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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: Triggered by uBPDxw and trying to process...  (Read 519 times)
mama-wolf
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« on: April 14, 2020, 02:19:56 PM »

It has been a while since I have posted, but I had a particularly bad run in with my ex over the past week and I'm trying to process it.  I felt like this community could be of some help. 

For me, part of processing it is getting the facts clearly stated to try to reinforce that I'm not crazy (based on uBPDxw's talent for revisionist history).  I also already had to pull most of this info together anyway to send to the PC and family T for their help to manage the situation, so I figured I would share it here.

To be clear, I am aware of how I triggered my ex in this situation, though I did not intend to do so.  At this point, I'm trying to come to terms with how she has triggered me as a result of her behavior.  The past few days have been a struggle for me...beating myself up for causing the situation, generally feeling miserable, anticipating retaliation, etc.  My T says it's a trauma-related symptom (which I also still hate acknowledging).  She is also trying to remind me that uBPDxw is still ultimately responsible for her reactions, and that her behavior was not OK.

Background:

  • D11 was starting to develop an eating disorder as of late last year due to struggles with uBPDxw, so I filed for a change in custody resulting in a temporary order where she is with me seven nights a week and only visits uBPDxw 9am-6pm on Sundays (except for certain holidays).
  • uBPDxw has not successfully managed the opportunities to improve her relationship with D11, instead continuing to expect D11 to conform, comply, and not speak up about boundary violations and hurt feelings.
  • uBPDxw and I had a meeting with the PC and family T back in March, during which she was given instructions (again) to constrain her contact with me to OFW unless it was something urgent.
  • uBPDxw was initially instructed to let the family T monitor D11's use of her iPad, but after much prompting from uBPDxw, the PC has recently declared that both parents are to have equal access to "supervise, monitor, and manage" the kids' devices.
  • uBPDxw has long wanted access to dig through D11's message history, convinced I am guilty of parental alienation.  I am not, but as indicated above D11 has had many struggles with her relationship with uBPDxw and has expressed a lot of her frustration and anger in those messages over the past 1.5 years.
  • uBPDxw has also long struggled with technical aspects of managing devices, accounts, etc. so the family role of "tech support" has historically landed on my shoulders
  • On 4/1, I offered via OFW to purchase a Chromebook for S7 and a basic laptop for D11 to support their remote learning, which officially started this week.  Knowing uBPDxw's income is likely impacted by the pandemic, I offered to pay the total cost.
  • uBPDxw has been in a state of constant resentment over our income differential and her not getting more out of me financially in the divorce.
  • With this past weekend being Easter weekend, D11 was to spend Friday through Monday morning at uBPDxw's house with S7...her first overnight there since Christmas.
  • Devices arrived Wednesday evening.  S7 had been obsessed about getting his Chromebook, so I did basic setup on Thursday so he could take it to uBPDxw's house on Friday for the weekend.  I made sure he was logged in on the device and sent login ID and password to uBPDxw via OFW.
  • I have never owned a Chromebook before, did not know all the details of what settings needed to be configured and sent it with S7 on Friday in good faith so that he could use it over the weekend.

Events:

    Thursday, 4/9, 7:30pm - missed call from uBPDxw, no vm (I wasn't by my phone)
    Thursday, 4/9, 7:31pm - missed call from uBPDxw, no vm
    Thursday, 4/9, 7:32pm - missed call from uBPDxw, vm indicating she signed S7 up for Adventure Academy, offering to give me his login credentials and asking to discuss parental settings in the account
         7:40pm - I sent OFW message asking to exchange such non-urgent information via OFW
    Friday, 4/10, 9:15am - uBPDxw picks up D11 for Easter weekend, comes in the door asking to pet the dog, and starts discussing Adventure Academy and settings
    Friday, 4/10, 10:53am - uBPDxw called to say S7 wanted to FaceTime, switched to FaceTime and he asked a question about downloading an app on his Chromebook.  Told him I haven't received the approval request, but will look for it and approve when I get a chance.
    Friday, 4/10, 11:01am - call from uBPDxw, I declined with text explanation that I was on a conference call, vm from S7 and uBPDxw that he is still trying to download the App and needs the parent approval, and also received text about it from uBPDxw
         Replied to vm and texts that he'll need to log into Adventure Academy via the web portal for now and that I would have to figure out the app approval later.  Followed up before noon with confirmation that I figured out how to approve the app
    Friday, 4/10, 3:00pm - uBPDxw called to say S7 logged himself out of his Chromebook and when she tried to help log him back in it is requiring approval from my parent account.  Told her I can't keep doing this, and he is going to have to use Guest mode until I can figure things out on the device on Monday.
    Friday, 4/10, 5:02pm - incoming call from uBPDxw and I pushed it to vm, no vm
         I was so distracted and frustrated by all of the contact from uBPDxw that I finally got out of the house for a long walk, and was in the middle of this walk when she called, but I had no intention of giving her any of these details
    Friday, 4/10, 5:02pm - second incoming call from uBPDxw, and I pushed it to vm, no vm
    Friday, 4/10, 5:02pm - third incoming call from uBPDxw and I admit I was past my limit at this point and did not answer appropriately.  I answered with "Please stop calling me."  She responded that I need to come pick up D11 because her behavior is unacceptable and toxic.  After initial hesitation, I told her I said I was not sure what to tell her.  She responded angrily that either I come get D11 or she will bring D11 to my house.  Told uBPDxw I was not going to reward D11's behavior by coming to pick her up.  uBPDxw began yelling and cursing at me, and I hung up on her.  Sent uBPDxw at text that I would not stay on the phone for that.  This initiated a string of highly abusive and inappropriate texts.
    Friday, 4/10, 5:05pm - call from uBPDxw, I declined and continued via text
    Friday, 4/10, 5:07pm - call from uBPDxw, I declined and continued via text
    Saturday, 4/11 8:57am - missed call from uBPDxw's phone, vm from S7 saying he cannot get logged in and needs me to provide my Google password.  uBPDxw also sent a message in OFW and included the verbiage from PC's declaration about having equal access to devices, etc.  I responded back to reiterate I will look into it on Monday (as stated the day before), and that equal access would not include providing her with my personal Google password.

Text exchange from 4/10:

    (5:05pm attempted call by uBPDxw, I declined)
    mw:  I will not stay on the phone for you to yell at me.  You can bring her to my house if you are unable to keep her this weekend
    uBPDxw:  If didn't hang up on me(and S7), you'd hear the whole request. I asked IS YOUR F**KING MOTHER HOME. You sound like you are on a walk or a hike or something. you REAP WHAT YOU SOW!!!!
    (5:07pm attempted call by uBPDxw, I declined again because now I was on the phone with my sister for some emotional support)
    mw:  I am on the phone. 
    mw:  An adult will be home to receive D11
    uBPDxw:  F**k you. Answer my call. Your children are more important.
    uBPDxw:  If it's Uncle, f**k if if it's your sister, fine. Let me know.
    uBPDxw:  *f**ck off
    mw:  I will be home shortly. 
    mw:  And my mother is currently there
    uBPDxw:  How soon? I'm sick of your stonewalling. You don't want me to be D11's mother. You haven't in several years. In your universe, you are the only parent. You wouldn't even acknowledge my parentage to her in my driveway 2+ months ago. You want parental alienation, you f**king got it.
    uBPDxw:  So your mother's there but not you? So once again, I co-parent with the last person I EVER wanted to have parent my kids.
    mw:  I will be home soon but I am not sure exactly when. A responsible adult is home to receive D11 if I am not there when you get there
    uBPDxw:  Is it your mother?
    mw:  Already said above that my mother is currently home, so yes
    uBPDxw:  F**cking awesome
    (I passed uBPDxw on the road in my neighborhood as she was leaving and I was arriving home, and she flipped me off)
    mw:  I very much hope our son did not see you flip me the bird as you passed me on the road.
    uBPDxw:  Nope. 
    uBPDxw:  I'm about 99% done with being "unconditionally positive" with you. What in the hell has that gotten for our family in the last 18+ months? You've been driving this train with your ego and your money, without regard to the best interests of our children. 
    uBPDxw:  You're the dumbest smart person I know. Shockingly impaired when it comes to parenting rather than trying to be D11's best friend and/or buying them every device known to man.

