F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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teecee
How do I help my hubby to gain insight in to the mind of an anorexic??

my 17yr old D is in strong recovery since being diagnosed 18months ago. She struggled with exercise compulsion and following successful refeeding she was able to do some exercise but never went back to competitive tennis. 
She has recently, by her own choice, started doing the odd tennis session/lesson which she’s enjoying. She’s also got a boyfriend who she wants to spend time with in addition to friends a college work (A levels). This is a whole new world away from where she was 18 months ago with no friends, no hope and suicidal. 

So back to today...she asked her dad if it was ok for boyfriend to come for tea next Tues evening. He advised her that it would mean missing circuit training, which he thought was important to do to prevent injury when playing tennis. Her anorexic brain panicked and became anxious thinking ‘dad thinks missing training is a bad thing so why are you missing exercise’....you get the picture don’t you?!
this caused her to question her desire to see boyfriend over exercise. Even though she stuck to her guns and decided to see the boyfriend it was a challenge for her and a potential trigger. My thoughts are...so what if you want to see boyfriend over circuit training...do what YOU want. You can’t live life worrying about missing a training session in the event that you may get injured. Plus...she’s not training to be an Olympic athlete!

The problem I have is that he doesn’t seem to get it. I want him to have no opinion on exercise but he just doesn’t seem able. And what’s worse is he refuses to see that innocent comments trigger her anorexic brain to argue against her good decisions. 
I’m at a loss.....any suggestions as to what I can say/do ...it just ends up in him falling out with me as he feels I’m criticising/attacking him. Sigh....I’m exasperated with it.  

The sad thing is my daughter completely understands where I’m coming from and seeks reassurance from me that it’s ok to see the boyfriend. She is brave enough to confirm that negative thoughts entered her head following her conversation with dad and to quote her “if dad thinks it’s bad to miss training then I must be getting it wrong...” when in fact she’s getting it so right!!!! Aggggh help!!
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sk8r31
It's so hard, isn't it, when our partner just can't seem to 'get it'.  And not only that, but says something that is triggering....

Is your hubby a guy who likes science, and will read?  If so, Carrie Arnold's Decoding Anorexia may be helpful.  Tabitha Farrar has some good blog posts too.  Ultimately, if he's willing to learn, you can share resources & hope that it will sink in.  For many, including my husband, he needed to hear info from the professionals first-hand in order to truly understand.  Hearing from other dads about their experience was also helpful.  Is there any potential for a meet-up with other families for on-the-ground support?

Sending hugs...
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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teecee
Hi sk8r31 and thank you so much for your reply. 
Unfortunately he won’t read anything to do with Anorexia. He relied on me to do that and couldn’t bear to talk about it mostly which I get as I know it hit him harder than he says. 

The bits he has gleamed are from me or our D (which perhaps weren’t always reliable!) professionals were hit and miss and I usually took her to the doctors in the early days. He’s a stay at home dad whilst I work so he’s very close to her. 

I can see the hidden ways anorexia has manipulated however in the past he believed I was obsessed/paranoid ....rather than try to educate I stayed quiet and took the tact of intervening with mantras or taking opportunities like shopping trips to talk to my D and reinforce positive thoughts. It’s taken longer than I hoped but it was that or be at constant loggerheads with him which was too divisive. 

Sometimes his words to her unravel some of what I’m trying to achieve with her recovery but I suppose we are getting there. I just hate slipping back when we could all be channelling our resources in the same direction...if you know what I mean!!!
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sk8r31
Oh, I really do know what you mean!  Being on the same page as one's partner, and repeating the same messages, is so important to moving things along in a positive direction as quickly as possible.  But, sometimes we have to take the hand that we are dealt, and move forward as best we can, even if it's more slowly. 

It sounds as though you have found a reasonable way forward, though not as quickly as you'd like.  Maintaining a positive, loving relationship with your d, and talking to her about recovery sounds really wise.  I hope that you can be as compassionate towards yourself as possible, knowing that you are doing the best you can at this moment.  

For what's it's worth, it took a good two years after nutritional rehabilitation for my h and I to return to our pre-ED loving relationship.  We were just so worn down and emotionally deplete from fighting ED.  If you can find some quiet moments to chat with your h, and let him know that his behaviour is making it more difficult for you to help your d, would that be a strategy?  If he is unable to do any reading about AN due to his own discomfort but is relying on you to do the 'heavy lifting', then he should know how his undermining behaviour is making it so much more difficult for you.  I found when I could address problematic behaviour with my h while remaining calm myself, it was better tolerated.  

