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Been called the Food Police yet? Had people go say how belittling or punitive the approach is?

Hold your headup and don’t let ignorant comments make you feel you are not doing your son or daughter any favours.

Refeeding at home for eating disordersLet’s remove the myths. Firstly, you are not the Food Police. The ones who say this view it through their own circumstances and teenage rights. If their child was sick with some illness they would oversee the medication taking and other treatments to ensure wellness occurs. These same people do not see that for someone with an eating disorder – and in particular anorexia – food is the medicine and the treatment. It is critical you get your child to eat and the only way to face down the fears and irrational thinking that anorexia has, is to have rules around food eating and to sit with them whilst they eat. Left to their own devices, those with anorexia do not eat or eat so little they continue to endanger their life.

Secondly, it is not belittling or punitive. The emotional role of the parent/carer is to encourage, uphold, strengthen, love, etc. It is being firm but loving. As far as I have researched, all relationships that undergo this stage of refeeding end up healthy and strong. Your child may say they hate you during the refeeding and fight back, but once weight is restored and they continue with recovery, they love the fact you stood by them. That you persevered and believed in them and their life. Actually neither is a NG feed punitive or belittling. It is medicine and if your child is that sick and still will not eat, then take the NG lifeline that is offered. Your child gets to live and fight this on another day.

Thirdly, you are removing a basic right and independence of your child. If your child ate normally yes you would be. But your child is so under the control of the eating disorder that normal, rational, logical eating doesn’t happen. They can’t eat nor take independent and appropriate control of their eating. The early stages of refeeding needs to have someone there to help and support them as they learn to eat and fight back against the control the eating disorder imposes on them. As later stages of refeeding occurs, the parents start to hand back the independence and self-monitoring of eating. There is a lot of basic relearning to do be done because the eating disorder wipes out what should normally occur.

And this last part is incredibly important.

DO NOT IN ANY WAY PHYSICALLY HARM OR VERBALLY ABUSE YOUR CHILD.

Incredible? no it really does happen. Some parents threaten, harm or abuse their child because they won’t eat. Yes it does get emotionally fraught and frustrating when you are trying to break down the eating disorder barrier. Everyone has a limit as to how much they can deal with, but in this case, your child IS NOT the enemy here. The eating disorder is and you can’t lash out at it, because your child is the one who ‘cops’ it. This kind of behaviour does not build or strengthen the relationship you have with your child in the long term. Nor does this behaviour establish healing and moving away from the eating disorder. You take your child’s independence and emotional wellbeing away and reduce them to an object. Violence on any level will not heal your child.

I do understand believe me. Sophie was violent, aggressive and lashed out during the refeeding stage. She was very difficult to refeed at home and refused to eat anything other than what she wanted. I would have had to tie her to the table to get her to eat, cause she just kept leaving the table. Or force feed her, because she would not eat no matter how firm, loving etc we were. In the end you have to do what is right for your family and your child. If that means slight compromises til they are able to fight back better against the eating disorder fears and voice, then so be it. It is far far better to do this than to resort to some sort of violence.

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People tend to think that all is well from their external observation, Sophie is in recovery and life is moving forward rather than backwards. A very easy assumption to make, after all she has been in a good stage of recovery for sometime now, so of course you should have all moved on.

Wrong.Families in mental health recovery

Sophie is still dealing with the legacy of having anorexia. The dreams, sudden fears and panic attacks of slipping backward, the literal distance between her and me and being unable to cope on her own at times. She still doesn’t know how to talk to someone else outside of the family and therapy people about her illness. She fears that knowledge in the hands of others will mark her out as ‘always the anorexic’. She is still finding it overwhelming dealing with feelings and emotions after being numb for so long. It literally floors her until she can find the path through all the emotional forest to the other side.

Her brothers still have questions, and have had their own therapy sessions this year in talking about how ti was for them. Again they don’t want to talk to anyone other than a qualified therapist. It is all too hard, and they find no one else barely understands what it was like for them. As for Will, I cannot even begin to express where he is just now.

As for me, the mum, in all this, I too am on the recovery road still from the anorexia. It sill brings fears when I hear Sophie say certain things or do certain things. Fear that she may be slipping, or her mind is still doing un-conscience ED behaviours. I still find myself feeding her more than she needs. I still remember too closely the feelings, fears and awfulness of that whole time. As much as I am moving away and stepping into a new life, the past is still there. And as any mum/parent is aware, the thought and knowledge that this can all happen again – very easily. I too still use therapy as I reach each next stage of recovery to point to the next stage and steps. This is where my faith steps in and holds me strong. Without God I could not let Sophie go as easily as I have and live her own life in a different city. I trust Him with her safety and her recovery.

It takes a long time to develop an eating disorder, it takes even long to recover. It is never just the suffer who experiences this, but the family, loved ones around them. There is no timeline for ‘being recovered’ for anyone involved. As humans, there is grief, guilt, change, relationships and trauma (all part of the anorexia experience)  that have to be travelled and sorted before we can smile again at the future. Be gentle with us who are in recovery. Don’t expect too much, or expect us to bare our souls to you. It takes time.

