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

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Our 12 year old d with AN screams beyond belief at meal times if anything is out of sorts to her. Usually before meals, sometimes after meals and occasionally in between. In your face as loud as she can until she runs away. She will pound walls and floors, slam doors, throw food, on and on and on until she heads to a hiding place to continue screaming. This can go on for very long periods of time until she reaches the point of exhaustion. Often before she reaches this point she almost goes into a state of convulsion with her arms and hands quivering, her face contorted and her back arching to address the pain she is clearly in. She usually screams that she is being attacked by the monster and in one case she claimed it had eaten her legs and then she dragged herself across the floor to escape. She then reaches a state of collapse where she goes rag doll on you. She stays in this state for a few minutes and slowly comes out of it like she is awakening. She's worn out with good reason and claims to not really remember what has happened. She apologizes and then goes and eats her meal. The meltdown is horrific, scary and so disturbing in particular the convulsion like movements. Some of this just seems too intense to believe that this is just ED fighting back. We're still pretty new to the battle but struggle to accept that this is just a normal day in the life of a 12 year old kid with AN trying to beat it.
This is hard stuff.

At the end of the fit, she eats?  Is she eating everything you give her?  Are you getting a healthy number of calories into her every day--enough to see a good weight gain each week?

I don't know what your team is telling you, but we aimed for 2 lbs/week.  There's no reason (outside of refeeding syndrome) to go slowly.

It doesn't sound like anything she can control just yet, and if she's eating, at least you know there is a good result at the end of this.  When you are marching through hell, it's good to know that you are at least pointed toward the exit!
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
My daughter needed anger to help her overcome the monster. I have dodged over turned chairs and placed my hand on the floor to stop her hurting herself when she tried to repeatedly bang her head on the floor. She has kicked cupboards and broken doors, we have a clock that stopped working when it fell off the wall after she had slammed shut the refrigerator door. The clock still sits on the wall stopped at 6.15......strangely we have not fixed it......and later we sorta smiled it has become our badge of courage, we got through some horrendous things, you will too.

If as Colleen says she eats at the end then you are moving forward.

This illness is irrational and your daughter has compulsions she cannot control, stay calm, stay firm and keep aiming for good steady weight gain.

It is scary, but believe me ED can do such things, your d is bravely fighting what seems to her to be a very real danger. Keep her safe, keep her eating.

Hugs to very brave and loving parents...........she will overcome.

Courage is being afraid, but going on anyhow ( Dan Rather)

I'm sorry that you are having such a hard time with your D's ED. Our 10 year old d's behaviors were pretty awful. I think pretty universally we experience that almost dual personality/possessed by something behavior which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand. We were convinced our d was bipolar, OCD, BPD, ODD, etc. Our d also fought back, screamed, yelled profanities, yanked on the locked doors, tried to open windows to run away. When she realized that it was futile and she couldn't run away, she would curl up in the fetal position and sob and whimper like a wounded animal. This happened both before and after she ate. This lasted for about 6 weeks. The cure for this behavior is food and bringing their weight up. She didn't behave like this after she hit her first target weight, but like your d, she was young and still growing. So, it took us 3 years to get to the point where she stopped growing. However, the behaviors were SO much better after the initial 6 weeks.

It WILL get better though it is the scariest thing you will likely ever have to do for your children.

Hang in there
21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
Awful to watch your child "possessed" like this. I would say....sadly, that it is typical of what ed can look like in the early days of refeeding. Not for every child but certainly for some. The cycle of rage or despair building to an"breaking point" and then sadness and an ability to eat was something we experienced also (d 11 at the time).

How are you managing through it? Does anything seem to help or escalate? Normalizing it helped some for us. Letting her know we knew how difficult it was and that it made her feel like screaming and hiding. Knowing we weren't afraid or shocked by her behaviour was comforting to her. I would tell her (when she was calm) "isn't the brain an amazing thing....there is so much we don't know about how it works. Pretty fascinating. Smart doctors who care about kids are working on it though. Don't be afraid...it will get better". I really wanted her not to feel shame or frightened by being out of control.

It is hard, hard stuff. It will diminish some as the pounds go back on. The only way out is through.

Keep going, you are doing great.
D dx at 10 years old in June 2011. She is now 16 and happy and healthy.  We were IP for 8 weeks and then refed at home for what felt like forever.  We chased vertical growth for years...as is typical for the age.
My daughter is also 12.