Sending warm support to you.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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scaredmom
teecee, 
My h is the same. Still does not really get it. I think it would frighten him, tbh, to really understand. He did hide behind me and did what I asked of him. To this day he still does not get it the same way as I do. When my h says something a bit off, my d and I look at each other with a knowing smile. My d and I have had discussions that dad does not understand it the same way. Although we want them to understand it our way, unless they want to get it, they won't. Like anyone, if you don't want to learn, unless it is absolutely necessary, you may not reach out to learn. As I did all ED stuff, h did not. He just followed my lead. Hard, I would like to have him understand and feel it the same as me. 
 
I do think for my h, if he spoke to another father, I would be helpful. But I know he would not as he would feel uncomfortable or feel attacked no matter what as well. He is private about his family too so would not want to share how hard it is.  I don't know how to change that dynamic. But a support group I think would be helpful for all fathers. 
I found this:
https://inews.co.uk/news/health/fathers-children-eating-disorders-desperately-need-support-525231

I do also wish that other fathers who have gone through their own ED transformation would share their journeys. To understand what they thought/felt at the beginning and what happened to make the see it differently would be helpful for me to know. 
The fact your d looks to you for your perspective of her situation is very positive. She is internalizing your words and thoughts and you are doing that brilliantly. To help her to see these words/situations in a different way and to reframe can really be powerful. It takes the sting out of a situation and gives perspective when we help them digest (sorry for the pun) the words differently.

 
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)
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teecee
Thank you both you’ve been so helpful. It’s good to know others have similar experiences and are tackling it in a similar way and that it’s been positive.
 
The comment about sharing a knowing smile with your daughter made me chuckle. I think I am almost at that point with my D. We do raise eyebrows but not at the smiling stage where we can both brush it off and just get on with it in a different way yet. I’m sure that will be the next stage. 

I suppose its the same old same old about being frustrated at things out of your control. I need to learn to have more patience but yes I hear the message about being kind to myself, thank you.

I will I’ll look in to the link thank you Xx
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Mamaroo
Your d did very well in such a tricky situation. The sad reality is that next time it might be a fellow tennis couch or an uninformed relative or some random person making a stupid remark. Encouraging your d to think critically about such remarks would help her in the future. In that way you are innoculating her against silly comments or suggestions wherever it comes from.
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
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teecee
Thank you, yes she did do really well. I took the opportunity to have a good chat with her last night and the responses actually reassured me that she’s further forward than I thought. I’ve asked her to think about how she can deal with these types of ‘suggestions/advice’ from dad, or others (as you rightly point out) in the future. 

Fortubately she has a fab tennis coach who knows everything and is really supportive. There is no pressure from his part what so ever. She told him what happened between her dad and I and he was non judgemental but agreed with my position 😊
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OUATINMBU
I'd like to help. Applying what I've learned and experienced over the past year and a half in order to give someone else a helping hand to stay afloat one more day (and begin to thrive) would be an honor. I know first-hand the challenges of being a father "on the ground in the fog of war" with AN. Our battle is far from over. So, "showing up" everyday...studying the research, reading the books, holding our daughter's hand, questioning clinicians, preparing the meals, etc. is what I do. It's love...and service...and devotion.

We all bring particular skill-sets to this ED challenge, and from what I've come to realize, our sons and daughters need caregivers who work steadily, powerfully, and effectively over the long haul to learn, empathize, support, and guide.

I can certainly share more of my story here if desired...BUT I believe listening might be a better way for me to be helpful. I'm in California, but I'm happy to email, chat, etc. with any fathers who might want to talk about their journey.
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teecee
Thank you for your kind offer. I will certainly raise it with my hubby to see if he is willing however I’ve found him to be similar to others in that he finds it difficult to talk about her illness and has asked me in the past not to discuss it with him as he doesn’t want to think about it. 
I have suggested counselling/groups etc but he refuses ☹️
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Foodsupport_AUS
teecee wrote:
Thank you for your kind offer. I will certainly raise it with my hubby to see if he is willing however I’ve found him to be similar to others in that he finds it difficult to talk about her illness and has asked me in the past not to discuss it with him as he doesn’t want to think about it. 
I have suggested counselling/groups etc but he refuses ☹️