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Libero: Scott

 

The biggest barrier I had to overcome in recovery from my eating disorder was admitting to myself I had a problem.

For the longest time, I tried to convince myself my weight loss was an “accident” and a result of my increasing interest in cycling. I had been cycling for a while, but had recently began racing for a team, and riding quite a bit more often and longer mileage than before. I convinced myself and others my food habits were healthy, and any weight loss was just coincidental.

It was only when I was encouraged to eat more to make up for my extra activity did it start to become clear that my weight loss wasn’t just a consequence of more cycling.

I was encouraged by my parents to increase my caloric intake in the normal ways, and although I didn’t think I was against gaining weight, I resisted these changes very strongly. I truly didn’t believe I was against a change in diet or gaining weight, but in fact I really did have very strong feelings against it.

I wasn’t even aware of my resistance until I tried to implement the changes recommended to me.

It wasn’t until I went to a therapist specializing in eating disorders I was able to begin to accept I actually had an eating disorder and needed help. I still remember walking out of my first appointment with my mom. I was in tears as we got in the car and I asked my mom “Do I really have an eating disorder?” We both knew the answer.

Even after coming to this realization, it took awhile for it to really set in. For awhile, I still considered people with eating disorders to be others, not myself. I also continued to convince myself part of what I was doing was healthy, even though I knew as a whole my behavior was disordered.

So why is it important to accept you have an eating disorder and need help? For me, it was important to accept I had an eating disorder in order to motivate my recovery.

If I felt like nothing was wrong, I had no desire to change it, and I also had no reason to accept the help I was receiving from my family and therapist. When this was the case, I ended up depressed and frustrated because I was being forced to make what I saw as unnecessary changes to my diet simply because I was told to do so.

Until I was able to fully recognize my behaviors as part of the eating disorder, I wasn’t able to give my full effort towards recovery.

So how do we accept we have an eating disorder or other mental illness and need help? I think the most important part of this is to take a look at your everyday life and see if food, exercise, or anything else has overarching control over your actions for a given day. Anything that is keeping you from living your life freely is something you need to take a look at.

Also, if you have changed any routines recently, think critically about why you made the change. For example, if you have changed your diet, or haven’t been going out with friends as much, think about why you have changed your behavior in this way. And don’t just brush it off, really think about this! If I had looked closer at my change in diet from a critical point of view, I would have very likely seen it wasn’t motivated by a desire to be healthy as I told myself it was.

http://www.liberonetwork.com/eatingdisorders/admitting-needed-help/?utm_source=Libero+Network+Updates&utm_campaign=1e0c740516-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9104c3fc1f-1e0c740516-314271793

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Yes it is still some people’s wish to have a bit of anorexia. Means they don’t have to diet. Means they are slim enough to fit all their clothes. Means they have some control and willpower. This groups doesn’t include the pro-ana or pro-mia people. These are so called ‘normal’ people. I have had several people, who in cosy confidence, have said to me “I still would like to be just a bit anorexic”. They have seen the battle I have had with my daughter, they know the story.

I came across this today from Tumblr – So you want to become anorexic. I have written about this myself too – the pain, the reality, the health problems, the life destroyed. But I like this one. It is hard hitting, yes, but oh so true. I remember the things she speaks of so clearly. Those in the grip of the anorexia don’t ‘see’ the destruction of the body but it is felt, despite the fact their anorexic mind refuses to acknowledge the reality. They simply cannot respond positivetly or ‘not do’ the behaviours that are destroying them. How could you possibly ever wish to ‘want’ to be anorexic.

And whilst you are wishing to be ‘just slightly’ anorexic (which you can’t be, it’s all or nothing), you will drag everyone else into the vortex with you.

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So…you think starving is a good way to lose weight, do you? I think you’ve read too many fairy tales. Well, this isn’t one. Neither are eating disorders. They are sheer & total HELL. But, since you want one, I’ll go ahead & prep you for it. I’ll let you know exactly what will happen to you. If this doesn’t make you realize how completely stupid running out there & trying to develop anorexia is, then I wish you the best of luck in killing yourself. Because that’s all you’ll be doing.

The completely ironic part about people trying to lose weight by starving is that half the time it does not work. I bet you think you’ll wind up insanely thin & gorgeous, right? Wrong. You won’t be gorgeous .One thing’s for certain. Insane is a definite part of the package. Your mind won’t be yours anymore. Kiss it goodbye, I hope you didn’t enjoy it.

