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.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

Tahirua27
Hello

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had an experience akin to ours with our older AN daughter (16) (our other AN daughter is 13). Our two girls are having/ have had very different experiences, with the younger one's being very classic anorexia (predominant emotions - worry/ anxiety and terror).

With our older child, however, who had the ED first, the predominant emotion has been anger, particularly in response to losing control, directed mainly at me for "blackmailing her into eating" and at herself, for telling me she thought she had a problem with eating. Whilst she had imposed vegan food rules on herself, the final step of refusing food altogether (which landed her in hospital over Christmas) was in response to my insisting she begin FBT. Once she was in hospital, she quickly worked out that she didn't want to spend her summer in here, that she didn't want AN to define her life, and after a few refusals triggered by arguments with me about how soon she could restart activities with friends, she ate everything she needed to to prove she could be let out. She later told her grandmother with pride that she "manipulated the doctors" into letting her out asap so she could spend NY with her friends. 

Since getting out, she has continued to eat and gain weight and we are now only requiring her to check in fortnightly with the FBT specialist to ensure she doesn't lose weight and to watch for any ED behaviour signs.
She continues to be fiercely independent, self-righteous, self-focused, unwilling to compromise (eg we can't get an appointment this week with the FBT specialist other than in school time; she doesn't want to miss school so she says she will refuse to go; when I talk about consequences for this, she accuses me of blackmailing her and "uninvites" me to her prizegiving).

Her FBT specialist - and us as parents - are still confused by whether she really has had "true" anorexia. Has anyone else had this type of experience, particularly where food is used as a weapon?
Quote
Foodsupport_AUS
Your daughter is definitely very different to my daughter who had much more classical anorexia, however my D has very much had the independent component and a great keenness for me not to be actively involved in her recovery. 

If your daughter is truly eating well independently and continuing to gain weight from an eating disorder point of view things seem to be going pretty well, and she may already be well on the way to recovery. That is pretty unusual, and I think you would find few kids on the forum whose path has been like this. At the same time her behaviour sounds painful and difficult to deal with. In particular it appears as though she is somewhat manipulative in her behaviour. I would be wanting to look at getting help for this if nothing else. 

One version of FBT does not involve the child at all- the parents attend only.  https://medicine.unimelb.edu.au/news-and-events/archive-news/parents-only-therapy-may-be-optimal-in-treating-anorexia Is there any plan for your D to get ongoing mental health care? It does sound as though she needs 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.
Quote
debra18
Foodsupport I was unable to open that link . Does parent only therapy exist in the US?
Quote
Foodsupport_AUS
Sorry the link had pasted with a full stop, so wouldn't work. 
The trial mentioned was a collaboration between the Royal Children's Hospital here in Australian and UCSF (Daniel LeGrange) so I would imagine there are some forms of this treatment available in the US, even though it is not classic FBT.

Tahirua I also wanted to mention that my D initially blamed me for her multiple hospitalisations. She would try to eat trivial amounts of food, as is so typical but when pushed to eat more would often just stop eating altogether. This would precipitate a hospital admission and it was all "my fault". Her last hospitalisation was in the context of her again losing weight and struggling to eat what was being prepared. I insisted that she add 10 almonds to her afternoon tea. She refused, and refused to eat anything else at all for several days. At the time again it was "my fault" but she now admits that the eating disorder voice was just so strong that she couldn't eat and once she felt trapped she felt it easier to be hospitalised where she would be "forced" to eat.
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.
Quote
scaredmom
Hi there,


Tahirua27 wrote:


Once she was in hospital, she quickly worked out that she didn't want to spend her summer in here, that she didn't want AN to define her life, and after a few refusals triggered by arguments with me about how soon she could restart activities with friends, she ate everything she needed to to prove she could be let out. She later told her grandmother with pride that she "manipulated the doctors" into letting her out asap so she could spend NY with her friends. 

