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

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Sorry to ask for help when so many seem to be struggling so much more but having got to where we are I just don't want to go backwards. I will try and keep it short.

We are 3 yrs in, D is age 16. We have had a rocky road including SH and suicidal thoughts but been weight restored for over a year (she refused to weigh from about 18 months ago, so it was done by eye rather than increasing anxiety levels) and no SH since Dec last year. She is very rigid, still works to a meal plan but is eating well.

She is now seeing a psychologist and doing cbt-e therapy and we have finally seen a little progress in her thoughts. The problem is that her illness won't allow her to discuss it with anyone (especially me, despite the fact we are very close) she closes up completely but this guy is a saint and has tweaked the therapy to work through it with her. She is able to talk to him a little and he has got her weighing again. She has now told me she doesn't want to do it anymore as she doesn't ever see herself getting better. This is our last hope as once this therapy is over in 2 months time, that's it for her. I don't know whether that's the real reason or whether it's because he is challenging things successfully (she says not) or because she is having to weigh, though that doesn't seem to be upsetting her.

I am obviously going to push to see this to the end. Our tack at the moment is 'if you were taking a course of medicine, you would need to take the whole course for it to work - this is the same'.

Any wise words would be so gratefully received both for now and what I should focus on when this therapy finishes. She has just started A Levels and is desperate to go to University, she knows she needs to address this before then.
No need ever to apologize for seeking support, wherever you are in your journey.  Absolutely wonderful to hear that your d is nutritionally rehabilitated, and that the therapy has been helping.  I'm wondering why the therapy will finish in 2 months?  Is there an opportunity for any continued support from this therapist in particular, who seems to have found a great way of working with your d?
A note about weight...it should be increasing through the mid-20's at around 1-2 lbs/year.  And for some kids, they may still be growing in height at 16-17, so that weight range may need to move higher.  All this to say, don't back off on the meal plan.  Our d, now in solid recovery for several years, still has 3 meals & 2 snacks daily.  
Our d never liked to discuss her illness much with me, and I used to think that was important for recovery.  But as long as she was able to discuss with a therapist for support, I stopped worrying about the need for her to be open with me.  
I love your position that 'if you were taking a course of medicine, you would need to take the whole course for it to work'.  And a corollary may be that sometimes a second course of medication is necessary to eradicate the illness.
Sending warm support to you.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
Thank you sk8r31,
She is on a specific course of therapy in CAMHS, having been through various tiers during her illness but he has said that he thinks because she has had some form of therapy constantly for nearly 3 years it is time for her to take some time out for herself and live her life.  I'm not sure I agree as it is only now that we seem to be getting anywhere, he has had to do multiple choice answers and even play hangman with her in order to get information because she says so little.
i like to think I'm on top of the food side of things and have been increasing portion sizes quietly as she has been growing. It's comforting to hear about your daughter and I will certainly keep 'the second course of medication' in my back pocket ready for our next conversation! Thank you so much.
I am sorry that your D is continuing to struggle. At this stage it is not unusual for your D to not see herself recovering. My D certainly didn't see it at this stage. Like your D there was multiple layers to things. There are many who have ultimately recovered from ED without therapy, whereas others have needed it. Although her current course of therapy will come to an end, of course it does not mean that she can't go back to learn more skills and ideas down the track. It may not even need to be ED related. What is most important is that she continues to eat well, without restriction and slowly gain. If she is doing that then there is room for brain healing even without any other treatment. 
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.
Thank you for those words of wisdom. I think I am so hung up on the fact that I want to be doing more for her than just feeding her, I worry that without any other input it might fall apart, but you have made me see that’s not necessarily the case. She has so little input into the therapy that maybe it is just the food working it’s magic. 
Softly, softly, catchy monkey I guess. 
My d did not engage with any therapy and did not talk about her illness until brain recovery started and she was much better. I think it started about 4-6 months after WR and it took a year to be back to normal. Today in year 3 she can talk about all that but she still did not have any therapy but food.
You cannot do much more at the moment then feed her and get her WR and get brain recovery started. After that, when she is mostly back to normal, you can start to work on the issues that are left. A lot of kids never needed other therapy but food.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I am glad you posted. Sometimes getting thoughts out and having them seen by others can give some perspective. I know it helps me a lot to see things from different points of view. I hope we are able to support you anyway possible.

