National Eating Disorders Association

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Wife has eating disorder and bipolar

My wife has been struggling with an eating disorder since I've known her, but she was just recently diagnosed with it when she went into a outpatient mental health facility a couple of months ago when she was having a bad depressive episode from her bipolar. We've been married for three years, and we have an almost 3 year old son. Last year was the first year I first started seriously attempted to lose weight. My wife, my dad, mom and brother were doing a weekly email blast and doing some weight reporting while attempting some weight loss. I didn't start at first but eventually, I started counting calories with an app and lost a significant amount of weight in the last year and a half.

But this post isn't about me, it's about my wife, right? She always has a lot of trouble sticking to any kind of weight loss program. She has a binge-eating disorder. We got married after we got pregnant and I enabled her lot while she was pregnant with our son. I let her eat whatever she wanted. She doesn't vomit or anything, but she will eat a lot of food sometimes, and eventually it seems like she's on the toilet a lot. I don't know if that matters. She's a part of a weight loss organization, she's actually a leader at her local chapter. Every little gain or no gain or loss is a huge blow to her, even if I would have expected that from what she had from dinner the night before or how her eating habits were for the last week. She keeps changing her diets all the time. She did a specific diet plan for awhile and did all the workouts that come with it.

There's more I could talk about, but the main I need to know is, what can I do to help? She weighs a certain amount and she gets so depressed sometimes. I need to know what I can to help her lose weight so that when we have a second baby, she'll be OK and that she doesn't leave me early.

Weight and changing moods.


EDs are difficult things, and it can be very hard for folks to not panic when they see the scale moving in what they see as the wrong direction. As I'm sure you know, they tend to tie it to a sense of personal failure as well as other events in their lives which may come up, and which they find unsettling. The answer always seems to be in those numbers on the scale, and as long as their moods and sense of themselves as worth people are ruled by those numbers, they will continue to be in trouble.

At the same time, it seems like your wife *would* like to approach the weight issue in a healthy manner, and thats' probably the key to all this. I'm not sure how….well regulated the weight-loss group is that she belongs to, but if their group advocates reasonable weight loss plans and diets, she may have to make a pact with herself to find one and stick with it, even though there are times when it seems not to be working in the ways that serve to calm her inner demons.

Whereas now, she seems at the mercy of those demons, and they urge her to keep switching from one approach to another, which just serves to exacerbate the problem it seems.

With recovery from EDs of any sort, it really seems important that people make a personal commitment to stick with a healthy plan, no matter what the results-of-the-day, as measured on the scale seem to be telling them about themselves from a psychological standpoint.

I can certainly see where this might be difficult task though, when bi-polar is at work itself, constantly changing a person's outlook on life and themselves. Still, making a commitment to a single plan and sticking with it through thick or thin would seem to be one of the best ways to achieve what she's after.

And yeah, the toilet thing. Not that this is the case, but it's not uncommon for people with EDs become really addicted to laxatives, in ways that are psychologically tied to their EDs as well as their physical health over time. This sort of addiction can be a source of real shame to them, so it may not be something she'll want to admit to, but which can become an issue all of it's own in situations like this. I'm not sure that its' up to you to police something like this should it be the case, but it would be good if she had someone she trusted who she could talk to about it. Someone from her diet group, or her doctor perhaps ?

But yeah, she'll want to stop all the switching around of her eating habits as a first step I think. Less chaos in that regard may help to settle things a little, when it comes to recovery, which is often already an unsettled path as it is.

Bob J.