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

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My son, my sweet little boy, who's growing into a young man, he has a heart of gold and a troubled mind.  He's dealt with anxiety alongside my daughter who is in recovery after battling anorexia since age 15.  She is heading off to college in the fall a different person and I am so proud of her for all her hard work battling this illness.

Covid aside things were looking up.  Then the other night my son, who is turning 14 in September, came to me during the night and said that he couldn't sleep.  We talked and he told me that he has been having disturbing thoughts about his appearance.  He's a very dedicated soccer player and with Covid his season was halted with nothing much to do.  We spent the first month just relaxing a bit,  While I love watching him perform at the sport he loves best, sometimes its nice to have some downtime.  I think he was enjoying the calm instead of having to run from school to practice and every which way for multiple games on the weekends.  He's small like his sister, like me, smallest in his class, but always a good eater, no fear foods, helps himself to whatever he likes, donuts and cookies, milkshakes are his favorite.  Since we began battling anorexia with his sister, I started trying to feed him more, and he's complied, even grown a few inches.  I was hoping that with the down time he might fill out a bit so he could hopefully sprout up before school starts up again in the fall. 

After the first month of nothing, his team started ZOOM training and he was, while not required, practicing 3 times a week again.  He was developing muscles.  People started to notice, started telling him how ripped he was.  He liked that.  his last ZOOM training session ended 2 weeks ago and with some restrictions lifted he was able to train with a coach 1 on 1.  

When he came to me that night, my stomach dropped, the room started spinning and my anxiety spiked, but I calmly comforted him and listened while he spoke to me about not wanting to lose his muscle tone.  With his season ending he was afraid that would happen.  He always breaks from soccer in the summer to do the other sport he loves so dearly, sailing.  He's very competitive and while I imagine he expends a lot of energy racing, he told me that he googled "is sailing as rigorous a sport as soccer"  He told me that he didn't want to think about stuff like that, he told me that he wanted to just be a kid and not worry.  He said that when he is busy with his friends playing and laughing he doesn't think about it at all.  The next day he told me he was fine, and that he hadn't thought about it much. He has always struggled with anxiety, and I think that he fears the disease after seeing his sister struggle so much.  He said to me that he doesn't want it to happen to him too.  He has not stopped eating, in fact I think he's eating more to combat his fear, but again, today,  he came to me to tell me that he feels like he is losing his muscle tone, I think he's body checking and I am terrified.  It's not disordered eating if he's eating, but then what is this?  Could it be the start of puberty? I pray to God that is all this is.  I know that anxiety can spike with growth and brain development, and he's definitely due for a growth spurt.  

Please if anyone has encountered this and can give me advice on cutting it off before it gets worse I would appreciate your feedback.  Thank you

I am so pleased to hear about your d!! Congratulations!!

Yes of course you are worried. You went through such a traumatic time and now you feel ED is back. 
What a very articulate son you have. He really is self
aware. The fact he came to you is a testament to your great parenting and his knowledge that you will help him. 

The body awareness is common at this time
in his life and he was being complimented by his peers.
That external recognition can be a powerful
Puberty does bring on body image issues  for most of us. There are so many inexplicable changes. If he is eating well and more I am pleased. Is he developing ED thoughts? I don’t know of course. Would it help you to take him to a counsellor or the doctor to discuss and get a feel for how strong these thoughts are right now?
If there is an issue, this could be identified and worked on before it snowballs. He is at higher risk of ED, so I guess I feel it is always better to overcall and get it checked rather than wait, just in case.
When I am anxious about these things and  I let it out it becomes more real and forces me to act.
Then I usually feel better as then I have a direction and goal.

I am sorry for the worries you have right now. I am sure others will chime in soon.I am hoping it is nothing and very short lived, if it is something more.


