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

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2 January 2013

This is difficult in that I feel compelled to write at all about it. 


Others are far better equipped to express, without anger and vilification or blame about the impact of ED on their child or young adult.

May 2011 K was dx with AN – not a clue, how do we deal with this, what is it exactly?  Nineteen months later, months of self-educating with a background in Psychology (not that it makes me an expert by any stretch), reading empirical research, attending conferences, carer workshops and the like, I still feel utterly baffled.  Not by re-feeding, not getting into recovery but the aftermath.  The hatred, the hostility, the sheer ….. well, “I no longer love you, I hate you, you mean nothing to me” response from the anorectic in recovery.

I recall so vividly those life-threatening moments in the early days, the bradycardia, the anxiety, the kicking, screaming, head banging, self-harming, holding her and hugging her to stave off the cold she felt and suicidal moments of my very ill and distressed, beautiful daughter.  How could this happen? What did I do wrong? How do I fix this? How will her father respond? How can he help?  Thank goodness for F.E.A.S.T. and ATDT, without which, I would still be in the dark.

My beautiful daughter battled it, refused to succumb to the evil banal of ED, well just.  She stuck to plans and incentives in spite of the difficulties and negative thoughts in her head, it was tough on her.  That is why I really hate ED – it robbed her, us, our entire family, of normality.  She reached the goal – weight restoration, her period again – Hallelujah – I even celebrated this moment with buying her pearl earrings and a single pearl on a gold chain to let her know how proud I was of her enduring efforts to beat this! Perhaps that was an inappropriate gesture of early celebrations of what seemed like recovery at the time; well the start and yes we/she is very much there!

So, she did fight and won at least one battle; and just over a year down the road – she openly hates and despises me.  I am the enemy, I am the villain, I am the liar the stalker the abuser.  I struggle to wonder what happened.  My response was not always the Dr. Treasure Dophin-esque way; but I was learning, am learning, to the expense of my own mental health and well being and now feel oddly at peace for reasons unclear to me. 

But in that light, in an effort to never give in or give up and feeling determined to find solutions, I was getting better.  I had to so I could keep fighting for her.

Christmas of 2012 was the first time we did not celebrate together.  K and her sister spent Christmas with her father and step mother/brothers.  This was good, but I felt sad yet relieved at the same time. 

I chose to spend Christmas with my family back in the US – they knew, it would not be good for me to be alone during this time as I grew up with strong family values and beliefs.  How could a supportive family leave one of their own to be alone during such a special time when we celebrate the love and togetherness of family?  I am lucky because we have that special bond – I hate anything that threatens this or deliberately attempts to tear it down – that being ED!

I feel so much pain – no Happy Christmas, no card, no acknowledgement from K; no Happy New Year, a reluctant hug when I did finally see her late afternoon of 1st Jan 2013 for the first time since early December.  I wanted to cry but held back trying to remain positive and stoic – I did not sleep a wink last night in spite of feeling utterly exhausted from transatlantic travel.  Never mind, I thought, tomorrow is a new day and ……

 So, today is the new day, the day after the first of the New Year and K and I can’t see eye to eye.  The spiteful demands are there from K, I recount I will no longer accept the disrespectful behaviour as, quite frankly, I don’t deserve it.  I will not support her turning to alcohol to feel better, to act out in a promiscuous manner which at the end of the day I know, deep in my heart, she does not want.  I love my daughter, I miss her so much,  - what happened?  I am mystified, I don’t understand and I feel great heartache and pain.  I also know, deep in my heart that this will not be forever; but then I think about X and her daughter who have now been estranged for over 3 years – please, I pray, that does not happen to us – I will give thanks for her being in my life at all; I will give thanks for the wonderful, carefree, happy days of her 16 years.  I love her, I feel sad and confused.  I just don’t understand what has happened and if I must assign blame, then I blame ED….I hate ED!


Our mantra: "Life Stops until you Eat!".  Full recovery is possible; step by step; bite by bite. (D diagnosed at age 15, full w/r obtained one year later, maintained and in full recovery since May 2012)

It is so totally understandable why you feel so much pain - I think there is already a lot of stuff to deal with when kids go to an ex-spouse at Christmas, without an ed being in the picture.
It is great that you went to your family in the US - you needed their love and support.

This echoes so much Colleen's story - the hatred her d felt was incredible.  But that story has a happy ending.

In the 'life cycle' of ed/an, under two years is still a very short time.  The cycle of diagnosis through to recovery, especially when the illness strikes in adolescence, is on average around five years - the brain has to mature and the child has to become an adult through recovery.

The fact that your d can express anger/hatred - whether or not it is caused by ed rather than by ordinary teenage anger - actually means she feels very secure with you.  If d did not have faith that you would not abandon her, she would not rage and say hurtful angry things - she would be too scared of losing you for good.
At some deep level I am sure she loves you - but you are the target for her ed because you did so much of the fighting. 
I think there may be a long wait before she comes back to you - but you are doing all that you possibly can in the circumstances to be there for her.
I believe the greatest gift a parent can do for an an child is never to make that child feel guilty - although it is hard on occasions because, even when we know they do not choose this illness, we can be so infuriated because it can feel so often that  they appear to be 'unwilling' to give it up - and you just wish you could
wave a wand to stop all this nonsense - which you still KNOW is not nonsense, but an illness, but it just so does not feel like one at times.

May 2013 start to bring you and d back together.  In the meantime you have to take care of yourself.
Big big hugs. 
Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
Thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement and yes, I know this rings true to Colleen's experience - I just wanted to share where it is safe to do so.  I wrote her a long letter and I will hope and pray she will keep it close when she has a chance to read it to know, I will never, ever, ever give up and will always love her no matter the circumstances. 