My daughter had VERY similiar  "attacks" when she was very ill in the beginnings of refeeding (2 years ago). She would stare at some unknown  mass and scream "Can't you see the blackness??" She would violently convulse and shake and jump and literally purely panic. She would scream and scream like in a horror film and it was REAL. She would scream that it wanted her dead. It would only let her be herself again if she was at her own funeral. She would say that she could not feel our love. It was gutwrenching. She also would eventually ware herself down and we would hold her and just try to stay calm until it was over. I would say this happened at least 3 times a day for several weeks. She would also "come out" of it and often not seem to remember much. I remember asking my husband if it was possible that she had multiple personality disorder. I felt like my child was slipping away from me into insanity. I did not know if I would ever get her back......She was 10.

Now she is 12.6 years. ALL of those behaviors dissapeared when the weight went on. ALL OF THEM. One day the pure on crazy horrific horror movie type episodes stopped. She does not remember really any of that. She was not there......her brain was broken and not working right. Starvation will do such horrible things to the brain.

My daughter is in a play. She is a social butterfly. She shows and receives love. We are still fighting ed every day- and will be for a long time. A lot of growth has to happen. Same with your daughter.

PLEASE KEEP YOUR HOPE ALIVE! It CAN and WILL get better. Food is medicine. Love is medicine. Keep going.........I have been there- I know how painful it is. I know that despair. I hope that my story can help you. I literally just put my daughter to bed and she said "Thanks for bringing my shake to school so I could go to play practice today mom. I love you" and she kissed me. 2 years ago I did not know if that would EVER happen again. I got my baby back. You will too.LOVE TO YOU.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
We experienced this also when our D was in the early stages of recovery.  Screaming for an hour or more, throwing things, slamming doors, punching us if we tried to enter her room.  It is just an awful disease.

All we could do was keep her safe until the stress passed and be there to give her a hug when she was ready.  We then had to get the food done.

The yelling still happens occasionally, but not as bad or for as long.

The AN causes such great stress and pain for our poor children.

We are still working hard and have had ups and downs.  Things do improve through, be calm and consistent and get the food done.

Then try to get some sleep every night and look after yourself.

This is a long journey, but we didn't have children to give up on them. 

Ron, keep going, your saving your D's life.

A dad to 14 y.o D
My daughter's tantrums related to meals, when she has them (the last one was two weeks ago ...) are also horrible. She screams so loudly it can be heard from the street, through double-paned windows.

This is one kind of normal reaction that some children have to being presented with required eating.

Hang in there--the monster will let go of your daughter. Food is medicine.

"Hope is a wonderful thing ... but hope by itself is not enough. Hope is the reason to take action, to make a plan and then to change the plan when it isn’t working - over and over and over again if necessary." Hannah Joseph (Let's Feast Friday Reflection, "Just Keep Going," Friday, March 3rd, 2015)
My daughter also often screams and yells and throws things at meal times. It is worse in the evenings. After about a half hour to fourty five minutes she is worn out enough and gives in. I think it's the ed fighting to survive.
Sink or Swim
Pacific Northwest USA
Anorexic Mom and 5 year old Anorexic daughter
Fighting ED together!
What you are experiencing is normal.  Been there, ticked the box.  I remember thinking my D must be the most ill anorexic there was and she would be one of the few who would never recover.  It was when I discovered this forum that I realised it was pretty common.  That gave me so much reassurance - if others had seen the same and come through it so could we.

My D is very recently weight restored and these behaviors disappeared almost immediately.  We still have our moments of anxiety but it is getting better.  As others have said as long as your D is eating you are on the road to recovery.

It will be the hardest thing you ever have to do.  Make sure you look after yourself as well - it really takes it's toll.  Accept any help you can.  You will come out the other end and your lovely D will return to you. xxxx
Ron6767 my 13 yr old D was diagnosed in September & spent 3 weeks IP. She was out of control to say the least during the refeeding process. My H gave up work so we could monitor her together 24 hours a day. She too would rage (she was on olanzopine) & than we would insist she come down to eat which she did. She liked going for a drive to ease her anxiety so we did plenty of miles in those first weeks. We always started the day with a clean slate for D. She was weight restored quickly & is now doing very very well. Back to normal teenage behaviour & wanting to challenge herself at times. So hang in there it gets much better but it will be the toughest thing you ever do for your D. 
I hope that everyone above has allowed you to see that these episodes, while absolutely horrific, are not unusual with initial refeeding & will pass. We used to get 3 or 4 hours of horrendous, animalistic screaming at nighttime, as if she were truly possessed.

Make sure that the additional energy used during these episodes is accounted for and replaced so that weight is still going on well - it is getting to a less malnourished state that is mst likely the best way to 'cure' the psychosis. It might also be worth talking to someone to see if sort-term anti-anxiety meds are a possibility.

Have you tried bundling her up in a warm blanket after meals and just holding her safe after eating? Many of us have experienced these terrifying scenes and really fel for you. Stay strong, seek help if necessary and they will pass.
The future is not set; there is no fate but that which we make for ourselves.

"Not my daughter, you bitch." Mrs. Weasley