The less you eat, the lower your metabolism goes. You might starve & starve & barely lose anything…or you might be extra lucky…you might starve & starve & gain weight. Your body might just shut itself down & the weight go nowhere. & even though you aren’t losing, you’ll still be HOOKED. You still won’t be able to stop. By the time your body shuts off from malnutrition, you’ll be too far in it to *snap* think “Oh…this isn’t working…I think I’ll eat again.” No…you’ll be desperate & eat less & less & work out more and more. Eventually, you won’t be ABLE to work out. Your muscles will eventually stop cooperating. Then you’ll panic & try & eat even less to compensate for not being able to work your ass off (simply a figure of speech, since you’re not losing any weight, of course). By then you can’t eat less though. You’re barely eating enough to stay alive as it is. & you can’t stop. It isn’t working & you still can’t stop. & whether its working or not, you won’t see the truth. You’ll never actually know what you look like. Nope…no matter what you’ll think you must weigh at least four hundred pounds. This is true if you weigh 150 or if you weigh 70. You will be fat. Insane is the proper term for it, isn’t it? Yes, you might just be one of the lucky ones, one of the ones that doesn’t lose weight. But don’t sit there & think that means you won’t be sick. Not true…not true at all. Your skin & hair will be dry, your teeth sore, your period gone, your bones aching, your muscles cramping…well, no need to go on. You still want this, of course. After all, you won’t be like that. You won’t be one of the failures. You’ll be successful; you’ll be thin & perfect. Beautiful.

Well, since you’re going to win, why don’t I tell you about your prize, hmm?? It’s quite nice. You will be skinny. You will be sickly thin. Your ribs will stand out & your hipbones will be sharp. You won’t see it. You’ll look in the mirror & see fat. You’ll see rolls. You’ll look at girls who weight fifty pounds more than you & wonder why you can’t be as thin as they are. You’ll look in the mirror everyday & swear that you’ve gained at least ten pounds. Other people will see you shrink but you won’t get to watch. You’ll never see the truth. Others will though. You’ll be sickly skinny…but you won’t be pretty. & they’ll all see that. You won’t though…you’ll be too busy staring at your ass & wondering when you turned into your fat Aunt Bertha. You will not be attractive. You won’t. You’ll have huge dark circles. Your skin will be pasty pale & have a lovely gray tint to it. Makeup will NOT help this. It won’t, so don’t think it will. Don’t even bother to attempt it. You’ll be wasting your time; time that could be better spent doing your usual pastime, staring into the pantry to watch the food. Of course, people might not notice that you’re gray. They could be too busy staring at the dark black, blue, & purple spots you’re covered in. Everything you do will result in a bruise. Everything.

Do you have pretty hair? You won’t anymore. It will be straw dry & dull. It will not shine. Think conditioner will help? It won’t. It won’t & there’s no sense in trying it. It might soften your hair for a while (after you use half the bottle, of course) but it won’t make your hair look any better. Buy a ponytail holder. You’ll need it. You’ll probably be wearing it all the time. You’ll also need some hair dye. I sincerely hope your hair isn’t a nice color….because it won’t be soon. Yes…the color of your hair will fade out. You might even get grays. But gray is a nice color, isn’t it? I rather like it. I think the grayish brown color where my natural red and blonde highlights used to be adds a bit of…oh…dignity to my look.

Speaking of hair, do you like facial hair? I hope so. You’ll have it. I have some lovely sideburns. Quite gorgeous. Actually, I have sexy hair everywhere. Fuzz, fuzz, fuzz. It’s hot. All the guys love it and all the girls I know ask how to get some. They’re jealous, you know. I tell them how I got it, starving. They never attempt it…I know why though. Its not because they’re smart & healthy…no, no. Its because they’re weak. Not strong like me. Of course, my muscles are deteriorating as we speak & I can no longer use even my five pound weights but I’m still strong, aren’t I? Yes…because I don’t eat. & that’s true strength, isn’t it? Denying yourself the basic fuel you need for life. Yup…strong & smart.

I bet you’re one of those girls will the enviable natural nails. Those shiny ones that are so long people sometimes think they’re fake? Cut them. Go ahead & cut them off now. They’ll only break soon anyway.

Kiss your newly gray hair goodbye too. It’ll be falling out about now. You get to clean the drain about 6 times during your shower, just so the water will go down.

Also, you’ll need to find a way to throw away your tampons to make it look as if you’ve been using them. Remember to tell your mom to buy you tampons once a month. Can’t have her knowing you lost your period. & you will. I hope you’re not having sex because you’ll never know if you’re pregnant or not. I guess you can just take a test every few weeks. & yes…you can still get pregnant. I hope you don’t love the baby though, because chances are you’ll lose it. It would probably be for the best if you did though because of the nice birth defects caused by eating disorders. So, you might get to live with the knowledge that your child died or had to go through life with a terrible disability because of you…but it was worth it for thinness. A small price to pay for perfection, even though you’re not the one paying it. Who needs their full mental capabilities anyway? I hope your kid doesn’t. But that might not be a problem. You might never have children. You might become infertile. Oh well…pregnancy makes you fat anyway.

Since you’re one of the special ones, one of the anorexic ones, I’ll bet you enjoy ice water. Pour it out. Drink plain water, warm diet coke. It hurts too badly to drink iced drinks. You’re taking sensitive teeth to a new level. Forget those special toothpastes though. They don’t work when your teeth are slowly dying from vitamin deficiencies. Never liked those teeth anyway. Dentures are nice.