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)
Thank you Enn, you put my mind at ease a bit.  I wonder if I am asking him too often how he is feeling if that is a bad thing.  I don't want him to focus on it, and if he is busy with friends, which is unfortunately rarer in these weird times, I don't ask, its just when he's alone in his room, I sometimes pop my head in and ask how he's feeling.  Practice certainly distracts him, but I don't want practice to become something he thinks he has to do in order to stay fit.  I am hoping that once sailing starts he will be too busy to think of it.  He is scheduled for an annual check up in July, so I will be sure to mention it to his doctor.  

Thank you for the lovely congratulations for my D.  She is going away to school which brings it's own anxieties for me, but she is very excited and thankfully she is only an hour away, so I plan on seeing her often.
Your worry and concern is of course expected, as Enn has said there is a lot of trauma that goes with having a child with an ED diagnosis. It is great that your D is doing so well. Congratulations. For your son, it does sound like having some sort of evaluation, even a place for him to sort through his worries may be a good idea. So fabulous that he came to you with this. He may benefit from learning some skills to help him with his anxiety whether or not there is sufficient body dysmorphia for any diagnosis. It makes a lot more sense to start early and help him feel supported. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
He came to me again last night, this time fighting back tears. He wants to know why this is happening to him.  We have close friends with 2 girls who both have ADHD, one has been hospitalized for depression and cutting, he is so afraid that this will be his future, he knows that the one was happy and thriving before she hit puberty and is afraid it will happen to him.  He told me that he wants to go to college and he wants to travel.  I tried to reassure him that his sister is getting to do all those things and he will too....  Since when has puberty become such a taboo time for kids.  I am hearing about it more and more often, and I fully understand the biology behind it, but is it really more frequently happening, or am I just keenly aware of it after all that we have been through.  I think he might also be keenly aware of it and this is why he is so scared.  He had a steak and fries for dinner and requested an Oreo milkshake last night for dessert.  His anxiety tends to spike right at bed time which I told him was because he's alone in his bed and has time to focus on it.  He asked why his anxiety is centered on his physicality and I told him it's because his body is changing and he likes the way it looks.  Part of becoming a man, which I hope put his thoughts to rest a bit.  We both agreed that sailing cannot come soon enough.  I think he functions much better in a structured environment.  Now that school has ended, not as many friends around to see, due to Covid, and his sailing season would have started as soon as school was out, but has been pushed to observe the Governor's orders.  I am grateful that he is talking to me, that he seeks me out for his questions and for comfort.
There is a huge positive here: he talks to you. He is talking to you and asking for support. He is not keeping it hidden. It can only help you to help him!
hard stuff this parenting. 
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)
Yes, I agree with the others that the way he is talking with you about it seems like a very big positive.  You mentioned he has a July doctor appointment and that you will be sure to discuss it with the doctor -- I wonder if you could write up some of what you are seeing and hearing from him, and your concerns, and furnish it to the doctor a day or two ahead of the appointment so they are prepared with how to phrase things and what questions they might ask of him to see if there is a deeper issue.  I have found it very useful to communicate with the doctor on the side, because some of my concerns do not need to be heard by my d, and feed her fears. 

