Mom of a Son with an Eating Disorder
No one believed me for months.
Not when I saw my son cutting out fast food, looking at every food label, and asking to go to the gym every day. I have a friend who had been living the hell of an eating disorder with her son for three years.
This had affected our own family deeply as the teen had been my older son’s best friend since Kindergarten. We had supported them and seen the ravage of the disease first hand. My son had cried over losing his best friend to treatment.
As a parent, you fear for your kids…and you worry.
However, what I learned is that I was not prepared. I thought that the love, attention, and even privileges my sons had been given since day one (even despite their parents divorcing and both remarrying), in some way protected them.
But Mental illness does not prey on one group and not another. Mental illness does not care how much love you pour into your kids. Even if you breastfeed them, stayed home with them, read to them, and put them first. I’ve done all of those things.
My younger son was always the “easy” one. He was more easygoing than my oldest, more resilient, and more adaptable. He was interested in many things such as sports, music, travel, history, and his family. He has been referred to as an old soul many times. Deeply caring and sensitive, he had seen the brunt of his older brother’s more difficult personality. His older brother, who has anxiety but expressed it often as anger, forgot that his younger brother was taking it all in.
Slowly over the last year, we saw my youngest slip away.
It started with food restriction. The fear of being fat. The fear of catching a glimpse of his own reflection. It progressed. He lost weight, 30 lbs over 6 months and his heart rate was low. We are battling this every day. He often has to be spoonfed because it’s simply too hard. He is unable to discuss his own emotions and he is unable to look at any screen for fear of his reflection.
We are now in a position to try antipsychotic medications that we were all against. We are now in a position of researching Residential facilities (all out of state). Providers are not always the best and this has been a rollercoaster only 4 months into actual diagnosis.
As I sit and write this, my son is at his dad’s. We have shared custody with no issue for 8 years and yet, I cannot go get him as I have all these years because, for whatever reason, he does not eat with me. It’s a huge battle and a horribly emotional ordeal where he eats at his dad’s with some resistance but much more ease.
I will give up time, money, and even my own parental rights…if it helps him.