How do you like to sit? Oh…you like your legs crossed? Hmm…too bad. Can’t do that anymore. Your legs will fall asleep all the way up to your hips. Painfully asleep. This isn’t like what you’re used to, that tingly feeling. This hurts. A word of advice. After uncrossing them, just sit there. Don’t try moving them or hitting them to wake them up. Bad idea…very painful. Don’t stand up either, unless you enjoy collapsing.

Fainting is common too. & don’t think this is something you can hide. Whenever you pass out dead in the living room in front of your mom or brother they’ll wonder why…and unless they’re complete idiots they’ll probably know why…especially if you’re 30 pounds underweight. Get ready for nagging. Eat this, eat that, why are you doing this to yourself??

You could always go to your room to escape though. Then you can lie in bed & bite your lip until it bleeds…why would you want to do that, do you ask? Because of the leg cramps, of course…oh! I must’ve forgotten to mention those! Oooh…the cramps are nice. Your muscles are balled into excruciating knots. You’ll double over to massage the knots out and…what? There are no knots. There IS no rubbing the knots out because there are no knots. It just feels like it. There’s nothing you can do. You just get to lie there & try not to scream. & trust me…you’ll want to. Of course, you could always rub your legs anyway…it might make you feel better to pretend there’s something you can do to help them. But you might not be thinking about your legs…you might be distracted by the headaches. Take some aspirin…oooh…or don’t. Your tummy’s too empty; it’ll only make you throw up everywhere.

It’s worth it right? Anything’s worth it, even your hair, nails, bones, muscles, possible children, your family’s heart, everything. Sacrifice it all, throw it all away. You’re thin now, that’s what counts, even though you don’t know it.

You’ll probably get chest pains. Maybe heart flutters. This is scary too, because you never wanted to die, you just wanted to be thin. But remember, you can’t tell. Telling is forbidden & asking for help is weak.

Do you have problems with depression? You do now. The less you eat the more depressed you become. Partially from vitamin deficiencies, partially from your lovely eating disorder. Do you have problems with insomnia? That’s right, you’ve got that now too. You’re exhausted beyond belief but you still can’t fall asleep…& when you do you can’t stay asleep. Who needs sleep though?? Not you. Staying awake burns more calories anyway.

Do you do well in school? You don’t now. You can’t concentrate. Your mind won’t function, & the only thing you can actually think about is food anyway. Your grades will fall. Want to recover? You’ll probably have to leave school. How does repeating a grade sound?

Do you like going out with friends? You won’t for long. You’ll be afraid someone might notice how obese you are. You can’t leave the house now without hiding under tons of clothes…you’re terrified someone might see your repulsive body. You’ll become more nervous too. Jittery. You’ll also have difficulty talking. Oh…have you never had a stuttering problem? Well, you do now. You also forget what you wanted to say alot. Goodbye memory. And you can’t go out with friends anyway, so I guess it’s a good thing you no longer enjoy it. If you go out with friends they might want to eat! Maybe they’ll want to go to a restaurant or the movies. How can you explain that you don’t want any popcorn? How can you find an excuse for sitting there at the table sipping Diet Dr. Pepper or nibbling a salad & water while everyone else has cheeseburgers?? You can’t. & they might make you eat. You can’t do that…no. But why do they want you to eat? Is it because they care? No. Its because they WANT you to be fat!! How dare they?? They’re jealous…that’s it, they’re jealous. Soon you’ll realize something. Everyone wants you to be fat. Your parents, your siblings, teachers, friends. The world is against you & they all want you to spiral into morbid obesity. Get away from them. All of them. They don’t understand & they’re plotting your downfall. You can’t have that, you can’t lose this. Every time someone urges you to eat or recover “for your health” you know the truth. They hate you & want you to be fat. Push them away. Push away all the people who love you. That’s the only way you’ll ever be thin.

But one day this will be over. One day you will either die or recover. Death is easier. First you’ll have to admit you need help (that is, on the chance that you haven’t been forced into recovery…recovery that will not work until you cooperate). This is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Maybe you’ll tell your mom. She might be wonderfully supportive, she might’ve already known. Or maybe she won’t think you have a real problem. Then you’re on your own. Maybe you’ll tell your doctor. & if you tell your mom, she’ll take you to a doctor. Then its better. You’re safe now, they’ll help you. They’ll understand. Wrong. A degree is not an insurance against ignorance. & speaking of insurance, it only pays so much on mental health problems. And ED treatment costs are outrageous. So, even if you find a doctor that knows his ass from a hole in the ground you might not be able to get help. You might not be able to afford it.

As you recover, your school might have to know. Your teachers will not understand. Students might find out. They won’t understand either. Their comments will hurt, you’ll want to scream when they ask why you don’t just eat. They might call you fat just for fun. Someone might start to admire you & try to become anorexic too…but then, you’ve been there. You wanted to be anorexic once & you never realized how stupid you were. You know it now, but it’s too late. Its too late & you have to fight this or die…& fighting it is the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You’ll put food in your mouth, that disgusting, terrible food & panic & want to cry. Maybe you will cry. Maybe you’ll freak & spit it back out. Maybe you’ll refuse to eat & get a lovely feeding tube. Triggers are everywhere & you want to kill yourself more with each bite you swallow. Maybe you will kill yourself. Maybe you’ll fight & fight & enter recovery only to die while in recovery or even afterwards from complications caused by your years of having an eating disorder.