Our mantra: "Life Stops until you Eat!".  Full recovery is possible; step by step; bite by bite. (D diagnosed at age 15, full w/r obtained one year later, maintained and in full recovery since May 2012)
Oh my dear. I can't add any words of wisdom, but am sending a huge hug. At some point she will come back and understand what you have been through - I'm sure of it. Until then, be brave and never give up hope. My D told me only this week that she still gets twisted inside and really angry with me sometimes, just for challenging her ED which she feels is a part of her. But, she also said, even when she's angry, she still always loves me. That's progress from a year ago believe me. Take care of yourself and be there for her - it will pass xx
Sue Shepherd
UK mom, I hear your pain. Ed is cruel and so destructive to its sufferers and their loved ones. I get that absolute abyss of pain and confusion. How could this be the child I've loved and know.
One day at a time my dear friend and don't let her go.font react to eds words. It takes practice but I used mantras. I love you, was my simplest response. I will not respond to Ed thoughts and words, I love you etc. Janet treasures book caregivers guide was so helpful to me because it gave me practice responses. Keep contacting her, keep reaching out and letting her know you love her. I know it's not simple and each is unique but what is not unique is good caring loving committed parents share this experience and you are one if them. The voice of Ed is cruel dishonest and distorted. It is not your daughter. It is your daughters illness. Kepp practicing separating her from that voice. Get some real support for yourself, self care saved my life. And it continues to give me the strength to fight for my d today 3 years since she became ill. Sending you much strength and hugs.
"Sometimes you just have to be your own hero"
Thank you Lisa - your words of comfort and encouragement are a blessing.  
G x
Our mantra: "Life Stops until you Eat!".  Full recovery is possible; step by step; bite by bite. (D diagnosed at age 15, full w/r obtained one year later, maintained and in full recovery since May 2012)
Tears for you.......not only for missing your daughter, but for your strength in dealing with it all. She will come back.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Your post made me so sad.  It is so cruel that ED distorts our children's perceptions of reality and they attack the people who have cared and loved them the most.

I'm sorry your D is turning to alcohol and promiscuity to block out anxiety and all the angst of recovering from an eating disorder, but also just coping being a teenager. I think you are right to tackle those behaviors and challenge her when she is being disrespectful to you.  I find myself tip-toeing around my D, not wanting to upset her, but sometimes her behavior is behavioral and nothing to do with ED and I'm starting to challenge that behavior.  D was much easier before ED but maybe she was suppressing her own needs and wanted to be a rebellious teenager!!!  Who knows, we've got to work with what we are left with.  

No great advice, we must all take comfort from the fact people do report their children coming back to them in time.  I hope you do not have to wait too long.  Look after yourself. xxx
UKMom, this is so hard, and I am so sorry for your pain. What you describe sounds very much like the emotional anorexia in Colleen's daughter. Her family was able to work through it and it resolved, so there is hope. Full brain maturation that happens after the teen years can make for happier relations between loved ones -- I know that happened both with me and my mom, and my daughter and me. Strength and hugs to you!
Daughter age 28, restrictive anorexia (RAN) age 11-18, then alternating RAN with binge eating disorder and bulimia with laxatives, is in remission from EDs for 3 years after finally finding effective individual therapy. Treatment continues for comorbid disorders of anxiety, ADD and depression. "Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo
UKMom - I feel for you as my D's ED attacked me for many many years.  I do believe ED attacks those who our children know are safest and strongest.  We won't abandon them no matter what ED spews out.
It will one day turn around as your D matures and gets healthier.

I hope there is a way for you to get your D some professional help for the other self-destructive behaviors because ED often turns into other destructive outlets from difficulty with self-regulation.  It might also be that your D needs to continue gaining weight as she is maturing.  Sometimes, that is the reason for all the ED rants against the parent who has fought the  hardest.

Please be kind to yourself, and surround yourself with family and friends who support you.

Sending you strength and hope

WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
Just putting my big long arms around you and squeezing hard.
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
UKMom, I think what emily said is spot on.  ED is a part of our kids and ED HATES us for trying to eradicate it - we see this when we re-feed and get vicious rants, violent behavior and any number of irrational and hurtful reactions.  It's like trapping a wild animal - it will claw, bite, scratch.  So now that your D is more "rational" doesn't mean that her ED isn't still reeling from the multiple attempts at its life.  This may just be ED's irrational hold - you were the "enemy" of ED - you did battle against it and even though it sounds like SHE wanted to get better and wanted to get out of her own hell, we usually take our anger, frustration and fears out on those closest to us.  In a twisted way, sounds like she trusts and is confident in your unconditional love for her.

This doesn't mean you have to be her emotional punching bag and I hope that you can show her, model for her, that her behavior has limits and rules as regard to showing you respect.  I don't know that my D will ever sweep me into a big hug, thank me for saving her life or even ever say the words "I love you" to me, which I haven't heard in YEARS!!!  I don't think I even expect that from her - our relationship is what it is and it's still an emerging story as she is less eclipsed by ED, but ED is still in the picture, so it's not entirely her yet either.  I guess what I'm saying is try not to have expectations and take care of yourself too.
Mom to D 21 in November, behaviors started at 15, hospitalized at 16, IP at 17, FBT at almost 18. Finished second year in college; now abroad in treatment program to deal with co-morbids.
My heart goes out to you.

Sending you heart-felt hugs.

Cathy V.
Southern California