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My daughter might have Bulimia. Advice please.

Here' some background info: She is almost 16 and has been eating nothing but vegetables for about a month and has gone from about 150 lbs to 115. She lives with her dad and came here to visit for Thanksgiving. We went to my brothers house for Thanksgiving and my brother called today and said they saw some "evidence" in the bathroom. She had been in the bathroom for awhile and I had wondered about it but never suspected anything.

Also, she is VERY depressed. There is NO light in her eyes at all. My ex, who is a very good , loving father, is going to take her to a therapist. My ex-father-in-law is a Psychiatrist and he prescribed her some anti-depressants.

My question to anybody that has had some experience or knowlege about bulimia is how do I approach this? She lives 500 miles from me. She has always been very closed off about her feelings and it takes an act of Congress to get anything out of her. So I really don't know how to approach her.

How hard is it to recover from Bulimia? Please give me any advice that you know of about bulimia and please no flames...this is hard enough. Thank you.

Re: My daughter might have Bulimia. Advice please.

  • You don't KNOW that she is bulimic, but it does sound as if she is depressed and may have an eating disorder (I don't know her size, if she has her period still, etc).  In any case, she ought to be in therapy.  Do you talk to her dad about this?

    Here's a good website to check out about eating disorders: link.  Any eating disorder is tough to deal with, especially if the child/adult is not on board with trying to heal.  It really tends to effect you for your entire life, though if the treatment is effective, then you learn some good coping skills.  But many people struggle their entire lives.

    I hope that you caught it early, that she engages in therapy & that you and her dad can work together on this.  It might be worth finding a therapist of your own to talk to about how to handle anything that might come up, and I'd encourage family therapy for her and her dad (and any other people in that immediate relationship).

    Best to you & your daughter!

    image
  • I used to be Bulimic, yet I don't have many words of advice. It really depends on your daughter as to how to confront the issue. Personally, my bulimia was never brought up, until I started doing "stupid" stuff. I was very depressed, and using my  frustrations to destroy my body, because I did not feel worthy. It did not come out until I was in therapy.

    However, please make sure she works with a therapist. And allow her time to find one that is a good fit. I started going to one, and I did not like him at all. I resented him, and the things he would tell me. (He said I was "mourning the loss of cheerleading" and I was bulimic because my grandfather died when I an infant. Pffft.)  I stopped going very early on. I ended up telling my mom I would find a way to fix myself if she would not force me to go back to him. I was never pushed to find a different therapist. I thought they were all the same, and mine just made me feel worse about myself.

     

    I still struggle with the mindset of Bulimia. I may not be physically bulimic, but I am constantly focused on my weight, food, and how I interact with people. I will shy away from meeting new people, or going out in public because of how I view myself, and how I feel other people will react to my size. It sucks, but even when I try to change, I find myself falling back. I honestly believe that if I had found another therapist, things could be better. So please, even if she is fighting you, you need to make sure she finds someone to talk to. Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone who isn't family, but someone that you still feel a connection with. I can not stress this enough. I would also disagree with the person above me. I would not do family therapy for awhile. When my parents were brought in for "family" sessions, I refused to talk. It was even worse when you had a group of people there "because of you."

     

    Alright, I know I'm ranting now, but it is something I feel very strongly about. If you have any questions, or would like to talk, feel free to PM me. I wish you and your daughter the best.


  • She needs a full psychiatric assessment -- she also needs a full physical.

    She might be bulimic but she may also have a physical organic medical problem as well; a physician needs to see her for that reason.

    Don't let this go --- get on the phone to her father and discuss this issue at length.
  • I am finding it odd that the grandfather prescribed anti-depressants...not to toss out yet another red flag.  I do know that psychiatric treatment is expensive, but this is not the time to cut corners, I am quite sure that a 16 year old would be very hesitant to spill her guts to her grandfather.

    This is an immediate issue. Full stop.  I would see to it that she has a full work up yesterday.

