Eating Disorders

cupofkindnessAugust 11, 2006

It is with a heavy heart that I begin this thread. It concerns someone who means the world to me, my oldest daughter, who may be in the beginning stages of an eating disorder.

My daugther, Miss Cupofkindness, is one of the most incredible people I know. For starters, she is absolutely lovely. Beautiful. Blonde, blue eyes, perfect skin. She's very bright: a National Merit Scholor, National Honor Society, AP Scholor, over a 4.0 GPA, all of this in a very leading edge, academically high-powered all-girls Catholic high school where she'll be a Senior in a week. She's talented: has held the lead in school plays, writes stories in her spare time, sings like an angel, draws - you know, one of people who is so gifted that you wonder how in the world they can figure out what to do in life. She's a little quirky too, she loves science and science fiction, birds, literature and theater. She has a dear group of friends who are very much like her.

She is an independent thinker who is unmoved by peer pressure. Boys are not central to her life at this point. She goes to dances, proms, etc. but mainly goes to be with her friends. She is a spiritual person with tremendous depth and wisdom. She prays regularly. Very self-disciplined. Miss Cupofkindness is a joy to be around: she is funny, productive, cheerful and in-tune to what is happening around her. She is the oldest of seven children.

It is a privilage to be her mother.

These past few months I've noticed that she's been very careful about her eating. Now she's the perfect weight. Many months ago it was about 138 lbs. A lot of muscle, because someone who wears a size 6 or 8 doesn't have any fat that shouldn't be there. But lately, I've observed that her portion sizes have gotten smaller. Not tiny, but she's probably eating less food than any of my other children. But I thought that she was being careful. However, yesterday I made a remark to her very casually, asking her if she might have an eating disorder, because I was concerned that she wasn't eating enough. She has lost 4 or 5 pounds this year. So now she's down to 133 or 134. Later in the day (still yesterday), she asked if I was joking. I told her that I wasn't, but that I was serious, that it wasn't a frivolous question. Last night, she told me that she struggles with feelings of bulimia, that she hasn't acted on these urges, but that she is thinking about it. I don't believe that she is binging. In fact, her behavior leans towards the anorexic, but she's not there either. Really, her eating seems to be in a good place for her body size. She's happy to eat foods that contain fats and carbs, and she does eat a good variety of mainly healthy foods. She avoids junk food and sodas. She eats three meals a day and a small snack or two.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and advice on this matter. I need to post this and start my day. Miss Cupofkindness will wake up any minute. Thank you so much.

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I'm sorry to hear this. Good for you to notice it, and bravo that your daughter feels comfortable enough to admit to it.

If it were my daughter, I would get her into counseling *now*, before she acts on the urges. Once the behavior starts, it's a lot harder to stop. She is obviously open to talk about it at this point, which would probably change if she progressed into bulimia or anorexia.

I'm just an armchair psychologist, but your description of your daughter has at least one of the traits of those with eating disorders, the high acheivement part. Snipped from the web:

"The personality traits of perfectionism, compulsiveness and high achievement expectations ..... are the traits commonly associated with the development of an eating disorder."

Best wishes to you and your daughter.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 8:25AM
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I agree with weed. Is there the possibility that you would be able to go to conseling with her? It sounds as if you have a wonderful relationship, and that maybe she will welcome the prospect of having you there for support. Just a thought.
Best wishes and warm thoughts to you and Miss Cup.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 9:04AM
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I agree, I would get her into counseling immediately. Good for you for catching it so early!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 9:33AM
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I agree with the others. She sounds like a wonderful daughter, and you sound like a wonderful mother. It really means a lot that she is able to confide in you about something so sensitive.

It's clear she feels she's under a lot of pressure - most of it probably internal. If you advised her to "cut herself a little slack" and actually made it a goal? How do you think that would go over?

