National Eating Disorders Association

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Rodgers12
Does she really know?

Hello again,

She has been always open about having anorexia, before I knew what that meant (the thousand things hidden behind the wrong assumptions). But I see that she is in denial about how much this disease is kidnapping her mind, the disease, and the malnutrition itself. I see patterns of behavior in her that are common for other people with EDs, but she refuses to see they are related.

She wants to be in control about what anorexia does to her, and what she would admit about it, no surprise there.

She wants to be alone because that's how she is, she hates people, because that's how she is. She's lost her kind self, because she had enough of being a doormat. She hates sex, because this or that... Almost everything but the not-eating, has a different cause and it's not influenced by her disease. That what she thinks, or what she admits to think.

I find more and more that the food is just one of the issues. The most visible and characteristic one. But I think the self destruction and the justification for that is the center of the disease. I mean, the disease is something that ultimately wants to kill the person, and it will fight anything that makes them want to live, and it will find justifications for hating it. Every really complicated thing about anorexia can be explained ultimately by this simple thing, *it wants you to die*. We don't like to be scared, we don't like to talk about death, but everybody should know that's how serious this is, I think.

The same way that even water weight causes them an uncontrollable urge to get rid of that weight, even when they perfectly know that is going to go. They "are told" to fight hope, love, help... They don't measure only weight by the standards of the disease, they measure their entire life against this standard, they only feel worth it, they only feel "good enough" when they are "good anorexics", not only thin enough, or disciplined enough, the whole value as a person depends on this. Am I wrong?

It will use everything from imaginary to real, to show you it is right. To show you a hundred reasons to hate your life, and to not trust any one that could help you. I've heard it from her and from other people: "intrusive thoughts", my GF doesn't know where they come from, things she doesn't want to think, but can't help it. And she refuses to think they come from "her friend", because they are not related to food or body image. But they make her want to run or even die to stop thinking those things.

It is said that most people with an ED have other problems to deal with, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder... But this sounds like our occidental way of looking at diseases, as unrelated things, when if we looked at it with holistic eyes, as Chinese medicine, for example, would do, it may all be part of the same thing. It is part of the same person all right. We try to find out what was first, and if one thing caused the other. But I feel it's more like a circle, everything influencing everything in a very complex web.

Well, the case in point is that she wants to fix her mood swings, her depression, her will to live... And all of that is great, bearing in mind she didn't for a while. But she wants to keep her ED, and she would run the opposite way if she suspects they are trying to fix that.

But I guess that in that complex web, if we take away one node, it debilitates the whole web. If we beat depression, it will help the OCD and the ED, or vice versa. But we can't fool us thinking the ED is not gonna fight against us fighting depression, if you know what I mean.

BobJ48
ED thinking.

Rogers,

No kidding : This stuff is way more complicated than most of the public thinks it is. As you are seeing, trying to make sense of it, and trying to untangle all of the various threads can engage our thinking for sure.

"they only feel "good enough" when they are "good anorexics", not only thin enough, or disciplined enough, the whole value as a person depends on this. Am I wrong? "

EDs can really narrow down a person's ability to properly assess themselves as people. You and I ( if we are healthy ) are able to assess ourselves based on any number of our personal qualities, and have some faith in those assessments. But it's like people in the thrall of their EDs loose the ability to trust any of those other aspects of themselves. Or even see them, it seems. Things become very black and white for them, particularly the "good enough" thing, in just the manner you mentioned.

"...I've heard it from her and from other people: "intrusive thoughts", my GF doesn't know where they come from, things she doesn't want to think, but can't help it…"

Yep, "intrusive thoughts" are something all of us can suffer from at certain times in our lives. They just seem to pop up out of nowhere, generally carrying old toxic messages that repeat over and over again. I've had them before myself, and they are usually a result of stress, or more often a result of finding myself in a situation where a lot of obligations are weighing on my mind that somehow I can't seem to get myself to do. It's almost like you wish you had a flyswatter, and could swat the damn things, because of their ugly nature and the distraction they cause.

"... case in point is that she wants to fix her mood swings, her depression, her will to live... And all of that is great, bearing in mind she didn't for a while. "

No kidding, this is progress, and a sign that she may be moving on to another stage of her ED. One would think that these things would be something they would be concerned about right from the start, but often they are so taken up in the other aspects of their ED that things like depression and mood swings, and even suicidal thinking are almost just sort of glossed over. The fact that she is now beginning to realize that these things are getting in the way of her life in some pretty serious ways…that's progress I think, and probably counts as moving into another one of the stages of having an ED.

" But she wants to keep her ED, and she would run the opposite way if she suspects they are trying to fix that."

Yes, that's the control thing again I believe. She sees the need to take chances, but the thought of letting go of control is emotionally intolerable. Which is understandable - If you or I were asked to undertake some sort of really dangerous thing, we certainly would wish to retain some feelings of control too.

So they have that part to fight against for sure.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
Very dark day

Hi,

Lovetowrite81 asked for an update. Today's horrible. I've run out of words to get her to keep trying to live. She doesn't want to, she can't picture herself happy, she thinks she's toxic to her kids...

I got her to talk about it,but everything was black, despair and self deprecation. And she changed from, "I won't take one more day like this, not one more", to "the kids will end this school year, then it's over". She gets on this mood every few weeks, and she can't get out, and she's a danger to herself. She has thought about suicide often most of her life, and she can't take it anymore. When she's ok she is in fear of getting back to that. She sees herself as not fit to live this life, she says she's wired wrong.

She has an appointment with a psychiatrist tomorrow. She doesn't want to live medicated, but I hope they convince her to try something.

I need a miracle, please, those of you who pray, say a prayer for her.

BobJ48
Dark Thoughts.

Rogers,

Yeah, things like this are scary alright. Once people have been in their EDs for a while, their depression can get really intense, and suicidal thoughts can become pretty common.