After fighting for the longest time, maybe you will get out. Maybe, after numerous slip ups & times that where so hard you thought you’d die, you recover. It takes a while. Even after you’ve eaten right for months & months your body still isn’t the same. You start to wonder if it will ever be the same again. It might, but you won’t. No. This will always be a part of you, it will never go away. Years later it will still be with you, you will still have those moments. Sometimes you’ll pass a mirror & suddenly be 200 pounds larger. You’ll panic & shake your head, trying to clear the image away. Something will happen in your life, maybe you’ll lose your job. Something will happen to take away your control & you’ll try to gain it back through starving. You will NEVER be the same. You’ll see an article on a someone with an eating disorder & you’ll start to cry, remembering that terrible pain. I’m not talking about the physical pain. That’s the only pain I described, because it’s the only part that’s describable. There are no words for the mental anguish. It can never be described. It’s unimaginable. You’ll never feel another pain like that, another pain so filled with self loathing, vulnerability, terror, rage, desolation…

WHY do you want this?? WHY?!? I know, even after reading this, that you’re still sitting there, wanting this. Why? What is it you want?? Is it beauty? Do you honestly think you won’t be like this?? Do you honestly think malnutrition won’t steal your looks? Is it glamour? READ THIS. Show me the glamour. Is it control?? Let me tell you, you’ll NEVER be more out of control than you are when you have an eating disorder. You don’t control what you put in your mouth. Hell, you don’t even control your thoughts. You have NO control. None.

Do you honestly think that you’ll be able to do this & not wind up this way? Do you think you are the one person on earth who can control this, who can just stop??? Do you think that maybe you can just do this, get thin, & stop?? WRONG! It doesn’t work that way. Do you WANT to die? Do you want to be a martyr or something? Do you think this is beautiful? I bet you think its some sort of tragic beauty. Its not. There’s nothing beautiful about it. Do you want some attention? Buy a new eyeliner, dance naked in the streets. Needing attention is a natural thing but there are a hell of alot better ways to get it.

Do you want to look at your family’s faces & know that you’re killing them too? Imagine watching your child killing themselves, imagine your helplessness, imagine KNOWING that they’re dying & KNOWING that there’s NOTHING that you can do. Imagine fearing the day you’ll come home to find them dead from this. Just sit there & try to think about it. Of course, while you’re starving yourself you won’t see that anguish. You won’t be able to. You can’t see anything, you’re too self absorbed. You’re too busy thinking about your weight, about food. You’ll see it when you recover though & you’ll hate yourself for doing that to the ones you love. You’ll wish there was something you could do to erase it but there is nothing. You just have to live with it…& living with it is hard. Especially when you think of how many times your anger came out on them, how many times you got nasty when they were only trying to save your life. You’ll hate yourself.

But do you know what? Self-hatred is the least of your worries now. Because you’ve likely just signed your own death warrant…& you likely don’t even care…yet. But you will. You will care. You will care & you will cry & rage & swear you’d give anything to take it all back. But it’s too late, because by the time you’re in deep enough to care, you’re already dying. Its too late to snap out of it now, no matter how much you want to.

This is the reality of anorexia. It is nothing like the powerful articles you read on how so & so overcame it. It is nothing like the beauty you see when you look at that thin model. It is nothing like that beautiful popular girl who naturally weighs 80lbs. It is nothing like anything you’ve ever lived before & you will never be the same

This will not make you happy.

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real relationshipsWhen you have an eating disorder you may think you are maintaining your usual relationships with family, friends etc. The sad reality is that you are not.

Eating disorders isolate. Eating disorders encourage denial. You spend as much time as possible avoiding social situations, meal times, and communication. For the eating disorder to continue to hold you, it needs your full attention. Mixing with others for social times and meals means the eating disorder could lose control. Heaven forbid, someone might expect you to eat or talk about the fact you have an eating disorder.

So the voice in your head steps up the guilt and control. It makes life hell, it makes being with others just plain painful. In the end its easier to just obey the voice. Makes it simplier for you and less noise in your head.

So in the end the only communication and relationship you have is with the eating disorder. It becomes your focus. You have this ongoing relationship with a destructive illness that lives in your head.

When the thing you think about most, honour most, behave for, compromise for – that becomes you the thing you value most above everything else in your life.

I watched Sophie push everyone away, even when she didn’t want to. She didn’t get a choice, it was the ‘anorexic way’ or ‘no way’. The very relationships that would support her and help her through this were the ones she tried to ignore or destroy. She looks back now and it pains her that she was so hurtful to her family and friends. But it was not her, it was the anorexia that was doing this.

