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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So a little background;
my family and I lived abroad, in a third world country, for two years and moved back last summer. My D, 18 at the time, began losing weight but I didnt really suspect much. I knew she was depressed because she caught my husband having an affair. She lost 10 kg in about a month and a half and i did notice her not eating as much but I just thought she'd taken an interest in healthy eating. Doctors in a rheumatoid clinic, where I had taken her for fibromyalgia said they were concerned she had an ED but I batted them off. 
Three months into her final year at school she wrote us a letter saying she made herself sick often and was so depressed and suicidal and asked if she could go back to England, we told her she was being ridiculous and had to finish school here. We just wanted her to finish school and go to University. I tried to help a bit with her eating and sat with her a few times after dinner so she didnt purge but I gave up after a few attempts because I knew she'd do it anyway. She saw the school counsellor about once a week but we did nothing else about it. She couldnt get up for school and was in constant pain so I didnt make her go in except to do coursework and exams. I knew she was purging everything and was now underweight but I couldnt do anything because we weren't in England. Eventually she finished her exams despite her missing 7 months of school and no help was given by her teachers, she has overdosed twice without telling me and I assumed it was a bad stomach bug and after nights of vomiting took her to A and E. She is now at university and is still vomiting and restricting and wasting our food. Wouldnt it be better if she didnt eat rather than vomit out again after?
Does anyone else feel like this or am I a bad mother?x
While I am not experienced in dealing w the bulimia, I can say 100% that NOT EATING IS NEVER OKAY!! It just sounds to me like she is not emotionally equipped to be on her own, let alone in college. You are not a bad mother, just probably need more education on how dangerous it is and how important it is for you to help her. If you are paying for the university (I am assuming so)-- can that be reason for her to be home with you? (I.e. No schooling until you begin to work on your health). All I know is that no matter how uncomfortable or unconventional it feels to be radically involved, it is her health and her life that are being compromised.

There are definitely times that I and so many others have thought (should I just let her _________(eat less,purge etc) and when she hits rock bottom, THEN she will be ready for help. But I will never do that, because an eating disordered brain cannot think logically or necessarily want the treatment.

At the very least please talk with a specialist about your daughter's situation. That could be a first step to taking action. Sending you much encouragement and hope that you can find the resources you all need right now.
Seekingsunshine, found many rays of hope in the last year of treatment. D 14yr old- restricted since about age 9-10, dx at 13 when I felt she wasn't growing, FBT/maudsley summer 2015, WR Sept 2015, but have to keep chasing moving target. Not ready for eating independence.
Thank you seekingsunshine for your reply! No, she is paying for university through student loans and pays for her food etc when she is there so I can't say that. The truth is that I want her to stay at university and would prefer that, I think it would be worse for her to come home while all her friends stay away at uni. I will try go to the doctor with her before she goes back though and I would look up more about the situation myself, the thing is she has asked for help I just feel like it will be a lot of effort however I will definitely try help more.
Hi Butterfly101

Your daughter reached out to you for help by writing you a letter. Please bring her home and encourage her to go into treatment.
She may not be able to get well on her own and if she is suicidal and purging and restricting she is very ill and needs help. I'm not sure why you would tell her she was being ridiculous in that situation? I don't mean to be unkind but this is a serious illness.

"Three months into her final year at school she wrote us a letter saying she made herself sick often and was so depressed and suicidal and asked if she could go back to England, we told her she was being ridiculous and had to finish school here. We just wanted her to finish school and go to University. I tried to help a bit with her eating and sat with her a few times after dinner so she didnt purge but I gave up after a few attempts because I knew she'd do it anyway."

Dear butterfly101,

Eating disorders are serious illnesses & are potentially fatal & need very special clinicians to help the person & family learn how to beat the disease & recover. Kind of like having a physical medical condition/disease, expert clinicians are needed to treat the physical medical condition/disease, eating disorders need expert clinicians to apply treatment for recovery & its needed immediately, early identification & early intervention are the key to early recovery.

Please do all you can to learn about what afflicts your D & how to help her recover.

toothfairy & seekingsunshine have given you great info.

ED Dad
I'm so sorry that your D is suffering.   Right now you are her best shot of recovering from this deadly illness.  You have mentioned some very scary and concerning things in your post (she lost so much weight, she is purging, she is depressed and has overdosed twice).   These all need to be addressed asap.

You have a steep learning curve ahead of you, one that everyone on this forum knows all to well.   Please, please read all of the suggested books by Toothfairy so that you can understand this illness better.  Your D did not choose to have this illness and she cannot recover on her own.   And yes, you will need to put in a lot of time and effort to help her in recovery.  Her mind is being tormented by ED thoughts and suicidal thoughts and being away at university is probably not the safest place for her right now.  I agree with Kali, please bring her home and encourage her to go into treatment.  There will be time for university in the future when she is healthy again.    If it were any other life threatening illness such as cancer, would you hold off on treatment? 