Still, your GF does have people to live for, and often it's that part that keeps them from carrying out their plans.

But yeah, there's the impulsive part too, and that can make things pretty dangerous.

" When she's ok she is in fear of getting back to that. "

That's a good sign I think. That she has periods where she understands that this really isn't the step she wants to take. And that she knows that these are indeed the feelings she has when she's in her better mind.

The fact that these feelings come in waves and episodes is notable though. There are kinds of bipolar disorder where the person only experiences the downs, and not the ups. It can seem like normal depression, but it's the on and off part that sets it apart from that I guess.

Hopefully she will mention that aspect in her appointment tomorrow. While meds aren't always the answer, they can indeed really help some people, so they are worth giving a try I think, particularly when people seem close to the end of their rope.

Once again, it's the "being willing to take a risk" thing, and that's something you may want to go with, when you get the chance to talk with her about this.

( It's like the person arrives at the Pearly Gates, and St Peter says " I know you felt bad, but did you try everything ?" Boy, they *really* don't want to find themselves saying : ."Well... not exactly". Particularly if they've left loved ones behind. )

lovetowrite81
Rodgers12

Hi Rodgers12,

Thank you for updating us. I am so sorry to hear that things have been so hard for you and your girlfriend. I can't imagine how scary and hard that must be. Just mainly wanted to say we are here for you and care about you. Please keep us posted. I will be praying for ya'll <3

-Lovetowrite81

Adage
Hey Rodgers12

Hey Rodgers12
Those thoughts of hers are disconcerting.
I'm going to leave this here just in case you think she needs to call or you need to call on her behalf:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
I am glad, however, to hear that she has that appointment. It may be that she has a psychological ailment which can be treated with medication. And I'm sure her children would rather she live a life with medication than none at all.
Best of luck.
I really do hope things turn out well.

- Adage

Rodgers12
We're still here

She seems to be a bit better, but her mood is very delicate. Of course I thought about calling, she wouldn't. She doesn't want anyone to change her mind.

She's going through a very tense moment with her life, she had a couple of tough blows right after Xmas. And her anxiety is through the roof. She's purging again, and it had been months without it.

Her appointment was postponed, because the doctor had to give a lecture. So no meds for a couple of weeks more. I'm gonna need them too, if it keeps on like this.

Well, just touching base so you know we are not gone.

Rodgers12
holding my breath...

A couple of days ago I asked her: 'Do you wonder sometimes why do you NEED to be that thin?' And yesterday she told me that has been stuck in her mind since. And that triggered a moment of clarity where she contemplated recovery, then fear kicked back, and she repeated many times "What am I gonna do?" As in "If I don't have this goal in my life, I have nothing". She was crying and very scared, but she hugged me and thank me many times for being by her side.

Around midnight she texted me to thank me again and to tell me she loves me, even if she doesn't say it too often, and she doesn't show it. She told me she does think about recovery, but even if she would do anything for me or the kids, recovery has to be for herself or she would relapse to an even worse state. But assured me she does think about recovery.

I don't want to feel false hope, I try to keep the same attitude on good or bad days, but I wanted to share it with you.

lovetowrite81
Rodgers12

Hi Rodgers12,

This does definitely seem like a positive step forward-- that at least recovery is on her mind. I'm glad you were able to have that interaction and you continue to show over & over your dedication to supporting her.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Keep us posted :) Praying for you both !

-Lovetowrite81

BobJ48
"It's the only thing I have"

Rogers,

"...and she repeated many times "What am I gonna do?" As in "If I don't have this goal in my life, I have nothing". She was crying and very scared…"

I can't tell you how many variations on this that I hear this : "It's the only thing that I have." Which on the one hand is a reflection of the central role an ED can take in their lives, while on the other hand showing how much they have lost.

And it's the things that they've lost that they will often reflect on : Friends, hobbies, and many of the things they once were passionate about. I suspect it can take a while before they begin to realize how much fuller their lives used to be before ED really got it's claws into them. But it's a realization that in time comes to many of them.

This realization can be one of the reasons they begin to think about recovery. Not always so much because they feel the loss of those things at the moment, because often they just kind of feel numb. But more from an objective sense : They realize that it's simply not good for anyone to loose those sorts of important aspects of their life. Not just them, but for anyone.

So it's good to hear that she's wrestling with the idea of recovery, even if that *appears* to mean that she'll have nothing left.

People who have actually recovered…they will often talk about how much wider their lives have become, and how there's a lot more of the world out there for them now, now that their minds are no longer so preoccupied in the ways that it was, back when ED felt like the only thing they had.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
that's right

I just wish she made the connection. She knows she has lost all that,but she doesn't see that the ED is in part responsible for that. She thinks that is completely unrelated.

It is true that life has given her many blows, and she can blame them, and the people involved for the things she has lost. But she doesn't admit the deep and wide roots that the illness has in her life.

Whenever I told her I was happy or proud of her, for being able to do things the ED used to forbid,she was very hurt and stressed, and she assured me she wasn't going to recover, and that telling her that, was the worst thing I could say. But sometimes, even while being angry, she says "I'm not there...YET", "I can't think about recovery...YET"

I get more and more tired, so that adds to the difficulty of seeing progress.I don't want to feel confident about the good things and then crash the next day when she wants to die. I should be more optimist for the sake of us both, I try.

One day that she doesn't talk about dying is a victory, and I wish I could rest after that, but I can't. I don't know when I'm gonna upset her and she'll be mean to me, I don't feel welcome at my own house, while I am needed and I can't go somewhere else. I should be comforted by the children's love and admiration. But I have a barrier there, because these are her sons, and she would take them away if she leaves, as she thinks she'll do very often. So I can't get too attached to them. I care about them I lot and I would miss them. But it is hard to know what they are for me when her mother and I are not really a couple 99% of the time, and she doesn't see a future with me. Either she tells me we have no future (which she told me while we still were a proper couple), or she tells me she lives by the minute, and picturing the next day makes her want to jump out of the window. So it's been half a year since she would give me any hope for us as a couple, with a struggle every day.