She's already accomplished so much that a place at a top college is 'in the bag' -- She just needs to find a better balance between high achievement and relaxing. If she can start finding it senior year (erring on the achievement side) it'll sure help her when she goes off to college.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 11:00AM
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How fortunate for you and your daughter that you share such a good relationship. I agree counseling if she is receptive to it. If by chance she isn't, as well as monitoring her intake/weight keep the apparent wonderful communication line open. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 11:27AM
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I agree with all of the above. You and your daughter are amazing people and obviously have a strong bond, which should hold you both in good stead as she goes through the struggles of this tough time in her maturation. She has been in a position of knowing what to expect, for the most part, but now faces a host of unknowns and areas in which she lacks control. Those are scary things to a high achiever like your daughter. She must soon decide about college and career direction while facing the prospect of leaving the nest that has been her sanctuary and the family that has always been there to support her. These are exciting steps but require many choices and changes, which can trigger feelings of extreme anxiety in those who are used to a routine in which they are constantly achieving success. Often, an eating disorder like anorexia can give the person a sense of control and power, so I would say you are very wise to discuss this situation now, when your daughter is particularly vulnerable. The fact that you and she were able to talk openly about it and that she honestly shared her feelings with you is huge! She does not seem to have an eating disorder now, and in recognizing the danger signs early it's very probable she can avoid that pitfall.

Since the church plays such a pivotal role in your lives, perhaps that might be a good place to start as far as counseling goes.

Best wishes to you, and congratulations on being such a wonderful mom! You must be incredibly proud.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 11:37AM
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Thank you for all of your replies. Since my computer is in a public place in my house, I cannot sit in front of this thread for a long period of time because of the seensitivity of this material. In fact, Miss Cupofkindness walked in this morning as I was proof reading my first post, so I clicked submit without really finishing it. I may need to do so right now, although Miss C is at the Children's Medical Center finishing up her summer of volunteer work.

I haven't looked anything up on the web, this forum was the first place I thought of to find information. I believe that counseling is in order like all of you recommended, but I don't know how to go about finding a good counselor. I think I might call the owner of our ballet studio. I'm sure that this has crossed that dear lady's path more than once given her profession. And there was a time when one of her own precious daughters looked anorexic. I'll also call her high school counselor as well.

You see, I don't know if thinking about things means that she will in fact do this. I can see that she's struggling with food, what female does not, and it is an emotional thing for her. Eandhl mentioned monitoring her intake and weight. Wait! My other children are wondering in, I need to post and go make lunch. Thanks again for your good replies. I'll be back later.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 12:21PM
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Cup, I'm glad to see you're back posting here. I've missed you!

My DD was quite similar to yours, except for the hair color: she was at the head of her class academically, and she studied ballet and had the long, lithe appearance of a dancer. It always seemed to me that she ate very little, particularly after she decided to become a vegetarian. Although I didn't see any danger signs, such as bulemia, I discussed her weight and eating habits with her pediatrician. He reassured me that girls her age don't need to eat as much, as their teenage growth spurts are over, and her body configuration was perfectly appropriate for a dancer. He educated me about signs to look for and talked to my daughter about sensible eating and getting the proper nutrients. He advised me not to pressure her to eat or make comments on her choices. I'm sure that, had he felt there WAS a problem, he would have referred us to a social worker or some other form of counseling.

As a postscript, that daughter is now age 30, still a vegetarian (although she has recently decided to add fish to her diet), still beautiful and thin, and very healthy. I don't take any credit for this: she got the thinness genes from DH's side of the family (sigh).

I'm glad you're taking this seriously and will help your DD to nip this potential problem in the bud, before it gets out of control. Best of luck!


