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

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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alsukes
Hi Everyone,

I am only a few day into caring for my spouse who has an eating disorder after they have spent over two months in an in-patient facility. They did great, their weight is back into a healthy range after 6 years of darkness. 

Now they are home an I am the primary support. The eating disorder is still incredibly strong an has fought me at every meal. I am losing sleep and back to a cycle of not taking care of myself and trying to just focus on getting my spouse to eat well so that they don't slip.

How the hell am I going to do this? How can I stay focused and not get angry as the eating disorder tries to push me away so that there is a space to restrict and a source to blame. How do I find the strength?

This is my first time posting and I need help getting through this. Does anybody have any advice or good reading material for how to stay the course and stay strong?

Should I let my spouse make her own breakfast and eat alone? There has been 6 years of dishonesty and I don't trust that they can take care of themselves with the ED that is so strong.

Thanks
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ValentinaGermania
First I want to say HOW GREAT I think is what you are doing for your spouse. You must be a very lovely person!
Do not trust ED. Not for one meal.
Try to stay calm during meals and do not engage in all that pushing away and angry behaviour. Fake to be a brick wall. You are there and you will be there ad there is nothing that can change that. Ignore blaming and nasty sentences. I know this is easy to say but it gets better by time, you learn to stand that better and she will learn that it does not lead anywhere to say that and then hopefully stop it.

What you need to do is self care. You cannot do that alone. You need breaks. You need to get out of the house. You cannot supervise her 24/7 without a break. You are the most important person in her ED recovery and you are a precious VIP. Ask for help. Family, friends, a neighbor.

How can we help you? Ask all your 1 million questions, here is always someone available for venting or cheerleading or a good idea.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Kali

Hi Alsukes,

This is a very difficult time, when someone comes home from an inpatient treatment center. I applaud you for trying to be a support person for your spouse but it is so very difficult. Has your spouse stepped down to other treatment (therapist, md, day program) after inpatient, and what help do the two of you have there on the ground? 

And to answer your question:

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Should I let my spouse make her own breakfast and eat alone?


I would say probably not, that providing support by eating meals with someone could be more appropriate after just leaving an inpatient situation. Is your spouse is able to make meals that have enough calories and nutrients and then eat appropriate portions? If not, then they will benefit from ongoing meal support from loved ones. If they are saying that they prefer to make their own breakfast and eat it alone that could be a red flag. 

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How the hell am I going to do this? How can I stay focused and not get angry as the eating disorder tries to push me away so that there is a space to restrict and a source to blame. How do I find the strength?


Are you able to see a therapist on your own for some support? Preferably someone who is fluent in eating disorders? Six years of dishonesty can be devastating for a relationship and my heart goes out to you and it is easy to understand how you might be feeling angry. That being said, I found that my anger (and I had plenty of it) didn't help anything. 

How long has your spouse been ill and what sorts of treatments have they tried? Have you tried asking your spouse how you can help and having a discussion about that and making a plan together to support them, perhaps with their therapist as part of the conversation? Consider together how to create a safe space at home where you can flourish, your relationship can thrive, and your spouse can recover with loving support. There may need to be some boundaries you discuss putting in place which can aid recovery. These could be things like eating  together, making sure that your spouse stays in treatment as long as needed, taking up that difficult discussion about dishonesty and how to move forward in a more honest manner, and together working towards creating a life worth living and all that entails for both of you.

Have you visited Tabitha Farrars website? She works with adults and there may be some info on her site which can help inform how you manage the situation at home right now.  

https://tabithafarrar.com/

warmly,

Kali


 

 

 

Food=Love
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Foodsupport_AUS
Welcome to the forum. I hope you can use this as a good resource for things. 
Although most of us are parents, there is much in common for you in terms of the caring role. 

Transitions are really hard with ED and by far the commonest time for things to go backwards. As much as possible I would encourage you to take over the role of the caregivers in the in-patient facility. It takes a long time for eating disorder thoughts to settle down, and it is almost certain that your she is not fully weight restored- they rarely are. 

Keeping that routine going, same meal times, similar meals and then slowly transitioning will help keep things steady. The last thing either of you want is a further inpatient admission and that is almost certain if things are not done carefully. Did the facility help guide you with meals support? Are you able to support all meals? Is there someone else who can help? As for preparing meals unless this was being done whilst inpatient - again no. Getting those meals in is hard enough. Once eating is getting easier would be a time that it would be worth considering this. 
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.
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alsukes
Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all of your thoughtful replies and support. I think I will find this extremely helpful. So my wife is weight restored. She did two months of IP and did fantastic. It was a struggle but she is at a healthy weight. That is not to say that the ED isn't strong as hell. It has been 4 full days since she has been home and it is strong. What a horrible illness.

So on the ground she has a psychologist and a ED specialist nutritionist that will be doing her weekly weight check. Otherwise I am the primary support. There is some long distance support from family but I am on the ground. I am available to eat almost all meals with her but as she slowly transitions to work and she has already gone back part time she is eating lunch on her own. 

I will start seeing someone in the new year but right now I am not and I already feel that I'm going to struggle through this.

