National Eating Disorders Association

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2Joy2love
ED and self harm

at I have a 16 year old daughter that has ED. We put her into a center for ED 1 year ago, she was there for 2 months. Before she went to the center she had been cutting herself maybe once every 4 months or so, we thought this was because of her traumatic past. She has seen many horrible things before she was taken out of her home by DCFS and we adopted her at age 11.
While in the center she stopped pulling her hair, stopped picking at her toes and finger nails, no cutting and she gained weight and was so much healthier. She has retained her weight, which we are so thankful for, yet she has really struggled with self harm. Around the holidays she would cut herself a lot, she would also rip off her toe nails. It just seems when stress comes, if she lets herself eat and not throw up that she physically self harms instead. It is so stressful, so sad to see her in so much pain that she cuts herself. She is seeing a dietician and a counselor each week, which has helped a lot. They are helping her and I with the helps for the ED and ways to help with the stress that comes from her past. Has anyone else had self harm with their ED?

mel2016
Sorry!

Hi 2Joy2love,
I am so sorry to hear about your daughter! Does her counselor have experience with self-harm, along with EDs? I'm glad the treatment is helping you both, but it still sounds incredibly difficult to cope with. I think EDs often co-occur with other mental health problems like depression or self-harm, as devastating as it is. I wish I had more specific advice for you! You sound like a wonderful and caring mother though; your daughter is lucky to have you supporting her. It sounds like you are doing all the right things.

Please keep us updated,
-Mel

2Joy2love
Thanks. Her councilor does

Thanks. Her councilor does deal with self harm. We put my daughter on a safety watch and also decreased some of her privileges. It worked, but then she had a set back this week. She had Spring break and it stressed her out. She does not do well with change.

ashleyk
2Joy2love

That's good to her that her councilor is familiar with self-harm and ED. Like Mel said, ED usually occurs simultaneously with other disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and self-harm, so there is a lot going on that accumulates to more stress. Have you checked out NEDA's Parent's Toolkit? It has great ways to support a loved one with ED and is available here: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/parent-toolkit

I hope things calm down once spring break is over and your daughter can continue to make steps towards recovery!

- ashleyk

Erin_Patricia1
Concerned - Reply

Hi 2Joy2love!

I am very concerned about what you have written in regards to your daughter. Even though I do not know you personally, I care about what happens to you and your daughter. It sounds like your family is going through an extremely difficult time right now and I want you to know that there are a lot of resources to help you and your daughter. I would suggest having your daughter call the 24 hour Self-Harm Hotline at 1-800-344-4357. Once she has spoken to someone at this number, feel free to let us know how the conversation went and how your daughter is doing! We care about you both here on the forums!

Erin_Patricia1

2Joy2love
thank you

I want to thank you all for your support and suggestions. I have started reading the toolkit for parents, it is a great source. Thank you also for the safety hotline number. She is doing better this week, she is back at school, and she talked to her dietician and councilor, who both supported my decision to put her on caution (back on safety watch) for three days. They talked to her about coming up with plans and then acting on those plans to deal with the stress and not to self harm. My daughter seems to do better if she loses privileges or gains them depending on her choices. Right now she is hanging out with a new friend, which is huge. She can isolate herself, especially if she is struggling. So that she is still connecting with people is a good sign. No self harm these last few days. Thanks again. It is so nice to be able to talk to others who are going through this ED journey.

2Joy2love
birdie22

Thank you birdie22 for posting about your experience. It has given me great hope. I am so glad that you are not self harming anymore and that you are beating this disease. I wish you the best of luck in your life, not just in recovery, but also in obtaining the goals and dreams you have.
My daughter has been having some emotional weeks, and she is still fighting against the ED and self harming. She slipped a bit one day and immediately told me Her councilor and I both told her how proud we were of her not hiding or lying about the slip ups, and coming forward right away. She can tell that the eating disorder is trying so hard to get her to go back to those old habits. She has decided that she does not want to go back there, to how that felt. She has some friends that she met at the center she went to, that are really struggling. That might need to go back into treatment. I know that scares her. I reminded her yesterday that one of the gifts she can give them is for her to take care of her own health.