There are some very small signs that she still loves me, that are drops in the ocean. I hope for a miracle, I live to fight another day, I don't dare to wish for a happy ending, I just try to keep the pieces of our present together.

Thanks for listening.

Rodgers12
Today I feel beaten.

Today I feel beaten.

I was away for 3 days to visit family, and she took badly all the changes. The change of me having days off from work and being home more, the change from that to leaving, and the change of me coming back. All of that stressed her a lot. I would think, if me being at home stresses her, then leaving will be a relief, but no. And if she misses me while I'm gone, then coming back will be something good, but wrong again. My coming back "home" was really sad, and coming to work again after holidays in that spirit, also very sad.

She is convinced she is bipolar, or something similar. She thinks this is not related to anorexia. And that small changes that people take well, are hell for her, and she knows it shouldn't be like that. She tells me she can't live like that, being scared of everyday simple things.

She goes to therapy in order to find out what's worng with her, but her anorexia is so alarming that doctors only want to talk about that. When you see her, you just want her to eat to save her life. I get that, she doesn't. I haven't seen her body in a while, but she showed me pics of her back, and I feel like crying everytime I remember them.

Then she tells me she wants to lose a significative amount in this month and I don't know what to tell her. I tell her she doesn't have anything to lose from. But she says the scale says she's gained, so she thinks she's fat. She has started to do some mild exercise, and she asked me to choose between exercise or purging, adding "not that I would listen to you". And she didn't get that was a hurtful and unfair question.

You know, and often she knows herself, that their gaining is not real weight, because they use the scale many times a day. But nonetheless it freaks them out, and they can't think straight after seeing that.

I hope it gets better, but today I'm completely lost.

BobJ48
Rough times.

Rogers,

I guess I don't have to tell you this, but when people get really thin, their thinking can suffer as a result. What I mean is, there are the ED thoughts of course, but on top of that there's the part about their brains being starved, and not functioning very well simply as a result of the starvation. It can be a scary thing to witness, for sure.

You mentioned that she was interested in losing even more weight this month. So yeah, not only is that idea alarming in itself, but the idea that they could even have that idea in the first place is frightening too. So I can certainly see why you are feeling the way that you are. It just seems like reason is of no use at all, and if we don't have reason, what does that leave us with ?

". But sometimes, even while being angry, she says "I'm not there...YET", "I can't think about recovery…YET"

One thing to be aware of though, when she talks about the weight loss : It's not really *being* thin that they are hooked on - it's *the process* of becoming thin that they are addicted to. This is why on the forums, when people finally reach their low goal weight, they invariably have to adjust it further down again. Because if they just settled in at whatever low weight they've reached, that would mean they would have to give up on the process of getting thinner. Which, as you've seen with your partner, is something they just can't give up.

Perhaps even she would agree that this was the case ? It's not about "Not being there yet", because when a person is addicted to the process of losing, no weight will ever be low enough.

For all the psychological associations they've built up over the years. The "good enough" thing, and the control thing. At one time those may have been goal-like choices and thoughts, but which can transform themselves into pathological drives over time.

Still, at some point reason may take over.

It probably would not hurt for her to understand this part. About "the process' being the thing, and that no weight will ever provide lasting satisfaction.

Not that this will be the cure or anything, but people with EDs, I do believe that their thinking can continue to evolve, even when things seem dire.

Bob J.

PS. Just to say, you've been providing some really insightful responses to people here. But yeah : even when one understands things, it doesn't always help us a lot with the feelings that we find ourselves having. Still, it does help some I think, and your partner is fortunate to have you because of that, even though she may not act like it makes much difference sometimes.

Rodgers12
thanks

Thanks a lot for still being there.

Today's been a better day for sure, it's a pity that I know better than to get my hopes up. I feel relief, but not joy.

It is scary to witness this thing with her brain, specially when it was her mind what made me fall in love with her. Having a high IQ is often more alienating than having a low one, and certainly more than having an average one. Same as being tall is great, but being too tall is a problem with many things in life. I happen to have a high one, and I'm dumb in so many ways. I felt alone and weird most of my life until I found her, who has a higher one than me, I think. It was like finding someone from my planet. I had had to be fake in order to fit, but then I could just be myself. And she, being in love, was distracted enough from all her issues to enjoy life, for a while.

So, one day she talks to me and she seems to understand everything and hates that she's not strong enough to face her fears. And the next day it seems that her mind is gone and replaced with a frightened teen. You have the person you love and admire the most in front of you, but at the same time, she's gone.

The hardest thing is when anorexic thoughts give way to suicidal and self hatred ones. She talks about herself as someone would about other wanting to be mean in the worst possible way, without any logic, or proof, or grasp of reality. Anyone listening would know that no, there is not a person in the world that deserves that description. But in that moment, she believes it. She had the curse of having people in her life who told her those things. People she loved, people that were close and with whom she had dropped her emotional guard. The pull of those people in her present life could be minimal, but they already live as "voices" in her head, as part of herself.

The YET thing, I meant it as positive. I guess it's not easy to find something positive in what I say. I meant that as opposed to "I'll never want to recover", "I can't think about it YET" is an improvement. I don't think that "yet" has to do with weight goals, but with her goal of keeping her depression at bay. And in general to the goal of gaining some control over her own life.

She is fully aware that the weight goal is just a carrot in front of her face. She knows the satisfaction is too ephemeral, but it's her biggest desire anyway. It's the only thing she knows will make her happy. And many times she hates everything surrounding that. She wishes she could be mad without the painful knowledge that her mind is not right.

