I can’t thank you all enough for the amazing, outpouring of support and prayer you gave our family yesterday. I was shocked to receive over 100 tweets, private messages, emails, and texts from all of you. I hope to respond to everyone very soon. I thank God for giving us the kind of prayer and loving support through this crazy internet world that I would normally only expect from close friends or family.
I came home from worship practice and threw up last night.
The daughter that I was so worried about saw me start gagging while I was holding the baby, and brought me a bucket. I made it to the bathroom instead.
She asked, “Mom, are you sick?”
“No honey. I was just really worried about you earlier.”
“Oh.” She wrinkled her brow. “I’m fine, Mom.”
“Yeah, I know.” She went back to the living room and ate her pizza.
Her doctor told me that there was no reason to be concerned about eating disorders right now, even after three days with less than 500 calories, because there was no weight loss. However, when I described her obsession with thinness (“I’m really worried my thighs are fat. Do you think my thighs are fat? See this flabby part right here? I never want to get fat. Mom, why would anyone be fat? Aren’t you glad you’re not fat anymore? I love my skinny arms. I’m skinny enough to slide between the fridge and the counter at Janna’s house and hide! I’m sooooo skinny, and it’s sooooo beautiful!!”) the doctor did encourage me to get her some counseling, to keep it from progressing into an eating disorder.
I’ve never had any relationships with people who had eating disorders. I knew that the ideas floating around in my daughter’s mind were unhealthy, but since she didn’t change her eating habits, I didn’t think it was severe enough yet to warrant some kind of intervention.
Every time she would say something about her weight, her dad and I would redirect the conversation to health, and to true beauty. We would point out that we don’t know why some people are overweight, and that we should never judge someone based on appearances. I lost a large amount of weight when I found out I had food allergies, so we’ve discussed that being fat or thin may have nothing to do with a person’s self-discipline or character.
This has gone on for more than a year. Yes, that means it started in earnest when she was eight.
She’s in the tenth percentile for weight, and has been since she was a baby. Her sisters, however, are in the 50th-75th percentile, and we were concerned that they would feel shamed by her constant focus on thinness. Sometimes, we got so frustrated that we would ban her from talking about weight at all for the rest of the day. “I’m glad you like being thin, but being thin is not a bad thing or a good thing, any more than having red hair is a good thing or a bad thing. Stop. Talking. About. It.”
The good news is that we don’t have an emergency. We don’t have to hospitalize her, make dramatic changes in all of our lives, or start some type of re-feeding therapy to make sure her heart or brain or kidneys keep working.
The bad news is that she lied to me about eating lunch yesterday. She ate one piece of toast with honey for breakfast, nibbled at a bun and a pretzel for lunch, licked the frosting off of a cupcake for a snack, and ate two pieces of pizza for dinner, with no sauce. (We get pizza once a week when the babysitters come over, so we can have worship practice.) That’s still under 700 calories.
We don’t have an emergency. We do have a situation. We have a wonderful, intelligent, talented, spirited, –and yes, beautiful—young daughter who needs help. Please continue to pray for her, that she will be healed and whole in Jesus. Please also continue to pray for us, that we will make good decisions, not overreact, and be wise and loving in all of our dealings with her.
Thank you so much for being a part of our lives.