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Member 2 posts
Posted 3 months ago
My 17 year old son has an eating disorder and it all seems so surreal. It has all developed in just over a year. We went on holiday last summer and he and his older brother shared a hotel room; they hadn’t shared a room for years. During this time his brother told him he was fat and these to be the trigger for his illness. He went through puberty late and really at the time he hadn’t had that growth spurt and sometimes I think boys need to have a little bit extra around the middle in order to shoot up, but he wasn’t and has never been fat. Very soon afterwards he did indeed grow much taller and thinner and there was no need at all for him to diet. He immeadiately stopped eating and drinking anything “unhealthy” and joined a gym. He became very careful with what he ate but he was still eating an okay diet. However, this year things have really escalated. He has been making himself sick and we are now at a stage where he will eat virtually nothing. He weighs food, checks labels and is incredibly controlling.
I have been trying to persuade him to visit the GP for sometime but he just denied there was a problem. It came to a head last week when a simple cold floored him and we visited the GP who was very helpful and nice. My son has now been referred to an eating disorder unit but 10 days later I am still not sure which one or how long it will take. He needs help now but I understand there are limited resources and long waiting lists and I feel we are left in limbo. I would desperately like someone to help with an eating plan. If I suggest food to him he gets annoyed and I’m aware that this isn’t helpful but the alternative is that I allow the illness to win. Currently he will eat the tiniest of portions, akin to a doll sizes plate and he will only have one “meal” a day. I really don’t feel that I can cope, it is a living nightmare.
Member 34 posts
I am so sorry to hear about your son and so much of what you describes resonates with my experience. It is as if you have suddenly been shoved into a different harsh world where everything that has gone before has been stripped away. I hope that I can help a bit. I like you felt left in limbo by the nhs at first, I found it very difficult to find advice and guidance, I didn't find ABC in my darkest days I wish that I had, . Anyway I went on a learning mission and that would be my first advice to you to learn as much as you can about the illness, it's manifestations and how to behave around my daughter. I seldom managed to get it right at first mainly because I was so confused and so cross and looking to blame.
I can see that your son's comments may have influenced the situation but try not to blame him, it may have been a trigger but perhaps your son was perhaps lacking in confidence before that.
Controlling eating =controlling and numbing feelings and that is at the heart of eating disorders as far as I can see. The behaviours are common and as you read more and more you will see that - but the causes are individual - eating and weight restoration is the medicine but for that to happen your son will have to face the feelings that he is using the ED to numb. It was my daughter that had the ED, but I do also have a son and I know just how difficult it can be to get him to talk about anything especially his feelings, but I would suggest that that is what you need to do with your son, quite often it is easier to talk when you are doing something together almost incidentally - for example walking the dog, shopping, driving somewhere I suppose anywhere where his thoughts may be less focused on eating.
He will be petrified about eating and his anxiety levels will raise before, during and after mealtimes. So try to agree what the meals will be for the day maybe in the morning or the night before so that he knows what he is going to eat and when. Start with the portion sizes that he can cope with at the moment but each day try to get him to agree to increase the portion size even by a little bit and hopefully he will see that the world does not fall apart because he has eaten a little bit more. Also he probably has fear foods, he has probably cut out fats and high calories foods but please try to get him to eat something from each food group. Also another thought if you can it is good to have another distraction activity maybe playing a game of cards, after meals as his anxieties will be raised after eating as he is likely to feel guilty for eating .
Last bit of advice is for you, if you don't understand what the nhs are going then ask, if you don't like the answer then stand your ground, I sometimes had to dig my heels in to be listened to by the services, ED services vary across the country and I know that they are stretched but it is your child so please be prepared to fight for him, I am pretty sure that I made myself very unpopular if I didn't like the answer I would ask for the manager and then continue to press my point trying to be as fact based and unemotional as possible - that sounds harsh hopefully you wont need that advice.
To give you hope my daughter is now very far down the recovery path, it has taken a long time, there has been horrible dark days when I felt my heart would break, but I just kept my eye on the prize of having my daughter back to enjoy her life and that is what I have. wishing you the very best
Thank you so much for replying it means an awful lot to know that I’m not alone. Not a good day today. My son keeps losing his vision and I am struggling to cope and don’t think I am much help to him. I spent yesterday trying to speak to someone at ED centre but I just get told they will phone back, but they don’t. Have just been to the GP’s and managed to get him an appt this afternoon, which in itself is no mean feat these days.
I’ve worked for the NHS for 30yrs but know what a mess it is in and how far resources are stretched but I really want to believe it will be there for us when we really need it. However, I would currently sell a kidney if it got us some help but finding someone who is properly qualified, as opposed to someone who is just happy to take my money is a minefield.
I will start today with the GP. I do really appreciate your advice regarding talking whilst driving, dog walking etc and regarding anxiety around food and meals times.
Finally I am happy to hear that your daughter is in recovery and that there may be a light at the end ofmthis
Admin 124 posts
I am sorry to read of your son's story so far and the frustration that you are feeling as a parent. I am the administrator for this online community but I also am the parent of someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder and further down the recovery route. I do fully support what Fingers Crossed has said an it closely echoes my own experience. It can feel just so painfully slow in the first days/ weeks/ months and there will be days when you feel as if you are fighting a loosing battle, but hold your ground on those days, because just by being there and supporting him you are showing him some firm support in what is probably a terrifying world where everything is confusing. There will of course be better days when you feel almost as if it has gone away.
The important thing to remember is that there is support for you don't forget that you can call the ABC helpline. But please do let me know how you are getting on