This parenting gig is hard!  Throw in an ED in the household and the whole thing just gets harder and more muddled for all in the household, including siblings.  Throw in puberty and confusion abounds ... what is ED, what is "normal" teen behavior/thinking .... Throw in Covid and distancing and too much time to do nothing, and, well, it seems like us parents don't stand a chance at sussing out what is normal, what is hormones, what is covid, what is real and need separate medical intervention.  Just know that you are not alone ... but again, the open lines of communication with your son can only help you all navigate this with a good outcome.  The fact that he has seen an ED up close with his sister is a double-edged sword, but I suspect will help you all catch anything "real" early and if you are seeing ED prematurely, that will show itself in time and you will be none the worse for having an eye open to it.  
Mom of either pre-diagnosis or non-ed underweight 12 yoa (as of March 2018) kid here to learn how to achieve weight gain.  BMI steadily in the mid 12's for nearly her entire life.  Born 2006. UPDATE:  April 2018 diagnosed ARFID, based solely on weight being less than 75% of Ideal Body Weight.  Mildly picky, but mostly the problem is a volume/early satiety issue, along with abdominal discomfort and chronic constipation, all present since birth.  UPDATE:  July 2019 diagnosed with PANS. Dr. said likely started first PANS episode at less than 1 or 2 years of age.  On long-term daily prophylactic antibiotics. BMI now about 16 after period of intense refeeding prior to PANS dx,  followed by stagnation as we sort out what is next. FWIW ED-D is a fraternal twin and we have no other kids.
Thank you atdt31_US, he has been much more up beat the past few weeks.  Hasn't been talking at all about his concerns and generally seems more happy and lighthearted which is good to see.  He has also been eating great but still getting a lot of exercise.  His sailing program starts on Monday which he is super excited about, and he had a sailing race last week which he enjoyed very much.  One thing I did change was that I purchased a very good fish oil high in DHA.  My daughter is on the best one that I can find, but the gelcaps a huge and he cannot swallow them.  This one is pretty comparable but in liquid form.  He said he feels more calm and less anxious on it which is great.  I am hopeful that this is just a phase or part of puberty, but I intend to keep a close eye and definitely mention it to his doctor on the side.  I know all the pitfalls of talking too directly in front of an already anxious child, so I will be sure to do it either ahead of time, or in private quarters.  Thank you so much for your insight.

It is great he is talking to you. It was a traumatic time for you all. Be alert, not alarmed. Massive congrats on your D!! Puberty is awful. My son is really struggling 14 too. Anxiety, adhd and bingeing. Anxiety medication has helped, Ritalin helped, but when he comes off it, makes bingeing worse. I count my lucky stars that he talks to me, or else he would be suffering in silence. 

Covid has been hard, with no routine. Your son sounds like he is a gentle kind soul who thinks of others, remind him that you are there for him. 

Keep up the excellent work, and try to breathe. (I am trying to get used to the pit of anxiety in the bottom of my stomach again.)
It is probably In part of the ptsd from going through it once already, and the new concerns you have triggering the trauma you all went through 

I know that pit well and good Nicstar4, I think once you've been through this ordeal the PTSD is so real, and even my husband doesn't really understand.  I find for myself CBD helps to take the edge off, because when I start reeling sleep is elusive...  I will just stare at the ceiling for hours.  When my daughter began this journey I tried to talk with her about her feelings, but she just didn't have the words.  I am so grateful that my son can talk to me about his fears.  It feels different with him, and coming from a place of anxiety, i know that he is fearful of the fear, if you know what I mean.  He also takes the CBD in a gummy form, and I really think that the DHA is helping.  He hasn't even mentioned his concerns and he has been sleeping and eating great.  I hope that your son can find some peace from the anxiety.  If you haven't already tried the CBD and the DHA you may want to give it a go and see if it helps with the bingeing when he comes off the Ritalin.

atdt31_US wrote:
This parenting gig is hard!  Throw in an ED in the household and the whole thing just gets harder and more muddled for all in the household, including siblings.  Throw in puberty and confusion abounds ... what is ED, what is "normal" teen behavior/thinking .... Throw in Covid and distancing and too much time to do nothing, and, well, it seems like us parents don't stand a chance at sussing out what is normal, what is hormones, what is covid, what is real and need separate medical intervention. 
OMG that's so true, I was thinking that just today. My D just turned 13 when ED arrived (she has been WR back to her growth curve + for a year), so I find it hard to discern what is normal teen behaviour and what's ED  when it not about food (clothing style for example, she likes completely different clothes now which could be completely normal....or not agghhh).
Great that your s can talk to you, my D is like your D, won't talk much. I hope the Dr appointment goes well!
13 yo d started to eat "healthy" September 2018, she had a growth spurt a bit later, followed by tummy bug. She started restricting breakfast and school lunch in January 2019 (that we know). We succesfully refed at home.
I have found inner strenght, patience and compassion that I did not know I had.
Never retreat, never surrender
keep feeding
Purplerain, I can really relate to the not knowing.  My D has been weight restored + for 2 years she is prepared to leave for college, she has a great job where she is super reliable....  All good signs.  My own anxiety however sets me off on crazy tangents and I cannot be sure whether or not I am overreacting to her hormonal behaviors or anorexic behavior.  Because of her disease, puberty halted until age 16, so when it finally hit, it was a sh*tstorm! She has leveled off considerably and finally gets her period every month on a schedule, but at age 18 she is still new to hormonal flux and the joys of bloating.  When she gets emotional I feel like anorexia has not completely left the building.  It is such a difficult road to navigate and I am not sure that I will ever let my guard down.  
I am so impressed that your son comes to you with his concerns!  Bravo to you both!

