Skip to comments.My Daughter Has Anorexia, Please Help Me With Advice
Posted on 12/17/2004 9:25:01 AM PST by John Robertson
My wife and I just got word from my daughter's college that we will be shocked when we see her tonight, when she gets home for Christmas break. We were fairly shocked at Thanksgiving, at the weight she'd dropped. Her personality is off, she has lost her sense of humor, has mood swings, her menstruation has stopped, she can barely sleep. She's eating, but not much. A few granola bars a day, and water. She is not skeletal, certainly, but way too thin, and her "spark" is gone. She may or may not be taking some vitamin supplements we got her. Though she is not officially diagnosed, she exhibits enough signs of the syndrome that saying, "Let's wait and see" is simply major denial. She's got it. My wife is scrambling right now, looking for the right local program or specialist in our area (Pittsburgh) to deal with her. The situation is dire.
Freepers, I know I don't have to ask for your prayers--you all offer them so readily. I will thank you in advance for them, though.
I am asking for advice, tips, suggestions, etc.
And a warning, at the risk of sounding like an ingrate: No "humor." Not today. This is family, this is life.
Time to take her out of the out-of-town college, enroll her locally, and keep an eye on her.
So sorry to hear about your daughter.
As I personally haven't had any experience with anorexia, I don't have much to offer, just prayers.
Maybe she should be kept home for a semester, if possible, for care and support from you.
Anorexia is a very tough thing to deal with. It affects all sorts of girls, and is hard to treat.
You're not to blame, but you can do a lot to help. The most difficult thing is getting the person to recognize that they are in trouble. It sounds like your daughter already recognizes that.
The next step is to get her to a professional who treats this disorder. You can't do it yourself. A combination of medications and therapy can do wonders, as long as the person with the disorder wants to be helped. Spiritual help can also be a big boost, if your daughter has religious beliefs.
Your role will be a supportive one.
I know two families who have anorexic daughters. They're both working very hard with their daughters to get through this.
Please have strength in dealing with this, and take whatever help you can find. Love your daughter and support her in her recovery. But...you cannot fix this alone.
My thoughts will be with you.
How or why is that your daughters college gave you a "Warning"...have they been offerening some therapy for her?
John. My heart goes out to you. May I suggest that you have some skepticism about the drugs are not the problem issue? Her symptoms are very consistent with cocaine or meth usage--weight loss, personality change, rarely eats, rarely sleeps. Perhaps further inquiry in this area is warranted. I believe there are tests using hair that can look at drug history over a several month period.
I have another thought. Has she been shown a hideous propoganda movie by PETA? Has she become a vegan? If her weight loss is because she has become a vegan, nutritional education will help her and she will stop losing weight.
Get professional advice, rule out drug use, etc., and consider an intervention with qualified assistance.
Some anti-depressants can help. I would contact your family doctor, go in and see him or her together with your wife, and have the doctor help come up with a plan.
God bless you...prayers!
I think this tends to be more of a symptom of other problems than an isolated problem in itself. Can you get her to talk to a psychiatrist or clergyman? Maybe they could help her.
A friend of mine's wife went through this for a while, but I think she's recovered now.
Prayers for you, your wife, and your daughter.
This is a good website, that has a self-quiz in it.
Tell her that you love her. Tell her that you are there for her in any form that is required. Tell her that your concerns are based on the fact that she is your daughter. And, while you respect her privacy and that you acknowledge that she is an adult, you will always hold a special place in your heart for her for the magic she brought to your life from the day she was born through today.
In the end you can only stand there and show her you care while being as supportive as you can. She needs to know that she can trust you. She needs to know that you are not going to treat her as a child.
Good luck to you and your family.
You have our prayers as well. Do you have a family physician? If so, his/her office might be of some help in finding someone to help your daughter.
You can stop paying (if you are paying), but there's always student loans and other means to pick up the slack.
1. There is no way you should let her go back to college if she keeps getting worse.
2. Go to a doctor with her or at least speak to one about her. If she is really getting that bad she may need to spend time in a hospital before it's too late. The head of my school recently lost a daughter to anorexia and I really feel it's never too early to confront someone about that.
And I would ditto the advice about drug testing and a conversation with her about PETA.
God be with you, your daughter and your family.
See about clinics/rehab you can send her to. I have someone in my family who had to attend one of these and things ended up for the better.
Find a commuter school near home. She needs you more than a big name school on her resume.
Said prayers for her and your family. Eating disorders are tough and take a while to overcome. It's a day by day and sometimes hour by hour thing. I still struggle with my eating all these years later (boughts with anorexia in my late teens/early 20's). Give her an extra hug for me. I will be thinking about you all.
