National Eating Disorders Association

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Mothman
I'm not sure how to help my sister

My sister told me nearly a year ago at like 3 am that she had been choosing not to eat for periods of time.

That night I talked to her about going to see a therapist, and she told me that she wouldn't be opposed to it, she just did nOT want my mom to know why see was seeing a therapist.

I told her that I would tell my mom she wanted to see someone for her social anxiety, and she agreed.

I told our mom, very carefully, a few days later because I felt it was something necessary for her to know since I had been planning to move out shortly after. I told her that as far as my sister knows, she cant know, but I wanted to be sure someone in the house was aware.

Long story short I didnt end up moving out, so now I still live with her. We share a room, and we recently moved to a new state. Shes not seeing a therapist anymore because of that, and she said she refuses to see another one because her last one wasn't a good fit for her.

So that was the extent of it as far as I knew until a few days ago. I thought therapy and other stuff had been helping, at least a little, but I was..not correct in my assumptions.

A few days ago we were talking at around 4 am, both of us drunk on sleep deprivation and being silly and dumb and laughing. When we were talking, I touched her leg because she had been pointing out something on it and then she panicked and broke down crying.

I just kind of sat there because she hates people to talk to her or go near her when she panics or cries, and after a few minutes she calmed out and wiped her face and was like "I'm fine"

A few days later we went shopping and she opened up to me about it, and told me things that I hadn't been aware of before. She told me that at a time she had been restricting, and that she'd fainted several times when no one was home during that period. She started eating more after she had fainted a few times, but even up until now shes still counting calories and wants to work down to a lower number.

There's other things she talked about, like skipping dinner every other night, or how eating gives her panic attacks and I just like....

I don't know that there's any way I can help her without losing her trust...and I think that's more dangerous...because at least right now she'll talk to me...

We went around and bought some healthier foods that she'll eat (she's had sensory issues her whole life and cant handle eating certain foods due to texture) because I want her to be eating /something/ without her feeling horrible all the time. I asked her if we could make a deal that she'd eat more (and I could help her put together meals and stuff) if I would be willing to do workouts (mostly stuff like yoga) with her because I know shes concerned about losing weight but I feel like doing a daily, light workout would be...I dunno....safer?

I'm lost on what to do. I can't be forceful about it because that never works. I cant make it clear to her that I'm worried about her because then she'll just hide it better. I have to make some sort of compromise because I'm the only one who is supposed to know...so I'm the only one who she'll even listen to at all.

Our mother doesn't know about the newer things, and I don't know that I should tell her. She was willing to not go crazy the first time because as far as we knew it wasn't to a dangerous extent and she was going to therapy...but now it's a much different situation - we don't even have a doctor here at the moment.

I know this post is all over the place, so I apologize, but I'm just....lost on what I can do.

_admin_moderator
Hey mothman, thanks for your

Hey mothman, thanks for your post. We edited the post to remove calorie numbers which could be triggering for other users. You can review our community guidelines here. Thanks, and keep posting!

BobJ48
Mothman.

Ugh, EDs are really difficult matters. Difficult for the person who has them, and as you are seeing, difficult for those who care about them too. If there were magic words we could say, everyone would know about them now. So it's just a tough thing all around, and part of our task is to try and tease out the positive bits, and see them as such. And then see what we can do from there.

You wrote :

"A few days later we went shopping and she opened up to me about it, and told me things that I hadn't been aware of before. She told me that at a time she had been restricting, and that she'd fainted several times when no one was home during that period. She started eating more after she had fainted a few times, but even up until now shes still counting calories and wants to work down to a lower number. "

So there's one of the positive things. For whatever reason she chose to tell you about some matters that concerned her. It's a big step when people can begin to recognize those things, and an even bigger step to admit them to someone. So really, there's one important step that she's taken. Even if it ends up with the "I'm fine" thing.

" I'm lost on what to do. I can't be forceful about it because that never works. I cant make it clear to her that I'm worried about her because then she'll just hide it better. "

Well yes, she may try and hide it. But the thing is…you already know. So that's how I'd approach it if I were you : You already know the truth of the matter, and probably should resist acting as though there's something she can successfully say to dissuade you from thinking that it's not happening. Because you do know. And that's because she took the risk to tell you herself. Which was brave of her, you know ?

And it was brave, so I think it's OK for you to acknowledge that fact when the two of you talk.

Because if she's going to get better, she's going to need to continue to be brave. And I think that that's something you can legitimately continue to encourage.