For those caring and supporting, it is not your loved one pushing you away, denying the relationship you once had. It is the eating disorder. The ED is the only one having a relationship with your loved one at the moment.

It won’t be like that forever.

A true relationship is with someone who accepts your past, supports your present, loves you and encourages your future. The eating disorder does not do any of these.

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From: http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/family-role

Function of Families in the Recovery Process

Eating disordered behavior reflects a dysfunctional relationship with the self. Family members cannot “fix” the eating disordered individual. It is a unique combination of heredity, environment, culture and conditioning that cause eating disorders to develop…..It is not anyone’s “fault”; it is important to remember that everyone has the same goal of a healthy and happy life for the victim of an eating disorder…be patient and non-judgmental, listen, and remember that it is their responsibility to do the recovery work.

Parents and Eating Disorders

Parents possess amazing imaginations. They picture the day when their daughter will graduate from college, marry; perhaps even have children of her own. Here’s what they never imagine: a daughter with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, millions of children, adolescents and adult women suffer from anorexia andbulimia. This means even greater numbers of parents are dealing with something they never anticipated, and worse, cannot possibly understand.

The most frequently asked question is “why?” Regrettably, there isn’t an easy answer. The best course of action for parents dealing with an eating disorder is to get help. A wise first step is to take the daughter to a physician, simply to ascertain the extent of the problem. If she has a full-blown eating disorder, then it is time to seek professional counseling for her, and very possibly, separate counseling for the parents and other children. Three important points to keep in mind: first, eating disorders rarely resolve on their own; second, if one daughter has an eating disorder, the entire family is impacted; and third, parents must not blame themselves the blame game accomplishes nothing.

Remember…Eating disorders are devastating to the individual and highly destructive to the family. You did not cause this; therefore, you cannot fix this on your own.  Please get help.

Relationships and Eating Disorders

Healthy relationships are like the tides: they ebb and flow, especially when it comes to verbal interaction. You get together with a friend who has a new love interest the entire conversation is devoted to this important topic. Conversely, you meet with that same individual a week later and now you have news that takes center stage. But most of the time, it’s back and forth, give and take, which is why it is called a dialogue.

However, if your friend develops an eating disorder, balance is very hard to maintain. This is because these disorders are by definition egocentonic; this means that the disorder is all important, and therefore, the individual becomes highly self absorbed. Consider this: if anorexia was a real-life person, she would be a huge celebrity, bathed in brilliant lights on an enormous stage, demanding all focus, all attention, be on her.

What should a person do when an eating disorder enters a friendship, or love relationship? There are many suggestions and guidelines revealed in subsequent articles, such as listening, conveying compassion, extending help, etc. But whether a friend or a significant other, keep in mind that you are important too and your needs also have value.

Remember…Relationships need balance. If you have a relationship with someone suffering from anorexia or bulimia, extend love to them, and to yourself. If you need additional help in coping with the situation, you may consider a support group for an eating disorder.  Until your eating disordered friend achieves recovery, her primary love interest -strange as it may seem will remain her eating disorder.

Siblings and Eating Disorders

Families are like little independent nations, especially when difficulty strikes. Say a ten-year old falls out of a tree and breaks his leg. The troops rally: parents take care of the medical needs, sisters and brothers bring home schoolwork, perhaps even pitch in a do a couple of extra chores until the wounded family member is recovered.

But what happens when a family member gets “sick” and doesn’t get better? Families throughout the United States are confronted with this reality every single day when a child has an eating disorder. Although undoubtedly hard on the parents, often it is the siblings who become the unwitting and unnoticed victims, especially if they are young. This is because the parents understandably focus an inordinate amount of time, thought and energy on that one child. But imagine how this is viewed by the other children. “She” gets all the love, all the attention, while “we” get ignored and over-looked. This is a dangerous dynamic that can have immediate and far-reaching consequences. Enormous resentment can build toward the child with the eating disorder, especially if she is ill for a prolonged period. The siblings, in an effort to garner the attention they crave, may start rebelling or acting out in any number of harmful, unhealthy ways.

What makes this situation so very sad is that no one is wrong: the daughter is in the grip of a terrible disorder; the parents want to help their hurting child; the other children want love and attention. This is exactly why professional family counseling is so valuable when an eating disorder is present.

Remember…If an eating disorder is an uninvited guest in your home, everyone is at risk. Please get help, and find an eating disorder rehab center.

Spouses and Eating Disorders

Although men and women often enter marriage wearing various shades of rose-colored glasses, most of us anticipate a couple of minor bumps in the road as we adjust to married life. We prepare for normal differences between men and women, and accept possible changes as two become one. But nothing can prepare one spouse for the onset of an eating disorder in the other. In the vast majority of cases, the eating disorder afflicts the wife; often the husband is utterly unaware of the condition. This is not because the man is insensitive or uncaring; it is because secrecy and deception are a part of the disorder.  A woman with anorexia often denies to herself and others that anything is amiss. It is not unusual for her to exaggerate how much and how frequently she eats. Even as she wastes away to nothing, she will swear that she “eats like a horse.” If possible, bulimia is even more ensconced in deception, but for different reasons. Whereas an anorexic woman is actually proud of her skinny body, a woman with bulimia is extremely ashamed of her behaviors. This is completely understandable; after all, consuming thousands upon thousands of calories, then vomiting, is difficult to explain, rationalize or defend. Therefore, she hides the activity, and if need be, lies.