    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 4:09PM
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Cup, just to clarify. When I said monitor her intake and weight what I really mean is "notice" as you have her intake. Notice how she looks weight wise too. I didn't mean actually monitor and keep a log.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 4:15PM
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Okay, I am going to come at this from another angle. Simply because it doesn't sound like she is truly anorexic. I think all teenage girls think about it, so what I am saying is not to get too invested into it yet. How old is your daughter? She sounds like she is truly her own person and is very involved with a variety of activities, however, lets not assume that a teenage girl has the self confidence of an adult woman. Every teenage girl wants to be popular, pretty and have the boys talk to them. It's natural. Plus, these days it also seems to be unacceptable to be any size over a 2. She may feel some pressure regarding her self image. I think you should talk to her some more. Remind her that when she sees pictures of Nicole Ritchie looking fabulous that the camera has put on 20 pounds. Then take to her a hospital or wherever so that she can see what anorexia looks like. It isn't glamorous or beautiful. I think if she truly had a problem, she would be losing more than 4 or 5 pounds in a year and she sure wouldn't be telling you about it. I think if you just talk to her you'll find out that she feels like she isn't measuring up to the standard set by Hollywood, or you may find out that all the girls at school are dieting and discussing how much they have lost each week. Social pressure when your a young girl is hard, she wants to fit in and go along with everyone (even when she knows it's wrong) and sometimes young girls can be mean.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 4:24PM
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FWIW, I weigh in on the side of early intervention since full-fledged eating disorders are supposed to be among the hardest things to overcome. Especially with college around the corner, she needs to learn how to be imperfect since may not always be The Best or in control. Perhaps she can learn stress relieving tools that she can share with other girls, too.

You didn't give your daughter's height, but looking at my government chart, she went from about the 75th percentile for weight to the 65th/70th percentile, assuming we are talking about a girl from age 16 to 17. Thus, it is possible that some medical professionals would blow you off because your daughter's weight doesn't fall in the lower deciles. Don't let them, or find others experienced with teen girls.

Several weeks ago, my family went out to dinner with a mom and her two undersized girls, one nearly 12 and the other about age 14. They all ate so little that I am haunted by the fear that they are borderline anorexic.

Ahh, may we all, especially in this country, develop a healthy and healthful relationship with food. Best wishes.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 6:51PM
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I am a teacher and I've dealt with students who are anorexic and their parents and psychologists. I agree that it very often affects the over achiever and perfectionist.
It is not about the food. It is about control.

Senior year in high school is a very stressful time for the kids. They will be in limbo all year until the college acceptances are all mailed in April.
They usually don't want to talk about the colleges they've applied to, yet adults ONLY want to ask them questions about their college choices. This is the year they are forced to become independent- to grow away from their family, so they are ready to make it on their own in college.

They have no control once their college applications are in. And filling out college applications is another stressful activity!
Eating, or not eating, is one area where they have complete control.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 7:58PM
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Your daughter sounds like a wonderful intelligent young lady. I am wondering if you could refocus her interest in food and diet. Since she also has a science bent, perhaps she would be interested in developing with you a healthy eating diet- one that targets all the nutrients for her well being? If you could look at promoting nutrients and balanced eating, and appeal to her sense of intelligence this concern about quantity of food could be redirected in a positive way. You might consider researchig and sharing information with her about the disadvantages of an inadequate diet /being underweight on her growth, intellect and future well being. While also supporting her desire her to be fit and healthy naturally. The emphasis on the healthy.

As a teen I struggled with eating disorders for 6 years. Alot of my own struggle related to the pressure of keeping my image and thus popularity. I too am a perfectionist high achiever type. Personal reflections and words of experience- there are many ways to hide the fact that you are not eating- "I had lunch already" "I am full" "I am not feeling well" etc became common place lies. There are also many ways to counteract perceived over eating- purging (watch for prolonged bathroom visits after meals), over exercising, undereating later (some other people also over use laxatives).

Hope these thoughts are helpful and not too frank for anyone.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 7:51AM
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rosecmd other posters have mentioned, eating disorders are not so much about food and healthy eating as about psychological issues that manifest themselves in some form of disordered eating. Your daughter sounds like a lovely teen. Certainly it's worth pursuing with a professional with lots of experience specifically in eating disorders to get to the root of her issues before they might become full-fledged, more serious, and very difficult to treat. Your pediatrician, local professional associations, school counselors should be able to recommend some options. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 9:43AM
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"You see, I don't know if thinking about things means that she will in fact do this. "

Although I generally lurk, I have to come out of hiding on this topic. I have a niece the same age as your daughter who is very similar in personality/activities, who has been battling an eating disorder for almost 2 years. I'm also the mother of a teenage girl myself-my daughter is 14.