Most days she tries to maintain, as a great effort for us, the kids and me. Most days she hates it and tells me she's not going to do it anymore and that she will start losing again. Then she tries again, or sometimes she sleepwalks and eats more than she planned. That used to freak her out, but lately she learned to accept it as a life or death call from her body. And the amount almost never qualifies as a binge. I'm proud that she almost gets to maintain, and that she tries, but I see that this delicate balance has her very anxious, because it doesn't give her the feeling of being in control all the time.

I feel that the pieces are there for reason to take over. We just need a win, because she's been losing so many times. A job, a way to free herself from some of her baggage, some good news... Something she could built on. I thought I could be that something, but knowing her past, a man won't be the starting point for her.

Thanks for saying I wrote some insightful things. Feedback from here often makes my day. Most of my knowledge and intuition comes from listening to her, and also seeing patterns that repeat themselves in other people's stories. Knowing does help, my internal dialogue
is less damaging, less about blame and guilt. I tell myself to wait without losing hope. I manage to not hurt her process or feelings much more than when I didn't understand, and because of that, I can feel better about myself. I take thing better. That doesn't stop her from walking towards death, so it is still devastating, and some days unbearable. But it gave me more tools, so doing my best is more than before, and I can hope that doing things better accounts for something.

I feel if I knew two years ago what I know today, I could have made a difference. That makes me sad, but at the same time it gives me hope to start steering towards that difference. I hope I'm not wrong, and I hope I have the energy to keep fighting. I often think about helping her as when lifeguards try to help someone and that someone fights back and may drown both of them. It is helping against their will, and with their fear fighting back.

So I try to "tell it like it is" to new people, because it should be stopped or at least slowed down before they reach the point my GF is. While I pray that it's not too late for her.

BobJ48
Bright people and EDs.

Rogers,

Yep, I know about the high IQ conundrum myself. It's like we're smart enough to know how stupid we are, or at least it seems that way sometimes. And yes, not always so easy to meet people like ourselves. So I can certainly see why you were attracted to her.

Maybe it's just one of the ED cliches, but it does seem like being intelligent is a often a risk factor for EDs. Hard to know exactly why that is, often it seems that way. Maybe they are trying to live up to the high standards they set for themselves. Perfectionism too - That may tie into it as well. I just know I've met a ton of really intelligent people as a result of my time in this area, more than I might have met in real life. It's a sad thing to see those folks trapped like this.

And what you said about she self-hate is so true. It's an ongoing theme on the forums. Everyone just hates themselves, in ways that they probably would admit that no other person deserves. Except themselves, that is.

Still, it's hard to pin them down about what the exact aspects of themselves are that justifies that sort of self-scorn. "I'm fat" simply isn't enough to deserve that sort of hate in my book. Maybe it's the lack of control thing. But at the same time, they are asking themselves to control parts of themselves that never were meant to be controlled in that way.

Still, they feel like they got it going on, once they start seeing success in restriction again.

So what kind of volunteer work might your GF do ? Not having meaningful work can make anyone question the level of control that they have in their life. She's able to exert control and self-discipline via restricting, so it might be good for her if she found that she could exert that same discipline when it comes to some sort of work ?

Just being alone with her thoughts…people can be all over the place when they find themselves in a place like that.

What you said about your role in all this : Someone needs to be calm, and present a steady and unflappable continence in all this, so being a "Steady Eddy" through all of the storms…I think that's something we can do to. Which means that we may have to fake it sometimes, but it's still the best stance to take I believe.

All this "what we can do" stuff - It's often quite subtle I think.

Bob J

Rodgers12
good week

I think I write too much. I hope no one gets offended.

I believe you need a lot of exposure to grasp the depth and complexity of this illness. That's why, I think, therapist often get it wrong, they work with very limited information. They listen for 30-40 minutes, but they don't know the person, they don't see them outside their office, they don't know the family and close ones, they haven't seen the evolution...

So I believe every testimony has it's value. I know I talk more about relationship than ED, but I feel that's also important in this part of the forum. I know the suffering of the partner first hand, and I also know the relief of getting some support and some ear that knows what you are going through.

So I wish everybody wrote more, I wish they kept us updated, and we could learn from each other's stories. But I see how much I post, and I think some people might think is too much. I don't want to scare people away.

We had the best week in ages, because she's in a good mood some parts of the day. Nothing big has changed, so she (we) is scared the bad moods can come back anytime. She has started writing and drawing, which are two of her talents. She feels she owes me a lot, so I asked her to pay me by doing what I want her to do, which is doing things for herself. That way she doesn't feel she's "wasting time on herself". I thought it wouldn't work, but she cried and thanked me.

Her writing might occupy her mind and take it out of her thoughts. She's her worst enemy/bully, so less of that means a lot of good. I can barely make ends meet with the 4 of us, but even if I could, she needs to know she's doing her part. So I always thought a job would make things way better.

I try to be, or fake, being the steady one, I hope it does help. At least the teachers of one of the kids say I'm making a positive difference.

This week, she says something that seems to be scary, as in she's getting angry, or depressed, or scared... And then she smiles 5 minutes later, or tells a joke, or says she love me... I have no clue what is happening. :-)

Hi ---

Hi ---

I too have a relationship that at times is the most positive and loving thing on earth (24 1/2 years married) and at times that same exact love is the reason mark struggles so much with my anorexia. I have been in residential, IOP, trauma groups, 1-on-1 counseling....still struggling. It doesn't help when others tell me how sick i am or that i am in denial; that is a default that others reach for when all else fails. Trust me, your GF knows what is going on. It's just that when weight gets so low the brain doesn't perform as well as it should and to others it seems like we are exhibiting undue anger or in general just odd behavior. Limiting fats especially can cause this type of brain fog, since the nervous system is comprised of nerves coated with a myelin sheath comprised of fatty acids. Sorry, I have a degree in microbiology!
Anyway, you are MORE than patient, kind, supportive...not much else to be, right? Oh, wait...TERRIFIED! Like Mark! Our daughters too are scared; one does the tough love thing and the other one is more sensitive in her comments.