Supplemental note:  D11 confirmed once she was home with me that uBPDxw did in fact take her iPad and search through message history.  I'm pretty sure she triggered herself by reading D11's upset words from prior visits weeks/months ago.  She confronted D11 while in the car on the way to my house, asking why D11 called her "those things."  D11 felt trapped and completely unable to express anything out of fear that doing so would cause uBDPxw to not bring her back to my house after all.  And S7 was there to witness it all.

At the very least, this is going to my L for her to continue building the ultimate case for a permanent change in custody for both kids.

mw
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worriedStepmom
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2020, 02:53:08 PM »

I can understand why you're so upset.  You were dragged right back into the whole mess of ubpdex's emotional meltdown.

How is D doing?  That had to be traumatic for her.  The first time she spent the night with her other mom in 3 months, and mom immediately wanted to bring her home? 

Do you think there is anything you could have done differently to stop her emotional assault on you?
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2020, 02:56:16 PM »

You're not crazy. uBPDxw was inappropriate on Thursday and Friday morning, and was verbally abusive on Friday evening.

You responded appropriately by saying in the texts "an adult will be home to receive D11" and not taking the bait.

You are doing the right thing sending all of this info to your L.

I'm so sorry uBPDxw put the kids in the middle of this.

If it were me, I would be feeling sick and shaky. How are you taking care of yourself?
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2020, 07:07:27 PM »

I can understand why you're so upset.  You were dragged right back into the whole mess of ubpdex's emotional meltdown.

Thank you, worriedStepmom...it has been a while since this has happened so it has been a bit of a shock to my system.

How is D doing?  That had to be traumatic for her.  The first time she spent the night with her other mom in 3 months, and mom immediately wanted to bring her home? 

She's actually doing fairly well now.  She had a good couple of days home with me over the weekend...seemed more relaxed than the days leading up to the pending visit, and has been engaging in some healthy activities (like wanting to cook with me in the kitchen).  I'm just worried for what may be bubbling under the surface as far as her feelings of rejection/abandonment by her other parent. 

Do you think there is anything you could have done differently to stop her emotional assault on you?

I know I shouldn't have answered the phone the way I did on Friday evening.  I think that took us past the point of no return.  There may have been some more validating statements that I could have incorporated into my responses to her over text, but by that point I was just so done I have no idea how I would have managed to do so.

I'm so sorry uBPDxw put the kids in the middle of this.

If it were me, I would be feeling sick and shaky. How are you taking care of yourself?

And thank you kells76...sick and shaky are pretty accurate.  Honestly, I'm not doing too well on the taking care of myself front.  I had my regular session with my T Monday morning, but did reach out to her last night about ongoing difficulty.  I have scheduled a mid-week check-in with her to--using her words--work on "downregulating the nervous system."  I feel pretty boxed in at home with my kids.  Plus my mom is living with me and she's having a health issue that, while not life-threatening, is rather painful and frustrating for her and requires at least a little caregiving.  So best I can do seems to be numbing with an extra glass or two of wine since other options for self-care are less accessible at the moment.

mw
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worriedStepmom
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2020, 08:07:39 AM »

I think we are all going a little stir crazy, especially those of us working at home with kids.  I've been lucky to find someone online exercise classes so I'm at least able to access that stress relief. I hope you can find more ways to destress, too.

In your description of events, it struck me that you are demanding xW use OFW, but, if I'm counting right, 7 times on Friday you answered a text, or answered a phone call with a text, or even talked on the phone.  All about non-emergencies.

xW is never going to consistently use OFW if she knows that she can nag you into answering the phone.  In my experience with H's xW, if we answered ONE text or phone call, she would blow up the phone to make us upset enough to answer again, and she'd spiral down pretty rapidly because she was convinced we were ignoring her on purpose.  Then WE would be all upset, because we felt trapped and bombarded because we could not get the phone to stop ringing/text notifications to stop dinging.

How do you feel about blocking her on your phone if she starts this again?  Or just not answering any texts or phone calls - even the ones that sound reasonable?
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2020, 08:54:06 AM »

In your description of events, it struck me that you are demanding xW use OFW, but, if I'm counting right, 7 times on Friday you answered a text, or answered a phone call with a text, or even talked on the phone.  All about non-emergencies.

xW is never going to consistently use OFW if she knows that she can nag you into answering the phone. 

How do you feel about blocking her on your phone if she starts this again?  Or just not answering any texts or phone calls - even the ones that sound reasonable?

It's a very good point.  I have definitely experienced over and over and over again that if I give in to uBPDxw even one inch, she take is as far as she can possibly go.  It has led me to have to be very inflexible with her, which goes against my nature, and which has not sat well with the family T and PC who have indicated I can be a bit rigid.  Only recently are they seeing the true behavior of why that is the case, and I think that is helping finally.  It's just frustrating and unfortunate that I have to be re-traumatized in order for them to finally get it.

In my message to the PC and family T over the weekend, I did indicate I will no longer be answering any calls from uBPDxw unless she has texted me before to confirm it's one of the kids wanting to contact me, or she has texted me that it is something urgent requiring live discussion.  And I told them if I find myself on the phone and it is not urgent, I will be hanging up.  That's where I am now.

I had started by not answering her calls on 4/9 and responding via OFW after she left the vm.  So I was trying at that point to maintain the boundary.  But the next morning, I wasn't consistent enough I guess.  I find it really tricky when I'm trying to be accessible to my kids while they're with her (especially S7).  I know she uses that as a "way in" if you will.  I do have a session with the family T today to work some of this out, so I'll be sure to discuss this further with her.

I'm reluctant to block her number entirely because I do want urgent calls to come through in case something happens while the kids are with her.

mw
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2020, 09:36:16 AM »

... 

For me, part of processing it is getting the facts clearly stated to try to reinforce that I'm not crazy (based on uBPDxw's talent for revisionist history).  I also already had to pull most of this info together anyway to send to the PC and family T for their help to manage the situation, so I figured I would share it here.

To be clear, I am aware of how I triggered my ex in this situation, though I did not intend to do so.  At this point, I'm trying to come to terms with how she has triggered me as a result of her behavior.  The past few days have been a struggle for me...beating myself up for causing the situation, generally feeling miserable, anticipating retaliation, etc.  My T says it's a trauma-related symptom (which I also still hate acknowledging).  She is also trying to remind me that uBPDxw is still ultimately responsible for her reactions, and that her behavior was not OK.

Honestly, after reading through the transcript below, I don't see what you did wrong, or what you could have done better.  Your BPDxw has her own "reality" & view of the world, and will force that "reality" on the situation, whether or not it fits. 

I don't think there's any "trick" to getting through this sort of thing... certainly you could make it worse by sinking to her level, but you didn't do that at all.  I maintain that even the most experienced psychologist on the planet would throw his or her hands up if they had to deal with some of the nonsense we go through on this board.  I think your T is right that you shouldn't beat yourself up.  There's not much you can do to smooth over the conflicts; you just have to get through them. 

This part really gets me:

Background:
...