One thing I want to tell you is please don't assume this is at the 'planning/considering' stage based only on what you see and what she tells you! Anorexia/bulimia and indeed many adolescent crises are often happening long before a parent knows the extent of the problem. And I think this can be even more so with kids like your daughter (and my niece) who are stars, who have never had problems or given their parents cause to worry. As others have said, it's greatly about control not the eating per se. And teenagers are masters (mistresses?) of hiding things from their parents they don't want known. To me the clues you have picked up and what your daughter is willing to tell you are screaming that there is a major chance she is much further into this cycle than you think. I don't say this to be overdramatic or frighten you but it is something we've experienced in our family as this illness progressed with my niece.

I strongly urge you to treat this as an emergency. It sounds like your daughter is trying to reach out to you for help, and the close and loving bond you two have is evident in how you've written about her and your relationship. But I truly fear she is not just thinking about this, she is perhaps suffering from and acting on eating disorder patterns. Ignoring it, even talking to her about food, or celebrities who have eating disorders etc...those are not going to touch the root of the issue if she is indeed at risk. If she isn't, you've at least identified something to be aware of and to work together on avoiding. But if she is suffering from an eating disorder, time is crucial and the sooner you get help the better.

I hope everything works out and again I apologize if this sounds alarmist. I'm really hoping you follow up sometime soon with the news things are going great and no more problems with this worry!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 9:59AM
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Cup, you are such a great, intuitive mom. I agree with runninginplace. My first instinct when reading your post was that she may well be already doing it (if we're talking about bulimia) and she's scared to tell you because she doesn't want to disappoint you. So she told you as much as she felt comfortable telling you for now as a means of sounding the alarm. By the way, I'm sure you know that telling you anything was a very big, very scary step for her to take, even if she hasn't actually started doing anything yet. And I'm sure it means that she can be helped.

As for finding a specialist, I would speak to her pediatrician and search on the internet. Actually, the internet would be my first tool. We had a problem that required a psychiatrist and I found an expert who literally saved our family by doing intense internet research. There must be forums like ours that are for eating disorders, and the people on those forums would be the ones I would turn to in order to find a local specialist. There are lots of really bad psychiatrists/psychologists out there, so I would take no chances.

I'm not sure I would rely on the word of the ballet studio owner, especially if her daughter appeared anorexic. Eating disorders are prevalent among those in dance and very often perpetuated (sometimes subconsiously) by the teachers.

Good luck and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 1:17PM
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I'm sorry that I haven't posted lately. With the new school year starting, I've been unbelievably busy with appointments and the demands begining the school year at three different schools.

Let me tell you that I am talking to my daughter almost daily about this. I do recall that she was about 138 lbs. on her sixteenth pediatric check up. Now she weighs about 125 about fifteen months later. I remember looking at her during her sophomore year of school thinking that she looked rounder, and even into the fall of junior year (homecoming dance), where I remember thinking how full her checks looked. Now her face is thinner and lovelier. She had her senior portraits taken a couple of days ago and I had to admit she looks great at that weight. Slender, but not too thin or bony. However, the trend is that she is losing weight. Moreoever, she hasn't had a period in a couple of months, so I told her to start eating a daily snack in order to kick her metabolism/hormones out of the sort of "survival/starvation" mode that they appear to be stuck in. I plan to bring her to the doctor next week in order to deal with it from a medical standpoint, the doctor is female. Because The absence of a period is a bad sign, and also a sign that what she is doing to her body is detrimental. I also plan to speak to the counselors at her school next week once classes begin about eating disorders and how to address this in Miss Cupofkindness.

Thanks again for all of your advice. I really appreciate it. I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 2:09PM
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I hate to even mention this, but could she be pregnant, and by losing weight, she hopes no one will notice?

There are no easy answers, I just hope everything turns out OK. Maybe letting her know that she can take a year off before going to college would take some of the pressure off of her. Maybe being at a high powered school has worn her out.

