Teenager daughter with anorexia

Our 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with anorexia 2 weeks ago.

We are supporting her at home & have twice weekly sessions with eating specialist nurse to monitor her weight.She does talk to D about how she is getting on with it but it is not counselling which is what D has said she would like.

We have been told by the nurse there is a waiting list for family therapy -Not avail til Sept 2015!

She said she would not recommend counselling yet for D -she has to put on weight first -she is 35.3kg & needs to get back to around 45kg.

She has mentioned lack of funding so do you think we are just not being offered counselling for D because of this or that she has a valid point about her needing to concentrate on getting well medically first?

I did ask about going to a counsellor privately and she still said she would not recommend this yet.

We are having good & bad days but today is particularly bad and D is not eating many of the snacks she should eat or much at mealtimes.

Any help / suggestions would be welcomed


11 Replies

  • That is so great your there to support your daughter. I was anorexic when I was her age and my parents left me on my own even after being diagnosed.

    I don't gave anything to add about counselling and waiting times. But as getting your daughter to snack and eat more I think you being supportive is a wonderful start. Doing something with her while snacking might be helpful. Like going to sit in the park and talk about things that interest her.

    My mind as an anorexic may be different than your daughters. But I found being weighed all the time made me feel vulnerable and exposed. At my worse I was 78 pounds and 5'5 tall. I was so thin you could see my teeth outline under my cheeks. And my hip bones stuck out so much I had a fear they would cut threw my own skin. Horrible and haunting time in my life over25 years ago. If your daughter is at a stage she is asking to be weighed to see the number go up- than that is the best news possible. But up she is reluctant it might be better if she continues to eat as the doctor and you recommend- and then she will see herself how she is feeling better physically. Instead of just focusing on improvement being a number on a scale. I am not saying that is what you are doing!!! But that is what helped me. Getting rid of the scale and eating right and being totally surprised how much better I felt physically. Anorexic people suffer a lot physically and also your memory is not as good. That us the way it was fir me anyway! I found school so much easier when I was eating healthy.

    I don't know if I had anything helpful to share with you or not. But I wish the best recovery journey you are sharing with your daughter. You are an awesome mom.

  • Thank you for your comments.

    Yes you are right it is not just about seeing the numbers go up on the scales, I have seen for myself that when D eats more her mood improves.Being hungry makes her miserable & her concentration is poor.

    We are seeing nurse again tomorrow and will raise our concerns again with her about D's moods and whether counselling could help.

    You sound like you have been though a lot with this horrible illness but are hope you are doing better now.

    Thanks again for your post- it really helps

  • Thank- you for your kind words. If there is any questions at all you want to ask me I would answer them the best I could to help you understand things from an anorexic's perspective. There is some very unpleasant things that happen to girls when they loose too much weight such as their period stopping and growing soft fluffy hair all over your body. Starts with L.. Can't remember the name of it. Hopefully your daughter has not that stage. I used to do some very odd things such as stand on a scale alone with a ziploc bag of water and keep pouring water in the bag until the scale went up to something the doctor would see as an improvement or even maintaining whatever the weight I was at previously. 83 pounds was the longest weight I keep constant. Then I would mark the bag and dump the water out. And just before going to see the doctor to get weighed I would fill the bag up to the line I marked -and drink it. Somehow it made me feel in control and less vulnerable because it was still me manlipilating numbers. I went to see be doctor last week and they wanted to weigh me. I said I am sorry but that may trigger my eating disorder so no. And they were understanding and it made me feel even at 41 more relaxed and able to trust the doctor because they listened to me. Anorexica is thought in the media as a disease girls develop wishing they could look like catwalk models. And it is more often than not - not the case at all. I think counselling would be a great thing if your daughter would like it! My reason behind anorexic is complex like many other anorexics. When your daughter is ready to talk I hope she does open up to a counsellor. I had one once that made a difference to me. I hope you have new positive ideas from your appointment with the nurse tomorrow. Something as easy as blood sugar can cause mood swings but also depression can accompany eating disorders too. I would not wish this illness on anyone in this world and I hope you and your daughter find the quickest path possible for her to be a healthy weight again.💐

  • Hi

    Getting weight on is important first and a sign of commitment to change and wanting to get better. And as I understand it better now through my own recovery you have to fight to learn to eat abd endure the pain and fear that brings because the therapy only brings more to work through that is less about foid, eating and weight and more about the real issues that are buried underneath. Given her age she may still be in touch with that. After abusing food my whole life my brain didnt really develop or function and had no idea why I was anorexic but any memories only came back once I started eating a bit more and regularly. There are good reasons for waiting for therapy much to do with timing. This might be just the start for your daughter. My parents denied there were problems and normalised my eating behaviours had I known at 13 that 26yrs on I would be finally getting better then I would have felt desperate but like I say timing plays a part. Jigsaw pieces fell unto place and then I started to looking for missing ones I met a psychologist who has helped me change my life and I am still working on that. I've had 2psychologists before her and 3counsellors so again timing and being brought to the right person is key and could take a while. Anorexics are one girl armies takes a while to consider taking walls down and then to let someone help you break them down. It is a journey and I hope you both get there in time. ..have faith


