Siblings Eating Disorders and Threats of Suicide

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Dear Readers,

Eating Disorders, a mental illness characterized by extreme disruptions in eating patterns and moods, is a puzzling illness that not only affects the individual but their family and friends as well. Eating Disorders destroy families. In the past decade, we’ve seen a lot of reserach on Eating Disorders and the impact it has on families and siblings. One of the readers, Anon left a comment on one of the blog posts: My Daughter’s Anorexia.   I apologize for replying so late, but I really felt saddened by your situation and I wanted to think and rethink before I replied to your comment. I hope you will find this post useful.

Anon says:

This made me so upset. I’m a young boy who’s sister isn’t at all underweight, but she doesn’t really eat that much in order to maintain her weight. Somedays she just has a milkshake and it makes me so sad watching her. The worst part is the tantrums and suicidal threats. She goes through major tantrums (despite being over 20 years old) for unexplainable reasons. She blames everyone and everything, and at times, will threaten to kill herself with a knife if my parents don’t get her a burger. She screams and cries loudly almost every night, and locks herself away screaming suicidal threats. She immediately regrets these actions soon after.
Is this a symptom of anorexia or an eating disorder? I feel like the lack of food (especially carbs) can cause temper and anger problems. She gets especially annoyed when she sees others eating food. It really affects me because my parents are unintentionally neglecting me (we are two children in total) and I can see my family falling apart. I just wish there was a way to make her better and fix everything. Thank you for posting this, and for reading my comment. I hope you have an answer for my question related to temper-tantrums and hunger. Again, thanks.

 

Dear Anon,

There are so many misconceptions and myths about eating disorders which can make getting the right help very difficult.

Misconception #1: You can tell a person has an eating disorder because they’re really thin. This is a dangerous misconception because many people who engage in dangerous eating disorder behaviors appear to be healthy. Prolonging treatment simply because they “look” okay can lead to serious harm. It’s important to understand that weight is only one symptom of an eating disorder. (Source:http://casapalmera.com)

FactIndividuals with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many times, the media and other public discussions about eating disorders focus solely on individuals with a diagnosis of anorexia who are severely emaciated.  In reality, many individuals with anorexia may not ever appear so drastically underweight.  Furthermore, many individuals with severe disorders including bulimia, binge eating, and EDNOS can be underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese and often fluctuate in weight. Even athletes who appear to be incredibly fit might be struggling with an eating disorder. The bottom line is that you cannot define someone’s health by how much they weigh and you cannot determine whether they have an eating disorder just by looking at them. (source: http://eatingdisorder.org)

 Whether your sister has an Eating Disorder or not?

NHS Choices

According to NHS:

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.

A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

 

Doctors sometimes use a questionnaire called the SCOFF questionnaire to help recognise people who may have an eating disorder. This involves asking the following five questions:

  • Sick: Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Control: Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • One stone: Have you recently lost more than one stone (six kilograms) in a three-month period?
  • Fat: Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Food: Would you say that food dominates your life?

If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, you may have an eating disorder.

From what you told me, I believe your sister has an Eating Disorder and depression.

Sufferers often don’t realise how their Eating Disorder affects those around  them. Their mind is completely overtaken by the demon of Eating Disorder and the thoughts are always about food, calories, weight, shape, anger, resentment and feelings of hopelessness. We are six siblings, so you can imagine, how neglected they felt with my illness. My youngest sister was neglected for nearly four years. It really made her resentful towards me. My mother and father were always walking on egg sheels around me. It was this realization that I wasn’t just destroying myself but also my family that made me seek recovery and defeat my Eating Disorder. I never ever want to go back to those days of bitterness, tantrums and fearfulness. I don’t even give my Eating Disorder an inch to come back.

Your sister’s illness is placing a heavy strain on you and your family. One of the most frightening experiences a person can have is hearing a  loved one say they want to die. Even to hear a complete stranger say these words is hard, so I understand how stressful it must be for you. Next Step Anon is to get Help. As difficult as recovery is, delayed recovery is harder. Early  intervention to provide support are key to improving outcomes and yet many people wait for a long time after the first onset of a disorder before seeking treatment.

