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Anorexia CC question--update post 98


nevergiveup
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A friend of mine has twin girls age 17.

One has developed anorexia and has OCD.

Her eating disorder has been going on for over a year and a half.

She is 5'6" and 85 pounds.

I have known the girl since birth and feel strongly and have recommended that they get professional help but she stated that she would not take her to a therapist who is not Christian.  (I meekly stated that I thought there probably some who are...)

The mother said they are praying, studying the Bible, and are reading a couple of books written by recovered anorexics.

She is against medication though she has a son on medication.

They constantly comment on how bad the girl looks and how she needs to eat more.

My question for those who are Christians is:  can something like this be overcome by their plan of action? 

I am not a Christian but want to support them in the best way I can.

Edited by nevergiveup
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I am a Christian and I would not hesitate to get appropriate medical care for my child, Christian or not.   I am skeptical that what this family is doing will be of any help to their child, though I suppose anything is possible; I guess it could also depend on how far the anorexia has progressed (I am probably not saying that right).

 

I'm sure there are qualified Christian therapists out there.  But there are also Christian therapists who would wholeheartedly support the course of action this family is currently on, plus add a load of guilt about sin on top of it.

 

My guess is, though, that because you are not a Christian your friends will not listen to you about this.  I'm sorry.

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I have a dear friend whose dd is struggling with anorexia. Commenting on the girl's looks and her eating is probably one of the worst things they could possibly do. That right there can undo everything else they try.

 

They need her in counseling/treatment ASAP. If this was a close friend who'd be open to my advice, I'd be searching for Christian counselors in the community who have extensive experience with adolescents and eating disorders. If you have other friends who are Christian, you may be able to ask for some recommendations from them to pass on to the family.

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Honestly, I would seriously consider calling CPS with your concerns. I am all for parents being free to choose a care provider that is acceptable to them from a religious perspective, but holding a double standard for daughter vs. son with regard to medical care and sticking to prayer and self-help books instead of getting professional help? This is possibly medical neglect and the parents need a boot in the backside to get their kid help.

Edited by Ravin
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Honestly, I would seriously consider calling CPS with your concerns. I am all for parents being free to choose a care provider that is acceptable to them from a religious perspective, but holding a double standard for daughter vs. son with regard to medical care and sticking to prayer and self-help books instead of getting professional help? This is possibly medical neglect and the parents need a boot in the backside to get their kid help.

 

This. And soon, while she's still a minor. When will she turn 18?

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I recently read this book http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006172548X?keywords=brave%20girl%20eating&qid=1456956977&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1which discusses Family Based Treatment for eating disorders; it sounds like an approach that really puts the parents and family in charge--maybe this would be appealing to your friends? The book also discusses some of the biology involved in eating disorders.

 

Are they working with a dr? That may be more important than a therapist. I don't think medication is usually a huge help with eating disorders. The person affected needs to go through an intensive refeeding process that can be administered by parents but needs to be overseen a medical professional.

Edited by maize
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This website might be helpful for information and to find professional treatment: http://www.maudsleyparents.org/whatismaudsley.html

 

Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental disorder, about half of those deaths coming directly from the disease (heart failure etc.) and half from suicide. They need to take this seriously and work with the professionals. This is a medical disorder as serious as any cancer.

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I have a dear friend whose daughter has been in and out of hospital based treatment programs for over a year now.  The longer it goes the harder it is for the patient and the families to unwind unhealthy patterns.

 

People die from anorexia.  Die, dead.  5'6 and 85 pounds is -- I know, because I know the height and minimum weight that my friend's daughter has to maintain before she's released away from feeding tube capability -- within the range that there is an imminent medical risk of heart attack and organ failure.

 

Holding you in the light.  Do the right thing, please.

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My guess is, though, that because you are not a Christian your friends will not listen to you about this.  I'm sorry.

You are right:  I doubted they would take my personal recommendations so I wanted to get "this worked for me" type of things from Christians who have been in this situation and found something that worked.

