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need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

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Old 09-07-2008, 05:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: London, England
Posts: 2
charliea HB User
Question need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

Hi Everyone,
this is my first post here. I need your advice on how best to help my anorexic niece. She is just 21, been anorexic since 15, hospitalised once for 6 weeks 4 years ago. She <gained weight>, learnt bulimia and self harm while inside and to this day blames her parents for putting her in because if they hadn't she'd be dead by now which is where she wishes she was. She is beautiful and very bright. She maintains now <a low weight>. She still counts every flake of cereal, every calorie, spends hours at the supermarket. She has read many, many books on anorexia, understands her illness but cannot come out of it. At the moment she is in see-saw mode, she <gains a bit of weight> then hits a block and wants to start restricting again, and cuts things out and exercises more until she's back at <a low weight>. Then she realises she needs to get better and starts to add to her menu until slowly, very slowly, she will allow her <weight to go up a bit>.

The reason I am reaching out to other anorexic survivors is that she is asking me what I think she should do now that she is at the see-saw point, ready to start restricting again. She just would prefer to starve completely, yet she is so fed up of the obsession with food and the whole thing taking over her life. She resents the years she has lost and wasted when she realises her contemporaries have had jobs, degrees and boyfriends and long relationships in this time, while she has been stuck deeply with only Ana. What can I advise her to overcome this invisible barrier that she has created for herself. She lives with Mum, Dad and brother. She listens to everything I say so it's really important for me to say the right thing and I thought best qualified would be you brave people out there who have managed to find a way to turn your thinking around and come out of it the other side. Any advice you can give me on how to advise my lovely niece would be gratefully received. Thank you so much.

Last edited by mod-anon; 09-07-2008 at 10:35 PM. Reason: edited triggering words

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Old 09-08-2008, 01:04 AM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: London, England
Posts: 2
charliea HB User
Re: need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

Thank you, sorry, I didn't know that. I'd thought the numbers would be relevant to see where a person is at but I understand your reasoning and won't post numbers again. Thanks.

Old 09-10-2008, 07:11 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Long Island
Posts: 178
PinstripedBabe HB User
Re: need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

aww, im sorry i havent replied sooner.
i pretty much consider myself a recovered anorexic. it never truly goes away but i am definitley 99 percent better than i was. i struggled between the ages of 12-15..16 i chose recovery now at 17 im living!!

let her know that if she continues to let this disease control her, she will never be able to do anything she aspires to be. ask 30 years old, 40 years old, 50 years old..does she still wanna be obsessed with food? spending hours at the market? spending time counting every calorie? turning down friend, job, life opportunities because of the fear of food? being anxious all through her adult hood just because a stupid voice in her head is making her anxious? is it REALLY worth all this time/energy/anxiety? let her know there IS a life out there. there IS a DIFFERENT life than an anorexic one. THERE IS TRUE HAPPINESS. its NOT easy. its probably the hardest thing ive ever done and probably the hardest thing i will ever have to do.

good luck..i wish you and your niece the best.

Old 09-11-2008, 06:20 AM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Appleton,Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 1
Saris007 HB User
Re: need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

First of all it is awsome that your neice has reached out to you for help and that she is recognizing the cycle she is in; these a great first steps towards recovery. Note I said recovery because she will never "get rid of" anorexia. <removed> Based on what you discribe of your neice she presents with underlying issues as well such as depression and anger. These issues are fueling the anorexia. When anger and depression flare the need to withhold food and consuming thoughts about food and weight will exacerbate.
She needs to talk to a therapist to address these issues to help her gain control of the anorexia. This can be done on an outpatient basis, which will be better for her since she is so angered by going inpatient many years ago. And since she trusts you, maybe you can go with her to her first few appointments and be a source of comfort, stability and the sounding board she needs.
Best wishes and keep me updated

Last edited by mod-anon; 09-11-2008 at 11:26 AM. Reason: removed profession

Old 09-14-2008, 01:43 PM   #5
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Posts: 30
mayriv8409 HB User
Re: need advice from recovered or recovering anorexics please

Hi. I'm 27 years old and I'm a recovered anorexic. Like PinstripedBabe I agree that this is a life-long struggle, and even though I know I'll never go back to that there are moments when I have to keep myself in check.
The first thing to understand is that anorexia, just like any eating disorder, is a really complex condition, there are so many factors that cause it that it's overwhelming. Like my psychologist said, anorexia is just the tip of the iceberg, what is visible to the eye, but underneath there are many problems that have been accumulating over the years that need to be addressed in order to treat anorexia. I learned that anorexics are usually really sensitive, intelligent and perfectionist people. In my case there were a lot of things going on in my family and in my life that affected me greatly and that were completely out of my control. So I fixated on my weight because it was something that I could control.
The fact that your niece listens to you and actually recognizes she is anorexic is a wonderful sign. It means that she is actually trying to fight this. Usually an anorexic person won't admit he or she has a problem, it's a manipulative condition, even when I didn't realize I was anorexic I still felt the need to lie to my family and friends and hide what I was doing. So she has already taken the first step of her recovery.
What she needs now is to treat her depression with a psychiatrist, because depression makes anorexia worse which then makes one feel more depressed and alone. It's a vicious circle. She definitely needs anti-depressives and something to control her anxiety and to help her sleep. In my case I also went to a psychologist who helped immensely because she had a daughter who was anorexic. Your niece also needs to go to a nutritionist, even if she might not want to. Basically she needs to re-learn how to eat and to reestablish a normal relationship with food, to understand that she can eat and not gain weight, etc. Both aspects are essential for recovery. Psychiatric treatment alone will not help and vice-versa.
There are also a lot of support groups for anorexics and their family. I never had the courage to go, because at the time I was scared. But meeting others who struggle with the same problem in a constructive dynamic could be helpful for your niece.
It's REALLY hard, so she'll need a lot of support mixed with tough love. But she can do this and get to a point where she can actually enjoy life. This is NOT stronger than her and will never be. She needs to know that she can beat this.
Good luck and I wish your niece the best!

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