National Eating Disorders Association

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Not sure what to do

My husband has had memory issues since before his ED. At one point he was gorging until he became obese. Then suddenly he switched to restricting. We've been complaining to his doctors about his memory issues for 9 years and they are finally listening to us and are sending him to a neurologist and neuropsychologist tomorrow.

I suspect that there is an underlying cause for dementia. His father had it and his sister has Alzheimer's. But I also suspect that malnutrition is also part of the equation. My husband will not admit to restricting and denies that he is doing anything unhealthy. It causes a fight if I bring it up, and I have taken the attitude that it is his body and his right to mistreat it, and it is he who will suffer the consequences and I have to give him the dignity to deal with all this himself. I have my own issues to deal with.

So, having said all of this, I was instructed to attend this medical meeting/testing tomorrow. I know that my husband will not bring up his ED and will deny it if it is brought up. I have typed up a note outlining the restrictive eating, which I can try to find a way to get to his doctor to read. What should I do? Should I let the doctor just focus finding the cause for the dementia? It is in his family, so this isn't a result of ED. Or, should I pass the note to someone to get to the doctor which mentions the restrictive eating? I don't want to bring it up in front of my husband because I don't want to deal with his nastiness any more.

Frankly, even if I bring it up to a doctor, I doubt my husband will do anything about his ED until he is good and ready... if that time should ever come. So, it would probably be all in vain anyway.

What are your thoughts?

Info for Doctor

Hey Ditto,

Oh brother, who knows. I guess part of it might have to do with what the doctors see as the point of the meeting. Do they simply want to confirm that he does indeed have memory issues, do they want to try and figure out where they might be coming from, are they going to propose a treatment plan, or what ? One would think they would want to do all three, but you know how these sorts of things can go.

It probably would not hurt to inform the docs, but if you did, would that mean that they would want to confront him about it ? My sense is that unless he admits to it, or he looks like death warmed over, then they may not press him on the matter. After all, he's been having these memory issues for 9 years, and unless he's been restricting for that long too, they may dismiss the eating end of things.

It's probably going to have to do with the doctors, and how eager they are to consider issues outside the standard neurological ones. Even if they take what you wrote seriously, they may see themselves strictly as neurological guys, and not doctors that deal with psychiatric matters.

But yes, getting someone professionally interested in an ED is not always easy, particularly if the client themselves doesn't see it as an issue, and might even openly deny it, if they were asked about it directly. Sometimes even young women have a difficult time getting doctors to pay attention, even when they come right out and tell their doctors that they are having problems.

So once again, it's another one of the frustrations that EDs so often involve, in that any forward motion on the issue is probably going to depend on your husband himself being willing to acknowledge the situation first, if at some point doctors or therapists are going to be involved.

Thank you

It makes me feel sooo much better to know that someone understands the frustration of trying to get a doctor to understand what an ED entails and means, especially when we are talking about a male, and I am an "hysterical woman seeing boogeymen around corners". So, I did bring it up, just because there was an opening and I thought perhaps it might be worth mentioning.

To give my husband his due, he did not dispute that he isn't eating enough, or that he is consumed by thoughts of calories fat, and body image. He did deny that this is meaningful or problematic, and he did infer that perhaps I have issues which need to be addressed.

So, off I was whisked to take a psychological evaluation to see if I am depressed. No, I am not depressed, but for the moment I am angry. My husband feels it is nice to see them taking a whole family approach to his memory issues. They also kept referring to me as his "caregiver" and I kept correcting them that I am his spouse.

I remind myself again that this is not my problem, that I must give him the respect to deal with his body and his issues in his own way, that I am far from perfect.

Meanwhile, he has an MRI and lab work scheduled for this week. Next month we get to hear the results of all these tests and their plan of action for his memory issues. And, this is the first time in 10 years that my husband has said he believes something is wrong with his memory and is not accusing me of "gaslighting" him.

Coming to terms ?


Yes, it does sound like progress, so that's something. And perhaps it will lead to further discussion.

But as you said, my sense is that it will be up to him to decide how seriously he wants to take things. Or if he decides they are problems at all.

Edited Your Post

Hi Ditto - your post had to be edited because you included a diet specific, which is not allowed as per our Community Guidelines: Take care, and we hope your husband gets the care he needs. Please continue posting!