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I recently read this book http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006172548X?keywords=brave%20girl%20eating&qid=1456956977&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1which discusses Family Based Treatment for eating disorders; it sounds like an approach that really puts the parents and family in charge--maybe this would be appealing to your friends? The book also discusses some of the biology involved in eating disorders.

 

Are they working with a dr? That may be more important than a therapist. I don't think medication is usually a huge help with eating disorders. The person affected needs to go through an intensive refeeding process that can be administered by parents but needs to be overseen a medical professional.

Thanks for the link--I may get it for her.  The biology part sounds  interesting.

I don't think they are working with a doctor.  The mother printed out calorie guidelines for people her age and activity level.  She has postits in her house stating that "It's just food!"

They have prohibited her from ballet until she gains some weight.

Not the approach I would have chosen, but, like I have said, I want to support her and help.

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I am a Christian and agree that she needs medical treatment. Anorexia is not a 'self-help' condition, imo. My high school friend died from anorexia complications....she was 5'6 and 80 pounds. That's not far from where this girl currently is. There absolutely are Christian counselors and treatment centers specializing in eating disorders. If you are able to, I would try to find your friend these resources in your area.

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...and from the little (more than I wish) I know, IT ISN'T ABOUT FOOD.  I hope that someone can get through to these parents that this is an issue that they need to get help with and soon.  I'm so sorry for this, but I am glad the OP cares enough to do *something*.  It must be a pretty helpless feeling at this point.  

 

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...and from the little (more than I wish) I know, IT ISN'T ABOUT FOOD.  I hope that someone can get through to these parents that this is an issue that they need to get help with and soon.  I'm so sorry for this, but I am glad the OP cares enough to do *something*.  It must be a pretty helpless feeling at this point.  

 

:iagree:

Getting her to eat may keep her alive, but it won't cure her.

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Thanks for the link--I may get it for her.  The biology part sounds  interesting.

I don't think they are working with a doctor.  The mother printed out calorie guidelines for people her age and activity level.  She has postits in her house stating that "It's just food!"

They have prohibited her from ballet until she gains some weight.

Not the approach I would have chosen, but, like I have said, I want to support her and help.

 

:sad:  They desperately need professional guidance. Trying to shame and control eating is like throwing gasoline onto an already blazing fire.

 

Anorexia often co-exists with other disorders, like OCD, anxiety, depression. The young lady needs PROFESSIONAL help, yesterday, from someone who is knowledgeable about the complexities and dangers of this disorder.

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If the question is specifically:

 

"CAN something like this be overcome by their plan of action?"

 

The answer is technically, "Yes." -- The God of Christian believers CAN make axe heads float, make the blind see, and raise the dead. Anorexia isn't immune from miraculous healing. However these events are considered exceptional.

 

On the one hand, it's not good for a believer to deny the possibility of a miracle intruding on their everyday reality. On the other hand, if you need to cross a river, you tend to use a bridge. There is no need to live like walking on water is some kind of everyday thing.

 

In this case, responsible believers will couple the best of what's available from professionals with the best of what's available from their faith through prayer and practice. These people may be doing 'prayer' well enough, but they aren't 'practicing' within the ethics of the fruit of the Spirit or the love commandment towards this child. Plus they are neglecting ordinary levels of care. This is *NOT* good.

 

But, hey, maybe -- because if there are patterns to miracles outside of the Bible itself, they do seem to be reported largely connected to the context of 'the helpless' calling for deeply needed help. In this case, the teen is helpless. The parents are not, but it is the child who is sick, and she us being barred from treatment. If she (like her parents) is calling for help, but (unlike her parents) is in true need... That fits the profile well enough to believe in the possibility of a faith healing.

 

ETA: the above wasn't clear enough. I believe she needs real treatment, and that her parents are sinning against her and against God by withholding it. The only reason I believe a faith healing might be possible is because I consider the child "oppressed" and oppressed people sometimes get rescued. I don't think that the parents approach is right in any way whatsoever.

