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But There Was A Hitch…

February 13, 2011

Hi everyone!

I’m still in Florida, but I wrote this post a while ago just to get it out in words. It’s not something I’d really thought through before, and definitely not Valentine’s Day related, but I thought I’d use it now since I won’t be able to get up a regular post until tomorrow.

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One of the main things I’ve learned through the blog world, and particularly Sophia’s Weekend Eating Disorder Series, is that everyone’s experience with an eating disorder is different. Sure there are commonalities like fear foods or a near mental inability to eat, but everyone has their unique circumstances in cause, length, recovery, and support.

My eating disorder starting innocently enough by exercising more and eating healthier, but during the summer before my senior year of high school things really got bad. Since I had a full-time day job and was often with my friends at night, I was able to avoid eating around people. Breakfast was a small bowl of Special K before work, whatever “lunch” I ate was in a back room at work, and dinner was either going to be eaten out with friends (if you were my parents) or eaten already at home (if you were my friends). So while my weight loss was noticeable, it was kind of hard for others to diagnose me with no set proof. I think my parents were in denial.

That August my mom accompanied me to my yearly check-up at the doctor. When I weighed in at 100 pounds, my mom finally had a concrete problem that she could confront me about. I immediately began weekly visits with a Nutritionist and we came up with a meal plan to help me gain weight. My mom often sat in on these meetings – I think I asked her to at first because I was nervous, but it was also good for her to be able to hear from me what I was feeling and going through.

But there was a hitch…

My mom is a pediatrician and eating disorder specialist. She works at a hospital in St. Louis and most of her teenage in patients have severe eating disorders. I think this was a huge part of her denial…how could her own daughter have this disease? Why couldn’t she stop it?

The problems between us began during my recovery. I felt like my mom was trying to be my doctor by constantly reminding me that I needed to eat and trying to get me to eat at certain times. But I didn’t need another doctor when I was at home — I needed a mom. I needed someone to tell me that it would be okay and that she understood  how hard this was for me. It put a huge strain on our relationship and we fought a lot.

Finally, during an appointment with the nutritionist, I told my mom how I was feeling. We decided that as long as I was gaining weight and doing well, my mom would stay out of my recovery. She would trust me to follow the meal plan on my own terms and home would be doctor-free zone. This had to be very hard for her as her job is helping girls like me recovery from eating disorders, but it was extremely important for us and our sanity.

One piece of advice I can give people who know someone with an eating disorder is to treat them normally. If you are a friend, just be a normal friend and gossip at the lunch table. If you are family, keep on bugging your sister and fighting over the remote. As tempting as it is to try to suggest foods to eat (no, cake is not a good option) or ways to eat more, that’s not your job. Let the doctors and nutritionists be the ones with the rules and advice.  Relationships with friends and family are sometimes the only points of normalcy in that person’s life, and so maintaining and nurturing those during an Eating Disorder is essential. You’ll be helping more than you know!

  • How have your eating issues affected relationships with your family and friends?
  • Have you ever had to watch a friend or family member go through an eating disorder? How did you handle it?
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18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2011 9:30 am

    such a great post! and your advice at the end is SPOT on.. just treat ppl who are recovering normally- no judging, no nudging, no little suggestions..nada

  2. February 13, 2011 9:46 am

    What a great post! I had a similar experience with my parents… they were in complete denial that I had any problems with food. We still don’t discuss it all that much.

  3. February 13, 2011 10:22 am

    great post girl! haha i really want to know how the justin beebs movie was.

    i know thats sad

  4. February 13, 2011 10:25 am

    Whoa, that is really interesting that your mom was a specialist. I could see why that would cause conflict. Thanks for writing about this stuff. It’s one of the reasons I found the courage to write about it on my blog. 🙂

  5. February 13, 2011 11:10 am

    This is such a great post, and that must have been tough for you and your mom. Talk about a major conflict of interest. I’m so glad you’re healthy now…and looking beautiful! 🙂

  6. February 13, 2011 12:40 pm

    This post is so 100% right on. At the beginning of my recovery everyone was so focused on getting me healthy again, but everyone had a different idea of what the “right” way to recover was. None of these people were doctors and most of them didn’t have a clue as to how to help someone with an ED, so it ended up putting a lot of mental stress on me and making the situation even harder then it already was. It hurt my relationship with my family as well, because when I wasn’t able to do what they wanted me too, they would take it personally that I didn’t want to take their advice.

    Finally I started seeing a therapist and everyone else took a step back. That’s when things finally started getting somewhere. They were freed of the pressure of trying to “help me” and instead were able to offer comfort and reassurance . I, on the other hand, was able to talk to someone who really understands and get the help I needed. So it worked out for the best.

    Once again great post! Thanks for writing.

