Friday, May 30, 2008


N and I met with his therapist last night. It took almost the whole time for us to really get at the root of N's current issues. And then our time was up.

We talked about handing over some control of food choices back to N. We're going to let him make lunch choices. I'll weigh him extra and watch him carefully. I'll go fully back to the "magic plate" approach if he isn't making good choices. We also talked about continued work on the OCD things. N says that he is doing better but the OCD is still there. We also talked about N's increasing tendency to exercise as much as he can. Dr. R's recommendations were that N only exercise if he really enjoys what he is doing -- and the second it become a chore or that he is only doing it because he has to, then he stops.

There were eventually tears, though, when Dr. R. defined "recovery from anorexia" as really liking yourself no matter what you look like. I turned to N and asked, "how do you feel about yourself?" His response was, "Well, I don't hate myself like I used to." As we talked for the remaining five minutes, it was clear that N still doesn't like himself. The strategy that we're using is to focus on the positive and say, "whatever" to the negative. We talked more about this on the drive home. He cried but tried so hard to not let me see the tears, which made me even more sad for him. I heard N compare himself over and over to all those kids in his Accelerated class. They are smart, funny, athletic, driven and talented kids who also stand out as leaders. All he sees is where he falls short compared to these other kids.

I've really waffled about giving up the accelerated options that N has for junior high. It's so hard for me to let go of those opportunities, for which he is fully qualified. But the real issue is what is best for N. Perhaps, it is for the best that he be surrounded by more "normal" kids in "normal" classes where he can feel talented to some degree and not just compare himself to the "best." Certainly, the courses will be easier.

T is convinced that "we did this to him" and caused the anorexia by putting N into a situation where his self-esteem was hit which caused anxiety, depression and ultimately caused him to feel fat and diet. It's the first time that I've really seen that maybe my husband doesn't fully buy into the genetic/biological/metabolic causes of anorexia. Is that just because he feels guilty? Should I feel guilty? All I know is that we prayed to know whether or not N should go into the ALL program. We had mixed feelings, but I didn't feel bad about it. But it doesn't matter, does it? I can't change the past. Hopefully, we'll be able to make good decisions for N's future, knowing what we know now.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fat Legs

I should know better.

Last night I made a comment about my 25 month-old's cute, little, fat legs chugging down the hall (it's absolutely endearing!). Almost immediately, N, who I didn't know was even listening, demanded, "are you calling mine and I's legs fat?" My response: "I didn't say anything about your legs." I tried to explain that we can appreciated all shapes and sizes. But he insisted that my calling I's legs, "fat" was a comment about the fatness of his own legs. He had already made a comment earlier in the day about his legs being fat. For the most part, I've learned to ignore those sorts of things. My husband's comment was, "I can't believe you just said that."

I should know better.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


You might have detected from some of my earlier posts that we are a Christian family. I don't talk about it tons since this is not really a blog about religion, but religion is a big part of our life and N's life. So please indulge me for a minute. It's been an important week for our family religiously.

We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I believe in the bible. I also believe that because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice and because of the power of the priesthood, that our family can be a family together after death. I love my family. The idea that we can be together always is one of my favorite teachings of our church. There is a lot of confusion in the world about what our church believes and what it doesn't believe -- a lot of what is assumed and reported is completely wrong. So please feel free to ask any questions that you might have (or you can read more here). I'm happy to clear things up and won't be offended if you're confused.

Anyway, upon turning 12 years old and because he was worthy, N was able to receive the priesthood and be ordained as a Deacon this past week. This means he'll be involved in passing the bread and water of the sacrament to the other members of the congregation. He will also collect fast offerings (this money goes to feed struggling families). Our extended family traveled to attend church with us on Sunday. They were there when N was ordained. It was such a nice day and a special experience. I can see a difference in N since then. It's been a good thing for him.

He has also started attending our church youth group. I'm pleased that he is able to interact with such a good group of kids (both girls and boys). These kids are good examples of choosing the right and being kind to others. I know that N already looks up to many of them. I think that they will serve as important mentors in N's life.

With these changes, come some new challenges, though. He'll be going on a week-long camp out this summer. We're already making special arrangements for him through his church leaders. I'm also watching carefully for any additional stress or pressure.

These events have made a subtle difference in the anorexia. N continues to progress and is often eating without having to ask us for permission. I've had several people comment recently on how much happier N seems. I agree. He has his color back. He is full of energy, enthusiasm and happiness. It is such a contrast to his demeanor last November.

Wii Fit

I mentioned earlier that N's birthday was this week. N has been saving his money for months trying to purchase a wii system and he finally reached his goal this week. So, on his birthday, he purchased his wii. He's had a blast playing the wii sports program that comes with the console. It's no surprise to me that he prefers the wii over his ps2. After all, the anorexia seems to compel him to exercise as much as possible, and movement is the big selling point of the wii.

I think I knew that he would also be drawn to the new wii fit program. Again, it's the same magnetic draw of exercise in any form. I also knew that we wouldn't let him purchase the game, especially because we are already limiting exercise -- as much because of the calorie drain as because of the OCD compulsion.

