National Eating Disorders Association

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trever_ray
I need help with my wife who purges

Some background:
My wife has severe anxiety and has battled with her demons since before we met. After the birth of our second child her disease has come back in a new way. She purges after eating but not to deal with weight. It is her coping skill to deal with her anxiety. I want to help her and have been doing a pretty bad job since she opened up to me. We have had several fights that are triggered by me finding her hiding things from me. I really need help as I am so lost and my world has been turned inside out because of all of this. She is seeking help but I need help. Someone please help me.

BobJ48
Hey Trever

Ugh, I'm sorry you guys had those fights. I'm sure that it's nothing that either of you wanted. But yeah, EDs can be like you said -A way that people deal with anxiety.

Perhaps they didn't start out that way. In the beginning people can worry about weight gain, and purging gives them a sense of control. As time goes by, this mental association between purging and control grows stronger and can really start to etch itself into a person's brain.

After a while, that's pretty much it - when the person begins to feel uncertain, and a lack of control in their lives… I guess you've seen what can happen. Those old associations with purging pop up again. Almost like the person has no control over it.

People who purge often feel shame about it, so it's probably no surprise that she's hid things from you. People feel shame, which often feels like a lack of control - Perhaps you can see where this is going. Things can start to snowball alright.

It's good that she is seeking help, but we can feel helpless and in need of help too. Many guys get help of their own.

I'm sorry your note sat here for a while, but if you see this I hope you'll keep writing.

Bob J.

trever_ray
Updating

My wife has been seeking help and trying to get better. We went through a phase of very good communication where she was talking to me and very open. More recently she has closed back off. She says her therapist is the one who recommend she do this. But then she makes me feel bad when she tells me by saying things like I didnt know if you could handle knowing.
Now that everything is in the open I notice more than I used to but she makes me feel crazy for noticing these things and then will tell me days after that she has purged. I dont know what to do. She has stopped trusting me and no longer comes to me for help. I feel like we are back to square one. She keeps things from me and is going from doing well to not doing well and just not telling me.

BobJ48
Progress ?

Trever,

It's good to hear that your wife is seeking help. Granted, who knows what the effects will be, but whatever the case it sounds like a positive step to me.

"...We went through a phase of very good communication where she was talking to me and very open. More recently she has closed back off. She says her therapist is the one who recommend she do this…"

Um... I'm not sure how much I would believe this. Without some sort of better explanation I mean. At the same time, I don't think anything would be served by getting into an argument with her about this, even though it sounds pretty strange to me.

" then she makes me feel bad when she tells me by saying things like "I didnt know if you could handle knowing."

Well yeah. Maybe she thinks there are things that you just would not understand. Perhaps that is how she feels. Alternatively, it's possible that she feels like she could not provide a good explanation herself. It can be that way with EDs - People do things which even they cannot quite understand or can't make sound logical. It's probably OK for her to keep those thing private for the time being, until she's found better resolution for them. If she says "You just would not understand" I'd try to not take it too personally, even though it's hurtful to hear I know.

"Now that everything is in the open I notice more than I used to ,but she makes me feel crazy for noticing these things, and then will tell me days after that she has purged."

Yes, things can get to a point where we find ourselves picking up on a certain vibe alright. But like you said, what can we do ? If they actually have purged, it's usually a sign that something has caused them to feel anxious, so if you feel a need to react, it would be better to ask about that end of things, rather than to ask about purging, you know ? If she will allow you to ask about anything, that is.

" She has stopped trusting me and no longer comes to me for help. I feel like we are back to square one. She keeps things from me and is going from doing well to not doing well and just not telling me."

Here's one thing to keep in mind : When people start therapy, often in the beginning it can it seem like they get worse rather than getting better. The reason for this is that now they are beginning to confront things which they may have keep swept under the rug in the past. A process which can be unsettling, and bring about a lot of mental uncertainty. In the past she may have known just what she thinks, but now she may not know what she thinks at all. It may seem like she no longer trusts you, but I'd not be too sure about that. She may be one of those people who were used to being sure about everything, but now that she's not…she keeps her distance.

The general consensus is that for ourselves, our best stance is to appear calm, supportive and unflappable. As some parents once said "Like a Redwood tree". The winds blow and the rains come, but we stay steady. A stance which may involve some faking on our part it's true, but is *much* better than seeming like we're being harmed by all this, or like we are freaking out a little ourselves.

Keep writing ?

Bob J.