Anyhow, just some thoughts. I hope you'll continue to keep writing, if it seems to help a bit ?

Bob J.

_admin_moderator
Dear Mothman, you mentioned

Dear Mothman, you mentioned that your sisted fainted a few times. Fainting is a sign of a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if you:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

We recommend that your sister seeks medical attention as soon as possible. 

Mothman
As far as I am aware and

As far as I am aware and according to what she has said, she had fainted a few times but that was around a year ago. As far as I know currently, that's not been a problem for a while as I've been with her most of the time for the past several months.

I would like for her to get some medical help but at the current moment, we cannot easily access a doctor since we do not have insurance in the state we've moved to, nor do we have a primary care physician or therapists/psychiatrists to go to. That, in the wake of covid19, makes it difficult to get very far in that regard, but I have been talking to her about it somewhat.

We've compiled a list of foods that she likes and that don't stress her out, and were going shopping for food for the next few weeks tomorrow, so I'm hoping to be able to get some things for her.

She ate a few snacks we had laying around today so I know shes still eating something.

As for what Bob said, I think you're right in some regards but in other regards its...less simple. My sister has trouble feeling empathetic toward other people most of the time. We've been told by doctors and therapists she may be on the autism spectrum or have something in a related circle but she hasn't been diagnosed. My other sibling is autistic, as is my grandmother so it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

That being said though, her lack of empathy for other people at times makes me think that she would likely not...be entirely affected no matter what I did. I cant pull at the empathy of someone who can ignore it, yknow?

To a point I've been able to get to that side of her, and I think it...bothers her that I'm concerned for her? But if I make it a bigger deal I've seen her switch it off before and in sure she could do it again.

I'm walking the thin line currently of expressing my concern when were talking about it, but also of keeping up the joking relationship we've always had to avoid it getting too serious and her clamming up. And it's worked to an extent. She's willing to talk about it more often, on a daily-dish basis, and doesn't avoid it, so I'm hoping that I can start to be an actual help.

Mothman
So, she has been eating the

So, she has been eating the past few days, not a whole lot. I've informed my mom in some aspects, basically just telling her she should also keep an eye on her, making sure that she knows to make a point to buy food that she enjoys and to prepare things for her if she decides not to. I would like to see about getting to see a doctor sooner rather than later, and I'd also like to have a conversation with some of the psychologists we've seen but neither are really much an option right now with covid.

I'm worried about her, obviously, and I think about it all the time... But it's hard to say if I'm overreacting to the things I currently know due to anxiety, or if I'm reacting exactly as I should be.

It is 5 am at the moment so that could also be affecting my ability to think entirely rationally, ha.

BobJ48
Hey Moth

Yes, I can see where autism could complicate things. The other board that I'm on has a section for people with autism related conditions, and they can definitely have EDs. I'm not very experienced in that area, but I imagine it can influence things.

You wrote :

"I'm walking the thin line currently of expressing my concern when were talking about it, but also of keeping up the joking relationship we've always had to avoid it getting too serious and her clamming up. And it's worked to an extent. She's willing to talk about it more often, on a daily-dish basis, and doesn't avoid it, so I'm hoping that I can start to be an actual help."

Yeah, you are definitely on the right track with your approach I think. People aren't want to going to talk about it if they see us getting upset or freaking out. At the same time, you continue to show that you believe it's a matter of important concern. As you said, it's a delicate mix sometimes, but the fact that you can retain the part where you both know that you are friends is incredibly important I think. That's the part that makes things feel safe, I think.

As far as helping, just that she has someone to talk to…that counts as important helping right there, and maybe what our best role really is. So I hope you can feel like you are "doing something" already. Because if she can talk to you, then you are, I believe.

Bob J

Mothman
Thank you

I am hoping that, once quarantine is over and everything isn't so hectic out in the world, that even if she won't go see a therapist, i will be able to talk to mine and get advice from someone close to the situation.

That being said, this forum has helped incredibly not only to soothe the constant worry, but also to help me know that what I'm doing may actually be of benefit and isn't just me making light of the problem or...whatever.

If anything changes I'll likely post again, especially if she tells me something or we're still unable to see any doctors or therapists, but for now I'm going to try and keep doing what I've been doing and hoping I can be of some help to her.

When it comes down to it i know i cant just do something to fix it, and shes going to have to come to terms with the fact that she cant continue on with this...but i think the fact that she recognizes that it's a problem is a good enough start...even if that's not stopping her.

Thanks again to everyone. Hopefully my next post will be on the lighter side of this.