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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Hi, just discovered this forum and in need of a bit of advice! 
I recently discovered my 19 year old dd has been engaging in ed behaviours since she was 14 [eek] Apparently she would sneak our scale when we left the house, and purge in bags in her room if we were in. She did a damn good (unfortunately) job of hiding it, the only reason I found out is because I discovered an old journal of hers that she overlooked while packing up her things to go to university. I knew about her self harming, but I had absolutely no idea about this, I feel as though I should have managed to connect the dots with all the baggy clothing and her never willing to eat with the rest of the family. She also turned vegetarian when she was 15, and then was vegan for a year until she got quite severely ill because her protein levels were not adequate enough, and so she is now back to being vegetarian.

Her father has also revealed he discovered a bathroom scale when he was helping her move her stuff in to the flat she rents for university. She's now in her second year, and recently got a fitbit as part of a promotion for something, and upon looking at her online profile before she turned it all private and blocked me from it, I found she's been severely restricting food and dropping a lot of weight.I'm just not sure what to do about it. I've tried confronting her, but she's an adult and lives 4 hours away.

She was hospitalised 3 times earlier this year for overdoses, and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, so I'm not sure if they're at all connected. I just don't know how to help her. She refuses to speak to me about any of it. The only reason I found out about her overdosing is because the university called me, but she has since removed me as her emergency contact for everything.

Any help and advice would definitely be appreciated!!!

Thanks, Ash
Hi Ash,

I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter is in this situation and is ill. I feel so sympathetic since my d. is the same age as yours.
I want to recommend that you visit the eating disorders learning center and read up about these illnesses and become as well educated as you can. Ask questions and hopefully other parents will be along soon to welcome you and to try and give you support and ideas about what you might try in this situation. 

The fact that she is isolating herself from her family is concerning but not unusual for these illnesses.
How long has it been since you have seen her? It might be a good idea to visit her as soon as you can arrange for it. Let her know that you love her and want to help her and that you can see that she is struggling.

Would you and her dad be able to go up and encourage her to come home so that she will be safe, and take a year off on a medical leave, and go into treatment? What resources are available in your area? Can you start phoning around and asking around in order to learn more about that?

The overdoses are of great concern and need to be taken very seriously and you must be beside yourself with worry. 

Are you able to contact the university and let them know of your family's concerns and that you would like to help her?



Thanks Kali!

She last came home at the beginning of October, but that was just because of a previous agreement to watch our family pets while my husband and I went on holiday for our anniversary, so really we only saw her in the car on the way to and from the train station. The last time we properly saw her for any length of time was August, and she is refusing to return home even for Christmas. We are planning to go up and see her for her birthday in January, and hopefully even if I can't get through to her my husband might, as was the case when she was hospitalised for the first overdose and point blank refused to be near me so I had to wait outside the visiting room. 

As I'm no longer listed as a contact for her, the uni are reluctant to speak with me, and from what little she has told me, the university councilor she saw around a year ago mainly focused on her academics and stress relating to that, which she found so unhelpful she left. 

I've had messages from a very worried friend of hers saying she is still abusing paracetamol, however I feel if I confront her about that she'll feel she has no one to trust and the last thing I want to do is isolate her even more, especially as this seems to be the only close friend she has.

As far as I'm aware there isn't much specialist help in our direct area, we're in a pretty small town, but if I could just get her home I'm sure I could drive her to the nearest city where I believe there is a better system. The problem is convincing her it's what's best, she's so set in her ways, she got a 3 year tenancy just so she wouldn't have to come home during the summer anymore. I'm one very worried momma right now, and I can't bear the thought of her struggling alone but she just won't let me in.

Thanks, Ash
Welcome to the forum. Sorry that you have had to find your way here. Dealing with an eating disorder and other mental health issues that have been festering for five years is tough. The thought patterns and behaviours have become very entrenched. Your D's determination to keep you out of the picture is typical of this illness. I can imagine you must be worried sick with her suicide attempts and a very active eating disorder and her determination to lock you out. 

A few suggestions, do you know any of her contacts and who she has put on to her "who to contact list"? If so offering them a lot of education - perhaps the brochures from the FEAST learning center here may be useful and easy to forward on
The second, who is funding your daughter's maintenance? If she is not financially independent this gives you significant leverage to insist on being involved and to require her to engage with you again. Her illness makes her resentful and defensive, it will take a lot to get through this. Lastly, the university has some responsibility for her care too. If they are aware of the suicide attempts and her active ED it is likely she is not fit to continue to study at present and for them to allow this in part makes them liable for any adverse outcomes. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
I do believe her emergency contact is her close friend who has been expressing a lot of concern about her dwindling mental state, especially as I learned earlier today that she has taken 3 overdoses (between 24 and 48 tablets) in the last two weeks without seeking help, on top of according to her friend between 4 and 8 tablets every 4 hours. She didn't tell anyone until a few days ago, and according to said friend she doesn't appear to have sustained any obvious damage.  Apparently they seem certain the behaviour has momentarily stopped, however that definitely does not help lessen my concern at what is going to happen to her. Because of the BPD we were told last time that they will not hospitalise her again as it didn't tend to help, so I am at a complete loss right now. 

Unfortunately she sustains herself through a student loan, with only the occasional lending of money from us when things get tight. The university are definitely aware of at least two of the attempts, however as she is no longer staying in their accommodation where she had to check in every week, there is not much they can do as she point blank refuses she has a problem, and is still generally able to attend her lectures and get assignments in on time. 

I'm hoping I can talk some sense into her, but as it stands everything falls on deaf ears, and her friend is more on her side than mine. 
Hi chaoticlife,
sorry that you need to be here. As a mum of a nearly adult d I can feel what you must feel. It is a horrible illness.
I fear it is senseless to talk with her, she doesn´t realize that she is ill and that is part of the disease.
If her friend is a real one, maybe her can help her to go to IP or ER if needed. Do you think he is aware that she could die if this is not treated? Sorry that I have to say this, I know that you know that, but many people still think it is a "model disease" and not so harmful. Maybe some of the links on this site could open his eyes?
Her depression and suicidal thoughts might be only because of malnutrition. That is a common topic. ED has these effects on the brain.
Sorry that I can give you no better advice. Do you think her father could drive to her and bring her home?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.