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

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Hi all,

We are in a tough spot right now with my 20 year old d who has dropped out of college and has, for the most part, isolated herself.

She is exhibiting some very strange behaviors and I was curious if others have seen these:

Putting used dishes/pots in the flower beds which I find when gardening.

After buying dozens & dozens of books ($ now cut off) she puts them in little piles and, apparently changes these little piles, and moves things back when I attempt to tidy. I find little post-it notes with lists of books & lists of television/Netflix shows.

OCD? She's refusing treatment so we are in this awful limbo land.

I know we've all seen so many similar eating rituals. Wondering if anyone has experienced these.


ED does have shades of OCD behavior with the ritualistic behavior- or at least that is what we are learning from our treatment team. Those behaviors sound very much like OCD.
Thanks, lnickel. Sounds like OCD to me too.

I agree, it does sound like OCD behaviors.  
I'm far from an expert on OCD, but putting pots and dishes in the garden isn't a good fit for my understanding of OCD. Then again, I really can't imagine what the motivation for that would be.

The book activity sounds more OCD-esque, but maybe there's another explanation?

Just my (pretty uninformed) opinion.

Please keep us posted.

Take care. xx

"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
Thanks for your responses, all!

We are going the slow route here. Not sure if we're making any progress, but the hitting it hard thing does not work for us!

A word of advice that I just heard from an ED MD that I'd like to share because it seems to be more effective in communication: Instead of asking, why are you up all night? why are you walking back & forth throughout the house, etc. (which has only resulted in anger and counterattacks), simply state: I'm worried about X, I'm concerned about Y. She doesn't fight back and hopefully at least hears me.

Simple change but to me seems big. (Although, I'm afraid, I suit my screen name to the T, I'm terribly optimistic, for example, the other day she was missing and I immediately thought - she's out looking for a job! Instead, after many hours I checked her room again and found her sound asleep, I had missed her in the jumble of books and bed linens! Oh well, better optimistic than the opposite ((I think!)))

Hi Optimistic

That is a great idea about effective communication....I'm going to try it.


Hi Optimistic,

I think being optimistic is definitely better than the opposite!

Do you think the stashing of used dishes in the garden may be ED related? I had a college roommate who hid used dishes in odd places - under the bed, in drawers,etc. She ate secretly because she had a lot of shame about eating; she sometimes binged and didn't want others to know.


Thanks for your replies! Kali lmk if the new communication works for you. I feel a small detente in our arena!

And yes, Skyblue, I"m sure it's ED related. But the books show another(?) thing going on. 

Day by day.

Hi Optimistic -

I'm sorry I don't have any insight into the new behaviors you're seeing.  However, I love your new way of reframing conversations. DBT teaches to reframe You statements into I statements and how helpful it is in disarming defensiveness in the person being spoken to. That is what you're doing as well.  

Hang in there. You are a great mom!!
Enjoying my 23 year-old daughter's achievement of active recovery that was made possible by the resources and education I found on this forum.

Don't give up hope!
Thank you, hopefulmama! I've learned so much from you. I do hope I'll be typing some hopeful news soon.

Well, maybe I'll start. My d was losing wt, but I think she's stopped - HUGE, right?

She & I are going to the movies tonight.

We watched Netflix last night.

She said she's ready to take a class (computer science, which I think is a very different choice for her and maybe a good one - less social & maybe right for her now.)

She's washing her sheets!!

I feel better already.  [smile]
Motivational interviewing is a strategy that you can learn without D. It gives a lot of practice doing similar things. "I am concerned about you", "I can see that this situation is distressing you", "Is there something you think that needs to change?" Much of the skills with ED comes from https://www.amazon.com/Skills-based-Learning-Caring-Eating-Disorder/dp/0415431581
It does not help the ED but it does help you deal with the ED much better.

D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Mostly recovered 10 years later.  Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Thank you, FoodSupport! I used to own that book and it disappeared (first found under my d's bed and then gone altogether.) I'll have to get another copy.

The best information I found in that book was the readiness ruler. 

One ruler was for the ill ya: On a scale of 1 to 10, how ready am I to recover: 1 being "I have no intention of getting better" and 10 being "I'm ready & will do whatever is in my power to recover."

The parent has a similar scale: 1 being, "I don't care if my d ever gets better" to 10 being, "My entire being is wrapped up in her getting better"(I wish I could find the exact words.) 

At that time I rated my d & me (I don't think I could discuss it with her.) I put my d at a 3 and me at a 10. Dr. Treasure said if the numbers were too far apart then that was a recipe for disaster. So I did what I could do, I changed ME.  I nudged myself down the scale - to an 8 let' s say. "I want my d to get better, but if she does not, life will go on." AND IT HELPED. My d & me. 

I didn't have to say a word about it. My d has this weird intuitive thing going on with me and she knows what I'm thinking before I do. It takes the pressure off of her if I "mentally" back off. 

I know this isn't for everyone but it does help me/us. Of course, all bets are off if she's starving - we did hospitalize her after all. 

I know with my d that an obstacle to recovery was the idea that I, her mom, would win! 

I guess I have little choice but to take the lessons this illness has given me: lessons in humility and patience. 

Please excuse this long rambling post! For me "talking" about things helps me clear my head and find a path. Thanks.

For my d who is also 20 I tried anything I thought would grab her attention away from odd behaviours. So she started singing/did a barista course/came to the beach/did yoga/watched movies etc. Anything to stop her only being in her room. I tried to remember anything that she had liked/wanted to do as a kid and tried to encourage it. The singing amused her for a while but yoga has lasted longer and really helped so much calming her with breathing techniques etc. I too think the outdoor bowls/pots might be extra eating as my d sometimes caves and grabs stuff she won't normally eat and I think she just gets so hungry when she's at work. (Eg fancy doughnuts/corn chips/chocs). It's not bingeing it's more like compensating for all that low fat/low sugar self deprivation I think. I figure her body will grab what it needs and smile if I see her allowing herself treats or evidence of a little feast. I never mention it as I think it would trigger her to restrict more. She has what she calls a treat day every week when she lets herself eat whatever she fancies.
Hi Optimistic,
I LOVE your name and your attitude, which fits. Having a positive attitude is the only way to face this awful disorder.

I also like when you write this:

My d has this weird intuitive thing going on with me and she knows what I'm thinking before I do. It takes the pressure off of her if I "mentally" back off. 

It tells me your d is very, very sensitive and intuitive (so is mine), so I get what you're saying, and it works for me, too. I took a DBT parents class through an organization (http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/family-connections/family-connections-pre-registration-form/) and the leader encouraged us to attribute only the most benign meaning to any actions/behaviors our d made. It is helpful to think that way. It is also helpful to think mindfully, in the moment. It has taken practice for me to do but it definitely works.

All best to you!


Thank you Jax & Francie,

My d loved to sing, Jax! Part of my "walking on eggshells" involves me being afraid to suggest anything bec. I'm afraid my even suggesting it will put the kabash on it forever! Soon as I can find a pair of big girl pants I'll think about it!

And Francie, I love that suggestion: to attribute only the most benign meaning to any actions/behaviors our d made. My h & I have spent WAY to much time whispering trying to figure out what the hell is going on! 

One little mental exercise I try to do is imagine what is going on with my d happening to some other girl - maybe one of my friend's d's. It's still concerning behavior but not soul-destroying. That little bit of distance helps.