Need Help with 16 year-old Daughter and Eating Disorder Recovery - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 07-08-2013, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter has had an eating disorder for the past 1-2 years. It started out as over-exercising and losing her period, and increased to severely limiting her food intake, binging, and worsening the over-exercising. She was slim, but she was not visibly boney or underweight, so she didn't "appear" anorexic. She looked healthy. She did get sick a lot and still had loss of her period. A few months ago one of her friend's mothers called me concerned about a text my daughter sent, talking of cutting and suicide, so we took her to a psychiatrist.  After only a few sessions things were getting worse. The therapist ended up bringing out more problems and caused a greater rift between us, deepening her depression. Plus he was very strange (he claimed to be a guru, pressured her to be Facebook friends with him, etc.) so we stopped going. We live in a small town and there are no eating disorder specialists within driving distance. Any therapy would most likely involve medication which is not an option for us, especially since my daughter shows signs of potential addiction.

 

Now she is attempting self-recovery which involves over-eating and no exercise. She now eats constantly. It is healthy food, though some of it is higher in calories with cheeses and creams, but she says it is necessary to recover lost calories. I'm worried that she is going in the opposite direction which will lead her to spiral right back into the eating disorder. I expressed my concern and offered to exercise with her so she doesn't overdo it, just to keep the endorphins flowing and her mind and body healthy. She got mad, shut me out, and told me I just don't get it.  The truth is, I had bulimia when I was her age so I do remember what it felt like to feel helpless, self-absorbed, overwhelmed and alone.

 

Right now, because it is Summer break, she is on her laptop all day until late at night. Luckily we went on vacation so there is only a month left of break. But what she is doing now is clearly not healthy for her mind and body. She says she gets her support online and from her best friend. I believe she is getting her help from a Tumblr group.

 

Any help or advice is appreciated.

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#2 of 8 Old 07-08-2013, 05:11 PM
 
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I think she needs professional help. I know you said you don't have a specialist in the area but there have got to be other options. Ask around, make phone calls, whatever you have to do. It sounds like the person she was seeing wasn't the right choice but sometimes things do get worse for awhile in recovery. When the core issues behind disorders come to light it is incredibly painful and difficult to deal with.

 

Have you considered sharing your eating disorder struggles with your daughter? Obviously you have to use your best judgement but it may be a way to connect with her and let her know she is not alone.

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#3 of 8 Old 07-08-2013, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your reply, pbjmama. At this point she is refusing to get professional help. She says she can do it on her own, with her friend's support, and that she doesn't need us.

 

I told her I had bulimia a couple of years ago, around the time she started showing signs of it. I wish I hadn't told her because it seemed to just encourage her.

 

We've always been very close and connected. I was so happy when she wasn't showing signs of teen rebellion and then it hit ten-fold this past year. It's like she is a different person.

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#4 of 8 Old 07-09-2013, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by mother_sunshine View Post

Thank you for your reply, pbjmama. At this point she is refusing to get professional help. She says she can do it on her own, with her friend's support, and that she doesn't need us.

 

 

 

  Of course she'd say that.  But if she's under 18, you can make her go to an in-patient center.  It doesn't have to be her choice.  If she had cancer, would you let her, rather than you, make those kind of medical decisions?


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#5 of 8 Old 07-09-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly, I don't have a lot of trust in therapists. We've had problems with them projecting their own problems on to us, and I'm wary of medication that will cover and sedate the problem rather than heal and strengthen the mind. Too much is unknown about eating disorders and I'm afraid doctors and therapists don't know much else to do but talk and medicate. I am willing to take her to an outpatient treatment center that specializes in eating disorders, preferably one that follows the Maudsley approach, but unfortunately there aren't any here.

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#6 of 8 Old 07-15-2013, 04:25 AM
 
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Honestly, I don't have a lot of trust in therapists. We've had problems with them projecting their own problems on to us, and I'm wary of medication that will cover and sedate the problem rather than heal and strengthen the mind. Too much is unknown about eating disorders and I'm afraid doctors and therapists don't know much else to do but talk and medicate. I am willing to take her to an outpatient treatment center that specializes in eating disorders, preferably one that follows the Maudsley approach, but unfortunately there aren't any here.

 

Experiences vary greatly, as do medications. I would be wary of medication that would "cover and sedate the problem" too. (Using benzodiazapines such as Xanax for long-term, regular treatment of anxiety comes to mind. Yes, it will stop an anxiety attack, but does not treat generalized, daily anxiety in the way that the right SSRI or SNRI can.) The "right" medication will give the mind the support it needs to do the work to heal and strengthen, if that makes sense. (For example, my current med made me got from feeling like I was walking through molasses, I had difficulty choosing words, spaced out in the middle of sentences -- major depressive disorder -- to feeling like I had access to all of my brain. I was able to start doing therapeutic work and changing how my brain worked rather than having therapy be support for minimal functioning. I would not have believed it until I had the experience.) Unfortunately, you might have to go through a lot of "wrong" medications to find one where the benefits outweigh the side effects (which would be why I put "right" instead of right -- it's pretty difficult to find something that's perfect. I think I tried about 5 different meds that had unacceptable side effects before this one. The one I'm on now is pretty close to right, treats the depression very well, but I think it sometimes contributes to anxiety, and kills my appetite, which sounds great but I was already at the bottom of my weight range when I started it. I eat cheeses and creams almost daily -- portion is everything, and I believe that non-transfat is good for me.) And of course, you don't get refunds for the stuff that doesn't work. Starting with samples might be helpful.

 

"Therapists," which can be counselors, psychologists, social workers, to name the ones that come to mind first) do not prescribe medications and even giving advice on specific medications is a bit dicey. Psychiatrists don't generally do therapy these days -- they mostly just prescribe meds. (They are medical doctors -- while psychologists, etc., may have PhD degrees, they are not medical doctors.) There is a broad range of theoretical approaches to therapy, and a broad range of skills within the profession. They also specialize in populations, in what problems they treat, etc. The one you describe sounds creepy, and I might consider filing a complaint with his licensing board, professional organization. 

 

Doctors and therapists also vary greatly in their expertise and efficacy, and no professional will be a great fit for every individual. One of the worst things about all this is that it's too expensive for most people to keep trying to find a fit, especially when part of the expense is a person's health. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. An issue with internet support is that there are many PRO ED websites and groups, which support people in continuing with destructive behaviors and encourage them to do more. Also, in my opinion, eating disorders fall under a general umbrella of compulsive behaviors, and excessive internet use, substance abuse, etc. fall into that category too. While I don't know how serious her health situation is right now, I might consider moving to a place where she could get effective treatment, depending upon finances, jobs, etc. Either way, acting while she is still a minor is probably a good idea, period.

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#7 of 8 Old 07-15-2013, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your insight, Sparklefairy. It's nice to receive input on both sides of the experiential realm. Lots of food for thought. stillheart.gif

 

Luckily she is still eating regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and is not in a life or death situation. We are fully supportive and available to her as she continues her journey of healing.
 

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#8 of 8 Old 07-15-2013, 10:11 PM
 
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Somatic experiencing therapy is really powerful. You can google it for a fuller explanation, but simplified it helps connect body and mind, and heal trauma. Another great tool is intuitive eating. Geneen Roth has some great books on the topic to help heal emotional eating... there are some audio books as well. I hope you're able to find something to help her... <3

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