So, When I left you last my sweet, wonderful daughter was making some changes. She was exercising regularly, watching what she ate, and acting as if all was well with the world. Honestly, I didn’t see anything that would cause me to question her mental state. Remember, at this time, I had no idea she was hurting herself, that information didn’t come out until she was already in therapy being treated.
During the summer our older children visit my parents, out of state for a week. This particular year, they conned me into agreeing to allow them to stay for 3 weeks. The longest weeks of my life. I was lost without them bickering at each other. You might think 3 weeks! I would love some peace and quiet, but after the first few days, it’s too quiet. I missed our loud, obnoxious family. LOL My mom would text and call and say our daughter wasn’t eating much, but made it sound so casual that I didn’t show too much concern. I would get pictures and think to myself that she was getting thin. I talked to her daily and she reassured me she was eating and would send me pictures of her meals. By the time she got home, she was 13 lbs. lighter. Thirteen pounds in 3 weeks!
She started to balk at meals, stating she wan’t hungry. We would argue and I would threaten that she will need to see a nutritionist. This went on for a while and slowly she showed more signs of depression. I too was starting to feel the heaviness of the situation. I asked myself, “How can I get her to eat?” “Do I scare her into eating?” “Do I ground her?” I had no idea what to do. She would spend days in her room, refusing to go anywhere, refusing meals, and just plain refusing to do anything. We have always had a close relationship, so one night she asked if she could talk to me. She opened up about those years in public school and what she went through. I cried for her hurt heart. I cried for her bruised sense of worth. I cried for the anguish my child had felt and kept to herself. As a parent, you want to be able to fix all the “boo-boos”. You want to make your kids feel safe. To hear that your child sees themselves as worthless or not good enough, crushes your heart. It squeezed all of the air out of my lungs and I felt physical pain. I understood every word she said. I felt every pain she felt. I had been there and I knew these feeling all too well, however, the pain I felt growing up and experiencing the same thing did not even compare to the pain I felt knowing my child was going through it. I wanted nothing more than to turn back time and “fix it”.
What do I do now? I was completely lost, and had no idea how I was supposed to help. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed some more. My husband and I talked and I tried to help him understand what she was going through. I continued the next few days, comforting our daughter and encouraging her. I praised her for her strength and told her how very proud we were of her. She still refused to eat. I took a deep breathe and ignored the pain I felt in my chest. I did not have time for an anxiety attack, our daughter needed help. I Googled nutritionists, and by the end of the day, we had an appointment set. My daughter was NOT happy, but she had no choice at this time.
I went into the meeting with her. I wanted to understand what was going on and I was not letting some stranger talk to my daughter without me. I’m controlling and protective. LOL After an hour of talking (between me and the nutritionist, you know who was pissed and said very little) it was determined that she indeed had a eating disorder and would need therapy and a visit to a doctor. I was kind of dazed. I thought (because I didn’t want to admit it) that she would see the importance of taking care of ourselves and go home and eat. I was in denial. (Don’t judge me.) I was scared! What would the doctor find? They wanted an EKG and complete blood work. They wanted her tested for all this crap! I was so concerned about her health I didn’t recognize my anxiety attacks anymore. All I could feel was pain, physical pain in my chest, in my gut, and in my head. I never stopped. I went from one appointment to the next. Waiting for the confirmation that she was going to be alright.
An eating disorder is a scary thing. To put your child on medication for anxiety and depression is a horrifying thing. It rips at your heart; it doesn’t tug, it rips! You literally feel weak and exhausted, yet you haven’t done anything physically strenuous. Exercise was the only outlet I had, until that was taken away from our daughter. When they said she had to stop running and could not exercise at all, I stopped going to the gym as well. I’m not 100% sure why. Maybe because she was my workout partner, maybe I felt guilty that I could go and she couldn’t, maybe I was just too exhausted mentally. I don’t know and I really don’t care, the point is I stopped and I was pretty pissed that I did. That had been my only outlet. My hair seemed to to be thinning right along with my daughter’s. As her cycle stopped mine went all crazy. It seemed in the process of trying to help her, the stress was taking it’s toll on me. I worked, but thank goodness it was from home so I could get her to her appointments and monitor her meals. It was like having another small child. I prepared every meal and sat and ate with her to ensure she ate her meals. She never vomited, which was a good thing. She was a restrictive eater so we just needed to make sure she ate. In reality, I probably should have started therapy right along with her, but I didn’t. All I knew was this was going to be a long journey, but she would be okay.
Retelling this story is quite enlightening to me as well as exhausting. I really had no idea what emotions I was feeling, as I was feeling them. But today, looking back, I remember, and it is exhausting to remember. I’m believing I can finish this up in my next post, and I hope this is helping someone other than myself. 😉