No Help for Teen’s Eating Disorder Unless It “Get’s Worse”

By September 12, 2012

I have lost 59 pounds in the last 8 months, and am under *** now. I have been lied to by my parents, who took me to a doctor’s appointment without telling me beforehand. The doctor referred me to a specialist after telling me just to go home, drink milk and gain weight… which I didn’t do. The specialist said nothing, stared at me for 1/2 an hour and filled gaps with awkward silences. In the end she gave up and said there was nothing to be done unless I get worse. What I would like to know is what is “getting worse?” Nobody has done any physical checks. I know my heart is playing up, and everything I eat comes out as it went in. I have been eating under 300 calories a day now for nearly 6 months. They won’t do anything until I am in need of hospitalization. I don’t want to go there, but I really would like to know what decides my entrance there, should I “get worse.” How would it be judged that I would need to stay there? I’m 17, mid-way through A-levels, I can’t afford time off… but I can’t seem to find the will to get better either. – becki

Dear Becki,

A weight loss of 59 pounds in eight months is too much. I strongly encourage you to see your primary care physician for a complete physical. The physical must include blood work and an EKG to rule out any consequences to the body for your extremely restrictive calorie amount.

Aside from the number on the scale and its physical implication, you appear to be dangerously courting an eating disorder. Functioning persons do not choose 300 calorie regimes for six months. You are hurting. You may be mad. There may be a myriad of emotions happening inside you. Whatever the issues, 300 calories a day do not sustain a healthy, vibrant free life. You appear to be in bondage to a severely restrictive diet.

If you continue on this restrictive format you run the risk of serious physical complications. I am thankful that you are not in need of hospitalization at this moment, but you need to choose to take yourself out of this web. Find a psychotherapist in the area specializing in eating disorders and complete a physical. Print this response and allow your parents, your physician, and/or school counselor to read it. Include a copy of our guidelines for finding treatment. Perhaps they will assist you and refer you to a therapist to talk about how this eating plan came about.

You do not want to “get worse.” My experience with individuals caught in severe restrictive patterns is that they lose the energy to fight the voice that demands obedience to “the plan” (i.e. 300 calories per day). Soon, very soon, they are no longer the boss of their lives. Hospitalization is about having to let others take over control of your living because your choices (severely low caloric intake) seem to be telling all of those around you that you do not want to live.

Choose to live today! Choose to talk back to the restrictive voice. Go talk to your school counselor, parents, or another trusted adult and specifically request information on a therapist in your area. There is a way out.

Good choosing,

Leanne Spencer, MA, LPC