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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Hello all, so thankful to have found this forum.  We have a 21-year-old daughter who has been suffering from anorexia since she was about 16, however, we only clued into it when she was 19. She was a ballerina in high school, dancing every day and I guess we figured that her physical exercise kept her thin.  She ate normally around us and was very secretive with restricting.  Fast forward a few years and she finished a treatment program in May. She was stepped down to IOP and now the next level where she still sees her counselor and goes to group sessions once per week.  What I would love some feedback on, is where to go from here. How best do we support her now?  She finished in May and has been unable to bring herself to get a job, we only asked that she work 2 afternoons a week.  She had also been in college but could never quite complete a semester as she kept dropping out because of her illness. When we talk to her about returning to school this Fall, part-time, she has a lot of anxiety. She says that she wants to be college-educated. We tell her that we want that for her too but it is up to her and we want her to be happy and healthy so she needs to figure out how best to accomplish that.  She doesn't live at home but is 3 hours away.  I feel that she needs to add something to her life, like working or school, to apply the coping skills that she has been working on since January.  We have been fully supporting her financially.  She feels like we are being too demanding.  She just seems stuck to me.  I would like to know what recovery looks like, I'm sure it is highly variable but I don't want to enable her. We do want to support her fully, we are just not sure what exactly that looks like.  Are we being unreasonable?
My d is 19 and at university now in year 3 after diagnose but she is still living at home and we have a contract for relapse prevention. As long as you support your d financially you can set rules for that that help to stick to the rules.

What recovery looks like:
- eating all food that she ate before AN moved in with great pleasure and appetite
- eating without any restriction, even fatty and sweet food (no vegan/vegetarian/sugar free/carb free diet)
- taking extras now and then and have seconds at dinner
- maintaining her weight with no or little help from us
- being socialised with friends at Uni
- having a normal mood and no depression any more
- living a normal life with all non food related things
- knowing that she has a serious disease and get help without us forcing it and let us help her if needed

I am sure I forgot something but I am also sure someone else with an adult "kid" will join in soon!
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Is it possible for her to move back in with you or closer to you so you can support her more with meals support and encouraging getting back into life activities and work.
Hi debletts
my d is 20 and recovering well atm although it’s been a roller coaster for us 
we fully supported her with everything
my d is now working a few days a week, volunteers a day a week as well as attending appointments and on the other days mixes with friends and has a “normal” life

with your d if she can’t find work perhaps encouraging her to come home (are you paying the rent where she is living atm?)
why should you pay for this if she doesnt work 
it’s a fairly reasonable thing to ask her to come home
health MUST be her first priority before work or college anyway 
so suggesting she comes home until well enough to start college is what I would do

my d lived away from home for a period and she realised she needed her loving  families support and stability after ending up back in hospital 

at one point when my d was living away from us I did say well if you want to be all independent great, but hardly fair you expect us to pay for everything,if you want to be independent be independent (tough love)
at that stage I was working myself into a grave to support both of us on my wage (so that’s not really being independent is it)
AN can be very selfish and manipulative, you need to learn to be smarter than the AN

its so hard when they are older, but it is doable, you really need to have good communication and a good relationship and try to get them to “buy in” 
or suggest ideas and give “processing time” we found my d processed things much slower whilst recovering and we would suggest an idea and give her time to think we also found one thing at a time, her brain seemed a bit slower than before being ill (you’ll be pleased to know she is pretty much back to “normal” just seems to tire more easily now 

you need to be a dolphin and guide 
or as Tina says perhaps  a contract however we didn’t do one 

having a reason to live/recover is also very important so if college is the motivator for your d, that’s what I’d use 
“let’s get your health in check, so  come home so we can support you more so that you can start the next term/year”
Hope something helps 
Thank you all for your replies. I appreciate your insight as we simply don't know where to move from here. She is so very fragile that we can barely have conversations with her.  We are trying to get into our family therapist next week.  She gets so very upset when we try to discuss what life looks for her now.  Moving home is definitely an option.  Although staying where she is (about 3 hours away) would probably be a motivator for her. She loves her friends there and she has a lot of support from the Eating Disorder Center and her therapist and dietician. It would be hard to take her away from her care team, but if that is what she needs then we would go that route.  
We did not allow our d to move out for university for the next time. She needs to eat most of the meals in a week with us for relapse prevention. Getting the weight back on is one thing and can be done in year 1 but relapse prevention is even more important and takes years. I would think about if there is a way to have her back home AND stick to her friends/team. Maybe she can see them at the weekend and have skype sessions with the team?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hi Debletts,

I also have a 21 year old daughter who has been through treatment and was very ill at one point. She needed a lot of meal support at home after leaving intensive treatment 3 years ago.

This is what recovery seems to look like here:

She can eat on her own. 
She has increased the variety of foods that she will eat significantly.
She can attend college.
She can have a job.
She does not obsess about food, weight and calories.
She has a significant other.
She has been able to travel with friends.
She has a social life and interests

It sounds as though your daughter could benefit from family support. Is she weight restored and how often do you see her?
After leaving treatment our daughter lived at home and attended a college she could commute to taking a reduced course load to see how she would manage.
She also had a part time job as a nanny for a nice family in our neighborhood.
And she had plenty of meal support at home, we had regular meals and she ate them with us.
It takes a long time.

Is your daughter weight restored? What would she like to do? Who does she live with now and are they supportive at mealtimes?
Is it possible that she could she attend college part time and commute while living at home?

Hope this answers some of your questions and welcome!