Note of wary caution: she says not leaving her kids as orphans is her primary goal in not dying of ED. Do you think, on any subconscious level, she chose to move in with you so that in case she succumbs totally to her illness (Heaven forbid) you'd be there for her children? Scary to ponder, but it popped into my mind and I had to throw it out there.

You sound like such a wonderful man...like my Mark. You must truly love this woman.

Be strong, but do not lose yourself in the process.

xoxo
Cathleen

Rodgers12
Hi Cathleen,

Hi Cathleen,

thanks a lot from your response, it was very informative and reassuring.

I'm sorry to hear you've been struggling so much, but it also sounds like you're a fighter. You take the time and the effort to understand and care about your loved ones (and others), and you keep on it. Getting up and choosing to live, when life gets so hard some times, it's already a victory. Nobody knows how hard it is, but yourself, and it sounds that you don't give up.

Some post ago I told that I know what I know because my GF is very insightful, and she shares with me, when she can. I know she knows what's going on. I also knew about her brain not being able to perform right, it was a great reminder from a microbiology point of view. I got a degree on nutrition, but I never worked on that. I was on my way of becoming orthorexic, and I stopped because it wasn't a way to live.

We ask you to be patient and understandable of our flaws and ignorance, when you are not in the mood for that. These illnesses have a way of making it difficult for both parts in any relationship.

That's a scary note of caution, hehe. She openly tells me that her greatest wish is that I would have the kids, and she could rest in peace. She doesn't have to be very depressed in order to find death appealing. But she's not eager to go there unless she's inside her "black cloud". She resisted moving in with me for a long time. They were living in very poor conditions, and in a very unfriendly environment. She wasn't ready, but there, in her mother's house, she was being pushed towards self destruction, and the kids didn't have a loving home. Anyway, if she were to disappear, these kids have a father, and grandparents...They had been awful, but I wouldn't have a legal claim on the kids, unless they are grown up to choose for themselves. In a way, she knows she has to be there to "give me to the kids".

The way I see it, I already had an easy life. It wasn't really easy, but it got to a point where I had a stable job, security, and a prospect that nothing was going to change until I was old. I fast-forwarded the last part of my life, and started a new one. This one has a lot of drama, but it's also life, it's also my life, I don't think I'm getting lost, on the contrary, I'm learning a lot about myself, and about aspects of the human being that I didn't know about. If I long for the past, I can look back and decide "I already lived that life, that is done". It was really hard to leave my comfort zone, but I felt my ex wife and I were holding each other back, because we wanted very different things in life. I wanted kids, for one thing. And I know kids would have changed my life in an uncontrolled way, just like what is happening now.

I wish the honeymoon phase with my GF would have lasted longer, because it's been hard almost from the beginning. But I truly love her and she's worth everything.

Yesterday we had some very great news that should take a big burden off her shoulders, and it came in a phase where she is allowing herself to feel hope, so I really hope we can build on that. Even I have some hope for us as a couple.

These days she says she is a failure as an anorexic, but it doesn't seem to pull her down, I'm surprised, and my mood is way better because of it.
She watched a show yesterday were a former anorexic is working to help people with EDs in the UK. She said when you are forced to recover, or you force yourself to recover for others, it almost never works. Just as we think. And if you don't want to recover, she advises people to star thinking about WHY they are doing this, as I asked my GF, why do you need to be that skinny, or why do you need to keep losing... (because I need it, yeah, but why? Because I like it, yeah, but why?) She said: "think about that, and take it from there". I think it might be simple, but it is a powerful question.

BobJ48
Questions.

Rogers,

" She watched a show yesterday were a former anorexic is working to help people with EDs in the UK. She said when you are forced to recover, or you force yourself to recover for others, it almost never works. Just as we think. And if you don't want to recover, she advises people to star thinking about WHY they are doing this, as I asked my GF, why do you need to be that skinny, or why do you need to keep losing... (because I need it, yeah, but why? Because I like it, yeah, but why?) [ the woman on TV] said: "think about that, and take it from there". I think it might be simple, but it is a powerful question. "

On the forums it's a question that swirls around all the time, so by it's very frequency you can tell it's important.

Once people do understand…that's not the cure. It would be nice if it was but it isn't. But as the woman said, it gives people a point of departure, when it comes to figuring out a mental strategy, and a way to begin redefining their ways of thinking about things.

" I fast-forwarded the last part of my life, and started a new one. This one has a lot of drama, but it's also life, it's also my life, I don't think I'm getting lost, on the contrary, I'm learning a lot about myself, and about aspects of the human being that I didn't know about. "

Boy, this is absolutely the same case with me. When I was first invited on a forum, here were all these posts I was supposed to constructively respond to, but which involved both practical and philosophical themes that I'd never had occasion to think about before. I had no idea what I thought about a lot of it, so it was a lesson in learning about myself and my own ways of thinking as well. And, as you said, the very nature of the human condition in general.

So it's not like we're not gaining wisdom ourselves, in ways that we might never have, had we not become involved in conundrums like these.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
Hello again,

Hello again,

I'm a bit sad about the lack of movement in this forum, I hope everyone keeps fighting or maybe things are great and they don't need to post anymore, I wish they shared the good news too. I try to respect the wish of my GF not to make her, or her illness the topic of conversation with friends or family, and they also can't understand wholly this issue. So it is here where I can talk and have some meaningful feedback. But I feel like the nerd in class who is the only one that asks questions to the teacher.

I feel my GF is definitely getting stronger: The ups and downs are so chaotic and big, that it is very difficult to calculate a week's assessment. I don't have access to data, as in how much she eats or weights. There are moments of almost everyday that she won't talk to me, so there's plenty I don't know. But all in all, I think I see progress.