Text exchange from 4/10:

    ...
    uBPDxw:  How soon? I'm sick of your stonewalling. You don't want me to be D11's mother. You haven't in several years. In your universe, you are the only parent. You wouldn't even acknowledge my parentage to her in my driveway 2+ months ago. You want parental alienation, you f**king got it.
    uBPDxw:  So your mother's there but not you? So once again, I co-parent with the last person I EVER wanted to have parent my kids.
    ...

All editorial... none of that grounded in reality.  Nothing you can do about someone like this... she's completely in her own world.  The part about you being the smartest stupid person or whatever is really her just baring her own insecurity.  Totally pathetic.

Supplemental note:  D11 confirmed once she was home with me that uBPDxw did in fact take her iPad and search through message history.  I'm pretty sure she triggered herself by reading D11's upset words from prior visits weeks/months ago.  She confronted D11 while in the car on the way to my house, asking why D11 called her "those things."  D11 felt trapped and completely unable to express anything out of fear that doing so would cause uBDPxw to not bring her back to my house after all.  And S7 was there to witness it all.

At the very least, this is going to my L for her to continue building the ultimate case for a permanent change in custody for both kids.

mw

If you don't mind me asking... what are you doing to document all this? 

I'm in a similar boat, although my BPDxw has a live-in boyfriend (he moved in a couple months after I moved out, ironically in violation of the morality clause in our temporary orders that she insisted on in the first place) so she has someone else to fight with, and I'm spared a lot of the text-bombing campaigns you bear the brunt of. 

We also use OFW (she hates it, of course), but she seems paranoid of losing the kids, so is extremely wary about what she puts in writing with me, but my kids are starting to speak up again about a lot of conflict at their mom's house, and have started asking me when they can come back to my house when I call to say goodnight.  I suspect the home quarantine situation is driving them all insane.

I've been keeping a journal of events & documenting when my kids tell me about fights, conflict at home, or their mom attacking me or my family members.  And I've been taking them to see their T monthly, in case there's anything they're told not to share with me.  Not sure what more I can do. 
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2020, 09:40:47 AM »

I'm glad you're willing to start enforcing your boundary about phone calls.

As more food for thought - my H doesn't respond on the app to voicemails.  He also doesn't respond on the app when xW uses SD12 as an intermediary ("mom wants to know..."); he instructs SD12 to let mom know she can ask any questions she wants on the app.

xW only gets a response if she posts a message on the app.   It took a few months of being very very consistent about this before she stopped calling and texting.  Even now, occasionally she'll try to bend the boundary (using SD12).  We can't ever let our guard down.

Have you defined what an "urgent" call is?

H's xW had a very different idea of urgent than we did.  We had to spell it out for her. Our rules for urgent were: if the fire department, police department, EMS, or a doctor needs to be called for SD12.  Otherwise, it goes on the app.  (Even then, there were issues.  We literally had to have the conversation that "I called the police on you for not letting me text SD and they want you to call them" is NOT urgent, even though it involves calling the police and even though you mentioned SD's name.)

Your definition of urgent may be different, but it's important to make it clear what that definition is.
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2020, 11:44:34 AM »

My heart aches for your daughter, that her mother is so quick to become frustrated and send her away. One can read the frustration level rising through the texts -- she really had no tolerance level when presented with the simplest parenting challenges.

Documentation is key -- this is definitely leading to some permanent custody changes.

What do you think will protect your daughter the best?
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2020, 01:31:53 PM »

O wow, mw. Big hug to you.

You're holding a lot together and the way you handled things was perfectly reasonable and kind of heroic, especially given the context (that ex, because of her own limitations, cannot or will not be able to acknowledge). Your emotional resources are stretched thin and ex was losing her sh!t --  not your problem. Kudos for not rising to her level. Maybe you responded more emotionally than you typically do but given the circumstances what you shared was pretty benign. It can't always be your job to hold it together 100 percent of the time.

I re-read through all of the documentation of my divorce from 10 years and had some moments like what you describe. Not my best moments but with time and perspective not nearly as reactive as I thought I was being. One of them was about the exact same issue, devices and access  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

Another possible similarity is not being able to comfort your child(ren) while being attacked. That's pretty deep parental instinct stuff.

One of the outcomes of the device/panic stuff for me (after a lot of therapy) is that I don't troubleshoot computer stuff unless people are calm. It isn't something I say to people, I just carve out that space for myself. It kinda seemed like you're working in that same direction when you pushed things off to Monday.

I have scheduled a mid-week check-in with her to--using her words--work on "downregulating the nervous system."  

The nervous system thing is definitely a factor in how it feels to go through this stuff. I am 10 years out from my divorce from n/BPDx and was surprised how my nervous system was still activated (triggered by a step daughter with what appears to be BPD traits, if not fullblown BPD). Does your T do somatic experiencing? Referencing trauma and regulating your nervous system suggests she does, which is great.

I ended up finding a somatic experiencing T (can't remember if I mentioned this in previous posts?) and it has been profound. Years of talk therapy were helpful in many ways, I just couldn't seem to unpack this last little piece with my nervous system responding as though I was being attacked. SE has been cathartic. If you prefer to read about where these different therapies for trauma come from, Bessel van der Kolk's book The Body Keeps the Score is amazing. It helped me finally embrace that yes, this is what trauma feels/felt like so I could unwind myself.

In my experience, before doing that kind of therapy, it took heroic amounts of effort to stay in wise mind. It was like I had an army of 10,000 soldiers and they were all locked and loaded, with me pretending that everything is cool beans, nothing to look at here, let's just act like normal. Meanwhile, the other person can feel that stuff, not to mention their own. It's like we're pretending to be in wise mind when it's pretty clear we're ready for war.

It now takes a lot less effort for me, and everything people have said makes so much more sense.

I think you have to go through the body to manage the body.

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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2020, 02:00:23 PM »

Honestly, after reading through the transcript below, I don't see what you did wrong, or what you could have done better.  Your BPDxw has her own "reality" & view of the world, and will force that "reality" on the situation, whether or not it fits. 

If you don't mind me asking... what are you doing to document all this? 

Thank you, PeteWitsend...Once I started becoming aware of my ex's alternate reality, it was very jarring, and continues to be each time there is such a glaring example of it.  You'd think I would get used to it by now...

As far as documentation, my L had me start keeping a running Word document in a folder shared with her.  It has dates, details, etc. and even screenshots of messages/texts as needed, and it's basically similar to the journaling you described.  It's just electronic and readily accessible when my L needs it for use in the custody motion.  Prior to setting up this chronology with her, I was basically doing something similar on my own computer.

Have you defined what an "urgent" call is?

Well, thankfully the PC has done this for me now.  As of yesterday, he issued a directive that basically said don't call unless there is an emergency that involves 911.  And if one of the kids wants to talk, he was very specific on the wording to use in a text to notify of that fact, and then not to get on the phone or try to participate in the call in any other way.  Otherwise, she has to use OFW.

Finally.

Seriously, this was the framework/guideline that the family T had put in place a year ago, but uBPDxw would comply for a little while and then start to ignore until reminded by the family T (she would ignore my reminders), and then the whole cycle would start again because ultimately the family T only has so much authority when it comes to something like that.  Having this now come from the PC will hopefully put some weight behind the expectation.

What do you think will protect your daughter the best?

At this point, the only solution I can see for D11 is for me to have sole physical custody--along with decision-making authority.  Providing an opportunity to focus on improving their relationship by significantly reducing the parental responsibilities for uBPDxw has not worked, and I can't see increasing their time together achieving that.  Definitely not at the risk of D11 developing significant mental health issues herself.

