Friday, December 5, 2008

Fears of the Future

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how having anorexia will affect N's future. I hear stories of many who have beat the anorexia and have moved on without looking back. Still, I watch him now, doing so well, yet still fighting the triggers. Will that happen his whole life or just through his teen years?

I also hear of set backs that happen as children begin college or move out. How will he do when he starts school? Because T is a college professor, we receive a tuition benefit. Hopefully that keeps N close to home where we can keep an eye on him. We've always been big advocates of the importance of living at college, but will that be the best for him? Will he be better off living at home?

N has a goal to serve for two years as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Typically, missionaries live in less-than-idea conditions. Often they are sent to foreign countries and these 19 - 21 year-old boys work hard! Not only do they teach people about Jesus Christ, but they also serve the people wherever they go. My already skinny husband lost a lot of weight when he served a mission for two years in South America. How will that affect N? Will he even be able to serve? Or will he be kept in the United States because of the anorexia.

What about military service? N recently discussed the possibilities of joining a ROTC program during college. Would they even take him? What if he went to war? War time conditions would almost absolutely result in weight-loss which we already know is a trigger. I worry that he wouldn't survive a relapse of anorexia in those conditions.

What about the lingering OCD issues? Will they stop him from being all that he can be? And mostly, what about a family? Will anorexia triggers always have to be a concern for his wife?

So many worries! Do any of you know (or can predict somewhat) the answers to these questions?


Erica said...

I have no answers...only the same questions and worries. Will my daughter ever leave home? Will she be able to have a healthy relationship with a man? Children? The list goes on and on and keeps me up at night. I keep waiting for the complete "melting away" of symptoms that people talk about, but I haven't seen it yet.

anne said...

My sister is now 53 years old. She struggled with anorexia for 8 years, from age 14 to 22. She feels she is totally recovered. She ha 4 children (all young adults now) and is a doctor. She is still slender, but healthy. She talks pretty openly now about her former struggle.

The only remnant, she says, is that she doesn't like to be served food by others. That's it. Not too much of a big deal.

Laura Collins said...

I know many fully recovered people. I have also met quite a few people failed by treatment who live in a permanent shadow world of separation and distress who call themselves recovered, but I don't.

The recovered people have healthy bodies and do not flirt with ED behaviors - they cannot afford to because their brains will go back to illness. The permanently ill or shadowy ones never regain full medical health.

Your son can completely recover and lead a normal life with normal expections, I believe. And everything you are doing is moving him toward that!!

Anonymous said...

I was anorexic at 12. I lost my weight within 3 months and was hospitalized. Back then (30 years ago) nothing much was done except to force feed you back to health. I did gain it all back. I also continued to gain throughout my life. I am now technically obese. I have been fit though and healthy up until diabetes 5 years ago or so. But I have suffered anxiety throughout my life. It is more severe now since a near death situation with anaphylaxis two years ago.

I don't know if I coped well. I don't think it would ever resurface but I'm sure that it has indirectly played a large role in who I am and how I handle things. I also know that there are links between anorexia, ocd, eating disorders and anxiety.

Life isn't perfect. None of us are "normal". We just cope. We do the best we can with what we are given.

I don't think anorexia was a choice for me, I strongly believe I was genetically wired for it and it was triggered. I had never even heard the term before I was hospitalized. I almost died. I was fortunate that a pediatrician recognized it. My family doctor had been testing me for cancer. I only wish that I would have had counseling at the time. But back then, there wasn't a lot known about it. They blamed mothers. They blamed the anorexics. They thought you were doing it for attention or because you were abused. I had loving parents. I was an A student. I was thin to start. It was different then. I remember them putting a tube at the bottom of my bed and telling me that if I didn't cooperate they would stick it down my throat - nice huh! Parents could only visit during visiting hours. No one talked to you about all your feelings. They just told you to eat and wouldn't let you in the bathroom by yourself. Once you gained 5 lbs they sent you home to eat 3,500 calories/day. I'm grateful things have changed.

Anyway I have rambled on. I just want you to know that anorexia (and whatever causes it) will always a be a part of him and his life - but it will not be the only part. His path may not always be easy, but he will be okay.