But here is the bottom line: no matter how skilled at deception, the truth will eventually surface. On so many levels, this is devastating to the husband. What his wife is doing is unfathomable, absurd, and  heartbreaking. To him, an eating disorder makes absolutely no sense; unfortunately, to her, it does. Perhaps the most difficult aspect for a man is that he can do nothing to stop the behavior he has virtually no control.

Remember …Nothing prepared you for this. You can’t control or fix her, but you can take care of yourself. Help is available.

 

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I wanted to share this lovely post from one of my readers. As a mum with two children struggling with an eating disorder she gives some great advice, hope and strength to those of use following a similar path. The reality of living with an eating disorder in the house is different for everyone. It is tough, frightening, painful and like living in some private, hellish parallel universe. What is also frightening is how strong a link there is from eating disorders developing and fathers who are absent, abusive and neglectful.

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Hello everyone,

A swift update. My son Jordan [who likes to be called just J] ended up being sectioned and spending nearly two and a half months in the Huntercombe hospital, Stafford, UK. It was a nightmare trying to get him in the ambulance to take him on the 3 hour journey – his resistance and strength was superhuman – quite surprising for someone so weak with starvation. The dents in my freezer where he punched it is testament. I’d even struggled to disarm him when he’d grabbed a couple of bread knives and tried to stab the social workers. Once inside the hospital, he protested violently, kicked the furniture and finally fell to his knees, sobbing and breaking down totally. It was heartbreaking, but necessary. I was relived that he was finally where he needed to be. He was admitted weighing 8 1/2 stone after losing around 1/3 of his body weight. After admission his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. Thankfully the hospital staff saved his life and put him on the road to recovery. He hated it there, but was determined to do whatever it took to get himself out and he quickly and steadily gained weight. He was discharged weighing 10 stone, which is still very low for his height, but he is terrified of getting any heavier.

He is still firmly in the grip of anorexia and doesn’t really want to recover [although he tries to convince us that he has recovered.] Just like Sophie, for the first month he seemed to be doing well; he was perky and chatty, controlling his own food intake and maintaining his discharge weight. However he is now slowly losing weight again, even though he eats somewhere between 1700 and 2000 cals per day. He goes through periods of food obsession. At first he would only eat a variety of just a handful of ‘healthy’ foods; that changed and his calorie intake came largely from ‘healthy’ fluids, including lots of milk; now he’s gone to the extreme of eating mainly unhealthy food and drink, such as energy drinks, kitkats, fish and chips from the chippy and black coffee. He sees the CAMHS team regularly, but under duress. He refuses to co-operate and will only agree to being weighed and having a very brief consultation. He began haphazardly taking his anti depressants, just before stopping them completely, insisting he doesn’t need them. He refuses to see the medics and have tests re his curved spine and sleep paralysis, saying that he can’t stand being touched during examinations. Despite all of this, the old happy ‘normal’ J that we used to know – the one that used to joke around and the one who you could have an intelligent conversation with – does still exist and emerges fairly frequently. He is very changeable though, one minute he’s laughing and feeling optimistic about the future and making plans/setting goals and the next he’s angry and depressed and saying he didn’t ask to be born. He is frequently argumentative, aggressive, verbally abusive, selfish … it’s as if he’s possessed by the devil. I’ve learnt to keep my composure and walk away from him when he’s being nasty, telling him I refuse to talk to that other voice/creature. After a short time he will calm down and be nice and reasonable again and all the harsh words will have been forgotten. He never apologises though and has a complete lack of empathy for anyone else. The good thing is, he is truthful and admits his dieting had got out of hand, that it was all about control, that he does hear the ‘anorexic voice’ [saying, for example, that he used to grab a handful of cereal, put it in his mouth, but was then compelled to spit it out], that we had all been right, but that he had refused to listen, believing that we were all lying to him… He says he forces himself to ignore the Ana voice as he has no intention of ever getting sectioned again. He jokes that he’ll be visiting his younger sister Melissa in hospital when she gets sectioned. He tells me to stop worrying and that although he hates food, he knows he has to eat. He is aware that there is a strong chance of relapse and says he’s not going to let that happen. How can any parent not worry? Due to being malnourished for so long he now has low bone density and a curved spine and he has weakened his heart. He also has very poor short-term memory and constantly repeats himself. The hope is that he will settle at college next year, build up his confidence and find some happiness [he did try a college course this September but it was all too soon – all the anxieties and doubts flooded back and overwhelmed him and he had to drop out]. Thankfully he has a lovely supportive friend.