At the same time, S7 has to be protected too, and that means there is no way he can stay on a 50-50 schedule with her.  He may not need to be completely shielded from uBPDxw because the damage to their relationship is not so severe.  But the more he is in that environment with my ex (who cannot maintain healthy boundaries, cannot manage basic parenting, and behaves and reacts in incredibly impulsive and destructive ways) the worse it's going to get for him.  He already sleeps on the floor in her room every night--after I got the family T to put a stop to letting him sleep in the bed--and uBPDxw still gives him melatonin at night to help him get to sleep.  During the day with her, he demands attention and insists on what he wants, and pitches fits to make her cave in (I don't cave), and then she does whatever she can to pacify him and get him to go to sleep so she doesn't have to "deal with him" anymore.

So, yeah...definitely a permanent change coming, and it's going to look a lot different from the 50-50 in all things that she insists is her right to have no matter what.  And she will go ballistic because she fundamentally cannot and will not recognize or acknowledge that she is just not equipped for nurturing these kids and helping them grow into healthy adults.

O wow, mw. Big hug to you.

Thank you LnL...it's needed.

The nervous system thing is definitely a factor in how it feels to go through this stuff. I am 10 years out from my divorce from n/BPDx and was surprised how my nervous system was still activated (triggered by a step daughter with what appears to be BPD traits, if not fullblown BPD). Does your T do somatic experiencing? Referencing trauma and regulating your nervous system suggests she does, which is great.

I don't know that she specifically does somatic experiencing as a practice, but she is trained and experienced in working with trauma.  I think she's easing me into specific trauma work (or even discussion) because I still struggle with the idea in the first place.  Not the concept...just being able to acknowledge it beyond the surface level and accept that it has happened to me.  It has taken this long for me to stop feeling an physical jolt when she uses the word "abuse," and trauma is a step even beyond that for me.  But we did work on some grounding techniques this week that included doing something like washing my hands in really warm water, among other things.  She knows that I will sometimes exercise to work through my anxiety, but was trying to help me with shorter/faster techniques since it's not always possible to drop everything and go for a run.

mw
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2020, 02:54:20 PM »

Excerpt
Seriously, this was the framework/guideline that the family T had put in place a year ago, but uBPDxw would comply for a little while and then start to ignore until reminded by the family T (she would ignore my reminders), and then the whole cycle would start again because ultimately the family T only has so much authority when it comes to something like that.  Having this now come from the PC will hopefully put some weight behind the expectation.

I'm glad the PC defined what "urgent"  means and specifically banned her from contacting you otherwise...but you know she isn't going to stop.  It doesn't matter who makes the rules - she is not capable of following them.

That's why it will be critical that you enforce your boundaries.  Don't answer the phone.  Don't answer texts.  Pretend you never got the voicemails.   If it isn't on OFW, it doesn't exist.

As for S...does the pediatrician know he's taking melatonin every day, every other week?  That seems like a bad idea.
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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2020, 03:15:48 PM »

mama-wolf, how are you doing? How are the kids doing?
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2020, 04:06:22 PM »

Hi kells76,

Thanks for checking in.  I wish I had better news.  It has actually been a pretty awful month since I last posted.  Forgive me for this turning into a rather long response...I found writing it out to be somewhat helpful.

My mom had been suffering from some health problems in early April.  They got much more severe later in the month, and she ended up being hospitalized on the verge of kidney failure.  Tests found that her lymphoma has returned (she had been cancer-free since 2015), and it is in multiple places including her brain.  It's not looking good, but we're still waiting on some final test results for the doctors to finalize treatment plan and give us a prognosis.

We were headed into May with an agreement--facilitated by the family T--that D11 would not have any visitation with uBPDxw for at least this month due to the triggering effect she has on D11's anxiety (and therefore her disordered eating behaviors).  This was to give D11 some much-needed breathing room and a chance to recover from the additional damage done by uBPDxw's tantrum over Easter weekend.

Unfortunately, the ongoing stress and isolation of quarantine and now my mom's health crisis are more than making up for the stress I managed to remove with regards to interacting with uBPDxw.  D11 has really been suffering from the loss of social interaction with kids her age and general fear of the pandemic (in spite of my attempts to contain that a bit).  My mom lives with us, so D11--and S7 to some extent--saw her getting sicker in late April.  And now that she has returned from the hospital after almost two weeks, they are at least somewhat aware of what's going on even though I don't get into the severity with them. 
 
So D11's disordered eating has actually gotten worse over the past few weeks...a definitive change from the positive trajectory we were on in March.  I have also found very concerning searches in her browser history regarding restricting calories, losing weight, etc.  She has now been formally diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, and I am working even more closely with her therapist (increased D11's frequency of sessions to twice a week) and re-engaging with the dietitian.  If we can't get things to improve, she will very likely have to go for inpatient care.

S7's anxiety is also manifesting more, mostly through biting of the nails and skin at his fingertips (excoriation).  The family T is concerned about his anxiety manifesting in OCD behaviors like this, along with some others we have been dealing with.  We are now getting him into individual therapy as well.

My mom is headed back into the hospital next week for more treatment, which will be very intensive and aggressive.  She will be in and out of the hospital for several months of what I can only call Hell for her.  I do have my sister nearby, so she will be helping me some with taking care of the kids and our mother (when she is home) while I'm also trying to work and basically keep my household afloat financially. 

Oh, and my stepmom is a wreck now too because my stepbrother (only a year older than me) died unexpectedly over this past weekend.  Just months after her mom died and right before Mother's Day.

I'm already exhausted and defeated and struggling.  I'm terrified for my daughter.  I'm worried about my son.  I'm devastated for my stepmom.  I'm upset for my mom.  And I'm constantly on edge waiting for uBPDxw to try to use this to her advantage, overstep a boundary, or otherwise make things worse.  I have at least engaged the family T to help make sure uBPDxw "stays in her lane" throughout all of this.  I also increased my own therapy to twice a week, and have given my L a heads up so that she can run interference on any legal matters for me as needed.

I guess I have battened down the hatches as much as I can, so now I'm just waiting whatever other curve balls get thrown at me.

mw
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2020, 04:50:53 PM »

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

That is a lot going on in your life. I'm so glad we could be here so you could write it all out and share what's happening.

Of course you feel exhausted and flattened by everything. So many loved ones struggling with serious issues and illnesses and losses. Then, on top of it all, instead of being able to rely on xW to lend a hand with the kids, you have this foreboding that she's going to try to leverage your crises to her advantage.

I haven't shared this a ton here, but when I was younger I did a couple of stints in ED treatment: 3 weeks total hospitalization plus a week of day treatment, then a few years of 3x/week appointments, then another 12 weeks IOP, then a couple more years of weekly appointments. Looking back I remember the weirdest feeling of relief when I was finally in the hospital. I mean, I felt a lot of other stuff, too -- the anger, fear, loss, all of that -- but in a sense it was like, Phew, I don't have to figure everything out right now. I just eat what they tell me and go where they tell me and that's it. I don't have to figure out how to control life, which feels pretty out of control.

I don't know what it's like on the parent side of things. Both my parents tend to tear up when we talk about when I was in the hospital. I was not doing so good and it was touch and go apparently.

I went back to the clinic a couple of years ago to thank them for "ruining my life"  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post). I know there's a biological aspect to ED's, but there is of course also the psychological aspect, and so many of my behaviors were asking for someone to pay attention to me and take care of me.

Getting your D into inpatient might be scary. It can also be the best thing that ever happens to her. She may say she hates it, hates you, doesn't want to be there, she's fine, you're ruining her life, all of that. If it comes to inpatient, stay the course and let her hate it and hate everything that's going on. Underneath it all, I think she wants you to help her.