Erin_Patricia1
Checking up on you!

Hi 2Joy2love!

I am so glad to hear back from you! I know it's been a little while since you last posted and I'm SO happy to hear that your daughter seems to be doing better! We all have slip ups when it comes to eating disorders and self-harming behaviors but it's good to know that your daughter is able to recognize it and be honest with you and her counselor! I completely agree with your statement, as well. Even though her friends seem to be going through a tough time right now, taking care of herself is the best gift your daughter can give them for the time being. We are all thinking of you and your daughter! Keep us updated on her progress! Wishing you the best of luck!

Erin_Patricia1

ashleyk
2joy2love,

I agree with Erin_Patricia1 - its so great to hear from you about your daughter! I'm glad that she's making progress and being honest with you about what she's going through! If you ever want to read more inspirational stories, I recommend NEDA's stories of hope: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/stories-of-hope. There are so many inspiring stories of recovery found here! I hope your daughter continues to recover and that you know you're not alone and we're all here to support you!

Good luck!
-ashleyk

2Joy2love
update

Birdie22 thank you for your post. I appreciate each person who has posted and who is supporting me. My daughter has been very emotional, which is great. This is the first time in her life that she is letting herself feel. She is crying and ranting (talking a lot). Her dietician told her to rant all she wanted, to get those feelings out. I am encouraging her to talk about what she wants, what she believes, what she needs. She hates feeling any emotion, yet she has decided that this is what she needs. I have told her that it is empowering. She has been reaching out to friends and family. She is trying very hard to not self harm and to eat. She is figuring out where she is struggling, little things that she does that lets ED have more of an influence. We have been encouraging her to figure out ways to combat those and then we check on her progress. She is doing it. I am so proud of her.
I am not going to therapy anymore for myself. I do have a great therapist, if I feel I need to go back. I have had friends come over and we do fun things together. My therapist taught me this saying that I repeat to myself as needed, it helps keep me balanced and not sucked into whatever my daughter is choosing. "I did not cause it. I cannot control it. I cannot cure it. She can cope with it. I am not her Savior." I tell myself this I can facilitate what her needs are, but in the end she is the only one that can choose what she does.
She is worried about school getting out, she does not do well with change. So we are in the process to figure out how to help her transition over to the summer routine.

2Joy2love
Update- set back

Rough day. So much progress, yet setbacks. I guess that is how it goes. Birdie22 had said that it is good she is talking but at times it can get messy. Thank you for that comment, it has kept me going and given me some hope. It has gotten a bit messy and hard, but it won't last.I have to just keep reminding myself how far she has come, and this is just a dip in the road, I do believe it will get better. She really opened up today and that is good. Just very emotional. Please pray for us.

2Joy2love
Thank you

Birdee22, thank you so much for your post. Last night was so hard. As I read your words, I started to cry, it was the encouragement that I needed. Yesterday was such a rough day, today was a lot better. It is like being on a rollercoster at times.

edinburgh
hope

Hi, I am writing at my daughter's request. Birdee22.
I can only imagine how you are feeling. I would love to have a cup of coffee together and just listen to your heart. I love my daughter dearly and am so proud of the hard work she has done to grab hold of her true identity and press on to healing. She has a tender heart and wise words. I believe that your fighting phrase is a great one!! You did not cause this and you can't fix it either. But, you can continue on to support and encourage your daughter. To set limits with love is a great help. My husband, myself and our daughter have recently been learning how to talk to each other and value our relationships during difficult times. I think Birdee's advise about taking care of yourself is so vital. It gives an important role model for your daughter to learn from but also it can prevent her from feeling responsible for you. Yes, your pain is real and you want to be honest. The message has to be that she is responsible for her actions. Just like any other action that would be harmful to her or to others. I used to describe myself as a mother without arms because I couldn't fix our daughter but I then realized that I could help by prayer and love. I learned to hope against hope and finally there was a breakthrough. It is our delight to be able to reach out and give support to others as we walk out this journey. I agree that if your daughter is able to express her emotions with you that she does feel safe and it is a very good thing for her to do.I have been learning a lot about inner healing and how integrated our body, soul and spirit are and how each affects the other. Many times we believe lies that we actually live out of and when we are able to identify those lies and replace with truth we start the healing process.Having faith in the love of God and His acceptance can carry us through the fiercest storm. I will stay in touch if you find this to be helpful. Hope is the anchor for our souls.