For a long, long time, it has been sadly normal for women to feel critical and dissatisfied with their appearance.  I think this may be becoming more the norm for men, also.  Ugh.

So to an extent, I think his concern is normal.  He may take comfort in knowing that.

I know I am still surprised and annoyed by the ED-type ideas my HUSBAND expresses.  He has never suffered from ED, but still, he periodically makes negative comments about his weight, size, shape, all the ED things.  After going through AN as parents, you just want to slap them when they say these annoying things.

I'm not saying you shouldn't worry - I'm just saying there is a good chance his concerns are sadly normal for a young man these days.  What most strikes me as unusual is the wonderful relationship that allows him to come to you with these concerns.  Yay for that!

I know you will keep a good eye on him and nip any problem in the bud.  I hope this is not one of those ... time will tell.

Thinking of you. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Torie, Ugh in today's society I am sure that you have encountered the same, but our close friends or even family, who know where we have been and what we have gone through have no problem speaking openly in front of us and even in front of my D about another's weight...  often in disgust, and their behavior offends me and thankfully also offends my D who has spoken to me about it after the fact.  It is deplorable!  My good friends have also come to me with their concerns about their growing son or daughter being overweight.  I had to tell my sister inlaw to please not worry or concern herself with her son, my nephew, who even the doctors had told her was overweight.  He is a year younger than my son.  Just last summer I tried to convince her that he was still growing and that he would sprout up overnight.  Sure enough he is now taller than my son this summer and has completely thinned out.  My daughter went in for her physical last week and while she sat in the office waiting for her doctor to come in, another young girl was in the room adjacent to her.  She told me that she heard them talking about BMI and how she had done well but still had weight to lose.  She thought that this was wrong because how she said that same thing had happened to her when she was 10 and she remembers how it affected her.  She said that she believes it is wrong for doctors to comment of patients' weight if they are healthy and vitals are good, especially if they are young and growing.  I couldn't agree more!!  It amazes me how doctors haven't figured this out yet!  We stopped seeing that doctor long ago, but it seems that the mindset of most people and many doctors is that one should be a specific BMI in order to be healthy and it is damaging our children's fragile minds at such a young age.

Of course my son is aware of his figure, because it's all people seem to want to talk about these days.  I worry that it will alter his eating happens down the road.  Right now he will eat freely and fully which I make sure of, but I pray that when he matures in to a full fledged man which, lets face it, could happen overnight, I worry then that he will begin to restrict.  He has been in such a great place lately.  He has been very busy sailing and swimming in the ocean.  He had only one soccer practice last week and it didn't make him worry so that gave me hope that this is just a phase.

Torie I do count myself very lucky that my son talks to me and that my daughter who has had the veil of anorexia lifted, now talks to me openly, but the struggle with anorexia is that it is a big fat liar.  The worst thing that has come from our battle with anorexia is the skepticism I feel when talking with my kids.  There was a time when I knew what they said to me was truth, but not that I've seen what anorexia can do, there is always that question.