Good luck. We only wish the best for both of you.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 3:32PM
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I purchased a book on anorexia, "Anatomy of Anorexia" and my daughter and I are reading it together and talking in a straightforward manner. She has agreed to eat more food to gain enough weight for her periods to begin again. I plan to talk to the school counselor as soon as I can. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your replies.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 10:03AM
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Cup, it's an excellent sign that your DD is talking to you about this and reading the book with you. It's my understanding that true anorexia is a control issue, and most anorexics are secretive about their (lack of) eating. The fact that your DD is willing to listen and discuss this with you indicates that she can see this problem in terms of health and nutrition and can trust you to work with her toward a solution. I'm not saying that she doesn't need help from a therapist; I just see very hopeful signs that, with your loving guidance, she'll be able to modify her eating behavior and get healthier. Best wishes,


    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 11:48AM
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cup, I also want to echo what koala em mentioned a while back. In addition to approaching it from an illness-focused perspective, which puts a lot of emphasis on being anorectic/bulimic or not, can I suggest that you all approach her eating from a positive perspective of *proactive* nutrition that provides the optimal fuel for what she wants to accomplish?

I went through a period in college where I had the dumbest ideas about eating...and I eventually talked myself out of it because it wasn't helping my body accomplish what it wanted to accomplish. Just "being" thin isn't *doing* anything. I'm not sure if I'm making sense, but it has to do with the ability to use your body in as many ways as *you* want to, not with being the best to look *at*.

This proactive approach really helped me. I started sports again (ironically, many really long distance runners lose their periods too, because of low fat ratio, but that's another story) and had *energy* to play intramural co-ed softball, for instance, and skate again, go on physical-activity type dates (now stop it, you know what I mean :))--basically, have *lots* more fun!

So are there things that Miss Cup wants to accomplish (having one's periods come back is a good goal, but I'm referring to something even more active) for which she needs to build muscle and stamina? Just another direction to consider...

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 7:34PM
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Oh cup, I had no idea her periods had stopped, must have missed that :(

All I can say is BRAVO for you to notice the early signs of an eating disorder, BRAVO for you to have raised your daughter so well that she is willing to talk about things of this nature, and a HUGE BRAVO to your lovely daughter for having the guts and trust to confide in you. I am sure you know how big of a deal that is for a teenager.

I wish I could hug the both of you! Please continue to keep us posted when you can.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 8:31PM
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Oh I loved these last three replies. Thanks so much. And now my little boy suddenly wants lunch, so I need to go. I'll be back.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 2:28PM
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Glad to hear that, cup -- I remembered yesterday, though, the experience of someone I knew in HS -- I must have known her while she was headed downhill with it, but I never noticed :(. She actually ended up writing a book about how she kept up her bulimia etc. through *competitive swimming*...don't know how, but she did. I have to hand it to her to be strong enough to be actively bulimic during swimming in particular and still live to tell the story. It's called _My Name is Caroline_, and her name is Caroline Adams (Miller). So involvement in sports isn't necessarily a guarantee of healthful eating, as if that needed saying...might well be worth reading if you can still find it. She was very like your daughter, I suspect.

oh, also: I never read the book in its entirety, but evidently it has a religious perspective. I have no idea whether hers would fit completely with yours, so I just thought I'd mention that particular aspect as a heads-up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Caroline's book

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 8:32PM
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Cupofkindness--I wish I had come to this thread earlier. Usually I'm over in decorating.

My daughter has recovered after nearly dying from anorexia at the age of 12. She was hospitalized for a month with an eating tube, regained some weight (which she subsequently lost again) and was seriously ill for 3 full years. She is now fully recovered (she's 16).

It sounds like you are doing all the right things, but I would strongly recommend that you read this book: The Secret Language of Eating Disorders by Peggy Claude-Pierre.

Many victims of eating disorders have an inner voice that takes over much of their thinking, a very insidious and disturbing voice that fights with rational thought. When I read this, I was horrified and asked my daughter (who was 12 when she became ill) if she ever "heard" this voice in her head, and she looked at me, hollow-eyed, and said that the voice never went away, not even in her sleep. This "voice" is the enemy that you must recognize and fight. I know it sounds strange, but please, do read the book (the author runs a recovery clinic in Canada for people with eating disorders).