My d does not/cannot discuss her ED with me or the therapist. I would agree with Foodsupport_AUS that even as this course of therapy comes to an end, there are so many other therapies available as you all move forward. If she needs it, I know you will get it for her. You are doing well. You provide ongoing nutritional support AND you have options psychologically if needed. My d does need meds for anxiety and she may need more psychological support down the road- I am open to all options. 
One thing that helps my thinking process about all of this, is that one can always adjust the plan as you see what is needed at any given time. There are options as you navigate this part of her journey. 
The fact that she wishes to go to University is a very positive sign. She wants to move ahead in life. She has something to look forward to. 
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)
Hi Aggie,

There are so many strands to address here and lots have been covered already.
This illness takes a long time to run its course and you might find it helpful simply to consider how well your d is doing in terms of moving along her life path just now. 
At present your d cannot imagine herself recovered - but she doesn't really need to worry about that right now as long as she is doing everything required to keep her living a reasonably normal life. The fact that she has plans to go to university and for the future is fantastic and you can tie everything else that needs to happen re eating more and putting on weight to that aim. 

In terms of the therapy and therapist, losing him will be scary for the both of you, but at the point when it ends, this is when you step in and ensure that eating and weight gain continue and you keep focused on her future. 
It is very normal for our ed children not to open up about the illness to us. Secrecy is part of the picture. My own d only started opening up about her thoughts around the age of 24 or 24. 
It may help to see the bigger picture of ensuring she moves into her twenties pursuing her academic aims and dreams all while still addressing the illness. Consider yourself as a project manager and decide what is most needed at each stage: more food and weight, normal life or more support from professionals in terms of her mental health?
It can be difficult to address all these areas at once and in fact often impossible .Keep focused on which area needs the most attention and you will get her through to adulthood successfully .
You have done a great job so far, keep having confidence in yourself that you will help your d move forward and through the illness 

Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
Thank you all for your wisdom, I only wish that I had been brave enough to seek this last year when we had really hit a wall.  It is so good to have the positives pointed out, I have spent the summer focusing on food and fun and that seems to have had an impact, so more of the same moving forward I suppose, less worry about therapy and more focus on showing her just how good life is and will be, lots more feeding along the way and the rest will follow. Your comments have been so helpful, thank you 😊 
So many positives in your words.
I fostered an environment where our D could talk if she wanted but tried not to get too hung up if she didn’t. I found that little village walks or even a drive to the shops were good times for her to either be silent or open up. When I say open up it was very rare as she didn’t like discussing her illness. Now when she mentions things she states she struggles to remember much of it...possibly due to the brain function being hindered. 
Have you tried focussing on you and you living life by doing fun things just for you? I only say this because I tried to focus on her and making sure she was doing enjoyable things but this didn’t ‘fix’ it. Life started to really turn a corner for us when I started living again and showing her what self care really was. She took pleasure from seeing me living life again and the rest followed. 
She still eats regularly 3 meals and 2 snacks and is being more adventurous with her food choices. I’m very proud that she continues to challenge herself however she will now tell us when she’s having a challenging day rather than us having to guess due to foul moods. A challenging day this week was a 6 or 7/10.....what I would give for that score 18months ago!!!! A 3/10 was a good day for us back then!!
keep taking one day at a time. 
Virtual hugs. Xx
Thank you for taking the time to reply and for your thoughts, I am so glad that things are going well for you.  She knows I am there when she is able to talk and in the rare moment she says something I grasp the opportunity.  We do a lot together and I was told recently by someone from the specialist eating disorder outreach service that, for some reason, she has needed this friend to get her through this part of her life. I Have been trying to show her that she no longer needs it and that life is hers for the taking. 
We put our life on hold 3 years ago and haven't really clawed that back, although we have started to try and do a few things lately, even if it's just taking the dog for a walk for an hour.  I really hear what you're saying and it's such a good point - how can I expect her to embrace her life if I'm not embracing mine. A massive thanks for that, it is such a valid observation xx
We are on the same page 😉💕
it sounds to me that you are well able to support her through the next couple of years to university and beyond with your insight. Personally when professionals stopped working with our D I saw this as a positive and nothing to fear...a new chapter in our book. 

There were times when I got frustrated as they were difficult to get support from when I felt we needed it but what I’ve learned is that no one is more expert in my child than me. I for one lost confidence in my ability to parent when she became ill as I felt abandoned and having to go it alone.
Professionals helped us to communicate better as a family but we are all great parents. We know how to care for our kids. I ended up seeing professionals as a chore.
When she reached out for support and they weren’t there she became frustrated and in the end when we suggested going private she refused saying she would work through it herself with us. 

My D is in her second year of A levels and we recently stopped to reflect on just how far we’ve come. It sounds like you are following a similar track. 

