leave a new book in her room, put a newspaper or a magazin somewhere where she must see it or ask family members to call her to get her from her desk for some minutes. Do you have a dog or animals to care? Can you ask her to help you with something? I ask her to help me with the dishes or hanging up clothes...
We will both do a virtual firework together when these exams are over!
Tina72
littleblackdog

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Reply with quote  #9 
Hi louises,
My daughter is BED not AN but did her GCSE’s last year and was obsessive. What helped was getting revision tips on effective revision (40 mins on plus 10-20 off having been shown to be the most effective way of learning). Also coloured pens, highlighters etc for revision notes helped her focus. If your other daughter is a bit older and doing A’ levels, could she talk to her and discuss the fact that studying for 15 hours straight is probably wasting 14 of those? My daughter has asked to learn yoga which I think might help and don’t forget to remind her that you don’t give a flying fig what results she gets as long as she is doing her best. Sounds obvious, but they don’t always realise that. Walk the dog together, let her take a pet to her room etc. Animals decrease stress. (You can always get a goldfish, if nothing else). I am a vet and had a hard 5 year degree course and you can tell her from me that information cannot be retained without studying in a smart way ie. taking regular breaks and getting some perspective.
And don’t forget- this too, shall pass. xxx
Torie

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Reply with quote  #10 
Louises, I learned so much when my d was ill because I spent a ridiculous amount of time helping her study.  I don't know if that is something you could do or would be willing to do, but it does give you a good opportunity to say, "Can we PLEASE take a little break after we finish this math problem?"

Also, my d was hugely distracted, which made her studying very inefficient.  My impression was that she thought she was studying 15 hours per day, but actually she was productive for about 30 seconds at a time and then her brain would be somewhere else for the next minute and a half.  So scattered.

I remember thinking my d was right on the edge of her ability to cope - finishing her meals and resisting the urge to cut was a lot to ask, almost too much to ask.  So I did whatever I could to help with everything else. I was a little worried about the difficulty of passing the reins back to her when she was doing better, but it worked out okay.

I agree with whoever said it's good to tell them they don't need the best grades and actually you hope they will NOT get perfect grades.

Good luck.  It does get better.  xx

-Torie

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tina72

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Reply with quote  #11 
Hi louises,
how are you doing?
I just wanted to warn you about something:
We just recognized last week that my d lost 1 kg weight only because of learning for her final exams in the last weeks. We are sure that she ate everything and she was not exercising. So the weight loss can only be explained by that. The brain needs a lot of power to work and I think it needed more than in the months before.

She has not relapsed mentally up to now (knocking on wood) and we now try to get the weight back asap. Thanks god the benecalorie arrived last week. I didn´t thought I will need it for extra weight gain when I ordered it but now that is the perfect moment to use it.
So please make sure that your d gets enough food during her GCSEs. She may need more than you expect.
Tina72
louises

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Reply with quote  #12 
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. Will certainly try these. I constantly tell her that it doesn’t matter
what exam results she gets and that the most important thing is that she’s happy. Littleblackdog, our dog Nala definitely helps my daughter and always cheers her up if she is upset.

tina72 it’s interesting what you have said about weight. I too realised that she has lost weight and I can see a definite change in her behavior when she is 1 or 2 kilo heavier.i am already working hard to get that weight back on, it’s amazing what a difference it makes.
We have also had a couple of other break throughs. I had a meeting at school and they have agreed for her to drop another subject. They have also sat down with her and done a more realistic revision plan with breaks and leisure time put in. She has had to agree with school that if she drops a subject she needs to use some of these hours as leisure time. I know it will be a battle sticking to it. But even if she sticks to some of it, it will be far better than it is now. We start tomorrow.
School have also agreed that she can choose where she sits for her exams and they will incorporate it into the seating plan. So they have been really supportive.
I have also had a meeting with CAMHS and they have agreed to give us a bit more support. So feeling a bit more positive this week.
Once again thank you all for your support. I hope you all have a good week and Tina72 we will get them through this x
tina72

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Reply with quote  #13 
Hi louises,
great what you achieved with school!!! My d´s school was very supportive, too. I think if we ask for help they really do what they can.
My d also did put away all subjects she did not really need and that was a big difference. More breaks and leisure time are desperatly needed.
So I cross all my fingers for your d, too.
Please keep us update.
Tina72
louises

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thanks Tina72
How are you getting on?
Well the revision plan went on death ears. It has been a huge battle through this weeks holiday trying to get my daughter to take breaks. Lots of screaming and tears ( like in the early days of refeeding) we have managed a short dog walk, friends one evening and are going to try and visit her niece and nephew tomorrow. So a small improvement, although she’s still up at 5.30 revising and working until 9 in the evening.
How are things with you? X
tina72

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hi louises,
so nice that you ask, I thought of you yesterday, too.
Here things are going well, my d is still learning a lot, but she is sleeping enough and I try to get her away from her desk as much as possible. In 3 weeks the big writing tests are over and then she has 3 weeks easter holidays and she promised me not to work in this time for the oral tests in May. Maybe we go on a short holiday trip and leave all the books at home if necessary....[wink]
What I wanted to tell you, maybe it helps you, too:
We had some blood tests in October 2017 and my d was very low on zinc, magnesium and Vitamin B12 and very high on stress hormon cortisol. Our new GP who is great and tries to learn about this disease told us that these vitamins and minerals do cause stress and depression if missing and we added that all in big packs (Vitamin B12 was injections). Now we had a blood test last week again and her depots are nearly filled again and what surprised me really, her stress hormon level was only half of the level of October although she has way more stress in fact now. We see that she is calmer and more relaxed and she is not so fixed on grades any more.
The GP says there is a context between these things missing and the stress hormon level and wants us to keep the vitamins/minerals high for the next weeks.

I don´t know wether that was tested with your d or wether it can help you, but I found it very interesting to see this change since October.

When will your d have finished? Should we cross fingers on special days?
Tina72
tina72

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hi louises,
just wanted to tell you that day one is over now and we are heading day two of three for writing tests.
The first test was 5 hours and she took a break after 2 hours and had a snack and it worked well.
So please cross fingers for tomorrow, that is the second 5 hour test. The last is on wednesday.
How is your d doing? When will she have finished?
Tina72
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