About 20 years ago it was discovered that nearly all bulemic/anorexic people had a low intracellular zinc level. There is a simple taste test that would help see if that is the main problem. Go to the healthfood store & get a little bottle of "Zinc Talley" which will have the protocol for the taste test on the bottle. If the test is positive, she needs to see a holistic practitioner in her area who can order an accurate INTRACELLULAR zinc. If you are not aware of any such close to you, call (213) 859-8700 (Meridian Valley Laboratories) for the physician closest to you who would know enough to order the test AND what to do about it. -- http://www.askwaltstollmd.com/archives/anorexia/10595.html
I didn't say against her will, dead. I suspect if the situation is this dire, she can be convinced some time at home wouldn't hurt.
Please get her proffesional help and be strong supportive parents. (which it already seems that you are.) A message board is the wrong place to get the help that you probably seek right now.
That was my first thought.
Careful with the anti-depressants. Some are not recommended for people with a history of eating disorders, because alot of them effect appetite and in some cases metabolism.
Not neccessarily. Especially at this age, girls tend to have issues with self-perception. My first year in college, there was a girl living down the hall who everyone knew was anorexic. Her parents would come visit regularly to try to make sure she was eating, sometimes taking her out to one of the local places to have lunch together or something. I've also seen a few of that type at the campus gym. There're plenty of social pressures to look trim and it can lead to eating disorders. I guess the other questions I would have is how her grades are, and has she made friends?
Open up any issue of "Vogue", "Elle", or any fashion magazine to see where young women get this from. This is what popular culture tells them what is attractive - super thin and even addict like looks. There's more to it obviously.
One thing is control - she may feel that she may not have control over alot of things in life but her weight is one thing she can control.
I hope they can convince her, I was just pointing out that she might say no.
Point taken! Weekend FReegards!
So, see if it is possible that the diagnosis may be a rouse.
I suspect she would also, unless it is from drug use. Then the reaction might be the opposite. If she won't stay at home for bit, whatever the reason - then one parent should move up there with the daughter. Either way, the point is to be close.
WOW! I am impressed with all the good comments and advice. Freepville-what a great community.
I had anorexia in college. Is she the first born daughter? Sometimes it's caused from pressures at school. All the girls competing with one another to look the most beautiful.
Did you raise her in a pretty strict environment? If so, this is probably the only thing she thinks she has control of...what goes in or doesn't go in her mouth. Especially when their are so many pressures for her to perform everywhere else (home, school, etc). My root cause of my situation was I was subconsciously trying to seek the approval of my father. Make sure you shower her with compliments and unconditional love. She's on this quest of "performance for approval" and her weight is the only thing no one can control but herself.
Get her into counseling....it's a loss of self-esteem and worth. When I was going to college, all the girls would walk to the cafeteria for dinner. When we got back to the dorms, a line formed at the bathroom to throw up their dinner. ( I went to a private college in Malibu....everyone competing to be Malibu Barbie). Although I never resorted to purging like them, I ate very little and exercised at least 4-5 hours a day while attending almost 40 hours a week of classes and having 2 jobs. I never allowed myself more than 3 1/2 hours a night sleep....All a quest for perfection. What I really needed was counseling to tell me "I was okay the way I was and that failing at things, is okay if you tried your best". I never allowed myself to make mistakes or be imperfect. Let her know that everything is okay and that she is loved no matter what.
No advice John, but I'll send up a prayer.
If you will tell us where you are, someone might know who to contact.
Truly sorry to hear of your difficulty. I worked for a short time with anorexia sufferers so I know what a tough disease it is to beat, but am no expert. All I can say is that there doesn't seem to be any one particular cure and the treatment (nutrition, therapy, antidepressants etc) should be tailored to the individual patient's circumstances.
One thing to be aware of is the plethora of 'pro ana' websites (just google the term for further info), but basically anorexics and aspiring anorexics offer support in remaining that way and avoiding treatment. They have received a lot of criticism due to the feeling they are encouraging anorexia as a 'lifestyle choice'. This may not be relevant for you but some of these sites offer an interesting insight into what some young women are thinking.
Sorry I can't be of more help.
I also recognize that there is more to Anorexia than that. Prayers for your family and for your beautiful daughter.
Read up on it tons.
Track down an authentic, sensitive, Christian, gifted, woman counselor.
You might see if you could find some slightly older Christian women from a support group who'd been through it but very successfully and well and firmly THROUGH WITH it.
I think I'd monitor my own and spouse's perfectionism overt and subtle. I'd bend over backwards communicating affirmations for warranted, authentic things in authentic tones and ways suited for the specifics.
I'd probably stage but not obviously so, some shared tasks wherein there was a lot of chance for imperfection--and I'd demonstrate casually and easily and jovially that MINOR THINGS REALLY DID NOT MATTER.