  7. Lauren permalink
    February 13, 2011 2:40 pm

    Thanks for being so honest! Great post. I’m so glad everything is working out for you!! I also hope you are having fun in FL with Alex…LOVED the post on how you met 🙂 Happy almost Vday!

  8. squigglefloey permalink
    February 13, 2011 2:50 pm

    Omg that is such a double edged sword!
    Thank you for sharing this, we all learned a lot about you. You must have been incredibly brave and persistent with that. Wow. Your mom must be so proud of her little girl 🙂

  9. February 13, 2011 3:42 pm

    Wow, that’s so interesting about your mom. I can’t imagine how it must have been to go through this as your mom. She must have been so terrified after seeing so many girls who were near death and then to know her own daughter was doing the same thing. Wow, thanks for sharing this girl. I can only imagine how much stronger this experience must have made your relationship with your mom now. You guys are truly beautiful women! 🙂

  10. nicole permalink
    February 13, 2011 3:44 pm

    Wow! My mom frustrated me when I was going through ED treatment, I can’t imagine how it would be if she were an ED specialist! Now I appreciate her patience more than anything since I’m well and able to see that I was the crazy one, not her. Congrats on what seems to be such a great recovery 🙂 I’m always impressed by your balanced attitude towards food.

  11. February 13, 2011 7:42 pm

    I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I certainly had disordered eating and a severely disordered body image towards the end of high school/beginning of college. I was so tough to be around. I was nasty to everyone – especially when they told me to eat. When someone would say something like “One slice of cake won’t cause any damage” I wanted to flip out. Yeah, it would ruin my day, you know? I feel so bad thinking back on times like that. Life’s too short to not have cake! Thank goodness that’s all in the past!! Thanks for sharing your story – it takes courage to put yourself out there like that.

  12. February 13, 2011 8:31 pm

    Wow, great sharing…I really felt for your mom, and also felt for you. I have an inkling that your mom felt exactly the way my parents were feeling…they are counselors after all too, dealing with all sorts of spiritual and mental disorders…and of course there is a need to “heal” us, their beloved daughters…but eventually recovery is an individual road we have to take.

    Loved this post…and tons of hugs to you!

  13. Claire permalink
    February 13, 2011 11:19 pm

    I completely agree!

    My mom was an RD, but in high school my dad left for Connecticut (we’re from CA) for 6 months for work and the day after he left my mom got diagnosed with cancer. In the midst of all of this, I developed an ED and a year and a half later when I started getting treatment, my mom took on the role of doctor, and it severely strained our relationship. I felt like I couldn’t be around her alone and home wasn’t my “safe place” anymore– I couldn’t show my struggles or my pain, only my “I’m getting better everything’s fantastic!” outlook or else my mom would go straight into RD mode. All I wanted was for her to recognize my hurt and pain and be there supporting me to get better, not take bulimia as a personal attack on her and her “failings” as a mom and someone who should be familiar with the disease.

    Hope things are all healed with your mom now!

  14. February 14, 2011 7:00 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. My mom suffered from an eating disorder for a majority of her teenage years, and while you could say she’s “recovered” in times of stress it is really obvious to see her falling back into some habits. my sister had an eating disorder and their interactions during that time were heavily affected by my mom’s past, mainly her denial to accept what was happening with my sister despite proof from me and my dad. although i was never in full “eating disorder”, my disordered eating problems i would say stem a lot from being around two people who have been like that most of my life, so it’s definitely an interesting dynamic/struggle when the people you are closest with, like parents, have something in their lives that makes it more difficult for them to deal with certain behaviors, if that makes sense. thanks for sharing!

  15. February 16, 2011 10:53 pm

    Wonderful post!!

  16. February 18, 2011 9:38 am

    Oddly enough, my ED brought me closer to my family and friends, especially my dad. I was never much of a daddy’s girl as he was really more involved with my brothers, and i think that when my dad saw how i got sick he felt kinda bad that he didn’t speak out before and now is very involved in my recovery. my mom is a bit in denial about it, but also very helpful at the same time. my friends during college were a huge help because they were the ones there physically for me and were so strong in helping me get through the hard times. But it also pushed me away from all of them because part of me didnt’ want their help as i thought i could do it all on my own. part of me was still in denial too!

    I have never seen any of my friends go through a full blown eating disorder, but i have watched them walk towards them and have been able to stop them and realize exactly what they’re doing instead of letting them walk down that road. But, i have made many personal friendships with blog friends who are struggling and it’s hard to watch them go through it. but i feel like it’s easy for me to understand since i’ve been there, though i know that everyone is different in their experiences and thoughts!

    great post lady! interesting how your mom is a specialist in this but glad that she was able to help you as a mom and not as the nutritionist aspect.

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