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

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Rigid thinking….(sigh) is very much part of eating disorders. During our most intense phase of recovery, our family therapist would send us home with a goal to challenge an identified behavior causing conflict to our household. We always strived to be mindful of rigid thinking and challenge it when possible. In the early months sometimes the “choose your battles” wisdom was appropriate. She could only take so much anxiety. It was invaluable for the entire household to know when flare ups did occur, we could plan to take it up at our family therapy session. In the beginning they were weekly. And they were invaluable!

The rigidity wasn't isolated to only eating. Without admitting to herself or us that her behaviors were very narrow, she assumed that the brown recliner with this telly show at this time of day would do. Those kind of expectations don't go over very well with siblings. If accused that she didn't own that spot - she fiercely defended her positions not able to see want vs. need. While to others it is selfish behavior to be always expecting to get her way, in her disordered thinking she NEEDED these things to stave off the encompassing anxiety that enveloped her if things weren't just so. Back to those siblings, even now with life pretty darn good, whenever our daughter and siblings are making plans, she is unable to hide that she processes the conversations by immediately weighing her availability, her convenience, where she wants to meet, etc. And of course it's so apparent it still causes her sibs to feel very annoyed.

The word selfish is appropriate except for this.....not only related to rigid eating there is something called set shifting. Having difficulty with set shifting is very prevalent in people with Anorexia. In it's lesser form it's just the way some people are. If my daughter thinks she's going to do one thing and due to traffic we change plans that throws her completely off. If at night I started sorting the kitchen cupboards so that upon awaking the kitchen feels chaotic to her expectation that all would be as it usually is. She's done a beautiful job of creating a young adult life with all the things we hope for but worry won't be possible. She's starting law school, has a fiancé, has traveled to Israel, Greece, NYC, is healthy and just glows with life. I guess I'm just checking in to let those of you still in the thick of crises know that this rigidity is one of the most difficult aspects that really will challenge relationships. In the early days it's power was a constant force, crossing it exhausting, and the challenge to keep her hope that everyone didn't hate her from defeating her. Those battered siblings need their hurts tended to, their selfless acceptance that we were doing the best we could rewarded and acknowledged. Hang in there and never forget your kid is in there and wants to come back!

A mother here to learn.....
D diagnosed/hospitalized for 2 weeks January 2013 --Accepted as a patient at Kartini Clinic--IOP for 12 weeks--Discharged from Kartini summer of 2014. WR June of 2013--Our daughter embraces recovery and is reclaiming her life with wins large and small!
We too have experienced rigid thinking.. and I totally agree with everything you have said.
Thanks for sharing, not only your battle with rigid thinking, but also how well your d is doing now. Interesting the link between rigid thinking and selfishness. D's sister is quite selfish, but now I think it might be a symptom of rigid thinking and if I challenge that thinking, that maybe her selfishness may lessen.
Thanks again
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
Yes, we have rigid thinking here too and I see clearly how it connects with the anorexia. I wouldn't say it was pathological previously but she was a bit difficult to get along with (but equally could be very passionate about things and ideas). But now, with the anorexia, it's rigidity with eating and I know we will need to address the rigid thinking to build resilience in the future. 
Absolutely heretolearn. Rigidity and the close related concept of anxiety with change are huge features of both the illness and often some pre-morbid features as well. My D has slowly but surely worked with this. Overall we are now at the point that I think her rigid thinking as close to pre-morbid state and even better her anxiety with change is probably even better than prior to her illness. There has been a lot of therapy going into this to help her work on those thinking styles. One of the interesting battles my D has is that she tries hard not to be selfish and she often sees where her anxiety may appear to be selfish. She works hard now at trying to resolve this, something that she couldn't do when younger and more ill. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.