There is such irony in that statement. He doesn't want to think about it, or learn about it but at the same time refuses to accept that things he says may cause distress to his own child. He would rather hurt her than risk distressing himself. 
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.
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kazi67
Hi Teecee
my h is much the same in regards to not wanting to talk about the illness or getting help/counselling  (which tbh is hard to do, it is hard to open up to a complete stranger about the hell your family is going through and also equally as hard to find anED specialised councillor, but I was at breaking point and had to see someone, (perhaps my h feels stronger and didnt feel the need?) we can’t force them to do anything can we

he just wants to “fix” her
he also has made very triggering comments in regards to physical activity in the past (my d was a dancer) and had to give it all away 
she was very talented and I think my h thought it was “just get back to normal and back to dance, “be strong”, “you can do it” attitude from him”
i think he looks at it as a failure that she can’t return to her beloved dance 

At least your d coach “gets it”

my d dance teacher still sends out the message of “never give up, only weak fail” “push yourself” “no pain no gain” 😖etc etc etc

can you imagine the pressure not to mention mental torment this puts her under and really just saddens me 

the competitive, productive driven world we live in in no way helps our kids
the messages some coaches and media send out is very disturbing really and I see it everyday 

my d has now learnt about self care and rest relaxation, and balance in life and doing things for pleasure not paining her body, making time for family and friends and socialising, enjoying nature, fresh air, sunshine, music, movement for fun, helping others, laughing and not just punishing and pushing her body to its limit 

my d too has learnt to look at me and roll her eyes when h and others make stupid un EDucated  comments (it’s taken a LOT of hard work for her to get to this point though)

the other morning my h announced “I don’t eat breakfast anymore” seriously...........😡
our d has had 3 lengthy IP hospitalisations over the past 2 years and struggled with her ED for past 3 and still is in OP treatment 

i just don’t think my d h is EVER going to “get it”

there are things he does do to support her though 
so I guess we all bring something to the table in supporting our loved ones
hang in there your d is very fortunate to have you!!
x
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teecee
Food support I never looked at it like that...yes it is ironic I think that’s why I get so frustrated with him. I get annoyed at why anyone who cares for someone wouldn’t want to know the detail...a bit like finding out how to feed babies or change nappies. I suppose he’s not one for looking in manuals and kids don’t cone with those do they?!!

Kazi67 I think we have the same husband!!!
He’s fantastic in so many other ways but it’s just this one thing....(shake of head). 
She loosely mentions she MAY want to join the uni tennis team and see where it takes her and I think somewhere in his brain it triggers an alarm that he has to prepare her to be ‘strong’ ‘fit’ ‘elite althlete’ which we all know needs commitment and dedication that is dangerous to anorexics. 
Before she got ill this troubled me as ironically I didn’t want her heath to suffer and we would have huge arguments about it. If only I knew then that AN would come in to our lives, how I would have stopped her from the reparative, competitive elements of the tennis. 
Her old coach was like your H Kazi and would say those things...hence why we are elsewhere 😊 

do you know what....you’ve made me realise that my D has been learning how to self care without me realising and hence how far she’s come. Just need my H to start doing that now. 
Thank you both. Xxxx
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sandie
H here has spent most of last year not eating breakfast or lunch. I now make him a lunch for work like for kids and he is now generally on board with need to have breakfast as good example. Everyone copes differently but some fathers do seem to find it particularly difficult to understand this illness and change. I hope I said that right, as obviously all of us find this incredibly difficult! I still have lots to learn. 

Really wonderful your D learning to self-care. 
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scaredmom

I know for my H he is scared that things will not change and so he gives up. Only after she got so much better did he understand it better. Not fully, mind you, I don't think that will come anytime soon. But I can only hope!

There is this song that I dance to at my dance lessons and never even thought about the lyrics until today. 
I give this to all the moms here who may need it today or any day. 
Moms you are the bomb!!



