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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My daughter was recently diagnosed with an eating disorder but also struggles with self harm, depression and suicidal thoughts. She was hospitalized in March and released just before we were due to leave for Spring Break (which we still took the vacation as our sons needed the break and we all needed sunshine living in Michigan which can have the endless winter). I am so thankful to have found this site as I truly feel like a fish out of water not quite sure how and when to set boundaries. We are currently on a waiting list for a DBT center and do see a therapist as well as a child psychiatrist but I am here to tell you the world of children;s mental health is an abysmal mess and it has been very frustrating for my husband and I as we try to navigate how to get any support for our daughter as well as our family. It is comforting to read other posts of the horrible raging behavior that we see at home when a boundary has been set and isn't appreciated. 
So thank you to all who read this for taking the time to post your stories that will help guide my path as we struggle through this.
Hi Inickel,


It is true that professional help can be less than optimal, hopefully your team will be helpful when you finally get to meet them.

I, too, would not have been able to cope without the collective wisdom here on the forum. Also, the chance to vent to people who truly understand the sorts of things we are dealing with.

Boundary setting is difficult and there is no 'right' balance just what fits with your family at this particular time. For us at the moment everything takes second place to getting in enough calories. If you would like to post some further details, I'm sure many families will be able to tell you how they handled things.

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

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • 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.
Sorry you are struggling right now. Eating Disorders are really awful, and it's hard to know what is best in raging moments, especially when your daughter was only recently diagnosed and is also facing self harm, depression and suicidal thoughts. I know there are many parents here who have helped their children with all of the factors you and your daughter are facing. Some have found the depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts are symptoms of the starvation and eating disorder and that with full weight restoration, lots of time, and effective professional help (and sometimes medication) these resolve. And sometimes this is not the case, and after recovering from the ED kids are still facing the other mental health issues. Either way, though, the vital first step is weight restoration to historical growth curve for your daughter. Given that she's so recently diagnosed I'm assuming you are working towards weight restoration now? Was she treated in the hospital in March for the eating disorder?

The best thing we learned regarding the rages was to be calm, compassionate and loving (while keeping everyone safe). Initially we made the mistake of trying to reason or convince our son in these moments but we've learned that when he's raging, it's really the eating disorder causing him so much anxiety and fear and pain. And it simply never helps to engage with the eating disorder.

There are really amazing (and strong) parents here who are helping or who have helped their children recover and I'm sure more parents will be along to welcome you. Please feel free to ask any questions, you will always find folks here really willing to share of their experiences and knowledge. We are also in MI, so know your long winter pain!
Hi Lnickel

So sorry you have to be here but this board and the collective wisdom of the families here is invaluable.
There is a feedback on specific providers board and a connect with local members, which is members only, where you can reach out to other parents and ask about treatment options in your area.

Yes you are very right about the difficulties navigating the mental health system but hopefully you will find expert help and learn from other parents here how to help your d. so that she will recover.

To start with you could read Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder by James Lock and Daniel La Grange
Anorexia and other eating Disorders by Eva Musby (this book has practical information about how to actually FEED your daughter)
Skills Based Learning for Caring for a loved one with an eating disorder by Janet Treasure.

We have had the same constellation of symptoms you describe and it is very frightening. It can get better though.


lnknickel- It's so sad that mental health problems can have such a terrible impact on our relationships. And with teens, we can't even tell most of the time if they are having a normal ("normal") teenage moment or are in the throes of mental health turmoil. It took me a long time to find my compassion and understand how badly my d was suffering in those moments, especially when it affected other family members, but it has made a huge difference to our relationship. It's also new to me to keep my own fears and worries for myself as she doesn't need to hear them since it makes her feel worse and may set her back.

We also found mental health resources to be sadly lacking although the ED was taken a lot more seriously than the pre-existing anxiety and the help for ED was a roundabout way to get help for the other issues. I hope you can get the help you need for your daughter quickly. Sometimes you really need to roar.

Hang in there.
Hello Form another Michigander….actually a Yooper.
Can you give us some more information on your situation? How old is your daughter? Did she leave the hospital with substantial weight gain? What is going on currently? 

My daughter was diagnosed at 10.5. I too had HORRIFIC experiences with the mental health system. 