Edited by bolt.
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:iagree:

Getting her to eat may keep her alive, but it won't cure her.

There is actually quite a lot of evidence that the psychological symptoms that go along with anorexia may be the direct result of starvation.

 

Which means that feeding her is in fact a huge part of the cure, the most important part.

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This article discusses some of the research on refeeding. The refeeding process MUST be supervised by a professional, but it does not have to happen in an inpatient setting if the parents are able and willing to provide close supervision.

 

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/anorexia/refeeding-patients-with-anorexia-nervosa-what-does-research-show

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If they're looking for qualified Christian counselors please check the ACBC website. That's their best bet for qualified and highly trained counselors who won't ignore the medical issue but work with the family and doctors to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that doesn't ignore either the mental/spiritual or physical side of the OCD.

 

http://www.biblicalcounseling.com/counselors

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Agreeing with calling CPS. Being a Christian does not preclude seeking medical treatment. I don't think you will get anywhere with this, but this analogy has always made a lot of sense to me (a Christian who believes God "invented" doctors to help us):

A man was a victim of a shipwreck. Someone offered him a life jacket, a life boat, and a helicopter ride. He refused them all, saying that he was praying for God's rescue. He drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God why he didn't answer his prayers for help. God said, "I sent you a life jacket, a lifeboat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?" God helps through human means as He sees fit. He doesn't wave a magic wand all that often, as far as I observe. This child's health is a medical emergency, and taking medical treatment for it is no different than seeking treatment for pneumonia or a broken leg. CPS.

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Will she take her to the pediatrician?This girl and family needs help. My daughter's friend has anorexia, and it so tricky. There are many, many, many complications. My dd's friend has become a master at telling lies and deceiving her parents. She has many self-descructive habits. The whole family has needed council and the help of a professional. There are tons of Christian therapists. This family is in denial.

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Here's a biblical analogy:

 

In the book of Ezra, the Temple at Jerusalem is in ruins and the Jews set about to rebuild it. I'm sure they offered many prayers. Perhaps they read records regarding former temples and rebuilding projects. But when it came time to actually build, they hired masons and carpenters to do the work.

 

In this family, the daughter's body is the temple lying in ruins. Prayers will not rebuild it. Reading books will not rebuild it. She cannot rebuild herself any more than the temple could rebuild itself. It is time to hire professionals who know how to build up a starved and broken body and mind.

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Anorexia is a terribly difficult disorder to 'get over' even with intense inpatient/outpatient care.  I highly doubt the family will be able to tackle this without therapy - her weight is already dangerously low!!  

 

Anorexia is truly a life-long disease - whether current or suppressed.  She needs help now - CPS if they are not willing to get her treatment.    

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A friend of mine has twin girls age 17.

One has developed anorexia and has OCD.

Her eating disorder has been going on for over a year and a half.

She is 5'6" and 85 pounds.

I have known the girl since birth and feel strongly and have recommended that they get professional help but she stated that she would not take her to a therapist who is not Christian.  (I meekly stated that I thought there probably some who are...)

The mother said they are praying, studying the Bible, and are reading a couple of books written by recovered anorexics.

She is against medication though she has a son on medication.

They constantly comment on how bad the girl looks and how she needs to eat more.

My question for those who are Christians is:  can something like this be overcome by their plan of action? 

I am not a Christian but want to support them in the best way I can.

No.  Anorexia is a medical condition with a 10% fatality rate.  They need a team of people who specialize in eating disorders, including a medical doctor.  This is life and death.  

 

I am Christian, if this were my child, I would take her to the best treatment team I could find, be they Christian, Hindu, Jewish, atheist, etc.  It would not matter one whit to me.  

 

If their daughter had cancer, would they go only to a Christian doctor?  Anorexia is a serious medical condition.  The family is uneducated about the true risk here.

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I'm not sure I understand what the Christian angle has to do with not getting medical help.