Sending you strength to fight this illness with your daughter.  Her life depends on it. 
Firstly you are not a bad mum, It is not your fault. You are like all of us, we love our kids, want the best for them and struggle with every decision.

The reason a lot of ed patients die (I can't quote figures) but suicide. If nothing else the fact that she has attempted suicide, making herself sick enough to need hospital treatment scares me.

I want a realistic dr and team, not someone who says what I want to hear and not a 'touchy feely nice' dr that doesn't have success.
Is it because you were in a third world country?watching starving people on a daily basis may have desensitised you to your daughters condition if that is so.
What I'm truly not understanding is whether you want validation that your approach was right or not or suggestions for help.
In terms of whether burying your head in the sand was right-well no it wasn't,but you are far from alone in not wanting to see what was in front of you(and I include myself in that number).
Once your daughter wrote you a letter,that was your first chance to step in,but you know you may have missed that opportunity but you don't have to miss more.
In terms of wasting food-there will come a time if left untreated that this will seem a trivial concern.
You need a plan.
The first thing you need to do is put her education on hold.currently her life is in danger.as the mother of a former(and possibly current) purger the first and foremost thing you need is to take her for blood tests.my daughter has had readings as low as 2.2- this is possible heart attack territory and requires immediate hospitalisation for potassium drip,and tablets in the hospital setting.then she needs to be discharged with them.
Your d needs an orthostatic heart rate done-lying to standing heart rate.if this is poor,if she is dehydrated,if she has lost a dramatic amount of weight in a short time-these are things your d will be admitted for.
Anorexia is not ridiculous-it can be a deadly mental illness.you can't wait and hope.you can pray,but only on the way to hospital.you can't worry about education,because she may die before that is completed.
I am not saying any of this lightly.i have nearly lost my d because of anorexia and in my world NOTHING comes before HEALTH.
I could wrap my arms around you and say awesome things but you said you wanted truth and help.that I can do.please take your d for assessment NOW.my thoughts go out to you as you wrap your head around this,but I know that the thing that matters the most to you is helping your d achieve wellness.
Good luck,please come back and let us know how you got on,
Sorry you had to find your way here but this is the best place for help.  You need to put your d's health first here.  Education can be caught up with at any time - you only have one life.  ED's are the most fatal of all mental illnesses.  Your d needs to be treated asap.  We initially felt the same as you about our d and that we just needed to get the exams etc behind her.  Well, we have now had to take her out of school to concentrate on her recovery.  We have had to spend 24/7 monitoring her at times as this is the only way to deal with the refeeding and purging (monitoring 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and being with her for two hours after every meal/snack to prevent purging).  Your d is not capable of dealing with this on her own and needs your help.  You have come to the right place - this site is a life saver and you will find so much help here.
I agree with Sotired, health before education. My D had to miss the last 6 months of school last year when she was first ill. After a relapse this year, we have pulled her out of college for the remainder of this academic year. She is a bright girl, she will catch up when she is physically and mentally well enough to do so.

You need your D to come home. Your D needs a medical assessment by someone who knows what they are looking for. The following things need checking:

heart rate (below 40bpm will lead to immediate medical hospital admission)
blood work (including potassium and blood sugar levels)
blood pressure (lying to sitting to standing)
temperature (hypothermia)
ECG to check for heart damage

These are just basic tests, quite standard, but can show if your D is starting to run into trouble medically. There are criteria for each of these tests and if she is low on any of them, she will be admitted to a medical hospital. From what you have said, this has been going on for some time with your D. My D was ill for only 3 months before she was admitted into hospital last year. At one stage, she was on 5 min obs because her heart rate was so low. Her blood sugar level was so low, they thought she was going to slip into a coma. Very scary stuff. What saved her? FOOD. My H and I stopped work for 3 months to feed her.

I can validate your feelings of having your head in the sand, I used those words on here only a few weeks ago, and I am sure many on here have felt the same at some point. I recall the feeling of resentment, the feeling of it being my Ds choice to becone ill (it isnt EVER).

You have done the right thing in finding this forum. It may seem that everyone is bombarding you with advice/stories, but believe we when I say that our fellow FEASIES know their stuff, because we have all lived through this too. We offer advice, and you can chose whether to take it or not. Everyone is different, some things will resonate with you and some won't.

Do let us know how we can help you and your D further. x

UK - South East

19 yo D

Dx AN Feb 2015 (Aged 15). Pre-existing low self-esteen and high anxiety. 

2015: 3 x medical hospital admissions. 1 month in IP which she self discharged from [eek].
2016: 3 x hospital admissions. 
2017: CAMHS CBT. WR, dropped out of 2 different colleges and started an apprenticeship.  Started having grand mal seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy in Nov 2017. Sacked from job because of this.  Tribunal ensued.
2018 - doing a Psychology degree through Open University and working in retail to pay her way in life. Relapses with eating disorder in June 18 and Nov 18 😢. 

On particularly rough days when I am sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good. [Author Unknown]