    Good luck to you both *hugs* 

    image
  • image copzgirl:

    I am finding it odd that the grandfather prescribed anti-depressants...not to toss out yet another red flag.  I do know that psychiatric treatment is expensive, but this is not the time to cut corners, I am quite sure that a 16 year old would be very hesitant to spill her guts to her grandfather.

    This is an immediate issue. Full stop.  I would see to it that she has a full work up yesterday.

    Good luck to you both *hugs* 

     

    It seems to be a conflict of interest for her grandfather to prescribe psych meds.  You need to discuss a plan at length with your XH.  Your daughter needs a physical, a counselor, and a Psychiatrist who is separated from the situation.

  • image copzgirl:

    I am finding it odd that the grandfather prescribed anti-depressants...not to toss out yet another red flag.  I do know that psychiatric treatment is expensive, but this is not the time to cut corners, I am quite sure that a 16 year old would be very hesitant to spill her guts to her grandfather.

    This is an immediate issue. Full stop.  I would see to it that she has a full work up yesterday.

    Good luck to you both *hugs* 

     

    It seems to be a conflict of interest for her grandfather to prescribe psych meds.  You need to discuss a plan at length with your XH.  Your daughter needs a physical, a counselor, and a Psychiatrist who is separated from the situation.

  • Thank you for your reply. My ex is going to take her to a therapist and money is not a problem... we just wanted to get her started on meds because she is SO depressed. She is not going to do therapy with her grandfather.
  • Thank you so much for replying.

    Her father has always been very loving and caring and he and I get along great. However, his job takes him out of town almost the entire week and a nice, twenty-something girl stays with her during the week. Her older brother (4 years older) moved out last year to go to college, so I don't know if that has had a serious inpact on her or not. She DOES NOT open up about anything so it is very hard to tell.

    I agree that we have to find a good fit for a therapist and I am worried that that will happen because we have taken her before to a therapist for depression and it did no good at all because she would not talk. I guess we just have to keep hunting for the right fit. Thanks again!

    As for any major changes coming up soon, I don't think so. She just started a new high school at the beginning of the year and says she does not like it.

    I know there have been a lot of very short-term relationships with guys and getting hurt over that. She has always had a mouth on her and is very sarcastic. I know personally how hard it is to be around her...and I am her mother that has loved her since birth. So I know other people are not going to put up with it, you know? I would like to tell her she has got to watch the way she talks to people , but it is so hard to talk to her about anything because she gets mad and says hurtful things.

  • image Paige1Wed45379:

    Thank you so much for replying.

    Her father has always been very loving and caring and he and I get along great. However, his job takes him out of town almost the entire week and a nice, twenty-something girl stays with her during the week. Her older brother (4 years older) moved out last year to go to college, so I don't know if that has had a serious inpact on her or not. She DOES NOT open up about anything so it is very hard to tell.

    I agree that we have to find a good fit for a therapist and I am worried that that will happen because we have taken her before to a therapist for depression and it did no good at all because she would not talk. I guess we just have to keep hunting for the right fit. Thanks again!

    As for any major changes coming up soon, I don't think so. She just started a new high school at the beginning of the year and says she does not like it.

    I know there have been a lot of very short-term relationships with guys and getting hurt over that. She has always had a mouth on her and is very sarcastic. I know personally how hard it is to be around her...and I am her mother that has loved her since birth. So I know other people are not going to put up with it, you know? I would like to tell her she has got to watch the way she talks to people , but it is so hard to talk to her about anything because she gets mad and says hurtful things.

    Maybe find another school -- sometimes the school isn't a good fit for the kid. It may be too large, too small, full of bullies, too impersonal an atmosphere or may have too many cliques, etc. 

    And broken hearts are a "given" for youths. There'll be many firsts and many lasts when it comes to guys -- and guys that age are hideously fickle; it's a youth factor that's involved.

    it may be downright unethical for a relative to treat a patient and prescribe meds.

