National Eating Disorders Association

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dumbdad
Daughter in recovery, distraught over weight gain

Been quite a while since I've posted on here. My now 18 year old daughter struggled with anorexia, has been doing very well in recovery for over 2 years. She is currently out of the country on an extended mission trip. She has had lots of anxiety while away on this trip. Recently her anxiety has been focused on how much weight she has gained (which is real, and not distorted by her). It has been very difficult for my wife and myself trying to work through her issues with her from half way around the world. We are struggling with how to talk to her about her weight gain, without possibly enabling her falling back into her ED. She has said some worrisome thing along the lines of being angry with us for making gain weight while she was sick, because then she was at least in control, and now she feels like she has no self-control and no will-power when it comes to food. She says she is over-eating, particularly late at night, and making unhealthy choices (junk food, sweets etc)when she does it. Trying to talk to her about without inadvertently enabling her disorder is tricky. Any suggestions on how to deal with these issues?

iwanttolive
dumbdad

Hello and welcome back. I am sorry for your daughters continued battle with the eating disorder. it is not uncommon for people who had anorexia to binge eat as part of the recovery process, unfortunately. It can be very scary and overwhelming. As far as her blaming you for "making" her gain weight during the refeeding, that may be her way of not owning the need for the weight gain and blaming someone, anyone, you, for the weight gain takes the responsibility off of her and then she doesn't have to accept that she had any part in it and that is satisfying the eating disorder. She is not able to cope with the fact that she gained the weight, and now she is gaining more and is scared. She is in a foreign country and may not have support. I know you are worried about saying the wrong thing, fearful of her turning back to the restricting. It must be very difficult. Perhaps you can just listen to her. Let her know you are there for her. That you don't judge her. That you are praying for her. Ask her how you can help her, what does she need from you. Ask her what she thinks is going on? How much longer will she be away? Will she resume therapy when she gets back? It seems that she may need that, but I do not know and can not give advice, so I am just thinking out loud as to what may help her. If she says she has gained so much weight, I would just support her with I understand that must be difficult. If she asks for specific input then she is giving you the permission to say more. But just for her to know that you are there, that you love her no matter what, that you are there to listen, that means so much, for me anyways. Sometimes I don't want any answers. I just want a listening ear. A hug. Someone to say I understand.

I hope this helps some. Again eating disorders take a long time to recover from and it is not uncommon to switch from one to the other. Especially with anorexia. The body is deprived for so long that binging often starts one for the body just to get food, but then the deprivation causes the brain to want more food than the body needs. There is a lot to it. It is as complicated as it is simple. I hope you find the support and help you need for yourselves and for your daughter. I am glad you posted. It was good hearing from you even though things are rough right now for you. We are here for you and hope you let us know how things go. Take care,

iwanttolive and I am

dumbdad
thanks so much for your reply

thanks so much for your reply. She is scheduled to be there until mid June. She has wanted to come home, due to being unhappy with her weight gain and other anxiety related issues. We are reluctant to do so, because we don't think coming home will solve any of her problems, and she will be more upset with herself if she doesn't fulfill her commitment. In hindsight, it was probably not a wise decision to allow her to go, but she had been doing so well and worked so hard to be able to go on this mission - graduated early and raised a good bit of the $$ on her own. She will definitely be in therapy upon her return, and we will delay her leaving for college (scheduled for August) until we are comfortable that she can handle being away and on her own.

dumbdad
just realized I mis-read

just realized I mis-read partners and parents. Thanks for the info and I'll repost in the proper forum.