I'll PM you some more info. I just want to send hugs your way right now. Please let me know how else I can be here for you...

kells76
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« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2020, 05:55:44 PM »

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

I can't send enough hugs, but I'm trying.

You're going through hell right now.  Just remember that it's okay to prioritize what gets done (cereal for dinner 7 days a week?  why not!), and it's very important that you also prioritize self care.  You have to be at your best to be able to handle all that has been placed on your shoulders.
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« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2020, 06:27:06 PM »

That is a h of a lot to have going on at once.  Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) Virtual hug (click to insert in post) I'm sorry this is all happening at the same time for you.

It seems like you have taken some really proactive measures though to self-care, such as stepping up your own therapy and enlisting the help of the L and Family T.

I think it's good that you are setting up therapy for S7 and have professional eyes on D11's issues. The earlier the better, I think, once these things start popping up.

I had my own anxiety manifest in severe nail biting and cuticle picking as a young child, and I still pick at my cuticles. It's on the list to address in therapy. I think it's good that you are recognizing the signs and getting support for him and for yourself.

Breathe, and take one day at a time. We're here for you.
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2020, 09:23:19 AM »

Thank you for the supportive messages...it helps to know there are folks out there who care, especially in this time of so much imposed (and necessary) isolation. 

I should note that D11 is actually showing a slight change over the past couple of days.  She has had a couple lunch meet-ups online with some classmates, and has been packing lunches for them ahead of time like she did when she went to school.  Like, full lunches with decent nutritional variety.  I haven't found any evidence (yet) of her getting rid of the food, or any indication that she's purging either, though I'm trying to not be too obvious about checking.  Not sure if I can trust the positive sign, but will definitely bring it up to her T this afternoon.

mw
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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2020, 09:37:24 AM »

hey MW;

I think it's a "both/and" with the lunch stuff.

I remember when I felt like "my parents are getting serious about this" with the ED. Stuff like adding seeing a psychiatrist, etc. I remember going out to a dessert place/coffee shop with my mom, and eating the whole thing I got, and feeling like "see, I'm fine, I'll eat and it's no problem. I got this, so get off my back".

Certainly any time your D ingests (and keeps down) sufficient quantities of nutritional food is a plus. And... it can also be a move that the ED makes to get rid of the scrutiny.

So, yeah, if I were you, I would bring it up to the T -- good idea.

I know as a parent you want her to be getting better. I think part of helping her get better is not to relax your vigilance out of your love and hope for her, if that makes sense.

If you don't mind filling in details (if you don't want to, that's fine), is her diagnosis just AN or is AN/P (I forget the specific one, but AN with purging)? Does she "compensate" with exercise?
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2020, 07:48:49 AM »

If you don't mind filling in details (if you don't want to, that's fine), is her diagnosis just AN or is AN/P (I forget the specific one, but AN with purging)? Does she "compensate" with exercise?

I don't mind at all...I'm very grateful for any insights and for the support.  D11's therapist hasn't indicated the purging subtype, and I think that's because I haven't observed any evidence of that happening (just the one search online among all the others).  I think we're just at restricting for the time being.  And don't worry, my vigilance won't be relaxed anytime soon...

I finally figured out a setting that I was having trouble with, and cut off access to YouTube on D11's iPad.  That triggered an almost nuclear response yesterday evening.  Much yelling, many tears, many "I hate you"s and other angry outbursts.  The best one was being told I'm just like uBPDxw.  She's still angry this morning, but more quiet about it.  I have worried that taking measures like that will trigger her and make the eating worse because of the loss of control aspect, but I do know that this is better than letting her have unrestricted access.

There is much therapy scheduled this week for both D11 and me.  And an appointment with the dietitian tomorrow.  I actually feel halfway OK in the appointments, maybe because it feels like I'm doing something to try and make things better.  It's a major struggle getting through the day(s) between them.

And uBPDxw sent a request on Friday that I provide her with weekly updates on D11's remote learning, eating, therapy, etc. since she has no visibility into what goes on with her.  I don't think this is an unreasonable request in normal circumstances, but it's already causing me significant anxiety just thinking about opening that door to more dialogue with her.  Definitely on the agenda for the family T to help me with this in our next session.

mw
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« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2020, 09:07:59 AM »

Excerpt
D11's therapist hasn't indicated the purging subtype, and I think that's because I haven't observed any evidence of that happening (just the one search online among all the others).  I think we're just at restricting for the time being.  And don't worry, my vigilance won't be relaxed anytime soon...

Good to hear. The ED is almost like... this sounds weird, but like a virus or a parasite, that will adapt and entrench and camouflage in order to persist. I would just keep an eye on if she heads to the bathroom or an area with a sink after meals. Also opaque food/drink containers in her room (thermoses, to go mugs, tupperware, etc). Not to freak you out, but just so you can have eyes open.

Excerpt
I have worried that taking measures like that will trigger her and make the eating worse because of the loss of control aspect, but I do know that this is better than letting her have unrestricted access.

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Good job "ruining her life"  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) You are making wise moves to cut off the ED supply.

Excerpt
There is much therapy scheduled this week for both D11 and me.  And an appointment with the dietitian tomorrow.  I actually feel halfway OK in the appointments, maybe because it feels like I'm doing something to try and make things better.  It's a major struggle getting through the day(s) between them.

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Good job taking care of D11. You are doing everything you can for her. If it does escalate to inpatient, that doesn't "mean" that you didn't. That means you are doing everything you can.

Is anything in person yet for you guys? Or is it all remote?

Also, you may have already discussed this w/ providers, but is there a "trigger point" where if criteria A, B, and C are met, then that "sets off" the move to inpatient? It might be nice (in a way) to have a clear, concrete set of decision points for inpatient, where it's based on "checking off the boxes" instead of worrying "should I send her now? Maybe she's doing OK? What if I gave her another week to prove she is changing?". Food for thought, no pun intended.

Excerpt
uBPDxw sent a request on Friday that I provide her with weekly updates on D11's remote learning, eating, therapy, etc. since she has no visibility into what goes on with her.

Are you already doing that w/ S7?

Excerpt
I don't think this is an unreasonable request in normal circumstances, but it's already causing me significant anxiety just thinking about opening that door to more dialogue with her.

I know EXACTLY what you mean.

I think about trying to explain to others why so many of Mom/Stepdad's behaviors are so destructive and problematic. Taken one at a time, I think listeners would think "come ON, kells76, that's reasonable... aren't you overreacting". But it's the whole pattern -- the whole 10 years+ -- that gives meaning to individual requests and announcements.

I mean, there's no level of information that you could give uBPDxw about D11 that would assuage whatever anxieties or distress she's feeling inside. Either it's not enough info, or it's not the right kind, or it's a target for "why are you doing that, I wouldn't do that, I would do better", or however she would respond. So maybe you can decide (a) if you even want to, (b) if there's a way not to based on family T recommendations,
and/or (c) that you do it in a really controlled way via OFW where you only report school grades, for example. And then no matter what/how uBPDxw complains, you stick to that.

I know my knee-jerk response is "oh, I should be cooperative and share information, I'll use BIFF, it'll be fine". But I need to remind myself to take a step back and be asking "do they even need this info?" as we have years of Mom/Stepdad demonstrating to us that they weaponize information.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2020, 02:43:12 PM »

Excerpt
I actually feel halfway OK in the appointments, maybe because it feels like I'm doing something to try and make things better.  It's a major struggle getting through the day(s) between them.

Just thought of another thing, though you may have already thought of it, too.

I remember back in treatment, we actually spent a lot of time doing stuff like crafting or redecorating the group room. At first I thought it was stupid, but I remember one of the group leaders commenting something like "you need to practice doing normal stuff". They were "retraining" us away from a mindset hyperfocused on the ED and towards a "normal" mindset where yeah, sometimes you do crafts, or redecorate, or make a gift for a friend, or whatever.