I've read a handful of reviews since wii-fit's release. I was horrified to find out that wii-fit has you input your height and weight, in order to determine BMI, and then adjusts your mii's appearance accordingly. One disgusted woman described her amazement as the program made her custom-created mii (your character) "even fatter" after she entered her BMI. She said it adjusted her character to a setting even higher than those available where you create your characters. I also watched a youtube video where a man's character was made to look fat because he had a higher weight due to muscle mass. I can't believe this! There is no way I would let N buy this program now that I know this fact. It's one thing that he struggles with his own actual body image. I'm sure that any wii-fit adjustments to his mii would just mirror the body image distortion that exists in his disordered brain. How is that society has taken warped body images even to the virtual world?

Update: I read this article this afternoon. Apparently, the wii-fit program doesn't even use appropriate BMIs for children.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday Weigh-In

I weighed N yesterday. He is up to 94 lbs. I'm thrilled that he continues to gain.

His behaviours have improved quickly this past week since we returned home. The past few days, though, he has eaten several times to the point of making himself sick. I want to encourage him to listen to his body, but don't want him to learn to binge and purge. I've tried to help him make varied food choices, but he seems to lean towards sweets and carbs. It seems like a careful dance to help him choose foods that will help his body and brain heal, yet to encourage him to listen to his body and celebrate the fact that he is eating of his own free will.

Friday, May 23, 2008

End of School Stuff

We've been busy with all the end of school year stuff that happens in the last few weeks of school. Today N's class danced and sang. Tuesday, it was Shakespeare. He seems to be doing well. Our routine is back completely and he responds well to that. He even went to school today with a terrible hair cut (too short). He told me last night that he wouldn't be going to school. Given his tendency to feel self-conscious I worried that he really would stay home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

12 Years Old!

We celebrated N's 12th birthday this week. I think the past year of N's life has been the longest ever for me. N was 11 years and 2 months when we first exhibited signs of anorexia. I am amazed with how far he fell in 4 months and then how far we've come in the 6 months since his low point. At the same time, I am keenly aware of the long road we still have to travel.

He ate his birthday (ice-cream) cake, but did balk at the proportions. I insisted that he "had" to eat it and then it wasn't an issue after that. He choose crab cakes, red potatoes with garlic, butter and dill, fruit salad and izzy soda for dinner. Using money he had "earned" over the past few months as well as money from allowance, babysitting, and grandparents, he purchased a wii on his birthday. I like that it is more interactive than typical video games (which have served as a good "distraction" as N has recovered from the anorexia). I think N likes that he is moving/exercising as he plays.

I've been worried a little bit about N exercising lately. We've not allowed him to exercise at all outside of school and scout activities. He is still clamoring to play competitive sports. At first he wanted to play soccer, now it is lacrosse. We've agreed to sign him up for recreational soccer this fall (it's low key, 1 hour of practice and 1 hour of a game each week). Beyond that, I'm seeing him attempt to add exercise back into his life, not sneakily, but not up-front either. While on vacation, he would always take the stairs instead of the elevator. I know that using the stairs is not a huge calorie burner, but it's the thoughts behind it that worry me. Also, our neighbor let us know that she saw N "jogging" off course as he walked home from church on Sunday.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


It's been almost two weeks since I lasted posted. We took a long overdue trip to Disneyland. It was a nice break for all of us to get away from the ongoing pressures of home, work and church. Unfortunately, though, we weren't able to leave the anorexia behind. I wish we could have.

In fact, N's anorexia seemed to get worse while we were on vacation. I'm sure that has something to do with all of the altered routines. I realized by the second day, that N was restricting and taking advantage of our busy schedule. We had to watch him much more closely after that. We had a continental breakfast available at the hotel, but there weren't enough calories available in the selection, so we supplemented with milk and Carnation Instant Breakfast (I was thankful for our in-room fridge). It was also easy to forget about N's snacks. I forgot several times and, of course, he didn't remind me. There was also a lot of extra exercise involved with all the walking around California. But we did have some yummy meals at Disneyland and vicinity that I'm sure more than made up for all the calories that he walked off.

We all had a lot of fun. It was also nice to have T around to help with N, 24/7. We are all tired from all of our adventures, but I think are also rejuvenated some. We probably needed this vacation back in January.

I weighed N this morning, not knowing what to expect. Luckily, his weight was up to 93.6 lbs.

N's routine is back now, but some of his past week's struggles are still ongoing. We're down to the last few weeks of school. N has a major project due tomorrow as well as Shakespeare lines to memorize. It will be nice to have a summer break. Taking school out of the equation eased some of the stress this past week. I assume the absence of school-stress will also help throughout the summer.

Monday, May 5, 2008

N ate well each day of this past weekend. We were gone for a lot of hours and he had to take care of eating himself -- and he did. But at the end of each day and again the next morning, he would have anxiety about what he had eaten. He would feel self-conscious and make himself feel sick. I suspect that he is overeating slightly, but I feel like that tendency will normalize over the next while. I also think he probably needs to learn to live with anxious feelings.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

More Progress

I felt like N was headed downward at the beginning of the week, but things turned around midweek and he did better than ever these last few days. I still see some of the OCD stuff here and there. But the past two days he has eaten his meals and snacks without any prodding from me! He'll check in with me here and there, but is mostly taking the initiative himself. Amazing.