Since getting out, she has continued to eat and gain weight and we are now only requiring her to check in fortnightly with the FBT specialist to ensure she doesn't lose weight and to watch for any ED behaviour signs.


Your question brings a lot to my mind about ED. Kind of like the chicken and egg story. She is eating you say and gaining so you are moving forward and hope the team helps her figure the other stuff out. 

That quote of yours is very telling. Many say the ate while in hospital and gained so they could get out (ie manipulated the system) I find that a very ED statement. It is like they really tricked ED to be honest. She got the treatment she needed to kick ED's butt and has to appease ED by saying she fooled everyone. I think she really fooled ED. And then to continue to eat well at home, and gain... well that is kicking ED out to the curb further. 

My D too said, it was my fault etc.. 
All of the kids I have seen here and in my own home are fiercely independent, strong willed etc, so take it in stride. She is ill, she is getting better, she is young and when she is older you may see that her attitudes soften a bit. As for not going to an appointment, unless it is not in school hours, I think that is ED. So you could force her, or you could book another appointment at a better time. She did not say, (from what you note above) that will not go at all, just that she will not miss school to go. 
I actually feel your post to be positive.
Gaining and thinking she is tricking the system and she will go to appointments and  not flat out refusing to go. You say she does not want  a life defined by ED- WOW that is great!!! I think you D may be trying to appease ED and saying she is being forced by you to do all these things. It is ok for her to "blame you" it gives her an out with ED. And they seem to lash out at the ones they know are able to take it and that you will not be mad at her for her outbursts with you. My D did that too and she trusts me with so many things now although I was the subject of ED's rages.

All the best.
XXX
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)
Quote
OneToughMomma
Dear Tahirua27,

Oh, yes, food and eating were very much a weapon in my house. I think it's pretty common to threaten, blame and punish parents through food.  My d would refuse to eat for the smallest thing. And beyond uninviting, she would even run away from home. 

I do think scaredmom has an excellent point.  Your d seems to be doing great.  Try to focus on the really important aspects (weight gain!), and filter out all the other ED noise.  

xoOTM
D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
Quote
Tahirua27
Thank you so much for these posts everyone - they have been incredibly helpful.

Yes, I do think the idea that she has tricked ED is really accurate - it is very much part of her personal narrative that she is always right and always in control, so I think blaming me for what happened to her works really well for her.

At the end of the day, it gives me great pleasure to see an independent, feisty, very strong young woman launch into the world (as she is continuing to do - getting her drivers' licence, getting herself a job, achieving academically ...). If she falls over and has to blame me to stay together, that's OK for now. Obviously I hope she can work this through as she matures as I think that attitude will hold her back in her relationships, but I think that will be her own journey. Right now, there is no way she will let me help her with that. (And, to tell you the truth, my mother has got through life maintaining that she is always right and being incredibly personally strong - hard for me, but it has worked for her!)

So, all in all, I think we are in a good place. And I am lucky to have two other girls who are very emotionally open and giving - although not nearly as strong so that has its downsides too!! I really hadn't realised at all how hard parenting in these teenager years would be, but another huge upside of this whole experience is that I have got strong too. I have had to change my parenting style completely (endless empathy to insisting on rule-defined behaviour with compassion) but I feel so much better. Being a manipulated marshmallow was not much fun!

Kia kaha (that means "be strong" in Māori)!
Quote
sk8r31
Ah Tahirua72, I feel such a sense of empowerment in your post!  It is true that the ED journey can certainly make us stronger, though we would never willingly choose to embark down that path!  During our family's journey, I eventually found my 'voice' and could be a strong advocate, not only for my d and her treatment but also for myself. 

My d had always been strong-willed, even as a toddler, and I think that spirit of independence and grit can be so useful later in life...but it's hellish sometimes to parent a strong-willed child.  You have a great attitude to your d's need to 'blame' you at this stage, and you are right that it will most likely shift when she is older and more mature.  

Sending you warm support as you navigate this latest stage.
sk8r31
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
Quote

        

WTadmin