We had agreed on a few things with her IP team but she is already resisting to these things. Serving food is one of them and I brought up the fact that we had agreed that I do it for the next little while and she wants to be autonomous and is pushing back hard. She is also pushing back on sending myself and two of her sisters her recovery plan include contact info for her nutritionist.

I can sit there and be uncomfortable eating meals. It sucks but I can do that.

How do I deal with constant push back as I try to take some control? I am not her parent and I don't know what leverage I have? We agreed before she came home that I would cook and serve meals but out of 10 meals that she's had since coming back I have only manages to serve 3 completely on my own and managed to make 5 of them. 

It's hard to gain any leverage because she has been eating really well as far as my eyes can see.

Any advice? I hope I have answered most of the questions.

Thanks a million!
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ValentinaGermania
"I can sit there and be uncomfortable eating meals. It sucks but I can do that."
This would be the most important thing that you can do for her.

"How do I deal with constant push back as I try to take some control?"
Be the squeeky wheel. Annoy her with constant routine like a broken record. Try it again and again until she is sick of fighting you 🙂.

"I am not her parent and I don't know what leverage I have?"
I am sure you can find something. Think about what she was interested in before ED moved in. What she migt love more than ED. What she might like to do with you after meals.
Do you have a pet? A pet can give great distraction and help a lot to have fun together besides the hard times with the meals.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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alsukes
Hi ValentinaG

Thanks for the kind advice! I need more.

I am trying to be that squeaky wheel and I will continue but every time I am I get met with a repeated pattern of "Nobody believes me", "I have no control", "nobody cares about me" etc. I'm sure everyone has heard this but I can't navigate it. I tried to call a family meeting today and I begged my partner to just hear me out and that I am speaking with love, before I said anything she tensed up and was already gone. I can't get anything through and she claims that it is her that feels these things and not the ED. 

I wish I could find leverage but there is nothing. I can't take anything away. She is a grown adult, those things don't work. If there is anyone that has any idea. I am dealing with an incredibly smart, independent, strong willed human here. I can take away her dog walking privileges but she would never agree to that.

There is nothing that she loves more other than our dog. Yes it is an okay distraction but there is no leverage there. Work is something that she loves but I can't take that away and she is already at reduced hours.

She is eating, not restricting and has maintained her weight for her first weigh-in (according to her, I can't fully trust it unless I hear it from her therapist). She wants me to back off and leave her alone. How do I deal with this if she is eating? Should I back off and wait for her to slip. Maybe my stress isn't good and I want to remind her where I see she is still struggling and she is big time. I am trying to help her stay honest and watch out for the pitfalls.

She is trying to take control again with food serving, meal choice and prep
Stops conversations
She is not having full portions that she serves herself (close but not full)
She is body checking more than allotted time of 5min
She hasn't followed through on her recovery plan by sending it to myself and her two family members
She is trying to get me to break by saying that she has no support and nobody loves her
Hiding food
She started smoking again the moment she was released from IP
She started drinking a bit each night as soon as she was released from IP

Should I be concerned by these things? Is this a relapse waiting to happen or am I being paranoid?

Sorry for all the questions I am just struggling to tread water here.



  
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Foodsupport_AUS
Unfortunately yes this is a relapse waiting to happen. 
You are definitely in a much harder place than a parent, in that this is meant to be collaborative whereas a parent theoretically has authority. 
It sounds like the unit your spouse was in has not given you a lot of skills in how to deal with this. 
Skills based caring is a book by Janet Treasure based on what is called the New Maudsley method.  It is all about motivational interviewing - how to talk to your loved one and try to get collaboration. 

Things that may be worth doing - acknowledging that she feels like she is being coddled and that she is not trusted (anyone would find that hurtful), raise your concern that she is at a time in her recovery when she is at a very high risk of relapse and name the behaviours you have noted- eg. hiding food, not following through on things she had previously agreed to. 
You can also contact her therapist - who will be bound not to discuss things with you but you can give them information that she is not following through with her recovery plan at home. 
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.
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kazi67
Hi Alsukes
as you are realising they do not come home from IP “cured” and it is still incredibly difficult to keep them eating once home again
You are an amazing partner and obviously love your wife very much it’s such a hard illness to cope with, you must look after yourself too!

as my d is now an “adult” too we are given no information which seems ridiculous as she is fully dependent on us in every way
in the confusion of her second IP admission permission forms were not filled in and she won’t allow us to be included (very frustrating)
however i think you said you are included and that is good
get in touch with the team and ask them what they suggest you do

our d went from an IP to DP then OP
Possibly you wife may need more intensive step down if you can’t get her to keep eating or  if she starts to loose weight
ask the questions at the next appointment it’s really important to have a good transition as the transition from IP to home is really hard

i took considerable time off work to help my d though this period and slowly once she was more settled I went back to work (and it was still INCREDIBLY hard) and she did end up back IP for a while but now is doing ok
she still has lots of support in place with regular appointments, medications, and working only part time so she can managed her stress/anxiety

i think the leverage with older patients is to have a life worth living, being able to enjoy life and do the things they really want to do (without an ED)being well and out of hospital, socialising  
my d is starting to reconnect with friends, with nature and self care, she loves to walk her dogs at the beach
she laughs again, really laughs it so good it warms my heart, she is coming back to us and it is the best feeling EVER!!!
it takes a hell of a long time and a lot of heartache and tears though and I’m sure you’ve been through a lot over the past 6 years 
hopefully the physcologist can connect and touch on these things with your wife and get her to see a life without ED is the best way forward
early days after IP stay though are REALLY  tough, so really it’s still one day at a time, one meal at a time, one foot infront of the other 
can you say after you eat this we can take the dog for a walk now together in the fresh air/beach/park?