On Valentine's day she hit a bump, she was already talking about wanting to die, and seeing all black, like a tunnel that has no end. She wasn't very kind to me, and I almost went to bed just to be left alone. But I chose to try for a while longer. I asked her if I could brush her hair. And I did that, and she went on about dying, and not having anything good to live for...And she cried... but I saw a bit of a transformation. I brushed her hair and massage a bit her head, neck, shoulders and back. On top of her clothes, nothing professional. I held her hand and hug her a bit, and listened.

Maybe I'm giving the human contact too much credit, but I saw the change there, she didn't say anything, she was still negative, but not desperate. She avoids contact, but when she gets a bit, it usually makes her good. It doesn't only have to be non sexual, but it has to be very clear it isn't. I thought I had been very clear on that before, but it turned out that if she suspected that I wanted that to lead to something, then it frightened her. So there's a very fine line there. Because I don't want us to avoid each other, but I don't want to frighten her, nor to engage in any activity that is not desirable for both of us.

After years of marriage I didn't give much importance to sex, but a new relationship always brings new interest, and we didn't have many opportunities to enjoy that side of us. So it's a big sacrifice not to have this, and great effort to be understanding. And of course, not to feel rejected myself. Not only sex, but you know, intimacy, care, flirting, teasing... This cuts a big chunk of what a couple it's supposed to be.

I don't complain, but this puts pressure on her, she wants me to have those things, she says I deserve them. She says she is attracted to me and I have a hard time to believe that, but she says it. However, when she things about these things she fears she's gonna hate herself later, to feel super dirty, and unworthy. She thinks I'm gonna hate her body the way she hates it, and that's impossible. I love her, and now she does look sick, but I'd still love to be close to her, and I will always find her beautiful.

Her therapist told her that maybe love was gone, and it could be good to accept that. And she fought her on that. Many days I have just thought that: she run out of love for me, she cares and she finds me a good person, and she is attached to me, we are friends...And she can't admit she doesn't love me, because then, depending on me would be too awful to face. There's only so much reasoning you can tell yourself when you have feelings that are hurt. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, and I guess they 'sufferers' are suffering even more than us 'partners'.

Anyway, she fought back that 'accusation' and it may have given her a push to be a little kinder to me, and to look at me with new eyes. It's a subtle change, but it's positive.

We had some good news regarding the custody of the kids, but we still have to fight her ex-husband to pay the alimony he's due, he owes her a lot of money, and he has to spare. Every month he is late, and she is scared about how much he's going to pay, if any. Hopefully, this month pays, and we don't have any more bumps this month. So we can build on the progress.

Next week I have an exam for a chance of getting a promotion in my job, that would make our situation more sustainable too. And It would give me a boost to keep me strong. I couldn't give it much time with everything and having kids in need of constant attention, but I have a chance. I wish a miracle for her, but I keep working on myself too.

Best wishes to everyone.

BobJ48
Rogers.

I know what you mean about the lack of activity here. Back in the day, I worked on Something Fishy, on the board that they had for partners there. It was pretty active back then ( I had over 7,000 posts there ) but ever since Fishy went under, as far as I can tell, this is the only place for partners now.

Perhaps our participation will attract more attention to this forum ? Activity encourages more activity in turn I believe . As you've seen, a guy needs an understanding place to dump their feelings. Rather than dumping them on our partners I mean.

"Maybe I'm giving the human contact too much credit, but I saw the change there, she didn't say anything, she was still negative, but not desperate. She avoids contact, but when she gets a bit, it usually makes her good."

I think you're right in taking this approach. It's a simple and such a human thing. People with EDs can feel so undeserving : For all sorts of various reasons, their ED causes them to feel this way. When you show your unselfish care, it may help them to combat those feelings a bit. As they allow some of that care to come in.

" She says she is attracted to me and I have a hard time to believe that, but she says it. "

I can't tell you how much I hear about this on the forums. On the one hand they understand how much their partners care about them (which they truly appreciate, even if it doesn't always show ) but then they speak with despair about how poorly they find themselves treating those partners. This is not a happy thing for them, and it only serves to increase their guilt and their sense of self-hate. So it's probably best not to question her about this part, but just remain a "Steady Eddy" with it, in spite of what feelings may appear to be coming back.

It's like in a relationship, someone needs to keep faith with this you know ? And in the face of their inner struggles and turmoil, often that role falls to us.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
news

We had some turmoil and a big shock. Specially for her.

She's been diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). The name is very unfortunate, and the image that this has on her is overwhelming. She was diagnosed as a child and her family took that to throw at her all the negative behaviors associated with it. Instead of getting help and support, they dismissed all cries for help as manipulative efforts, lies, and calls for attention. Furthermore, they used her to get away with things, to lie and cheat, and behave badly and then blame it on her. They treated her as a crazy person her whole childhood and teen years, until she ran away from them.

Away from them, she was better, and she started to discover she wasn't manipulative, and she was honest and good hearted, she didn't seek risky behavior, she stopped thinking about suicide... And as she associated BPD with all that, she reached out the conclusion that she didn't have it. She found an older man that was mildly polite with her and she thought he was wonderful, he was way better than her own family, the reality she knew. But it turned out, he was a monster, just not as bad as them. When the abuse was only to her, she thought it was normal, she blamed herself. When the abuse extended to the kids, she reported him and flee. Things had turned really ugly and she feared for their lives. The monster kept the house, car and everything, and she was a divorced mother with two kids and no job. So she moved to a new city, close to her family, in the hopes that they would be good with the kids, even if they don't love her.

