Parent Perspective: Supporting our daughter with Anorexia Nervosa during the Covid 19 Pandemic
As part of a series marking Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2021, one parent kindly shares their experience of supporting their daughter who was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the lockdown started in March 2020 we had just begun to come to terms with a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa for our daughter. We were very fortunate to be able to continue to attend weekly appointments with the eating disorder team, for both individual and family sessions. We were very reliant on the professional expertise and support from the team in helping us, as parents, to understand our daughter’s diagnosis, to take responsibility for her treatment plan and to implement weight restoration for our daughter. We have seven people at home and trying to implement this weight restoration programme was very difficult. There was a lot of tension around preparation of food and at meal times and it was very hard to keep a routine that would motivate our daughter to follow the plan. She was spending a lot of time in her bedroom or hovering in the kitchen to see what food was being prepared.
Weight restoration has been slow, with lots of ups and downs along the way. Challenging our daughter’s eating disorder fears and emotional outbursts with persistence, perseverance and reassurance, and for both of us to act as pillars of support for our child at meal times, was extremely important. You have to be stronger and louder than the eating disorder to push it away. Not giving up and working through the meals until they are finished is so important.
Not attending school and having to make excuses to her friends and teachers was initially beneficial for her and as weight restoration improved getting back to school in September was a positive experience for her. Our daughter had the support of her friends and was managing well with snacks and lunch breaks in school.
We have hit a plateau again at around 95% weight. Dinner time continues to be a huge challenge. We are trying to introduce feared foods to meals and snacks. Gaining weight helps to overcome the mind-set of restricting foods and our daughter is trying very hard to set challenges each week to overcome feared foods.
As we work our way through the third lockdown attending online appointments, we feel that we have made considerable progress and have achieved a lot with weight restoration. We need to push on now to ensure that we achieve full weight restoration and for our daughter to return to full health. It continues to be a difficult and challenging process but with the continued support from the team we are confident that we will succeed.
Resources for Eating Disorder Help:
The HSE National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders (NCP-ED) is a collaborative initiative between the HSE, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, and BodyWhys – the national support group for people with eating disorders.
The HSE Self-Care and information App is available to download to your mobile phone and provides accurate, up-to-date information and tips on how to stay well when managing an eating disorder.
Bodywhys is the national voluntary organisation supporting people with eating disorders. Bodywhys is committed to the belief that people can and do recover from eating disorders. They strive to empower people affected by eating disorders to access information, support and treatment.