2Joy2love
peace

Edinburgh, thank you for your encouragement and advice and for your prayers. Birdee22 thank you for your prayers and concern and for having your mom write to me.
We have been in crisis mode, and I was getting so caught up again in the choices my daughter was making, I have been praying for peace, my own inner peace, and I have been given this wonderful gift. I have decided that I need to find joy and peace even if my daughter is not choosing the best choices, I have 5 other kids who want to spend time with me, who need me, I want to spend time with them before they grow up and leave the house. I want to have fun with them and to give them the time and the attention they need and want. I cannot get so distracted with one child and weaken my marriage or the bonds I have with my other kids. I have always wanted to be a mom and I want to enjoy being a mom to create great memories, to have fun together, to help prepare them for adulthood, to have them know that they are important to me. and that I love them, and that I care about their dreams, their struggles, that I just want to be with them.
As I have been focusing more on my relationships with my husband and my other kids, I have had so much joy and peace. I am more relaxed and can think more clearly, I am laughing more and I am a lot less stressed. The crisis has not really decreased, just how I am handling it and asking God for inner peace, which He is given me. I also just feel that when I need to make decisions that God will help me, and I don't have to fret and stew about them, in the end it is my daughter's choice. I now know that whatever she chooses, I will still be okay and so will the rest of my family.

edinburgh
Hope again!

Yes, I have to focus on hope every day. I love what you are doing. Enjoying the family that God has blessed you with. It is so important on every level and you are giving a message to your daughter that you matter. It is normal for the one who is caught up in the illness to forget about the needs of others. I have a special love for our daughter who has been reaching out to you. She has an incredibly beautiful heart. With that depth also comes the capacity to hurt deeply as well. It is such a joy to see her changing like a beautiful rose bud that is opening to be who she was created to be. I have always believed that love conquers all. No matter what that love looks like it will win in the end. I encourage you to rest in your faith in Him. Be filled with the peace that passes understanding and continue to have hope that your daughter will begin to make healthy choices. With the school year being near to the end I hope that you can make some wonderful memories with your family and truly experience the joy that your soul longs for. You have a huge Mama's heart and I am sure that you love well. Sweet dreams. I found peace by putting my girls in a "Moses" basket and trusting that God would take care of them. I trust that you are finding that peace as well. Love and blessings.....

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akvalkyrie
self harm and ED

I think this is a way to "feel" against the numbing effects of trauma. It sounds like your child has a lot of support but I wonder if you have considered a replacement behavior. I have seen it work with some girls. One girl I worked with chose to put ice packs on her arm as a replacement for cutting. It was a socially acceptable way for her to "feel" the pain. This strategy allowed her to eventually extinguish that urge to cut. Her final replacement behavior was poetry. She ended up publishing a book about her traumas. Very healing and accepting way to acknowledge her pains. Maybe this would work? Maybe ask your daughter what might work for her. It is amazing the personal insight when given the opportunity to make her own choices.

2Joy2love
thank you

I want to thank you for your advice, love, encouragement and prayers. She is doing better this week. I think that the inner peace I had helped her She needs to have additional therapy each week, I have gotten that set up and I feel good about it. Thank you for the suggestion about the ice. We have been trying to have her try alternatives, she did come up with some things, so we will see how it goes.
She has been hanging out with friends and also had three days of with a youth program with our church, which was great for her, she really put forth effort to connect with people and to have fun.
Birdee22, I am glad that you were able to talk to your mom the other night. I hope things are going well. I will pray for both of you

2Joy2love
update

Just wanted you all to know, that my daughter is really making progress. She is doing so much better. Thank you all for your support and prayers. I know that we will still have rocky days, but I have decided to enjoy the triumphs she has each day. To see her enjoy life more, to find herself, and to enjoy the trust I am having in her.