I agree with with the person who likened the illness to something she went through to get through that period in her life. I feel that’s been the case for us. Beautiful butterflies take time to develop and have to avoid and go through a lot of scary situations to fly!! 

Remember her adult brain will be very different to her teenage brain...we are seeing that...my D is 17 nearly 18....so much has changed in this past year...positive things. I expect a lot more change. 
go with it - it’s amazing to watch xxx
Thanks teecee,
Hope your daughter is settling in well into her second year and continues to blossom.
You're right of course.  This is an opportunity and by way of timing it's all good, she's so excited at having started A Levels and has lots to look forward to. So, food, fun, friends, family and a bit more fun and food for good measure! That's going to be my formula 😀
Hi Aggie,

Perhaps the fact that your daughter is interested in university makes it appear that she is more interested in life -- but perhaps challenged by the obstacles she faces.  For my daughter, we found that holding that type of carrot in front of her was very helpful.  It helped move from the desire to be thin (regardless of the sacrifices that entailed) to "Oh yeah - I really want to do that!"  It wasn't an easy path - and there were tears along the way - but this summer she was able to grab her ideal carrot, which involved travelling to the other side of the world and having an amazing experience.  This was after returning to university.

I share this with you because once there was a goal- beyond being thin - we had a path to follow.  We talked about the amazing experiences, etc. - and just kept dangling "life" in front of her.  Believe me, it's not as easy as showing the carrot and then something changes - it takes time - and even as they move in the direction toward their goal there are some back steps - but when there IS a goal- and it is something they innately enjoy to do (my daughter is involved in physical performances - so eating was a must to perform-- honestly, the other obstacle was getting over being near a bunch of stick figured women -- but she has finally hurdled that one pretty well).  I share this with you because I know I benefited so much from a mom who once checked in a few years later to talk about how far her daughter had come.  It inspired me, gave me hope, and ensured me that they CAN get through this - although everyone will do this in their own way and on their own time schedule.  Communicating with other moms on here prepared me to know that it won't likely be a clean break - 3 steps forward, 1-2 steps back -- but I was so excited at the prospect of moving forward.  This is what I hope for your family.  Keep reaching out to this site - it is filled with the most amazing parents you will ever "meet."  

My daughter volunteered as a counselor for incoming freshman.  They had to all share a story about themselves - and shared her fight with anorexia, and having an eating disorder at college.  She was amazed that later 6 girls thanked her for talking about that - some had also suffered previously, and some had wondered about themselves.  This is such a prevalent issue.  My D said she wanted to share her story in case there were others out there - so they knew there would be an upper classman who would understand their challenges.

Aggie, I am so excited that your daughter has something to which she is interesting in striving.  When thin - regardless of life or death is the goal, it is so hard to find a way to redirect their thoughts.  Perhaps school brochures, sweatshirts, etc. could help grow her enticement.  Maybe a visit to the school, lunch there (you never know, right?) - just to keep that flame alive. Does she know what she wants to major in at school?  Maybe you could go online together and read about what the school has to offer.  Print out materials from the school. Help her put together her resume for her applications.  This is fun because she could see what she has done, and might inspire her to want to continue with some sort of club or volunteer work.  I think the goal is to just keep looking beyond this, and develop an appetite for life - really living.

Sending Hugs!!
Your comments have really encouraged me, thank you for sharing them. Your daughter sounds like an amazing young woman and I am so happy that she been able to turn such a tough experience into something so positive and offer help to others, that is indicative of what a beautiful person she must be.
My daughter is set on becoming a Vet, has been for years and has already researched where she wants to study. I have managed to get her some work volunteering and we are just waiting to hear on some more.  I agree with regard to having that goal as when we pointed out that we couldn't let her go away to university unless she was well, we started
to see a little shift.  I wouldn't say we have turned a corner exactly, but are certainly rounding a bend now she knows she has less than 2 years to stand up to this bully and fight back.

An excellent suggestion with regard to putting her resume together because that will focus both on what she has achieved so far and remind her what she is striving for, so a massive thank you.  I am really excited to do this with her, I think it will be a brilliant exercise.

Thank you again, take good care x
Hi Aggie,

Thank you for your kind words about my daughter.  I'm sure yours must have a very warm heart to want to pursue becoming a veterinarian.  Let's hope those cute puppies and kitties will prove more of a draw than the ED. I truly hope that showing her the world beyond ED, and the many things of which she has proven capable, will broaden her thoughts.

Please keep us posted!!