  • OP you have a PM
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  • My sister started binging and purging at 17. Before long, she was 18 and my parents had no say in what she did or her treatment. She's battled ED for 10 years now. All her teeth are veneers now because she's ruined them. We've tried everything... to no avail.

     

    Your daughter needs inpatient help NOW. Not just therapy once a week and meds. Both, and intensive rehab. I wish my parents had gotten my sister into it before she turned 18 to get a hand on it before it was too late.

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  • if she's not binging, then it's likely an eating disorder not otherwise specified...just as serious but I would approach her with "you have an eating disorder" vs you have bulimia...she'll be defending not being bulimic and not acknowledging the ED...

    see if you can get her to meet with a PCP

  • I'm a total lurker here, but I wanted to reply to this. Also -- sorry for the book.

    I struggled with eating disorders (ED) all through college and definitely still have my days/tendencies now at 27. They're hard on the whole family, so be sure to be patient with it and try to take it day by day.

    I was diagnosed by a psychologist as anorexic, but I would purge often as well. Some times the two disorders overlap, so it's possible if she's purging she's also developed some anorexic eating habits as well. Eating only vegetables definitely throws that flag up to me. I was also abusing diet pills. (A smart one, I am.)

    Be sure she sees a psychologist who specializes in ED treatment. Working with someone who deals with these disorders explicitly is a great way to ensure someone knows what's really going on with your daughter. My therapist weighed me each week (with my back to the scale) to be sure I was gaining weight, and if I wasn't she'd call me out on it. And ask what was going on. She could also tell if I was being honest about my food journal, etc. Working with an ED-specialist was the smartest thing I did.

    I also listened to my therapist's recommendation to see with a nutritionist to deal with some of my food fears and to become truly educated on what your body needs -- and doesn't need -- so I could make smart, healthy decisions. I strongly recommend this as well for your daughter.

    Inpatient therapy isn't always necessary, but the therapist and nutritionist will be best able to guide you and your husband on that decision. I have a sorority sister who went inpatient. She recovered and is happy and healthy, but inpatient was miserable for her because you're under such a microscope. I'm also happy and healthy, and didn't go inpatient. I really recommend only putting her inpatient if the issue is critical and the therapist recommends she be put into an inpatient program. 

    As PP mentioned, she should also get a full physical and blood work done to see what, if any, damage she's done to her body at this point. 

    I don't know if this will be all that helpful, but I eventually came to realize through all of that I developed my ED in large part because I felt like my life was out of control, and the thing I could most control was how much (or little) I ate. I also had gained a lot of weight (gradually) due to a knee injury taking me out of dance and tennis, and I felt like a worthless, ugly sloth. I was fortunate to be dating (now married to) a wonderful, supportive man who encouraged me and allowed me to work through those issues. That said, I never really talked to my parents or family about it. Don't be surprised if she confides in someone else, not you or her father, about what's going on. I didn't want ANYONE to know about my ED ... but my now-DH confronted me about it and, after lying for a while (and him knowing I was lying), I crumbled and admitted to it. It can feel shameful to have an ED because part of why you're doing this to yourself is because you don't like who you are, and this is just another thing "wrong" with you. So don't force her to talk to you or your husband early on; eventually she'll talk to you guys about it after she gets her feet back under her in therapy. 

    Bulimia, like all other EDs and addictions, require a choice by the person struggling to be healthy. Every day, I get up and choose to be healthy. So does my aforementioned sorority sister. So do a lot of other men and women who've struggled with EDs. Recovery is tough and can be a long road, but it can be done. The best thing you can do is be supportive and encourage her to be healthy.

    If you want to talk, OP, feel free to PM me. Best wishes to you, your family and especially your daughter. 

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  • Thank you for your advice. I especially liked the idea of getting a psychologist that specializes in ED's. I will tell my ex about that.

    I am sorry that you struggled with this and glad that it seems you are doing much better. Congratulations on that and best wishes to you. :)

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