National Eating Disorders Association

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Fiancé ED is getting worse with therapy

This is my first post on the forum as I am new to ED support. My fiancé admitted this summer that she has an ED and we sought professional help shortly after. She has been in therapy for 3 months, and is also seeing a nutritionist.

Long story short, I feel things are spiraling and getting worse since starting therapy. It almost seems to me as if it is some type of withdrawal, similar to how a drug addict would spiral. Is it normal to continue going down this path after 3 months?

My advice to her is to stick with the treatment and I am constantly supportive, even as her behaviors continue in front of my eyes. She goes to all the appointments but has seemed to fallen off the track in terms of commitment to the plan. I think the next step is for me to sit down with her and her therapist.

She has a highly demanding job which consumes her mental energy and causes much stress. I am hoping to not go this route, but I fear she may have to quit in order to save her mental state. We are also getting married this coming year and I fear if we cannot improve, the marriage may need to be postponed for the sake of her health.

How do I keep her on track with treatment habits without being perceived as controlling or aggressive?
How should I react when I witness her fall off track (happens at least once a day, once a day is considered a "good" day in my mind)?

Getting better, getting worse.

Hey Thgil,

One thing about therapy : people can start to face issues that they've never had to face before. Or that they've avoided facing. Issues that don't necessarily have to do with their ED, but which are important ones nones none the less. This can cause a lot of stress, because it's not like "Now I understand my issue, so now I'm fine." Often it's OK, here's my issue, and it's important, but how in the world am I supposed to feel better about it ? What am I supposed to do to reduce it's influence on me ?

These sorts of thoughts can be really stressful, or make a person feel like they're not really in control of their life. Which often means they feel worse rather than better. Particularly at the beginning of therapy.
And what to people with EDs turn to, to feel more in control of things ? Their ED habits and rituals. Which can seem like the only thing in their life that helps them feel in control.
So what can you do ? As you said, it's tempting to try and control the situation, but I guess you've seen how well that works.
My sense is that it helps to try and put yourself in her shoes. "I can imagine that things at work must be stressful. " "It must feel like things are out of control." " I know it can be hard to like yourself sometimes." What I mean is, often the person feels better if they can believe that the other person understands what they are going through.
It's also likely that she worries that she's not really getting better. That may be a touchy subject, but it may be another of the worries she has. " I know it may feel like you don't want to recover." Which is often the case with people too. And not really something you can blame them for, if their EDs are still fulfilling certain emotional roles for them.
One other thing - It can be difficult for them to take the sorts of risks that recovery involves. Which is another legitimate issue for them. Because EDs are about a lot more things than just eating., even if those issues are played out on the stage of food.
I'm sorry if none of this seemed very helpful. We'd love for there to be something that we could do, that would help fix the other person.
Fixing may be out of our hands, but support can make a difference I think, if we can figure out what actually feels supportive to them.