It sounds as if you are being wonderfully supportive and loving, which is a big, big, part of the battle you will face. As others have said, never make food the issue, and never argue or become overtly anxious about it. Reassure her that you love her and want her to be healthy--don't talk about weight or size or appearance, just about health.

The observation has been made here that an eating-disordered child may hide the problem, and think of ways to avoid eating, or of how to burn calories. These are all very true. A child becomes very obsessed with losing weight, and will resort to any way to do it. My daughter would go down into the basement and run, exhaustively, in circles after dinner. She would do this for hours, and when she went to bed at night, she would do leg-lifts and sit-ups in her bed. On weekends, she would exercise--walking, riding her bike, etc.--for 5 hours a day. She kept elaborate charts and tables of how much she had eaten, and how much she had exercised. I found several of these after she had been hospitalized. You should not rely completely on your daughter to tell you everything; you need to be very, very observant and aware.

Some doctors think that anorexia and bulemia are related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder (and OCD is indeed about control, even if it is irrational). My daughter was diagnosed as having this disorder, as well as depression. She is still on medication for both. For a period of time she was on an additional medication, which I credit with helping her overcome her extreme fear of eating. For about 2 years, she had several professional medical appointments every week: psychiatrist, therapist, specialist, pediatrician, nutritionist, and group therapist. Group therapy is generally NOT recommended for children in the throes of an eating disorder, because they become very competitive and seek to impress each other with their ability to lose weight.

I would be happy to talk to you more if that would be helpful. You are a tremendous resource and help to your daughter, and it sounds as if you may need some help going forward. It's a big battle, but you'll succeed.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 4:28PM
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I'm very sorry that you and your daughter have suffered so extensively due to her eating disorder. It sounds like you've been to hell and back with this, thank God your daughter is alive. I will get the book that you recommended, I had read about it on other websites and people had good things to say about it. I think that the scariest thing for me is that she is going away to college in a year. that's what I'm most afraid of. I'll be in touch with you, I noticed on your "my page" that I can email you from there. Thank you so very much for your honest reply. It is good to hear that there's hope.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 10:55PM
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Cup: Yes, please do email me. I understand your concern about your daughter leaving for college. You will have to have some strategies in place, and some therapies already in motion, I think. It becomes much harder to legally intervene or have any control over the medical care of an older child, even if they are not away at school.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:44AM
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Great name - I have a daughter named Caren. And a sister named Karen. Were you born in the mid-60s?

Wow! I hadn't even thought about the legality of it all, but you're so right about the 18 year old legal adult. I will be in touch with you.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:01PM
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Cindy--My closest friend in high school was a Karen, and my dear college roommate and longtime close friend is another Karen. Obviously it's been a very popular name for some time (since the mid-50's for the inspiration of my name, at least)!

During my daughter's illness, the health care professionals kept fervently telling me how "lucky" we were that our daughter had developed the illness at a young age while she was still in our care, and under the age of 18. Apparently after that point it becomes extremely difficult to specifically get information concerning your child's health due to confidentiality. We would not have been able to hospitalize our daughter unless she had agreed to it, and we would not have been able to consult with the psychiatrist or therpists concerning interventions. And because our daughter was in complete denial about her condition (which is typical of anorexia), I can't imagine she would have willingly checked herself in or participated in any therapy. A woman I met while my daguther was ill had been a nurse at a women's college in the Boston area, and she said anorexic girls would check themselves in and out of the college clinic, and that she (the nurse) was unable to notify the family, and that the illness would become progressively worse (as it does without intervention). So I guess we were indeed "lucky" though I didn't really appreciate it at the time, of course.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:46PM
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The legal adult issue is very troubling. Along with leaving for college. I'm very worried. I ordered the book today, Karen from Amazon. Thanks again for your posts and your willingness to discuss your daughter's situation.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 1:28AM
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Cindy, I hope the book will help you gain some insights into an how eating disorder really takes over the mind of the person afflicted. It really helped me focus my attention and strategies and clarified some of the issues around anorexia.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 8:34AM
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At first reading these post, I thought maybe one shouldn't make too much of this, the extra attention might provoke it...then I read on. I think the advice has been great.