On the "off" days, what if you and D11 (and S7) made time for something both focused and hands on -- beading? knitting? decoupage boxes (I did a LOT of those  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post))? service project (making blankets for homeless)?

Something where her focus and movement are on something "neutral" and "normal" like learning how to make soap, or shopping the ikea website for new curtains. It might be a good break for you, too, to do something low-intensity with her.

Anyway, like I mentioned, you may have already been doing this. But I wanted to put out there that there is a real sense in which doing "average" stuff is really important for kids w/ ED's -- because it gets their mind out of the 100% ED focus, and starts to "retrain" their brains.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2020, 05:26:42 PM »

K, I feel you are on to something here. Perhaps re-decorating her space as an expression of herself would be a positive experience. I remember doing it as a 12 year old, then again at 15 -- lots of changes and growth there!
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2020, 02:43:42 PM »

Hanging in there? Any plans (fun or otherwise) for the long weekend?
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2020, 08:49:20 AM »

uBPDxw sent a request on Friday that I provide her with weekly updates on D11's remote learning, eating, therapy, etc. since she has no visibility into what goes on with her.  I don't think this is an unreasonable request in normal circumstances, but it's already causing me significant anxiety just thinking about opening that door to more dialogue with her.  Definitely on the agenda for the family T to help me with this in our next session.

I'm curious what the family T suggested. It seems like you have earned a "less is more" approach with communication on these topics, especially since uBPDxw can contact teachers and Ts to get information directly.

With everything you have going on, you deserve to focus on filling your cup.
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« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2020, 08:28:34 AM »

Thanks for checking in on me again, kells76...it has been quite a week, which I'll get in to below.

Is anything in person yet for you guys? Or is it all remote?

All sessions are still via telehealth for the time being.  My insurance will cover that until at least the end of July, and we'll see if they extend that.  My mom is in active chemo for round two of lymphoma (body and brain this time), so I want to try to limit exposure...but also need to balance what will be most effective for D11.

Also, you may have already discussed this w/ providers, but is there a "trigger point" where if criteria A, B, and C are met, then that "sets off" the move to inpatient? It might be nice (in a way) to have a clear, concrete set of decision points for inpatient, where it's based on "checking off the boxes" instead of worrying "should I send her now? Maybe she's doing OK? What if I gave her another week to prove she is changing?". Food for thought, no pun intended.

I think we may be very close to that trigger point already.  I know this is not an ED board, but hope it's still OK to share this story here since it factors into the insanity I have to deal with in coparenting with uBPDxw.  Anyone who wants to skip the details can scroll to the next quote and pick up from there...

D11 was angry and withdrawn all day this past Monday, and most of the day on Tuesday, refusing to eat for most of that time.  She loosened up a little by Tuesday evening, but then I set her off again in a big way when I had to weigh her on Wednesday morning (dietitian said we needed to know if she was still trending down, and wanted me to take D11's weighg again just before her next appt).  It was a battle, because D11 knew she had lost more weight.

She knew I was looking for the scale in my mom's bathroom where it usually is, and made a point to tell me she'd help me find it later--while knowing it was actually in her room.  I came to suspect that it was, and eventually had to tell her that since neither of us could find it where it's supposed to be, I would have to check her room.  She broke down immediately and confessed, saying she had it because she was "afraid she was losing weight."  But then it was a real struggle to get her to actually get on the scale, because I know she was aware she had lost more weight.  I made her take off the hoodie that she wears all the time, too...she is so very thin.  And she was down almost 5 lbs from the weight two weeks prior at the pediatrician's office.

I get that home scales tend to be a couple pounds off from the scales at doctor's offices.  But that can't account for all of it, and I was devastated that it had still been progressing that much right under my nose--even being as aware as I was by that point.  Wednesday was extremely hard for me, and I actually broke down pretty bad that night after D11 went to bed.

By Thursday morning, I had this very clear thought in my head that I'll be damned if I'm going to lose both my mom and my daughter.  With my mom, there is very little I can do besides help take care of her when she's home.  There's a lot more I can do about D11's situation.  My T says I rallied a bit, and I guess maybe she's right.

My sister has been here a lot, helping me with the kids and our mom.  I got her  up-to-speed on the latest and arranged for her to help me keep an even closer eye on D11's behavior.  I was allowing D11 to prepare some of her own food during the day while I was working, but only because I was also still trying to learn what to do.   Late Friday morning, my sister caught D11 subtly discarding some food when she didn't think she was looking.  D11 was still very upset about being weighed and about the fact that the internet restrictions were clearly not going away.  She had been refusing to eat anything I prompted her to eat for most of the week, though she would get some calories from things she prepared for herself at dinner.

Friday afternoon, I had came into the kitchen and D11 had left empty wrappers (a protein bar and a granola bar) and a plate with peanut butter residue on it, and made a point to tell me she'd had a peanut butter sandwich and a taquito.  She had basically skipped lunch, so I was somewhat encouraged by this.  But with what my sister had told me, I checked the kitchen trash a little later and found the entire protein bar and granola bar, and most of the taquito.  I'm pretty sure she just put a little peanut butter on the plate to make it look like she had eaten the sandwich.

I was done.  I was so mad at myself, but I was calm and clear when I confronted D11.  I walked into her room with the food she had thrown away in paper towels held in my hands in front of me.  It was kind of a surreal moment because she saw it, stopped cold, and just looked at me.  For once, while I was talking to her there was no denial, no talking back, no trying to convince me of some other reality.  I may not have said things in the right way, or may have said too much, but for better or for worse I said it:

  • I no longer trust her.  Period.
  • She is killing herself, and I am not going to let that happen.  I am not going to let her die.
  • We will be sitting together to eat meals every day at 7am, 12pm, and 6pm.
  • If for any reason I cannot sit with her for a meal, either my sister or my mother will.
  • She will have to earn my trust and her freedoms related to food back over time.

I had finally figured out what to do with the advice from the dietitian, D11's T, and the information in what they sent to me.  That was the beginning of letting her know how different her world is going to be now.  I further clarified over dinner that night (not the best timing, but I'm still learning) that she will no longer be preparing her own food or deciding what/how much to put on her plate, and she will not be cooking or preparing anything in the kitchen or helping me do so.

This past weekend has been hell.  She doubled down and refused to eat anything I put in front of her at breakfast and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday, and very little of what I put out at dinner.  The cold fury, the refusal to respond to most of what I would say, and the the insults and venom coming from her when she does is heartbreaking.  She sits there and mostly stares into space, occasionally checking the clock until the hour set aside for mealtime is over, then she avoids me for most of the rest of the day.  I am working really hard to remind myself that it's not my daughter I have been talking to for a while now.  It's the eating disorder.

The only thing I think she has eaten in three days has been the little bit of pizza plus fresh green pepper she ate on Friday evening, some chicken sausage and carrots from the dinner that I put out on Saturday, and some baked beans from the dinner I put out last night.  At this rate, I'm starting to think that no matter what kind of progress I make today, it'll be too late.

BUT, even though each meal is hell, there are some positives that I am seeing.  She actually complies when I make her come sit at the table.  She has tried to get up and leave a couple times, but I got her to come back.  She tried to be more adamant (and mean) in her refusals, and I had to resort to consequences like no iPad, no internet, etc. but she responded and still complied.  I am 99.9% convinced that uBPDxw would NEVER be able to get her to comply...and frankly wouldn't be able to sit through the hour at each meal in the first place.

