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

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PeppermintPiper
This evening I told my SIL about d’s diagnosis. D is 14 and we’ve recently learned she’s been purging at least twice a day for (at least) several months.

SIL’s reaction surprised me. She told me I might not need to be so worried, and that she and my other SIL have both intentionally vomited after eating, off and on since college, and everyone she knew in college did it. (We’re in our 40’s now.) She said they did it more than twice a day for months at a time and that they were just “phases.”

This blasé attitude blew me away, especially because both of these women are smart and savvy and caring, with strong emotional intelligence. 

Is it really that common? I didn’t know of anyone doing it in college, although I’m sure people were. Is that why I was always a little  heavier than average, because everyone else was purging???

And is it really that easy for most people to stop? This is totally weirding me out.
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ValentinaGermania
NO. This is not common and it is not true that everyone does it. You did not and I did not. And I do not know anybody who did.

It is not a phase and that is dangerous to think that. Cancer is not a phase too.
It only shows that there are really some genetic issues with ED in your family. I was also surprised when I found out that my grandmother and the sister of my MIL must have had AN when I saw older photos of them and asked family members about their eating behaviours.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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deenl
I agree with Tina that it shows the genetic susceptibilty in your family.

Remember that it is estimated that a very large proportion of people do not/ cannot access professional care for any form of eating disorder illness. This increases the chance of the illness becoming chronic, although the symptoms of the illness will vary in severity over time (i.e. there will be periods where symptoms are minimal only to flair up again at a different time, again and again, each flair up bringing with it medical risks)

All eating disorders are spectrum illness. That means that some people will have a mild version, some a stronger version and some with additional co-morbids. The genetic vulnerability can vary in strength. It is expected that the genes involved will number in the 100s or 1000s. So each person will have their own loading of ED genes, together with their own loading of protective genes. This will give them an individual genetic vulnerability that will be higher or lower.

And the genes interact with the environment (i.e. EVERYTHING in your life - your family, your school, your friends, the movies you have seen, the TV you watch, the conversations you overhear on the bus, where you live, the colour of the walls on your room, if you do sports or not, the month you were born, life experiences, if you got tonsillitus, literally anything and everything, good and not so good) So you can have someone with a high genetic loading, who needs very few environmental factors to trigger the illness or someone who has a lower genetic loading who needs severe traumatic events to trigger the illness.

Just because your SILs have one experience of the illness, does not mean that your daughter will have the same experience. Bulimia is a serious illness with many medical risks, up to and including death. If it's any comfort, in your shoes, I would absolutely take it seriously.

Follow your parental instincts, you know your daughter best.

Warm wishes

D

P.S. I do not know anybody in my life, college or not, who purges regularly. Obviously, the secrecy of an ED would prevent this from being a common topic of conversation in most situations.
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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Ronson

Hi

It is not normal.  However out of the few people I have trusted with d story there have been a high proportion who have made themselves sick after meals.  Sadly I think eating disorders, or at the very least a disordered attitude towards eating are more common than we think.  

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ValentinaGermania
That is really a good point, Ronson, I think a lot of people have an ED and do not know it or do not want to realise it. It is definitivly not normal to make yourself sick after meals and I am wondering whether these women still do that...
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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PeppermintPiper
Thank you so much for your input. That helps, especially since the majority of ED info/stories I’ve found are about AN. It made a crazy little part of my brain wonder if I was overreacting. 

The SIL I was talking to is adopted, so the genetic component doesn’t apply there, but her sister is not adopted and *is* my daughter’s biological aunt.

My guess is that SIL#1 has never been aware or admitted to herself that it’s a problem. She told me the last “phase” she went through was several years ago during her divorce. 

She wasn’t actually clear on whether SIL#2 did it as much or whether it lasted into adulthood for her. 

Either way, my daughter is 14 and has a history of depression and anxiety and I’m not going to mess around. 

Interesting side note: I’ve seen a bit about early childhood trauma being a risk factor for ED. Both my daughter and SIL#1 had major losses during toddlerhood. My daughter’s first mom died of cancer when D was two. I married her dad and became Mom when she was five. SIL was moved from Korea to the U.S. and adopted when she was about a year old. 
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mjkz
Hey Tina, that is actually the very point of the title.  Her SIL is trying to normalize something that can't be normalized so at least to me it is a great title. It really shows the agnosia involved. 
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ValentinaGermania
Thanks Mjkz, in German that means something like "playing down" Bulemia so this is a language problem I think. I will delete my post then.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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mjkz
Not at all Tina.  I speak German so I knew exactly what you were talking about. I have to admit though your English is far superior to my German!!! Not an issue at all.
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kazi67
I think this is an interesting topic
i remember watching a TED YouTube video on the topic of bulimia and in some cultures they think this behaviour is normal and they use bulimia to control their weight but at the same time they get to eat 

very sad and concerning that this is perceived as “normal” by them and I think that perhaps the secrecy of ED’s and the culture of, in the past it not being talked about (the stigma) secrecy,  is why these individuals perhaps have not got treatment or in fact don’t  even believe it to be a problem 
Hopefully some have been able to stop this behaviour and obviously some haven’t and unfortunately they are putting their health at serious risk and in some cases as above stated can cause death 

it is no way normal! 

Good to get these topics out of the closet and out in the open so the future can hopefully look brighter and individuals get the treatment/services/support  they deserve

education about all ED’s and the risks involved in these behaviours needs to be available and hopefully one day put and end to the suffering 

so no don’t mess around especially if you suspect your d may be purging, the behaviour most definately needs to be STOPPED

I supervised my d for an hour after EVERY meal and snack 
in hospital they don’t get to shower or toilet privately either  if purging is suspected 
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ValentinaGermania
mjkz wrote:
Not at all Tina.  I speak German so I knew exactly what you were talking about. I have to admit though your English is far superior to my German!!! Not an issue at all.


Hey Mjkz, how does that come that you speak GERMAN???
If you would like to improve your German I would love to get some private mails...
This world is soooo small in fact!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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mjkz
I had a German therapist once and it was obvious that she wasn't getting what I was saying.  So I learned German to get her to understand.  That was back in my college days though when the brain was most plastic and pliable so it was possible.  I can read and write German still pretty well and my accent is great when I speak but my vocab sucks now after all these years.
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ValentinaGermania
Oh, vocab is something you can work on...I needed to learn a lot of words to be able to write here...
It is a gift to know such a rare language in your area, you should keep that alive!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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