Everything has been wrong, nothing worked in her favor. She's been betrayed, taken advantage of, and humiliated by the family, the ex, and the justice system. So bit by bit this was killing her, she saved all her energy for the kids, and none to herself. So the ED came back, and depression and everything else. She started to think, as I told you, "something is wrong with me", "my brain is not right"... And she feared it's was true, but at other times thought "Wouldn't it be great if a pill could make it easier?" But this is the diagnosis she feared the most. Because she has all the bad connotations burned in her memory, and she feels it makes her shameful, and that the therapist won't trust what she says.

Her life's story is so bad and full of things that it's pretty incredible. If I haven't met her family, maybe by this time I would think she makes things up. She has lost friends like that. I believe she is a hero for waking up every morning. She's really sad, she feels "less than". She's not talking about dying now, and that's an improvement. She also feels some kind of peace, because she has now an explanation as to why she can't cope with things other people can. This disorder is triggered by trauma, and she had many, and no support whatsoever. Even the therapist said that she is remarkable, the way she's been functioning carrying all that burden, says a lot about her intelligence and strength (She feels this is condescending).

Well, I'll keep on reading and writing here, I think. But I'l search for help specifically for this. I thought that all her symptoms could be explained by the anorexia, because I've seen them repeated again and again on the forums here. Maybe that's what I wanted to believe. I am hopeful that this can help us find better and specific help so her/our life can be better. I hope she can see it that way when the shock passes.

Wish us luck.

BobJ48
BPD

Rogers,

BPD is a pretty sketchy diagnosis, in that sometimes doctors throw it at patients when they can't think of anything else to label them with. This is not to say that it's not a real thing, but I think it's worth while looking at the criterion and then making your own assessment yourself.

Plus, I'm sorry, but I believe that it's considered unethical and improper to diagnose it in children. It's been a while since I looked it up in the DSM, but I believe I remember them saying that a person needs to be over 18 before they can qualify for the diagnosis. So if they diagnosed her when she was younger than that, it was a doubly unfair thing for her.

But yes, people with EDs often have BPD too. In fact it's usually considered the primary diagnosis, ahead of people's EDs. My friend who passed away had it in spades, and it was spectacularly disruptive, so I've seen it in person myself. When I was on Fishy, guys would come on and start describing their partner's behaviors and that little light would go on, and I'd send them over a BPD forum, and have them look at the pages there. Often it was a big eye-opener for them, but only if they really agreed with the symptoms, and the behaviors which were listed in the criterion.

To be honest I've not been getting "that vibe" from the notes that you've written about her. Not that anyone can really know anything from a distance, so it probably doesn't mean anything for me to say that. But still, for me the big red flags usually involve a *lot* of impulsive and chaotic behaviors. Along with the person alternating between idealizing their partners and then hating them - that "black and white thinking" you know ? The fear of abandonment thing too. Those two have always seemed like three of the essential criterion to me.

As you said, in the past there was a lot of stigma attached to the diagnosis. It was pretty shameful the ways you would hear professionals talk about their clients who had it. It's still a little bit "the bad old days" today in that regard, but not nearly as bad as things were in the past.

I've been on some peer-to-peer BPD boards over the years. In the past it was felt that people with BPD were incapable of having any insights into their condition or behaviors, but that's definitely *not* the situation today. On the forums, people who have it are pretty much in agreement about the behaviors and thoughts and urges they have, and they do have some pretty clear insights into the troubles their BPD can cause them, and can cause in their relationships too. Not that they can just put a stop to these feelings, but at least they have some idea about the nature of the ways that they often behave.

In any case, it's really worth reading up on BPD, and then making your own decision about what you think.

I've not been over to that BDP forum in a while, but I remember it being a pretty good site. Their "Eggshells" book is a good one as well, and well enough known now that libraries will often have it.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
BPD and ED

Hi there,

as soon as she got the diagnosis I went to read to a couple of sources, and she really fits the criterion. Maybe she's not as impulsive as some cases, as she had it rough when she was young and she always tried to show the world she wasn't crazy. But definitely the black and white thinking is a trademark. The "you're perfect" one moment and "I hate you" the next, and the pushing people away because they're sure to leave her eventually. Her dad left, and her mom was never there for her. Describing her behavior sounded too much as venting against he, and I didn't want that.

When she was first diagnosed, it must have been trendy among therapists, and it was wrong to tell her so young, definitely younger than 18. People kept telling her "what happens to you is..." instead of listening to what happened to her. They gave her a lot of medication, and they earned a distrust of therapist for life. Her family took it as she was beyond help because she was 'nuts'. I can't help but feeling rage because it would have made such a difference to have proper support then.

She doesn't take anything in a steady way, so this news has been disrupting some moments and others a source of new understanding. I have hope that this could be positive. She says she found some peace and closure. She's not blaming herself for things in the past she did before.

Regarding the ED, she felt it was threatened by this. She felt as a failure as anorexic, and it was insulting to her that they said it was the way of hurting herself, and not simple a desire of being thin. She felt she needed to lose more to show the therapist the anorexia was more important than the BPD. That was scary. She had always known that it was a self destructive illness, with self hate at the center. But she fears they want to take away the one thing that moves her. She has calmed down a bit about this, but she didn't say otherwise.

One puzzling thought was that the best years in her life as mental stability goes were her marriage, however dysfunctional. But I'm sure it has to do with the fact than then, she ate. She ate all kinds of food, and gained weight, and her brain was nourished, specially, she had a normal intake of B12. Now her levels of B12 are extremely low. Could it be as simple as that? She also had trouble sleeping for her whole life, as in almost no sleep at all. So she's been depriving her body of the basics for most of her life. Add that to high levels of stress, no successful human interaction, no security... And I don't wonder why she feels life has nothing to offer her.

I'm already reading and participating in boards, and I took note of the book before they edit your post. Even if the diagnosis is wrong, I guess all of us can learn something about dealing with erratic behavior, rejection and "irrational reasoning".