Does your daughter have the same rapport with Dad and her siblings? I think you mentioned 7 kids in the family... and maybe she's feeling she's taking on so much these next few years.

I would not be afraid to consider that you may never 'know' what brought this on but can help with your kindness and concern, and of all things laughter. One of the kindest things my Mother said to me, was simply an acknowledgement that life has troubles and we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves or others. Maybe she was put into a situation where she didn't have control... and this is how she is coping, maybe it's part of the culture. Learning from other peoples stories who have struggled with this will help, because knowledge provides more than power, it provides grace.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:36AM
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Thanks again for all of the replies. Last week I brought my daughter to her female pediatrician. Thankfully, this doctor also has a senior daughter at the other high-powered girls high school in town, so the doctor really, really spent some time with us, listening and understanding our worries. We told her that Miss Cupofkindness could not be pregnant, and that we were considering anorexia. The doctor gave us the names of nutritionists for my daughter to see. Also, the doctor ordered a variety of blood tests (for thyroid and other issues), and we went to the lab the next day. Unfortunately, my daughter all but passed out after the blood was drawn (couldn't sit up, couldn't see)! Egads. But she's fine now. Anyway, this week we'll get those test results and move forward. I'll keep you posted. Have a wonderful day!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 12:06PM
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Hi Cup, I too wish I had stumbled upon your question sooner. This is a long reply!

My daughter is anorexic. She is 29 years old and told us of her condition a year and a half ago, just weeks before her wedding. I cannot tell you how shocked I was. And we are very close. She kept it from us, as well as her fiance, for well over a year before finally coming to grips with her problem.

One poster here was so correct: Watch for excuses for not eating: "I already ate." "I will grab something out." It is heartbreaking to see your beloved child lie to you, but you have to realize, as another poster mentioned, that when someone is in the depths of an ED, "the voice" takes over. "The voice", AKA "Ed", as he is referred in the eating disorder world, is in control. He will convince your daughter that she will only be happy if she listens to him. Everyone else out there - parents, friends, boyfriends - are out to make her FAT.

So here's my two cents, for what it's worth.

1. Good for you for getting help now. My daughter admits she had unnatural issues with food going back to high school. (obsessed about calories in everything). She is very petite so when she only ordered an appetizer for her dinner, we thought it was because she had a small appetite. In fact, ED was telling her she didn't deserve the dinner portion. She hid it from us, and really from herself, for so long. By the time she sought professional help, she really had been dealing with food issues for ten years.

2. See if there is an Eating Disorders Center in your area. My daughter started there. Five minutes into her interview, she was told "You are anorexic." All she had to do was describe what she ate, and why, and that was enough. The blood work just confirmed it. They can also point you in the right direction for care. It is so important that you seek professionals who specialize in eating disorders. Many physicians are still very much in the dark.

3. My daughter had found that a support team of three is essential: an MD to do lab work every few weeks, a nutritionist to keep her on a food plan, and a therapist to help her work through her issues with food. My daughter also went on medication for anxiety. This has helped her sleep, but does not make the ED go away.

4. Read "Life Without Ed" by Jenni Schaefer. It reveals just how victims of EDs think. It is a real eye-opener. Your daughter should read it too, as I am sure she will much to identify with. And it is remarkably uplifting. This is the only book my daughter's nutritionist suggest she read. Be careful as many books out there on EDs can be rather dismal and dark.

5. Does your daughter spend much time on the internet? See if you can check the history of websites visited over the past couple of weeks. There are many of what they call "Pro-Ana" sites out there, where young women support each other in their efforts to starve themselves. They praise each other for going all day on an apple, offer suggestions on how to sneak in exercise (i.e. "stand when you can, because standing burns more calories than sitting"), and how to purge after eating ("Throw up while taking a shower.") It's pretty shocking.

6. Here's the best website out there for parents of children with EDs: There is a wealth of information and support there.

