Anorexia is insidious and relentless.
I was feeling like everything was going so well and I relaxed a little bit. All of a sudden I start noticing the ways that anorexia is sneaking back into N's life.
It started a month ago. J asked for lunch money and I realized that N hadn't asked me for any. I checked in with him. He said something like, "Oh, I don't need any. Sometimes I don't get to lunch in time to stand in line, but my buddies give me some of their food." I responded with a reminder of the need to each lunch every day.
Then, he started doing push-ups and sit-ups every night. It's not been obsessive. But he's doing them in private and won't let himself skip which concerned me a bit. We talked about the need to be careful.
More recently, I noticed that was no longer eating a full breakfast. He would be late and grab a glass of carnation-instant breakfast and a piece of toast as he ran out the door. In not much time, he was only grabbing a glass of milk.
So, two nights ago, he starts following me around the house at around 11:00 p.m. talking about how big his nose is. I know this routine with N, so I respond that he is tired and needs to go to bed. [I always try to listen and respond to his concerns, but both he and I realize that sometimes it's just the tiredness talking and everything seems 10 times worse than it is.] He replies with something like, "so my nose is big!" I'm also familiar with this conversation which continues in different variations. As he is talking, everything starts to add up for me. I realized that not only is he tired, but he also isn't getting fully nourished anymore.
I put all the cards on the table. His argument for not eating: "I'm supposed to be listening to my body and I'm just not hungry. If I'm not hungry and I eat, then I'm not listening to my body." What an argument! He's right that he should be listening to his body, but we explain that he CAN'T SKIP MEALS! EVER! I guess this is where I see a bit of a break down with intuitive eating. How can he eat intuitively when the anorexia can convince him that he isn't hungry?
We had a 45 minute discussion with tears. He admitted that he has been feeling very insecure and anorexic lately, but didn't want to tell us because he was "afraid that Mom would start making me drink cream again." And that we "didn't need to worry." He wanted us to wait until things were much worse before we intervened. My husband said at this point, "that is the craziest thing I've ever heard! We will never wait for things to get worse before we intervene because we love you too much to let that happen again."
We ended the very-late evening with a promise from N to eat lunch every day. I am making his breakfasts again. Yesterday I asked if he was feeling better. Not yet.
I am convinced that the key to his future independence is in his learning to make sure that he never skips meals. I remember the rigor and craziness of college and how easy it was to neglect my eating. Somehow we have to train him that he can NEVER neglect his eating - even if he "isn't hungry."