Melissa [now 15] is sliding down the same slope as J. After battling with her E.D and, for months being able to maintain her weight of around 8 1/2 stone [which is very low for her height of 5ft 8″], she is now losing weight again and struggles to tip the scales at 8 stone, fully clothed. She used to be a healthy 10 stone and a perfect size 10, but thought she was fat. She is very rigid in the handful of different foods that she allows herself and in her calorie intake, which is now only a few hundred per day. She still thinks she’s fat even though she is very thin. Thankfully she has a lovely CAMHS counsellor, who sees her weekly and her teachers/mentors at Bryn Elian school in North Wales are bending over backwards to support her – she is allowed to leave early and go in late on some days, has been able to drop unnecessary subjects and is allowed to learn maths at home. So the reduced school stress has resulted in an improvement in her confidence and mood. She is motivated to complete year 11 and pass her GCSEs and go to college next year. Hopefully she can stay healthy enough. Frequently though she gets so depressed, tearful, argumentative, nasty and even violent. Her eyes glare and something ugly speaks. It really isn’t her as the real Melly is gentle, loving, caring, helpful, beautiful and a joy to have around. Ana-Melissa sometimes threatens to self-harm. We have spent endless hours just talking and cuddling and crying together. [She’s so different to J who doesn’t do hugs]. Despite the fact she has many lovely supportive friends and lots of male admirers, she struggles to be happy. She feels constantly cold and her hair is falling out.

Their older brother and sister Andy and Shelly seem to have given up and feel that Mel is just an attention seeking difficult teen. It is difficult trying to convince them that neither J or M want to be this way, that they cannot help it, nor can they fight it alone. At least Mel had the strength to ask her school teachers and everyone else for help. I try to stay calm and understanding and supportive and positive thinking, however I’m not supermum and I sometimes can’t help raging and effing and blinding back at them. And yes, I’ve told them both to just grow up. I do get over my angry outbursts and frustration quickly though and both J & M know that I’m just releasing tension and that I’ll always be there for them, will always love them and will do whatever it takes to help them both back to health and happiness. My GP and the CAMHS team have told me to expect to be the punching bag and that this will be an up/down struggle for years, maybe a lifetime. There was only one time when I totally lost control, and that was when after the millionth time of going round and round in circles with Melissa I finally blew my top and yelled that I couldn’t take it any more. She had been my rock during our worst times with J and now she was sapping all my energy. Rather than hurt her or smash up the house as I so deeply desired at that moment, I stomped my way upstairs to my room, sat on my bed, gripped the quilt and, from the pit of my stomach, just screamed and sobbed and rocked backwards and forwards, yelling “why, why why”. This went on for a good 10 minutes until I had burst blood vessels in my face and I had nothing left inside of me. Shelly came up with a cup of sweet tea, spoke soothing words to me, told me everything’s going to be ok and helped me pull myself together. Meanwhile Melly ran outside and we found her sitting and just staring into space. Anorexia is an ugly powerful destructive demon. Daily I pray that J & M find the strength to overcome it.

If I could offer any parent advice I would say get your GP [pressure him/her if need be] to refer your child into the psychiatric services as soon as you know he/she is showing signs of a worrying eating pattern, and once there, if things don’t improve, push for admittance into an inpatient eating disorder unit/hospital. Remember, our kids will not/cannot just ‘snap out of it’. I was so angry with the old GP [we’re with a much more sympathetic and helpful one now] because he just dismissed us, saying nothing could be done unless J wanted help. He had a mocking, couldn’t-care-less attitude and told me I had no choice but to just wait until J got so ill that he’d be rushed into hospital, but by then it might be too late. I just sat there, stared at him with a look of shock horror and told him he has to get us some help. I didn’t move from my seat and just kept repeating that he has to help us. Eventually he said he would have a word with his colleagues at the local hospital and see what could be done. A few days later he phoned me to say that he had put a referral through to the Child and Adolescent services, but warned me that the waiting list was long and that we could be waiting weeks. Thankfully it only took 2 weeks.

My love and prayers go out to all who struggle with an eating disorder and all the families involved. It really is tough on everyone with all the stress and worry and constant walking on egg shells, not to mention the endless meetings with all sorts of professionals – psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, doctors, family therapists, dieticians, school teachers/mentors/educational welfare officers… all this on top of having to earn a living.

Sorry I’ve gone on a bit! It helps to get the thoughts down. Mel also finds it therapeutic to diarise stuff that has happened in her life in relation to her father and what led to her eating disorder. She says that when she is older she will publish it on my website http://www.sharonkilby.co.uk/site/ The site exposes corruption in North Wales and the people responsible for forcing my children to live with their abusive father almost half their lives.

I have been shocked to learn that eating disorders are not so uncommon anymore. It seems that everyone knows someone who is suffering with one. Melissa knows 4 people in her school year who are sufferers. My boss knows 2 people who are anorexic, a friend of mine knows 2 anorexics [one of them fully recovered and went on to be happily married with child, the other person didn’t recover], my solicitor has an anorexic in her family… My God what is happening to our youngsters? Maybe EDs are symptomatic of the sick insane, evil society that we are forced to live in [more on that in my site.]

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