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)
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scaredmom
I would be remiss for not acknowledging the fathers here that are so amazing and are helping their kids with ED so  selflessly!!
So here is a song for you!
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)
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OUATINMBU
scaredmom...thank you. Beautiful song. Beautiful sentiment. This type of relationship, in my opinion and experience, is the "real deal." Our children need us. This ED challenge (and the parental/caregiver support in response to it) determines their future...and etches the legacy we've longed to impart to them.
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sk8r31
Lovely, uplifting songs...thanks scaredmom!
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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teecee
Great tunes! 😊
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mjkz
Do you think having your daughter talk to him about what kind of an impact his statement had on her would do any good?  She sounds like she is in a great place and made some very good healthy decisions which is really awe inspiring. I found that when my daughter could explain things to her father, it often went better and had more of a lasting impact than me trying to explain.
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teecee
I think having those conversations with him has always been tough. She feels guilty I think. Mostly his reaction is as though he’s being attacked...quite childish/sulky if that makes sense. 
I know when I was a kid I wouldn’t have had the courage to have the sort of conversations needed with my father. 
I have asked her to consider broaching the way she deals with him and her response to things that she doesn’t agree with rather than saying nothing and getting swept along with it...
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mjkz
Maybe have her write him a note.  I was lucky in that my father was easy to talk too even if he wouldn't have understood.  He did understand though when I said if you say this or that, it hurts me.  He was much more careful not to do whatever it was that hurt me even if he didn't understand why it hurt me.
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kazi67
Teecee
the other thing I’ve noticed (well we probably all have on this forum anyway) is that unfortunately half the population is unEDucated when it comes to ED

so in a way it sort of prepares our kids for the wider world and how to cope with “stupid” comments etc
i mean every second add is diet/weight loss related I mean diets even make the news and current affairs programs (WHY???)

why doesn’t it make news how dangerous dieting of any kind is???

i sit in my staff room for lunch and half my colleagues are on “Keto” or not eating this that or the other 
I just want to scream do you know the hell my d has been through these past 3 years???

and that’s the sad thing most of them do but they still “dont get it” really,  what we’ve been through 
heck even my s was home the other day and says “mum don’t you know margarine causes cancer?” and throws it in the bin 🤨

we are happy to see our ED d eating anything even margarine which she happens to like now yay!!
ive tried to explain to my s but again he just doesn’t get that any calorie that go in is great and I couldn’t care less atm if it causes cancer so long as she is eating!!!!
my non ED d says things like “I’m going hiking, going to smash it out doing x amount of kms in x amount of time, pushing myself to the limit!!”
🤨 and she’s seen first hand what her sister has been through 
but they are siblings not the parents I think perhaps their filter is different ?? and just blankly refuse to educate themselves and think It’s not as serious as it is and I’m making a fuss idk??

And that still doesn’t answer why my h can’t see it 
but I think this is the real problem with ED it’s a very crazy illness which tricks everyone 

so its a very hard battle to try to EDucate others 

and as I said maybe it can be used to help ED d to be prepared for all the disordered eating and opinions that she will see outside the family unit anyway 

also social media OMG, the (air brushed) pics the food, the exersizing, my ED d did tell me the other day that Instagram is no longer going to post anything (ads) diet related?? 
Im not on Instagram so I’ve no idea the truth in that but if so I applaud them 👍

i know its EXTREMELY hard when your kid is in the thick of the illness “I get that” I mean my d thought she would inhale calories from the exhaust fumes of a car so she was VERY ill mentally 
but once they are in a better place in recovery they need to learn what others do (diet wise) they can not EVER!!!!

my d  can actually laugh at all the stupid comments and ideas people make and have now 
so maybe it’s more important we make sure our ED d and s are EDucated and let the rest of the world do what they do idk ???

sorry I think I’m ranting 


xx

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scaredmom
I was sent this article by an ED therapist/researcher that I have come to know  ( she is not my d's therapist). It talks about the fathers' experiences and how it may be different for them versus moms. I think we hit a lot of those points here already on this thread.
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)
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teecee
Quote:
“so its a very hard battle to try to EDucate others “

you are so right. I hear everything you say Kazi and have to agree and don’t apologise, please rant away. That’s how I feel sometimes. I just drop my little golden nuggets or mantras now rather than go in to full on EDucation mode 😂

it must be be really hard for others to understand if they’ve never experienced it/caring for someone with it. 

I suppose we are all different...as I said previously I think I need a little more patience. Sometimes I lose it and need to reset. 

The idea of a letter to him may be good. It sounds weird but I only seem to be able to successfully communicate the deep stuff to him by text/email/written so that’s not a bad idea...thanks! 😊👍🏻💕
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