This was a question that my friend, and spiritual mentor asked me. And, I literally felt like I had been smacked across the face.
What did she mean what is that I was learning in all of this chaos??
I couldn't think of anything. My mind went completely blank, and my pulse started to rise, and I started to feel my old friend "panic" coming for yet another visit for the day. My palms started to itch, and my skin started to crawl... all while I was attempting to find and string together some words that could pass as a sentence. Other than... "What do you mean?" Because that just sounded whiny and uncalled for.
It was rational after all to think that when someone goes through all of the stuff that I have in my past...
but, especially the past few months - if not years...
You should learn something....
So, why did I feel like I had been thrown back to my junior year Pre-Calculus class, and we had just been told that there was a pop quiz that was 1/4 of our grade for this quarter - instead of just a friend that was asking me in her own way... if I was ok??
Once I was able to get control of my rapid and random thoughts, and was able to catch my breath again... I was able to see that this is what it was. It was just her way of making sure that I was truly ok, and on track of recovery for not only myself... but for my kids too.
This friend is also one that helped me find my spiritual guides, my guardian angels, and my renewed and deepened relationship with God my Father. All because of questions like this. Ones that if anyone else had asked me - I would have been highly offended.
Do you have a friend like that? I pray that you do!! We all need at least one of these friends. One that can ask you a no holes barred question that gets right to the heart of a matter... and you know where the heart of the question comes from, and you don't even think or take offense to it - because you know the heart of the person that is asking. There is no pretense, and no need for sugar coating, or pillow fluffing it.
If you don't... I hope that you find that person soon.
But, as I was saying. This friend is one that kept asking me this after my daughter was placed in a residential treatment center for an eating disorder. Keep in mind, that I was one of those parents initially - that didn't want anyone to know that this was where my daughter was. I was raised to believe falsely under the impression that my daughter having these issues - were my fault. I was the one that taught her to eat - and because she refused to eat should be my fault... right??
But, it's not! And I hope if you too have a child that is having issues with food (whether it's classified as an eating-disorder or not), I hope you hear me!! It's not your fault either!!
My daughter is struggling with an eating disorder called ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). According to the nationaleatingdisorders.org, "Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a new diagnosis in the DSM-5, and was previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder.” ARFID is similar to anorexia in that both disorders involve limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness." This is where this eating disorder can get more dangerous than others in my opinion. See, your child doesn't have to be super skinny, or even exhibit the desire to be thin, to be classified as being a person with ARFID. Your child maybe struggling with ARFID - and not physically show any signs of mal-nutrition. So, because of your child possibly having some extra weight on them - you may not see the signs and symptoms initially.
According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, the "RISK FACTORS" of ARFID:
"As with all eating disorders, the risk factors for ARFID involve a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues. These factors may interact differently in different people, which means two people with the same eating disorder can have very diverse perspectives, experiences, and symptoms. Researchers know much less about what puts someone at risk of developing ARFID, but here’s what they do know:
People with autism spectrum conditions are much more likely to develop ARFID, as are those with ADHD and intellectual disabilities.
Children who don’t outgrow normal picky eating, or in whom picky eating is severe, appear to be more likely to develop ARFID.
Many children with ARFID also have a co-occurring anxiety disorder, and they are also at high risk for other psychiatric disorders."
I know that my daughter hit all 3 points above.
Some of the Warning Signs of ARFID are:
Dramatic weight loss - my daughter lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks, and this was after no changes to how/when/what she was eating in the previous year. This was a sign that her body was starting to shut down.
Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm - this can be hard to notice in teenagers, since all teenagers where Hoodies, or jackets - regardless of time of year, and the temperature outside.
Reports constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or excess energy - the last 3 months, my daughter started to sleep for 18 hours a day when she previously wouldn't sleep for more than 6 hours.
Reports consistent, vague gastrointestinal issues (“upset stomach”, feels full, etc.) around mealtimes that have no known cause - this has been the case for my daughter for several years previously. But, had gotten much worse the last 3 months.
Dramatic restriction in types or amount of food eaten - parents be careful of this!!! This is usually progressive. And you may not notice the severity of it until it's too late.
Will only eat certain textures of food
Fears of choking or vomiting - this is something that my daughter never shared with me until she was admitted at the treatment center.
Lack of appetite or interest in food
Limited range of preferred foods that becomes narrower over time (i.e., picky eating that progressively worsens). - again, something that is progressive if not paid attention to.
No body image disturbance or fear of weight gain
Because both anorexia and ARFID involve an inability to meet nutritional needs, both disorders have similar physical signs and medical consequences.
Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.) - We had gone to the doctors or urgent care 5 times the past year for things like this. And never received any kind of help or diagnosis for this.
Menstrual irregularities—missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period)
Difficulties concentrating - again, hard to have this be a flag if your child has already been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD.
Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low blood cell counts, slow heart rate)
Postpuberty female loses menstrual period - yep
Dizziness - yep
Fainting/syncope - yep
Feeling cold all the time - yep
Sleep problems - yep
Dry and brittle nails - yep
Fine hair on body (lanugo)
Thinning of hair on head, dry and brittle hair - yep
Muscle weakness - yep
Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
Poor wound healing - yep
Impaired immune functioning
Now, keep in mind... I am not a doctor. Nor is any of this any kind of medical advice. I am sharing the experience that my family had with my daughter. But, I am sharing this in hopes that it opens the eyes of some people into following their intuition and if they have made some odd observations on their own child's eating... that they get it checked out with a Medical Doctor.
But, please.... PLEASE... keep in mind. That it may take multiple MDs to diagnose your child. So - I am begging you. If your intuition is telling you that something is wrong - keep going in to talk to someone. Because no one knows your child better than you!
So, what is it that I have learned in all of this?!?!
I've learned to trust my inner voice, my intuition, my spirit guides, and my guardian angels. All of them had been screaming at me that something was wrong with my daughter... and it wasn't
My daughter was sick. And I am so happy that she is getting the help that she needs now. It's been a struggle the past month. And it will be for a while. But, I will continue to repeat this:
The Silver Lining in all of this:
She is ALIVE!!!
And, I will take whatever it costs, and will do whatever I have to do for her to finish this and beat this!
Love you friend! Hold on. We will get through this together. Let's journey on!