 

As a PSA, I just wanted to throw out a random thought just in case there's any teeny, tiny chance that it might help anyone.  I have read about situations of PANS (aka PANDAS) where the OCD manifested as an eating disorder.  PANS is a controversial condition of inflammation due to an infection (e.g. strep but there are others) and/or immune system malfunction.  The theory involves antibodies attacking a specific portion of the brain, causing the symptoms of OCD/anorexia.  While there may be multiple avenues to treatment, often the first try is a simple course of antibiotics.  In particular, the following symptoms might possibly point in such a direction: dilated pupils, urinary issues, sudden onset of the OCD/eating disorder, insomnia.

Edited by wapiti
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In the case of anorexia, food IS the medicine.

 

Granted,there may be other things going on that could use meds, but the cure for anorexia is food- lots of high calorie, high fat food. Counseling can certainly help as well, but immediate medical action is needed.

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Not the approach I would have chosen, but, like I have said, I want to support her and help.

 

I appreciate that you are trying to be respectful of your friend, but this is different from just a choice of approach. The daughter has a medical issue that could result in her death without prompt intervention. This is not an exaggeration.

 

I say this as a Christian - the appropriate thing to do is let your friend know that this is serious and needs a doctor's intervention.  If your friend does not take action within a short amount of time, you need to report it. 

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Also, I seem to remember that reading books about anorexia can actually trigger it in some girls, making it more glamorous. Obviously not the intended effect.

I don't know about glamorizing it, but I do know that kids with anorexia can get ideas from books that recount the experiences of others. If the person who wrote the book mentions, say, a specific weight--the kid may aim to "beat" that weight; if they admit to seeing weights into their underwear for weigh-ins, the kid may pick up on that idea and try it themself.

 

Group therapy programs can unfortunately have a similar effect.

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Oh, my yes...when I said it's not about the food, that doesn't mean that she doesn't need food.  She does and as suggested above.  My apologies if my point was badly made.

 

I've read the rest of the responses and am in agreement that they need to get help and now.  

 

A question:  does the girl herself have ANY inkling of wanting to get help?  I'm not sure she needs to wait for her parents' approval.  If she could get to an ER, would they be able to help her at all without her parents' signatures?  I don't know how this works, given that there are a lot of services available to minors without their parents' approval or even knowledge, but I know there are some situations that require the person to have her majority.  

 

 

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Oh, my yes...when I said it's not about the food, that doesn't mean that she doesn't need food.  She does and as suggested above.  My apologies if my point was badly made.

 

I've read the rest of the responses and am in agreement that they need to get help and now.  

 

A question:  does the girl herself have ANY inkling of wanting to get help?  I'm not sure she needs to wait for her parents' approval.  If she could get to an ER, would they be able to help her at all without her parents' signatures?  I don't know how this works, given that there are a lot of services available to minors without their parents' approval or even knowledge, but I know there are some situations that require the person to have her majority.  

 

No, I think your statement was right.  Of course she needs to eat but it isn't a matter of just telling her or making her eat.  This is about so much more - control, for one thing.  You can take control over it through force feeding but as soon as you stop, unless there is other medical and psychological intervention, the patient will be right back where she started, if not worse off psychologically.  Not to mention that if someone has been starved, their body cannot handle normal food.  This definitely needs specialists. 

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This chart shows that a female at 5'6 and 95lbs would have a body mass index of 15.  It doesn't even go down to 85lbs.  You friend's daughter may have an even lower BMI.   I found this also...

 

A body mass index of anything under 18.5 is considered underweight and can have potential health consequences, just like being obese. Speak with your doctor if you have a BMI of 16 because this is dangerously low.

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Is she not receiving ANY medical care right now? Because I can't see how a family doctor, seeing her in that condition and knowing that she isn't being treated for it, wouldn't call CPS. And if she's to this point and isn't receiving any medical care whatsoever, you need to call CPS yourself right away. Anorexia isn't something you cure with happy thoughts and a book from the library. Hell, even some people with teams of specialists working with them can't overcome it. 

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