Thursday, November 20, 2008

On The Big Screen

How do you feel about yourself when you see yourself in a family movie? Yesterday, N made a movie for a school assignment. The "I look so fat, my hair is stupid and my voice sounds funny" ended up being a trigger for him. He was cranky and disrespectful last night and this morning. He also cried for several minutes about all those anxieties unearthed by seeing himself on tv. I tried to reassure him that almost everyone feels that way when they see themselves on the screen. He didn't believe me.

Though it was a bump, N hasn't had a bad day since he skipped breakfast back three weeks ago. He did have an appointment with his therapist last night. We discussed the idea of fasting again. Dr. R. just indicated that as long as fasting is a trigger, then N can't do it. I suspect that will have to be something that N will have to be aware of throughout his whole life. N also discussed land mines that he has encountered as well as what to do when he becomes desperate and ravenous. Dr. R. said that N should keep up his blood sugar -- little meals constantly. I'm just not sure how to work that into his school day. I've not been sending snacks and apparently I need to resume.


Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,

I want to mention a couple of things and couldn't see an address to message you on this page, so sorry if this gets long :-)

I came across your blog through someone else's, and have just been reading back through the entries - and I just wanted to say your sons are so lucky to have you, and you and your husband have clearly done a wonderful job of guiding N through anorexia. I was anorexic for ten years (age 7 to 17), and had been in recovery for five years until this year... Being anorexic as a child is incredibly confusing and frustrating and horrible, and the things you describe N saying and doing could just be an absolute photo snapshot of ten years of my childhood. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with someone to help me in the way that N has had (hence the ten years, I think!). So you feel reassured that even if he never fully comprehends exactly what you have done for him over the past two years, you have done a completely incredible job. He also sounds like a pretty brave and awesome kid, too :-D

But secondly, just a word on the fasting, as mentioned in your post... I really and truly wouldn't push it. I am a pentecostal Christian, and we put a lot of value and importance on fasting, and I would dearly love to be able to do it. I have prayed and agonised and stressed over it for a few years now, because I feel it is so important for my relationship with God. But every time I fast, and I think this is perhaps physiological, whenever I try fasting, as soon as the hunger kicks in (and to me, it feels wonderful, which is another problem), so does the voice of anorexia. My attention turns completely from God, and I am just indulging the anorexia further. When I am properly nourished, I have the sort of prayer that really matters.

I simply have to accept that I am not safe fasting yet, and in the past, that has caused me anxiety and guilt. And I'm a 22 year old woman - I can only imagine how much the confusion could be compounded for a child. N probably isn't, as I know I am not, ready to deliberately not eat for ANY reason, even (sadly), for our Lord. For me, it intertwines God and the voice of anorexia far too closely.

To try and end on a positive note (and you have probably already done this, as you're really onto-it!), you could encourage him to find some acts of submission to God which he can do... Like committing to a considerable period daily / weekly whatever of solidly listening to God - not talking, just listening. Or of committing to some kind of extra act of service.

OK, as I said, sorry for the length of the comment! And again, congratulations on your family's achievement; I think it is just amazing.


Wendy said...


No worries about the long post -- I appreciate all of your comments. I think you are spot on when it comes to N fasting. I just really hadn't thought it through -- and was thinking that the ban was more of a temporary thing (about the food more than about the restricting). I can see, though, that he will have to be careful his whole life about fasting. I admit that it is hard for me to resign myself to that. Especially because I personally feel the power that comes from fasting and prayer. But you're right, there are other ways.

Thanks for your encouragement and concern! Wendy

Carrie Arnold said...

I don't think anyone with a history of an ED should fast EVER. And for the same reason that Sylvia mentioned: the malnutrition just kicks in the voice of anorexia. Because of N's biological predisposition to anorexia, this will probably never go away, and just strikes me as playing with fire.

I mean, I would advise an alcoholic to avoid communion wine, but it doesn't mean that the ceremony is off limits.

Make sense?