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Grandparenting

Please reassure me

(31 Posts)
britgran Mon 15-Oct-18 22:00:41

Hello everybody, I've posted before about the trials and tribulations about my youngest son, but I'm at my wits end.....to cut a long story shortish my son is 43 he has had Anorexia Bulimia for 20 years ( starves binge eats vomits ) there's nothing I don't know about this eating disorder, his first marriage ended because of it and it looks like his second marriage is going the same way, we have a beautiful 18 yr old GD from his first marriage and two delightful GDs from the second marriage, he is talking about leaving his present wife and I know his reasons are lies, he so badly needs counselling but won't accept he has a mental illness, I know as his mother I must be there for him but to be honest I despise men like him, he has quit counselling so many times that I'd be surprised if it's offered again, how do I help him, I will always be here for my beautiful GDs , but I'm struggling to support my son

PECS Mon 15-Oct-18 22:22:43

I have no experience of this illness so can offer no practical advice or personal comments.
I am sure that you will have explored all the online and real life support groups and charitable/health organisations that are there for families of sufferers.
I regret all I can offer is my sympathy for your difficult situation.

Nanagem Mon 15-Oct-18 22:55:23

It is hard, I don’t know much about what you’re going through, but don’t give up on your son. He probably doesn’t understand why he’s doing what he’s doing, and if he feels he has lost you as well.

I’m not very good at explaining what I mean, just please, stick with him if you can

MiniMoon Mon 15-Oct-18 23:46:04

I'm afraid that until he admits that he has a problem, there's not much you can do to help him get treatment. I trained as a mental health nurse back in the 70's, and saw the same patients suffering from anorexia admitted repeatedly. We got them to their target weight, discharged them with follow up appointments to see the psychologist, which they rarely attended.
It must be worse for a boy/man as it is seen as a predominantly girl's disorder.
All you can do is offer your support, and try to get him to see what he's doing to himself. Anorexia/bulimia makes people deceitful, manipulative and devious, and he will have no idea how to help himself.
Be there for the family with your love and support, until he realises that he needs help.

agnurse Tue 16-Oct-18 00:25:24

Realistically, unless he decides he's ready to seek help you won't be able to do anything. I understand that it's hard. It's very hard.

The reality is that the underlying issue isn't about food. It never is. Until he is ready to handle the underlying issue there's not much you can do. All I can suggest is being supportive and not making food a battleground. Don't pressure him to seek help as it will likely make him even more resistant.

stella1949 Tue 16-Oct-18 02:43:01

I've cared for many people with anorexia / bulimia in the hospital setting. They are the hardest people to help because they are driven to continue down that road , no matter what. They'll go along with treatment while you are watching them, then immediately go into reverse when you are not there. I'm amazed that your son has been able to sustain two relationships and fatherhood . I can't offer any help - your son has to seek help himself and there is nothing you can do to change him. good luck.

wellwalked Tue 16-Oct-18 10:58:43

What a heartbreakingly difficult situation you find yourself in...lots of sympathy to you but am unable to offer anything practical over the usual platitudes.
One thing does strike me though (for what its worth) - have you tried explaining to your son how it affects you? It may be the realisation gives him the psychological kick up the backside that may shift his focus.

Madgran77 Tue 16-Oct-18 11:11:25

britgran as others have said, unless he accepts that he needs help then you can't help him!

You can and will be there for his children I am sure. I would suggest that if you can you have some counselling for yourself to help you to accept that you cant do anything unless he is up for it ...I suggest that because I know how these things can go round and round in circles in one's mind and talking through strategies to stop it can really help! flowers

Coconut Tue 16-Oct-18 11:18:22

As others have said, as your son is in denial, there is nothing physically that you can do, only fully support the GC who are the true victims in all this. It must be so hard to see and to accept an AC on this path of self destruction and feeling so impotent, so yes, counselling for you would be a good idea. I so wish you well 💐

nellenoxin Tue 16-Oct-18 11:20:53

Sometimes the most difficult thing as a parent is to realise that there is nothing more that you can do to change his behaviour- you have already tried everything that you can - no matter how much you love him or want him to change it is ultimately down to him. I can understand your anger and your pain but please don't give up on him . Stay strong and try to find some solace in the fact that you are doing/ have done everything that you possibly can .

Jayelld Tue 16-Oct-18 11:21:07

Just ...... be there for him,, listen, don't feed into his anxieties, offer tea or coffee, with no confrontations. If a meal is involved, serve a normal portion to everyone and no seconds. Be his mother, not his carer.
Support his wife and your GCs as you would normally do.
As has already been stated, your son needs to want help to change, he probably knows all this and is scared to face his demons, it can be ad terrifying prospect. (My brother is currently trying to conquer alcoholism, smoking and depression! ). Just knowing that you are there for him, non-judgemental, and your usual loving self wilL be an anchor for him in his troubled life.
It might not feel like much, but believe me, it's worth its weight in gold, knowing ,someone is there for him..

Doversole Tue 16-Oct-18 11:44:57

So sorry to hear about this situation OP, it sounds very tough and I wish you all the best. flowers

I don't know anything about how to help an anorexic/bulimic, but clearly some gransnetters on here do.
Jayelld: why do you say don't serve seconds - assuming they would normally be served?

Situpstraight1 Tue 16-Oct-18 12:10:07

I’m very sorry for your son who has a mental illness, but upset that you despise him..... how can you help him if you despise him?
I do hope that you haven’t shown him how you feel, and I hope he can find support from somebody who cares and can help him.