Always bear in mind that no illness surrounds you for 24/7 and you will expereince a moment of sanity and clarity in a day.  We have progressed to a level where any illness no matter how dangerous it is can be managed. Look how well people with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder manage their illness? A person with Autism also knows how they should not give into their angry moods and behaviors because it will simply give a power to their illness and make them powerless. When I was in a better mood and my mind was silent from the whispers of Eating Disorder, my mother would sit me down and explain to me about my behavior, this was to prepare all of us for future, and how we should try to handle the situation if I became unwell and angry again. Living with a person who has eating disorder involves learning how to deal with the disruptions that symptoms can create, supporting the person through their recovery, and finding ways to cope with the effects on the family. The more she talked to me, the more resentful I became of my illness and the harder I worked at defeating my illness. Small things like going for a walk, meditating, eating with family, talking to freinds, writing in my journal were very effective tools in my recovery.

Your sister’s illness is a treatable medical condition. Left untreated, however, it can have a pro- foundly negative effect on the lives of individuals and  families. Because the illness may further cause more unusual, and sometimes more unpredictable and more disorganized behavior. The sooner your sister gets help, the better are her chances of recovery.


Surround yourself with People who will help you grow. She needs to be surrounded by people who are other than her family members. The more she spends time in the company of her illness, the sicker she will get and more demanding she will become.  Maintaining good company cannot be overstated as it plays a pivotal role in shaping who you are and influences you to make positive healthy decisions in life. I’ve been there.  I loved being by myself and loved spending time with my disordered thoughts. My father forced me out of my room and the more I spent time with other people, the weaker the demon of Eating Disorder became.  The problem here was that my family could see my illness causing damage but I thought everything was under control and that I was fine.

You’re right low carbohydrate diet and bad Nutrition also causes mood swings and irritability. According to Psychology Today, that those on low carb diets report unusually high feelings of anger, tension and depression. With good nutrition and normalized eating patterns, a person can really regain clarity and look at their illness for what it is, a simple, destructive force and then they can really participate in therapy treatment and defeat their illness forever.

 

Also if the threats become very extreme Please seek immediate professional help. You may also wish to call a local crisis line or hospital emergency department and ask for guidance. Then, keep the phone numbers of these people and places right by the phone.

Take threats seriously. Tell your family member you will call for help. Then, do it.

 

Beat Guide: Beat- My Brother Sister Has an Eating Disorder Info

Few Things you Can do:

A Message from Mother, Mariam, whose Daughter is suffering from Anorexia: “Dear Anon, Don’t ever Forget Yourself,  Although it’s important to worry about the person you love, it’s essential to look after your own  health and wellbeing and turn to others for support when you need it. With my daughter’s illness, I forgot to take care of myself, and that wasn’t helpful for anyone. Through the years, i’ve learned that when you neglect your  own needs and forget to be happy you are at danger of deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem and feelings of resentment. I got burned out and that made taking care of my daughter more difficult. So Please Take Care.”

 

Try to communicate with your parents and let them know how you feel.

If you want to speak to someone else, your school/college will have an acess to a councillor. See them.

You can contact Angela on support@eatingdisorderssupport.co.uk. She is brilliant and will really offer you some invaluable help and advice. In past, I’ve found Angela very useful. She knows how to speak to sufferes as well to cares and family/freinds. She’s compassionate and empathetic.

If you’r sister is willing then she can speak to Angela as well.

Telephone 01494 793223 at any time, on any day and leave a message for Angela to call you back and she will.

Also Rethink is Amazing: Their Siblings Network provides information and advice for the siblings of people with mental illness, whatever your age, as well as a space to meet others and share experiences, both in our online forum and in our free sibling support groups and workshops. You can gain practical skills and a space to think about your own wellbeing so you can find out how to support your sibling and look after yourself now and in the future.

Download their Sibling Tool Kit: http://www.rethink.org/carers-family-friends/brothers-and-sisters-siblings-network/get-info-and-advice

RethinkTalk

Join RethinkTalk, our free community forum for everyone affected by mental illness. http://www.rethinktalk.org

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling their helpline on 0845 634 1414. They also have a designated youth helpline on 0845 634 7650.

Nutrionist

Low carbohydrate Diet does cause low mood. According to MIT researchers, Low-carb dieters are susceptible to mood swings. The issue involves serotonin, the “feel good” brain chemical that elevates mood, suppresses appetite and acts as a natural tranquilizer.

One remedy I used to boost my Serotonin level and to improve my low mood was this amazing smoothie:

Serotonin Level Smoothie

There is no question that pharmacologic therapies can reduce the symptoms of thought, mood, and behavior disorder quickly but Nutrional Therapy is also very important. To find a nutritionist in your area: Please visit this link: http://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/content/dietitians-nutritionists-and-nutritional-therapists.html

 

About Islam and Eating Disorders 868 Articles
Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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