Looking Backwards and Forwards Through an Eating Disorder

August 3, 2009

My family are going through a difficult time. My eldest daughter is battling an eating disorder. It crept up on us slowly. The early signs (in hindsight) were her interest in buying low calorie and organic foods, beginning to want to eat differently to the family and over-exercising. The next thing I noticed were her sleeping patterns. She developed insomnia. The links I’ve included in this paragraph are to posts written in November and December last year prior to realising what was going on. She kept it quite secret that she was not eating at school and had begun purging after eating at home.

The pediatrician who we saw for advice about sleep picked up that she had an eating disorder in February this year. I had been worried. Over summer she lost more weight and her lack of food consumption became suddenly obvious. In March she became an out patient of a Melbourne hospital with weekly visits to a team of specialists for children with eating disorders. On her fourth visit she was admitted to hospital for two weeks where she ate strictly supervised meals and was allowed no exercise until she slowly regained her physical health.

Today she is going in to hospital for the second time. The first time it was a shock to her and to us. She resented being admitted, not accepting that there was anything wrong with her, eventhough her blood pressure was dangerously low. Since then she has been having cognitive therapy and we have been going to family counseling, learning how to best support her and at the same time allowing her to witness the impact her illness is having on her sisters. Can you imagine a therapy room with seven people in it? I have been very proud of my girls through this process. They have been honest and articulate. There is a great deal of love between them.

This time as she goes into hospital it is her choice. Although its traumatic for us on one level, its also a relief that she is now able to say, “I can’t do it by myself”.

Its a break-though but she still has a long way to go. This illness has a strong grip.


6 Responses to “Looking Backwards and Forwards Through an Eating Disorder”

  1. I am sorry to hear about this trauma that your family has been going through – sorry for your daughter and all who love her. However it does sound like you were able to move swiftly and effectively once you knew what was going on. I wish her all the best in her second hospital stint.

  2. Kit said

    I’m sorry too, that you’re all going through a difficult time. It does sound though like you’ve picked it up quickly and she’s actively involved in wanting to get better, which is very positive. Good luck to you and her.

  3. Brenda Holt said

    Oh, Jen, I am so sorry your daughter (and therefore your family) are going through such a difficult time. I will be thinking about you and hoping that you will feel wise, centred, confident and cared-for during such a confusing time of your life. Much love and hugs to you, Brenda

  4. Abby said

    Oh, that is very sad news, I will definitely be thinking about you and your family. I recently read a young adult book for my library course that dealt a lot with anorexia and it can be a very difficult disease. I am so glad to hear that things are getting better for both your daughter and your family. I wish you all the best in dealing with this!

  5. ejenne said

    Thanks Charlotte, Kit, Brenda and Abby. It seems like a few steps forward and then some back. I do appreciate the medical team who are our backup when things get out of hand! How difficult for the families in the past when the disease was little known and understood.

  6. […] alleviates the anxiety my daughter Kat experiences with her disease, anorexia. She has been out of hospital for six weeks now and her physical condition is stable. […]

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