The biggest potential sign of progress was that I could tell D11 wanted more of the baked beans last night.  I offered to get her some more, and even supplement--but not replace--the zucchini on her plate with another vegetable she hinted she might want to eat.  (I probably wasn't supposed to do that. I was probably supposed to stick to my guns about eating just what's on the plate, but I'm doing my best here.)  But she ended up continuing to hold out, and kept up the angry responses and insistence that she would not be going to the doctor or hospital. 

I had to tell her that her choices were rapidly taking this out of my hands, and that ultimately a doctor would be the one deciding if she had to be in the hospital.  And that if I could not make it work, a police officer would even come and take her.  It would no longer be up to me, and I wouldn't be able to stop it.  This was actually at the end of the hour, and seemed to connect with her slightly.  She got up when the hour was up and said she was now going to get the food that she wanted to eat.  I had to deny her, and remind her she'd had an hour with a plate full of food in front of her, and that mealtime was over now. 

She argued, yelled that I was murdering her, that I was the one making her not eat.  She insisted repeatedly at that point that she wanted to eat, and then finally said she would eat food still left on her plate from dinner.  Again, I probably shouldn't have, but I gave her a five minute extension on mealtime and we sat back down.  She got as far as cutting the hotdog bun in half and lifting it from the plate before she broke down crying that she couldn't do it, mashed the entire bun in her hands and threw it down.  Then proceeded to tear up the hot dog before I could remove the plate again.

She's back to cold fury and denial this morning.  If it weren't Memorial Day, I'd have her at the pediatrician's office, but I'm also hoping one more day will give me a chance to build on that little sliver of hope from yesterday.  Either way, we talk to the dietitian at 8:30am tomorrow, D11's T at 5pm tomorrow, and somewhere between that I will be getting her to the doctor's office.

I was thinking (hoping) that an IOP would be sufficient for her at this point, but think we are now looking at partial hospitalization if not a full-blown residential program by the end of this week.  I have not wanted it to come to that, but at the very least all of the effort I have put into this weekend has helped me understand just how necessary it may be.

On the "off" days, what if you and D11 (and S7) made time for something both focused and hands on -- beading? knitting? decoupage boxes (I did a LOT of those  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post))? service project (making blankets for homeless)?

I love this suggestion, and had been trying to think about something along those lines.  D11 had been asking for several months to redecorate her room, including new furniture.  I was putting her off until at least her 12th birthday because I'm actually still paying off the furniture I had to buy when I separated from uBPDxw.  But with as much time as we're spending at home due to the pandemic, I decided why not?  We're here so much, we may as well make our space as enjoyable as it can be.  I suggested that go ahead and do the redecorating project, but she refused to hear it.  I also offered that we could repaint some other rooms in the house together.  Nope.

It's not just the big projects...It doesn't matter what I suggest or offer--it is rejected entirely because of how angry she is about everything.  But I keep trying.

Are you already doing that w/ S7?

I mean, there's no level of information that you could give uBPDxw about D11 that would assuage whatever anxieties or distress she's feeling inside. Either it's not enough info, or it's not the right kind, or it's a target for "why are you doing that, I wouldn't do that, I would do better", or however she would respond.

You are exactly right that no matter what I send, it will not be enough, and it will only open the door for me to be questioned, judged, etc.  I know in the core of my being that this is what I would be set up for.

Currently, we exchange updates during custody exchanges, mostly basic info that the person taking custody needs to be aware of (like last shower, or last dose of a medication, etc).  Since it's only S7 going between houses, there's not really any day-to-day info that needs to be shared about D11, but when there is a significant update or some agreement needed about a larger topic, then I include that info with the updates about S7.

I'm curious what the family T suggested. It seems like you have earned a "less is more" approach with communication on these topics, especially since uBPDxw can contact teachers and Ts to get information directly.

With everything you have going on, you deserve to focus on filling your cup.

I was very relieved that the family T supported me on this, LnL.  She said she would handle uBPDxw's request for regular reports and keep her focused on what's reasonable.  Especially when I confirmed I would continue sharing the significant updates (as I have been).  Otherwise, you're exactly right...uBPDxw can check therapy progress and get academic updates from the professionals involved with those things.

Thank you all for the support...

mw
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GaGrl
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« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2020, 09:52:33 AM »

It is a difficult journey you are on. It sounds as if the past days have been bringing you into a heightened realization of what may be needed -- much more clarity.

Your plan for tomorrow is good. Difficult, but solid.
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« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2020, 11:24:40 AM »

Hey MW, so many hugs from me to you  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
I think we may be very close to that trigger point already.

That's what I'm getting from your descriptions, too.

ED's are multifaceted. There's the brain chemistry side, the physical effects side, the psychological/family structure side, etc. I think for many individuals with an ED, there's also this battle around personal responsibility. The questions of "what am I responsible for... what do I want to be responsible for... is someone else responsible for my life..." get acted out through ED thoughts and behaviors. The ED is sort of this stage where a lot of deep struggles of life get played out. I remember for me, I did not want the fact that I chose to do a lot of ED behaviors to be my responsibility. I wanted there to be "nothing I could do differently" about the ED choices I was making. I wanted the "benefits" of the ED without facing the reality that to a certain extent, I was the one choosing it. (Caveat; there's a sense in which the person with the ED is "choosing" behaviors on one level, but also "not choosing" behaviors on the brain chemistry level -- I see it as both at once).

Excerpt
She argued, yelled that I was murdering her, that I was the one making her not eat.  She insisted repeatedly at that point that she wanted to eat, and then finally said she would eat food still left on her plate from dinner.  

When I read your description of D11's struggles, I relate deeply as I remember "younger kells76". The feelings around "being made to eat" and having the responsibility of "who decides if kells76 eats" being shifted were that same mix of fury, relief, abhorrence, relaxation, resentment... that really difficult mix of the front of "I'm doing fine and can eat if I want to, it's you/someone else who is the problem" and the inner fear of "everything is out of control, and I actually want someone else to take responsibility for me and decide for me, because I'm scared and don't know what to do".

You're absolutely doing the right thing with the changes you're making, and the fact that D11 is mad is to be expected. The walls are closing in on the ED and it is desperate to survive, at the expense of your D. I can't imagine the level of difficulty for you in dealing with the venom, hatred, iciness, and anger; all I can say is that one day your D will thank you for "ruining" her life.

...

Excerpt
I'm pretty sure she just put a little peanut butter on the plate to make it look like she had eaten the sandwich.

Yeah, "younger kells76" would have done the exact same thing. The amount of mental energy people w/ ED's expend on creative ways to not eat is astounding. It is good for you to expect any and every food avoidance move, no matter how absurd or deceptive, because the ED drive is so powerful she will keep trying stuff like that.

Excerpt
I had finally figured out what to do with the advice from the dietitian, D11's T, and the information in what they sent to me.  That was the beginning of letting her know how different her world is going to be now.  I further clarified over dinner that night (not the best timing, but I'm still learning) that she will no longer be preparing her own food or deciding what/how much to put on her plate, and she will not be cooking or preparing anything in the kitchen or helping me do so.

  Way to go! (click to insert in post) YES. Good job MW! She will resent that move and it is absolutely the right one.

Excerpt
At this rate, I'm starting to think that no matter what kind of progress I make today, it'll be too late.

Take one day at a time until she gets into a program. Every day that she is alive and has eaten something under supervision is a good day. Hold onto that hope that soon there will be so much support and resources for D11 and you won't be shouldering this mostly alone.

Excerpt
BUT, even though each meal is hell, there are some positives that I am seeing.  She actually complies when I make her come sit at the table.  She has tried to get up and leave a couple times, but I got her to come back.  She tried to be more adamant (and mean) in her refusals, and I had to resort to consequences like no iPad, no internet, etc. but she responded and still complied.