  • Hi, as a mum of an anorexic teen myself, I can only add that we were given the same message about therapy - wait until some weight is restored. I don't think it is a funding issue as they explained the brain isn't functioning properly at extremely low weights. As la-la-la says, counseling targets the underlying issues, which our daughter was blocking out with her control of food. It may be your daughter is ready to talk a bit, and by the sounds of it has a good relationship with her dad like ours does. Let them keep talking! Good luck x

  • The thing is you want to talk...you eventually realise that you need to change but your focus is on food and weight and eating issues yiu just can't see what is underlying well maybe if caught younger you do but the ed is such a powerful tool at blocking things out to the point where anything painful doesn't touch you as you are numb to Everything -you just see the only problem you have is being fat so you talk about that. Getti g in touch with the real issues is much harder and scary than eating and that is harder than hard undescribeably hard so you have to gain strength and confidence from achieving that and know why you took that path so that that us the therapy focus because they are the real issues. Getting to that point is virtually impossible but there is always hope :)

  • I'm no expert and although some cognitive function is needed for counselling to work it is imporatant to start this at the earliest opportunity.

    Personnally we found family therapy to be very useful as the strain is felt by all. Recovery may be quicker and longer lasting with everyone positively involved.

    Having someone like you to help is brilliant, from our experience we loved each other immensely but together we hated the illness. As a carer please also remember to get the help that you may also require as the journey can be long with the reward at the end well worth the fight. Recovery does happen albeit gradually. Keep strong a keep pushing for the assistance you need - your gut feelong here is the best guide.

    We are all with you.

  • Wow... thank you all soo much for your posts.I am so grateful.

    Susiecoo your comments mirror exactly what the Eating Specialist Nurse said today when D went to be weighed.

    The nurse said the priority has to be getting some weight on as at the moments D's brain wouldn't be able to cope with counselling.

    She has said the earliest she would offer counselling is July and even if we went private she would not recommend it til then.

    She said she has been in this job for 30 years and this is the best way to treat it.

    She is the expert, we are very new to this so will listen to her & take her advice.

    She unfortunately has lost 200g and the nurse said again that she is very low & if she doesn't start gaining weight gradually but steadily she will have to be treated as an in patient in hospital.She has said it would possibly be in a hosp called Chalkhill in Haywards Heath.I really do not want that to happen and I don't think D does either.

    After her appt today she visited her Nan who is in hosp.She saw all the drips in the elderly confused patients and I think that possibly made her realise that hospital is not the best place to be.

    The nurse has told D to stop her P.E lessons and also not to walk to school & back (about a mile each way).

    I have said to D I will take & pick her up to & from school to help keep her from having to go to hosp but would be good if she could then help by making sure she eats all of her snacks- i want her to realise we are here for her and we will beat this horrible disease together.She did say that if she is not walking she finds it even more difficult to eat more. i said yes i do understand but we need to give it a go.

    She has eaten well this eve and seems much more positive than yesterday.I now know that every day is different but I think I will just have to take the positives & try not to dwell too much on the bad /low days.

    Thanks again :)

  • Hi, I was diagnosed with anorexia over a year ago and I am now in recovery. I'm a 15 year old girl and know what your daughter is going through. I found it really useful when my mum sat with me at meal times and snacks, and having a distraction is always great. Maybe having the tv on? But not cooking shows, as I became obsessed with them:( mindfulness is a great therapy technique, such as colouring and breathing exercises to relive stress and just feel peace within yourself. I find is really helpful when my mum spends time with me too, just having company can be very peaceful so you don't feel lonely. I hope your daughter the very very best in her recovery, times will be hard but remember it can be beaten! EAT IT TO BEAT IT! Always remind her of this quote, I found this so helpful in my recovery:) and make sure you prepare her meals as anorexia is very controlling and always wants to cook food so it can be restricted and in control. By doing this (you cooking the meals and preparing snacks) , you are telling anorexia that you are the boss and that you are stronger than her which will ultimately help you daughter:)

  • Thank you Izzy, that is such a helpful reply.

    I have used your quote - eat it to beat it yesterday when D was struggling to eat, and I will continue to do so.

    We have ordered colouring books & pens/pencils a few days ago so was nice to hear from you that this is good thing to do.

    D put on this week which we are obviously pleased about but D has had some tummy aches and been feeling very guilty about putting weight on.She said she wants to be thin.I have told her that is the anorexia that is telling her that she is fat and that she should believe ME who tells her that she is not fat.Will take time I think for her to listed to me more that the anorexia but I hope we are on the right tracks.We spend as much time as she wants us to with her.

    I wish you all the best in your continued recovery.I am sure your Mum is very proud of you, you sound like a great daughter :)

  • I'm really glad that She gained, but I totally understand why she would feel guilty. It is such a horrible horrible disease and hope she can beat it, which I'm sure she can:) distractions are the best thing, especially colouring:) thank you. I wish you and your daughter all the best!

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