There is an INCREDIBLE therapist in downstate Michigan named Stephanie Milstein. She is AWESOME. People on FEAST call her "super T"! We skyped with her a few times.

I just wanted to give you a quick welcome and give you hope. My daughter will be 16 next month and is doing incredibly well! She is back to a normal life free of ED behavior. She is back to eating independently and intuitively. When she was admitted to an ED hospital in MN the intake doctor actually listed her primary diagnosis as "possible psychosis" with ED as a secondary diagnosis. OMG. Anyway- you have come to the right place!

People here have seen it all. There are those of us who have been here for years (like me) and people who are in the middle and people who are new like you. We are all here to help each other. Ask questions. Vent. Whatever you need. 
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Welcome. You will soon come to realize that this forum and these parents are a gift! So smart, so understanding, so full of wisdom and ideas. All times of the day and night. You'll see quickly enough that many of us are facing similar behaviors, words, tantrums, setbacks, achievements, comorbid conditions like self-harm and depression, etc. It's such a godsend to be able to talk about our issues here, knowing everyone totally gets it.

You are on a great path with DBT. I believe in it, and you are starting with something evidence based immediately, which is a huge wonderful thing. Hang in there.

19 yo D. AN - since about 15 years old. WR quickly - but the last four years have been tough. Since Sept. 2017, two residential stays, now in IOP, fighting a relapse. ED is hanging on, mental state not great, can't get her to remain at a weight long enough or high enough to see mental healing. She's on a gap year that will likely now turn into two.
My daughter actually was admitted for suicidal ideation and self harm. The eating issue had not yet become full blown until she entered as since the only bed available in lower michigan was in a facility that specializes in self harm they only monitored her calories as I indicated she has been struggling with body image and eating. They relied upon boost which she thought she would return home and thst could be her only intake to which I said no. The hospital then saw the anger we normally see at home when a boundary is given. The self harm and suicidal thoughts are truly a dire t result of us acknowledgin an eating disorder and putting things in place quick so it doesn't get out of hand. She is 13 and is adopted from Guatemala which adds another layer to her sense of not belonging. We think everything was triggered by puberty.
She has not gone too low in body weight as if she wishes to have time with her electronics she earns time by eating. Simple plan that so far has worked. We did catch her trying to throw up after lu ch on Saturday so new house rules went k to place....no bathroom unless supervised....no bathroom after a meal needs to be before. She has some choice in breakfast although we have final say and she packs her lunch with supervision. She does still go to school but as I work in the district I have colleagues check in at lunch. Dinner is all my choice. [smile] I make her plate and if she wants to face time with a friend after dinner she has to eat.
I feel blessed that I think we gave caught it early. Still know we are in this for the long haul but feel if we can just get in to the DBT center in ann arbor we can make it through.
I think the hardest thing for my husband and I is how hard to push it and what to just let go. Our 2 sons are awesome with her and about all of this. One is a senior and the other is 1 year younger.
I am grateful for all if the warm responses. So good to know we are not alone. [smile]
Hi again,

If you've been reading around this site, you'll have noticed that sometimes clinicians do not make the connection between COMPLETE weight restoration and amelioration of symptoms. And yet many ed symptoms (including depression) are or can be actually a result of starvation, and do go away with complete nutritional rehabilitation. 

Another thing that seems to be often missed in treatment plans is the idea that complete nutritional rehabilitation and ideal body weight  is dependent, not on averages of populations but on the individual's own growth trajectory. In other words, the patient needs to be returned to the weight that is best FOR THEM. Which in a growing kid is tricky, as if healthy they would be gaining like crazy.

Which is all to say, one of the first things you might consider doing, if you have not already done so, is get all your child's height and weight measurements, since birth, and plot them on mygrowthcharts.com, and see if your d's weight is high enough now. Because if it isn't, all the therapy and DBT in the world isn't  going to help her recover.

best wishes,
D diagnosed with EDNOS May 2013 at age 15, refed at home Aug 2013, since then symptoms gradually lessened and we retaught her how to feed and care for herself, including individual therapy, family skills DBT class, SSRI medication and relapse-prevention strategies. Anxiety was pre-existing and I believe she was sporadically restricting since about age 9. She now eats and behaves like any normal older teen, and is enjoying school, friends, sports, music and thinking about the future.