In some contexts with the rest of the family, I might even START a food fight. All the better if it's in SOME public situations providing it wouldn't freak her out toooooo much. The goal would be to end up with soiled clothing and some further public errands or tasks to do where others would see the soiled clothing--and YOU THE PARENT would behave absolutely as if there was not a single thing wrong.
The objective would be to DEMONSTRATE IN FUN WAYS WITH A FUN ATTITUDE that what others thing about one's self is not necessarily ANYTHING to even bother about at all--even in some extreme sorts of contexts--as with food obviously on one's nice clothes.
I'd think up a LOT of creative ways to, for example, draw a circle and not close it fully. To leave things ragged edged and NON-OBSESSIVELY tended to. I'd put things askew on the coffee table. I'd leave socks on the family room floor. I'd leave half my shirt tail out. Certainly I'd try to be clever and gradual and coy and wise about such things but I'd do such to DEMONSTRATE AND COMMUNICATE THAT APPEARANCES DO NOT MATTER compared to heart attitude and worth as made in God's image.
I'd listen tons and listen actively feeding back in my own words what I was hearing and especially saying word pictures describing what I felt she was FEELING.
Sounds like you were feeling . . . . in that situation.
I'd have felt . . . . in that situation.
Sounds like you really felt caught in a bind in that situation.
Sounds like you really felt frustrated with your friend/teacher/mother/
Sounds like you were really angry. What would you like to do next time in such a situation?
AVOID JUDGMENTAL COMMENT OR INSINUATIONS. Just draw her out AND LISTEN tons.
The maddening thing about it is THE CONTROL issue. It is life threatening. And at some point, you'd have to take control and insure that she ate. Up to that point, the child often feels OUT OF CONTROL and DESPERATE TO HAVE SOME CONTROL IN HER LIFE. And food intake they can control. I'd follow the advice of a counselor who had a LOT of anorexics under their belt on such a matter as food. It's really tricky very often.
I think I'd bend over backwards giving her control over safe areas of her life.
But mostly I'd affirm her as a person; as my daughter; as the unique, gifted individual that she is etc. I'd ask her help in lots of DOING tasks even if I had to stage them. But they need to be somewhat meaningful tasks. The more important, the better.
Some could be a crafts, creating task whether cooking together; carpentry; pottery; whatever. Emphasize that the relating is the key without saying so--that the relating and time shared is A MUCH, MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THING than DOING THE TASK *PERFECTLY*.
It's not per se a rational thing. They will look at themselves in the mirror and see a fat person. Arguing with them and insisting that their perceptions are screwy should probably be left to the counselor. Too easy to become counter productive.
WHEN SOMETHING ISN'T WORKING--DO SOMETHING ELSE!!!
BE CREATIVE. BE A BIT OFF THE WALL. BE SPONTANEOUS. BE CARE FREE. BE SILLY. BE FUN. EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD TO *LEARN* TO BE THOSE THINGS.
HUG, HUG, HUG, HUG EVERY TIME YOU CAN AND IT BE NATURAL, CASUAL, FITTING, ACCEPTED.
IF YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE ON OTHERS TO GET HUGGING BETTER, RIGHT, MORE FLOWY ETC. FIRST--DO SO.
When something doesn't click quite right at first effort(s), note it and say that you're sorry you're such a klutz but you just love her so intensely and are determined that she learn better how much you care for her--and that you'll jump through as many hoops as it takes for her to get that message. You can say that a 100 times a day but in different ways.
Guess off the top of my head--that's my input. I haven't read up on it recently. Had several clients with the problem. Usually did well with them. Been 10 or so years ago.
Please keep us posted. Even by FREEPMAIL if you wish.
GOD'S BEST TO YOU AND FAMILY.
I hate to hear this about your dear daughter. It is very good that your wife is desperately seeking the correct and adequate help/treatment for her. As one who experienced a type of eating disorder some years ago, let me say: anorexia is NOT about food. There are under-lying problems. (1)Please don't send her back to school just yet, as universities are notorious breeding grounds for eating disorders among girls. Sororities are particularly worrisome in that regard. I've heard stories of janitors on campuses being accustomed to backed-up drains in girls dorm bathrooms because of purging. Have her take a sememster off for treatment purposes and some down-time with the family. (2) Please show her, in word and deed, the great love you have for her. Let her know that she is THE jewel in your crown! (3) Be patient with her. Listen when she wants to talk and, for Heaven's sake, don't make light of any of her concerns. (4) In terms of treatment, get her the best that your means will allow. The professionals in the field are really magnificent. I am waxing long, but allow me one more: (5)DON'T LEAVE HER ALONE. Keep her bedroom door open at all times. Let your wife in the room when your daughter showers and (if necessary) keep the shower curtain open. Just keep an eye on her.
We're praying for her. She'll be all right!
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