7. Also be prepared that without intervention, your daughter will most likely undergo some personality changes, which can be painful to witness. Without help, she will be happiest (so she thinks) in her own little world. She will find excuses for not hanging out with her friends. The loving cheerful daughter you always knew will often be irritable, inpatient, and sometimes downright rude. (after all, she's hungry) I know it is hard to believe this could happen, but truly the description of your daughter, and your relationship with her, could have been written by me two years ago.

8. Remain hopeful and trusting that your daughter wants help, but always keep an eye out for signs indicating otherwise. Daughters, being the people pleasers that they are, will often tell you what you want to hear. It makes you happy and of course, gets you off their back. When she begins to eat more, make sure that she is not heading for the bathroom a few minutes later. Or saying that she is going to go out for a "little walk".

I hope I haven't come across as too blunt or too insensitive. I only wish I could turn back the clock to be where you are today.

You are so fortunate to have your daughter at home still. If only we had a clue back then. But now it is my daughter deciding what level of care she needs and what she wants to share with us. Her progress, or lack of it, is her own business.

And so what about my daughter? About a year ago, she took a leave of absence from work to enter a day treatment program for several weeks. (She refused residential care.) Unfortunately, as soon as she was on her own, she started falling back into old habits, and wound up taking another leave of absense to do the whole thing all over again (think rehab). Now she does seem determined more than ever to make a full recovery. She is fortunate to be surrounded by a loving supportive husband, close caring brother and friends, and of course, parents who love her to pieces. But sadly, we cannot make her better. She has to do it herself. I miss her terribly. It's like we lost a piece of her when this insidious thing took over. She is taking baby steps toward recovery, and I too am taking baby steps to recover the relationship I treasured for 27 years.

Good luck to you, and please keep us posted.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 5:24PM
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Thank you for posting your and your daughter's story. Yes, addictions are insidious because they take root in every way in someone's personality and by it's nature, seeks to remain hidden for as long as possible, with lies and confusion surrounding the person. I'm sorry for what your daughter is going through. And for what you've endured as well. We didn't bring our children into the world to suffer like this. And then there's the internal voice wondering "What did I do wrong that caused this in my precious child?"

About my daughter: the first round of blood tests had returned. And because I read Deb's post yesterday (while the doctor and I were playing phone tag), I asked the doctor if any of the results might point to an eating disorder. As we spoke, the doctor said that Miss C's electrolyte level was normal (bulimics have low electrolyte levels), that her iron level was good, cholesterol 180, blood sugar normal, and protein level normal. So the doctor said based on these indicators, there is no problem with her eating level that she can see at this point. But the level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was low, indicating that my daughter might have hyperthyroid problems (one manifestation of this is Graves Disease). So the lab is sending a blood sample to a special lab in CA for futhrer blood work to evaluate for hyperthyroidism. All of this is very hard to bear, because I think that regardless of the outcome, she still has issues with food and body image. Just how normal these issues are - I cannot gauge. The doctor also recommended that we go the the Cooper Clinic to see a nutritionist. You know, at this point I think I want her to go to a college in Texas. Nice and close, so we can keep an eye on her.

Thanks again for your replies. They mean so much to me.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 10:00AM
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Cup, if it does turn out that she is hyperthyroid, don't immediately take the typical advice to do radioiodine ablation. Do your research first! I was diagnosed hyperthyroid, probably grave's, in 2002. I found that ablation is the last choice of treatment in most countries other than the US. A lot more info on that, but don't have time to include it. Anyway, I elected to stay on PTU, which quells the hyper, and it has worked very well for me. Fortunately I have a doc that is willing to continue PTU...the protocol is to prescribe for 18 months, then stop and hope for remission. If that doesn't occur, then ablation. Sorry I can't post more info, but if she is diagnosed as hyper, feel free to email me.

And I think it is an excellent idea to keep her near you. I would be concerned sending her off to another city or state at this point. The first year (or two) of college is usually spent getting the basic required classes out of the way, and a local college is fine for that.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 12:45AM
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cup, you have excellent college choices in Texas. Your great state is large enough and diverse enough to provide her with a 'going away to college' experience without going too far.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 10:05AM
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