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

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Sorry to have gone silent. We seem to take one step forward and two back. We're coming up to 1 yr post diagnosis of AN 17yr old DD. In lower 6th and managing to just skirt above the line where she'd need in-patient. She's nowhere near recovery. 
Nobody tells you that the worst time to get ill is just before they're legal adults. But that's where we are. DD is very academic and is plowing ahead with her plans for uni and seems oblivious to the fact that she isn't anywhere near safe to be eating unsupervised, never mind hours away from us. She did a short list of Colleges for Oxford open day in July and it broke my heart. She is oblivious!
FBT counsellor brought up to her that maybe she wants to delay adulthood but actually she can't wait to go off and starve unobserved. 
How do you address this? I think if I bring it up, it will sound like a threat. In rational thinking world 'If you want to go to uni, you must work harder at getting better' sounds good. But, I am still amazed and appalled at the twisted logic of this disease. I have no idea if it has even occurred to her that she'll probably have to take a gap year at minimum.
How did you address this?
We had very clear rules to go to University last year and we made it very clear that we will not pay for ED at University and we will not let her go if she cannot follow the contract at least for 6 months before (in fact she was WR for more than a year). In the state your d is at the moment I think it would be unfair to let her dream of something that will not happen. A gap year is realistic and that is what you should talk about and make clear that University is still an option but needs a lot of hard work for both of you in the next time.
And make clear that it is ED that is destroying her dreams and keeping her from living a normal life. That is the enemy.

When I learned something here is that it is really essential to get them into best state possible before they reach legal adulty. The great parents here pushed me for that and I am so thankful for that.

No WR and no state 3 no University and no leaving home or you can just wait to see her relapse. That is lost money and time.
Sorry for my honesty.

I just want to add that although my d was WR for more than a year before she went to University and although she did it on a reduced half schedule and although she is still living at home she struggled in the first months. More walking, new people, challenging learning stuff, different meal times, at some days no time to go to the cafeteria between the lectures at all and and and. It is a big change and not easy for ED patients.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Dear Ziggystardust,

Yes you are at a difficult intersection. We found ourselves in the same place a little over 3 years ago. D. was also 17, also very academic, had gotten into a very good university with a merit scholarship—and was very ill with her eating disorder.

I can't recommend what to do because each family has to decide what works...and we probably did the wrong thing...but I can tell you what we did. We let her go off to school. There were wise parents on this board who advised me not to and in hindsight they were right but I looked at my daughter and she seemed so excited about going and her weight was not terrible and I didn't yet realize many things about eating disorders and I let her go. She later admitted to me that she wanted to go away to university and not eat. And that is what she did.

She became suicidal, and lost weight, and I brought her home before the end of the first semester and she went into the hospital and spent the next year in residential treatment and outpatient treatment and at home with plenty of food and meal support. She has since returned and is doing well but it was a very long process. The year she spent at home eating was really important. When she went back I let her know that she would need to do a few things in order for us to support her being there: maintain at least a certain weight and remain in treatment for as long as she needed to be, and we would need to have as many eyes on visits as we felt were necessary. At first, I visited her every couple of weeks to check in and make sure all was well and there were a few times I had to have her come home for awhile on breaks and eat more. So when her weight slipped as it did on a number of occasions, I was there with food and encouragement but firm limits about how she would need to come home if she was not well enough to be there. It was not a straight line and it was a tricky juggling act to try and combine encouragement for her to follow her dreams and create a life worth living, while at the same time making sure she was on a path to being able to be healthy enough to be able to actually live that life.

Wishing you strength and hope as you face this juncture and make a decision about how to proceed.



Dear ZiggyStardust,

Please don't apologise for going silent!  We are here when you need us, and glad for you when you don't.

You mention a 'rational thinking world', and I'm sorry to point out what you probably already know.  Your d doesn't live there.  I know mine didn't as she finished her high school years.  

She wanted to go quite far away for uni, which made the discussion a bit easier.  Still, there was much yelling and hours of 'discussion' about her leaving asap.  It was like a toddler throwing a tantrum for something completely unreasonable.  We told her we needed another year to save $$, asked her to get a pt job to contribute, told her she had to finish her treatment, and reach and maintain a particular weight.  

Basically, we refused to pay.  And she had no choice.  

It was a rough year, but she did gain weight and independence (and a substantial bank account).  She finished her treatment, and we gave her more and more autonomy around eating.  We taught her how to cook.  She recovered.

And when we sent her away, it was with the arrangement that she would be weighed regularly and whenever we asked by a local GP.  He emailed us her weight directly.  As she was no longer under treatment, she didn't see anyone else, but had to keep up her meds.

She just graduated with distinction.  And has chosen to eat fish now after years of vegetarianism.  It's worth the wait.

D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
Wow, that's a hard one. My D is younger (now 15) but she would often threaten to just wait until she was 18 and could leave and go to uni. If she's L6 then you do have another 18 months before she leaves so it's not imminent although the thought is obviously very scary. A lot of progress can be made in 18 months and maybe it can be an incentive for your D? Could she afford to go if you didn't support her? Would she be able to get a sufficient loan to pay fees etc? Because obviously if you don't pay, she won't go and she sounds extremely motivated to go. 
We used University as incentive but made clear that we set the rules. She wanted to go there so we asked her to stick to the contract for some time x before and to maintain her weight for some time x before. We asked her to start with a reduced schedule (3 days University, 4 days at home) and to proof in the first semester that she can eat there and maintain her weight. She did so she can go 4 days at next semester and then hopefully full schedule. I think this is a good model as she can get more freedom every semester and we do not risk to need to take her home completely again. She would feel like a loser than and I am not sure she would go back if she once would need to have a gap year in between.
Better to take the gap year before University starts or to start with a reduced schedule. Most universities have that possibility for cronical sick people or people that need to work besides studying.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.