try to remember the horrible things she may say/do is the ED not your lovely wife
its hard but trying to stay loving  and compassionate helps 
ED will be in her head telling her she is unlovable, ugly, fat, no one likes her, is not worthy etc etc
im sure seeing someone will help you too
when I could no longer seperate m d from her illness therapy (with an ED specialised therapist) REALLY did help me out on some dark days/weeks (when I’d given up hope of my d ever getting better)
as well as this forum always someone to chat to or get ideas from here 
recovery is possible!!
hang in there
x
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ValentinaGermania
alsukes wrote:

I am trying to be that squeaky wheel and I will continue but every time I am I get met with a repeated pattern of "Nobody believes me", "I have no control", "nobody cares about me" etc. I'm sure everyone has heard this but I can't navigate it. I tried to call a family meeting today and I begged my partner to just hear me out and that I am speaking with love, before I said anything she tensed up and was already gone. I can't get anything through and she claims that it is her that feels these things and not the ED.  


She cannot split between herself and ED at the moment and nothing that you say helps her with that. There is no possibility for any logical conversation and her brain is so badly damaged at the moment that she does not feel any love or compassion or even emotions.
You can do nothing but tell her you love her although you do not get anything back at the moment. I know this is hard to stand, a mother can stand that but for a partner this is really super hard I think. BUT: deep in her heart she hears you and she loves you. It is ED that hates you and all you see at the moment is ED but your lovely partner is still in there.
Send her nice little textes. Leave a small letter at her desk. Try to show her you love her no matter what happens. ED will hate you for that!!!

alsukes wrote:
I wish I could find leverage but there is nothing. I can't take anything away. She is a grown adult, those things don't work. If there is anyone that has any idea. I am dealing with an incredibly smart, independent, strong willed human here. I can take away her dog walking privileges but she would never agree to that.

It is not about leverage to take away at that age but to use leverage to keep her going. What was she interested in before all concentrated on ED? Did she love art? Music? Books? It might be a leverage to tell her "when we have finished lunch, we could go to the new book shop and see what they have there". Think about something she can do with her hands. Puzzles, handcraft, colouring books, crosswords are good distractions between meals.

There is nothing that she loves more other than our dog. Yes it is an okay distraction but there is no leverage there. Work is something that she loves but I can't take that away and she is already at reduced hours. 


Here you have a pretty good distraction and something you can do together. Go for short walks together. Think about some training for the dog, you could practise some tricks with him together.

alsukes wrote:
She is eating, not restricting and has maintained her weight for her first weigh-in (according to her, I can't fully trust it unless I hear it from her therapist). She wants me to back off and leave her alone. How do I deal with this if she is eating? Should I back off and wait for her to slip. Maybe my stress isn't good and I want to remind her where I see she is still struggling and she is big time. I am trying to help her stay honest and watch out for the pitfalls. 


I think it would be cruel to wait for a relapse. She tells you to back off but I am sure inside she is thanking you for your help. My d often told us that she would not have stand to continue to eat and to maintain her weight if she had not known that we are there for back up and that skipping meals is impossible and that we will ask if she has eaten when she was out. At that state she also said we should back off and she hated that first question when she came home (did you eat something and what) but looking back she often said that this was exactly what kept her going. That relapsing seemed to be impossible in this house 🙂...

alsukes wrote:

She is trying to take control again with food serving, meal choice and prep
Stops conversations
She is not having full portions that she serves herself (close but not full)
She is body checking more than allotted time of 5min
She hasn't followed through on her recovery plan by sending it to myself and her two family members
She is trying to get me to break by saying that she has no support and nobody loves her
Hiding food
She started smoking again the moment she was released from IP
She started drinking a bit each night as soon as she was released from IP

Should I be concerned by these things? Is this a relapse waiting to happen or am I being paranoid?


You are not paranoid at all and these are all signs for a relapse. Can you talk to her team? I know that they are not allowed to talk to you about her but it is possible that YOU tell them what is happening at home.
RE alcohol and cigarettes, AN patients have a high risk for other drug abuse so I would limit her access to that if possible. Do not buy alcohol. Make clear that you do not want to have any alcohol in the house. Pour it into the sink if necessary.

alsukes wrote:
Sorry for all the questions I am just struggling to tread water here. 


Please do never apologize for any question here, this is what we are here for and you are very welcome to ask whatever you need!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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