The best thing these days is that she clearly said she wants to get better, that it is important to get better. Not about the ED, but about feeling so low. And that's a start.

BobJ48
BPD

Rogers,

As if EDs were not enough, it's a whole other world out there when it comes to BPD, as I'm sure your research and board experience is showing you. At the same time, knowledge is power, and it can be a help to us personally if we feel we have a little better handle on what the situation is, so I hope you're feeling a little of that as well.

" When she was first diagnosed, it must have been trendy among therapists, and it was wrong to tell her so young, definitely younger than 18. People kept telling her "what happens to you is..." instead of listening to what happened to her. They gave her a lot of medication, and they earned a distrust of therapist for life. Her family took it as she was beyond help because she was 'nuts'. I can't help but feeling rage because it would have made such a difference to have proper support then. "

Yes, the "prior to age 18" thing was straight out unethical, if the literature I've read is correct, so you have a right to be angry about that I believe. Even if it did turn out to be true. Plus I think that some professionals may have taken a bit more of a cavalier attitude towards it back then. At the time, there was this sense that you couldn't really do anything for people with BPD, so if they weren't getting better under your care, well what the heck. That's not your fault, because the person has BPD.

Plus the meds thing, and not really listening to peoples' own experience. It was the bad old days I think. But with the coming of DBT, and the idea that things actually can be done for these folks, I think professionals are being forced to take a closer look at their attitudes now.

"She doesn't take anything in a steady way, so this news has been disrupting some moments and others a source of new understanding. I have hope that this could be positive. She says she found some peace and closure. She's not blaming herself for things in the past she did before."

Good : This is good. Self-forgiveness, you know ? People can be just too hard on themselves.

" She felt as a failure as anorexic…"

I've read easily a hundred threads about this on the forums. "I can't even be a good anorexic." The word "failure" is used all the time. In one sense it has to do with the "good enough" thing, but on the other hand, they can view dropping to lower weights as a way to show therapists (as well as themselves <— ) that they are indeed "sick enough" and really do deserve attention for the issues they have.

"One puzzling thought was that the best years in her life as mental stability goes were her marriage, however dysfunctional. But I'm sure it has to do with the fact than then, she ate. She ate all kinds of food, and gained weight, and her brain was nourished…"

I think it's reasonable to think this made a difference. The girls all talk about how their moods and their ability to feel enthusiasm for anything takes a big nosedive when they are malnourished. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, people's mental functioning does get better when they are better fed.

"Now her levels of B12 are extremely low. Could it be as simple as that? "

There's a book out there, and I can't remember it's name at the moment, written by some doctor who swears up and down that he's effected all these miracle cures by making sure people's vitamins and minerals were OK. If I remember, zinc was one of his big things. None of this has really caught on, even though there may be something to it. Professional politics and all that. If you poke around you may be able to find his book. His treatment recommendations seemed pretty benign, so it might be worth looking into.

" The best thing these days is that she clearly said she wants to get better, that it is important to get better. "

That is a start indeed, and the best kind of energy she could bring to the thing.

Bob J.

Rodgers12
touching base

Things are complicated with the BPD. ED's are complicated, but everything fits, and with borderline everything seems more random, every patient is different. I'm a bit overwhelmed about what I learn and about what I still have to learn. But I try to stick to the basics, listening, validation... And things go up and down.

It is hard not to despair about her weight and body issues. It is like her body feels hostile to contact, because it has become more angular... While round forms are inviting and calming. But intimacy is back in the picture, and that is a good sign for her, even as it scares me to hurt her. But I meant despair about her not going to the doctor and not thinking about stopping.

She's been sleep walking, and sleep eating. That made her feel so unworthy, like an animal, she says. And I suppose it's just a cry for help from her system, it needs food, so when her mind is not home, the body goes and eats. It is sad, and dangerous, she could choke to death. I beg her to eat enough so her body doesn't need to do this. A year ago she would have been scared of a pic of a body like hers, but now, she wants to lose even more. She doesn't see it in the mirror.

I'm kind of hopping to survive the whole turmoil caused by the diagnosis. She has some optimistic moments, as illustrated by the desire for intimacy, and other activities. And her low pits are shorter, still scary, but they go faster. I wish I could keep my cool and not feel desperate and hurt.

I guess it is also hard to let go of the hope that one day they will stop this "nonsense". That she would say "I'm an adult intelligent woman, I'm funny, and caring, and smart, and my weight means nothing, I'm gonna just enjoy life", and never look back. I can only take one day at a time, if I face that this might never change, I can't take it.

I don't have a conclusion, there are definitely more good moments between us, but I feel more insecure, because I never know what to expect. I try to enjoy the moments, and not be ruled by fear. And then, you know, kids, work, and study... That's the moment I am now.

Hope everyone is doing OK around here. Take care.

_admin_moderator
edit notification

Hey Rodgers12, just wanted to let you know your post has been slightly edited to comply with our community guidelines. As you continue using the forums for support, please avoid mentioning specific details about your girlfriend’s appearance and/or ED symptoms that may be triggering for our other forum users. Thank you for helping us keep this a safe space for everyone!

BobJ48
Rogers.

Yep, "Things getting better" can take some odd forms alright. And I do think that that's just the way of it : "Getting better" does not always mean that the whole situation is "better" at all. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with little bits and pieces of "better" I think.

Which it does sound like you are seeing.

I mean, who among us would find ourselves feeling better as a result of getting a diagnosis of BPD ? And yet you would be surprised at how often I hear about that. Because now at least the person now understands that it's a "thing" with some semi-predictable emotional patterns to it, rather then just a bunch of random chaotic behaviors.

So yeah, although I know that things may seem pretty much the same in a general sense, when it comes to the specifics it sounds like there have been some changes, and there are reasons to be encouraged by that I think, even though there may still be a long way to go.

Bob J.

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