Yeah, it's that underlying stuff below the ED of "I don't actually want to decide for myself, because I'm confused and don't really know what to do" -- so it may be a relief to her, deep down, for you to decide and have consequences for her. I think it makes a lot of sense for the "table attendance" side of things to have a non-food related consequence (iPad access). Good call.

Excerpt
The biggest potential sign of progress was that I could tell D11 wanted more of the baked beans last night.  I offered to get her some more, and even supplement--but not replace--the zucchini on her plate with another vegetable she hinted she might want to eat.  (I probably wasn't supposed to do that. I was probably supposed to stick to my guns about eating just what's on the plate, but I'm doing my best here.)  But she ended up continuing to hold out, and kept up the angry responses and insistence that she would not be going to the doctor or hospital.  

Any food that stays in her is a plus right now, so that's good.

You're learning right now, too. You're just doing your best in this situation that's new for you. After all, at this tween/teen age, kids are "supposed" to be starting to feed themselves... instead, you're back to your earlier role as sole food provider, and she's back in a role of "can't feed myself". It's this big "circling back" and almost a "redo" of very early parent-child roles, and that feels weird to kids because they subconsciously "know" they "should" be in a different place, but there they are back "getting fed" by an "all-powerful" parent, and so there's both the anger/chafing against the roles, and the relief.

Excerpt
I had to tell her that her choices were rapidly taking this out of my hands, and that ultimately a doctor would be the one deciding if she had to be in the hospital.

YES.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
we talk to the dietitian at 8:30am tomorrow, D11's T at 5pm tomorrow, and somewhere between that I will be getting her to the doctor's office.

YES. IDK if D11's doctor has been checking anything besides weight trends, so when you go in, make sure they check if she's orthostatic. If I remember correctly, that is a measure of difference in blood pressure between lying down and standing up, and it is strongly correlated to ED status. Many clinics have an orthostatic level below which kids are considered "admissible" (in combination with other stats like weight etc). That can be one more criterion where instead of you having to guess and make the call yourself, you have this checklist (weight, weight trend, pulse/BP, orthostasia) and it's a matter of "does she or doesn't she meet the checklist for admission".

Excerpt
I was thinking (hoping) that an IOP would be sufficient for her at this point, but think we are now looking at partial hospitalization if not a full-blown residential program by the end of this week.  I have not wanted it to come to that, but at the very least all of the effort I have put into this weekend has helped me understand just how necessary it may be.

Yes. It doesn't mean you didn't do enough. Just like facing your D with the uneaten food in your hands, it just means you are looking at reality, unobscured. You are seeing how much effort it takes right now to manage and supervise your D eating, and what is real is that she needs a LOT of help, time, and energy. Nobody has "messed up" or "not done it right". You're just seeing how things really are and loving your D enough to get her the help she needs.

...

If after tomorrow's sessions, it'll still be a bit before D11 can get into a program (say a week or more), there are definitely things you can do at home to iron out mealtime details.  I don't want to load you down with "more stuff mama-wolf has to do and remember" so just take all these ideas as they work for you and leave what is "too much to add". Of course, run it by the professionals involved, because some things may be a good fit for getting you guys through, and some things may not.

-consider cutting down breakfast and lunch to 30 minutes, and dinner to 45 minutes (or something). still have the time limit (good call), but this just shortens the agony for both of you. I can't imagine any of those meals truly being "way too much" to finish in those time periods

-that being said, consider adding either a snack between bkfst/lunch or between lunch/dinner, if the quantity of food at a meal is a bigger challenge than the # of meals per day. this would add another time to be supervised, so that might not work so well.

-no napkins at dinner, just a tablecloth

-list of 3 food items (NOT food categories) that you will promise not to serve her -- so if there is really something where it's a flavor/texture/whatever issue, you don't have to deal with trying to get her to eat lima beans, or whatever. I hated celery, actually, back then, so that was on my list. But don't allow "no fats, no oils, no meat" kind of list. Specific actual food items.

- just like the consequence for no table attendance is not food related, the consequence (or, maybe better phrased, "outcome") for not finishing a meal IS food related. "OK, you can finish what's on your plate by 6:45, or you can have one full nutritional shake (like a Boost or something) -- it's your call". So there's no "waiting out the clock" to get out of food.

-(decide if this is a route you need to go) no bathroom use for X amount of time after a meal; or, if so, she has to be verbal as you listen outside the door, either saying something or singing a song or whatever

-(again, decide if you need to do this, or if you have the time or energy for this) no clothes with pockets at meals

...

I know it's a lot, and you are already doing SO MUCH that's right on the money. I hope the suggestions can be helpful if you find yourself feeding D11 at home for a long stretch of time. Anything you want to talk about or ask about, I'm here and an open book. Wish I could do more for you guys. So glad your sister is there with you. I know this is beyond exhausting and I hope you can take one day and one step at a time.
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« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2020, 12:21:11 PM »

I admire how you are doing everything you can to help your daughter with her eating disorder. I have a thought that may or may not be helpful at this point. Is is possible to give your daughter some choices about eating while not letting up on the fact she has to eat certain amounts of certain kinds of foods? I am thinking that maybe you can let her choose between two foods though make it a requirement that she choose one, or you will choose for her, and she of course has to eat the food whether you choose it or she does. The logic behind my thinking is that it is exhausting for both of you for you to  be completely in charge of her eating, and giving her a small amount of power with the food choices could be one small step towards your daughter gradually taking back the responsibility for eating enough to maintain a healthy weight.
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« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2020, 01:10:21 PM »

Your plan for tomorrow is good. Difficult, but solid.

Thank you, GaGrl!

IDK if D11's doctor has been checking anything besides weight trends, so when you go in, make sure they check if she's orthostatic. If I remember correctly, that is a measure of difference in blood pressure between lying down and standing up, and it is strongly correlated to ED status. Many clinics have an orthostatic level below which kids are considered "admissible" (in combination with other stats like weight etc). That can be one more criterion where instead of you having to guess and make the call yourself, you have this checklist (weight, weight trend, pulse/BP, orthostasia) and it's a matter of "does she or doesn't she meet the checklist for admission".

kells76, I really can't thank you enough for the encouragement and information.

I will definitely look into the orthostatic question.  I actually find it rather odd that the pediatrician hasn't pushed a little harder with this topic in general given the dip in weight as of a couple weeks ago.  She even seemed to kind of wonder why we were there, even though I know she has worked with ED patients.  At this point, I'll be very direct with her that D11 has a diagnosis from her therapist and ask for her assessment/referral as appropriate.

You offered some great suggestions--thank you again!  Given the deadlock that continues to play out at the table, I'm all for shortening the torture.  I tried the alternative option of drinking a shake, but she rolled her eyes at that just like everything else I have said.  I didn't put it out there as a consequence for not eating, though...I have no idea how I'd be able to make her drink it, but I have been in contact with her T today and we'll be strategizing more in session tomorrow.

I admire how you are doing everything you can to help your daughter with her eating disorder. I have a thought that may or may not be helpful at this point. Is is possible to give your daughter some choices about eating while not letting up on the fact she has to eat certain amounts of certain kinds of foods?

Hi zachira, and thank you for chiming in!  Yes, I have done this as part of the meal planning guidance in the video linked below, which was shared by D11's T.  Last week, during one of D11's less angry and standoffish moments, we talked about some basic meal planning for the coming week.  She didn't participate much even when given options to choose from, so I ended up deciding myself, but she was part of the process and will have a chance again in a few days.

For anyone who is interested, this is the video about meal support for someone struggling with an eating disorder  https://youtu.be/pPSLdUUlTWE.

mw
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