Anniebach Tue 16-Oct-18 12:22:32

I am sorry britgran, been where you are now though not because of the same illness. I learned to seperate my daughter from the illness, so despise the illness not your son please. He is not the illness he is a victim of the illness x

sodapop Tue 16-Oct-18 13:00:30

Annie is spot on with her post. As others have said you have done what you can, its now down to him. Support the family where you can and get some counselling for yourself, you are suffering as well so take care.

Jaycee5 Tue 16-Oct-18 13:11:12

I knew a man with bulimia and he never admitted it even after being thrown out of a rehab unit (he was also an alcoholic) when they found he was being sick in suitcases under the bed.
He did eventually stop but I'm not sure why. He had a very difficult upbringing (his mother had tried to abort him and failed but it caused her to go blind. He was still left in her care). I think opening up about things did help him, but he won't admit to his alcoholism or bulimia.
Denial does seem to be a big part of the illness.
He has a lot of health problems now particularly epilepsy and I think that adult social services are involved. It is not the best life but also not a bad life. I am very fond of him but have lost touch. I did learn that I couldn't expect anything from him (like the truth) but I was removed enough for it not to be a constant problem.
I understand your anger. Although, again, it is not the same kind of relationship, my neighbour was sectioned again on Friday and although we started off sympathetic and hoping for the best after the last bout in hospital, it wasn't long until she was keeping us awake all night and she started throwing rocks at our windows and broke her next door neighbour's window. It is a relief that she is back in hospital but it will only be a short respite and she will be released without proper support against. Community care is great in principle but in practice the community (including carers) get no support, sympathy, strategies or help so things become a battle.
Is there a support group online that might give you advice? There is a site called BEAT which is a UK charity but I don't know how helpful they are. www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

paddyann Tue 16-Oct-18 13:26:14

would you despise him if he had a chronic non mental illness,like arthritis or heart problems for instance? Of course you wouldn't! He's your son,he's ill.he needs your support espcially during this bad patch

allsortsofbags Tue 16-Oct-18 14:04:15

So sorry to hear of your very difficult situation, I don't have any personal experience of situations like yours so I have very little to offer but I wondered if what my Aunty is now doing will help.

I have a cousin in their late 60's who's suffered from their late teens, there has been so much heartache for so many family members so I have a small insight into what you are going through.

Over the years my aunt, other cousins SIL's, one was a surgeon (now deceased) but he used all his contacts to get the best help even paying for private residential treatment/ counselling etc. Same outcomes as above, OK in-patient but straight back to square one once out.

Fast forward to 2016/7 and my aunt then 96 (now 98) had to say to my cousin "I CAN"T."

I can't do the washing for you, OH, family, your grand kids when they are at yours. I can't do your garden any more and your sister who helped me has had 2 heart attacks and has early onset Alzheimers so she can't help any more. Plus a lot more "I can't do ... any more".

Not because she didn't want to but just because she is no longer able to carry her AC.

Also all the siblings are now retired, 2 are widowed, one had the nursing DH for a number of years, one was on holiday and DH drown so had all that to deal with. What seemed to happen was this cousin became resentful that their siblings needed MUM too through these difficult times.

Anyway now my aunt "Can't Do" what she did, after lots of tantrums my cousin is doing better then ever before.

I think, it's just my thoughts, that as my aunt no longer feels guilty for not doing ... because she has had to recognise that she no longer "Can Do" my cousin is slowly accepting that my aunt can not make their life as they want it to be. My aunt now visits once a week, she catches the bus, will pick bits up from the local shops on her way but no longer does the supermarket shop, she washes a few pots but that's about it.

My aunt had to accept she is still my cousin's MUM but she can not fix the life of her child and she has said as much to my cousin. She is still a MUM but can not wave a magic wand (as much as she'd like to).

What she has found is a way to carry on loving her AC but is no longer even trying to "DO" anything.

She no longer searches for treatment, she no longer begs my cousin to help themselves, she long ago gave up the talks about how much other are being hurt etc. I'm guessing you've been there too many times already with those talks :-(

She has said at her age she may lose one of her children and so nearly did when the eldest had the second heart attack so if my cousin chooses to kill themselves with this illness she has done the best she could over the years and will have to be satisfied that she and the family did all they could do.

My aunt and I spoke about how hard that conversation was but now she's had it she feels better. She had to come to terms with the reality that Love however strong for another is not enough to get another person to make the choice/commitment to engage with treatment.

So if there is any way you can find to Love but Not Do, to accept that your son has to be the one who makes the choice/commitment to treatment with out you feeling too guilty, too torn apart then that is where I would suggest you put your energy.

You need to take care of you, emotionally, practically, financially and physically. If he is going to leave his marriage where will he live? I hope not with you. You are him MUM but he needs to find HIS Grown Up.

How will he take care of his children? They are HIS children and while he is your child HE is Their Parent.

If you allow him to be your 'little boy' and care for him as you would a small child - provide and home, food, pay bills and so as you would for a 5 year old he - most likely - will accept/expect all that you would do to take care of him if he were 5. All those things you did for him when he was 5.

All that care is lovely but it Dis-Ables him and can Destroy you. So please get some help for yourself. There must be organisation who know what help you'll need to best help you to support him.

The biggest thing my aunt learned was that to Love your AC does not mean that you have to fix them. She said as she ages and other things happened she had to lear to trust that she had put enough work in as a parent when my cousin was younger (before the illness) and had provided enough information, encouragement/support throughout the illness that if her AC wanted to get well/manage the illness the skills and knowledge where there and it was nat her job to fix her child.

I don't know if it's right or helpful but the change in belief about my aunts role in my cousins life has been a positive for both of them and for the wider family. I wish you all the best and hope you find a way through this difficult situation.

zena123 Tue 16-Oct-18 14:52:40

Allsorts: A really useful email .... must have taken you a long time to write, but I guess that loads of people will be able to take something from it, including me !

Daisyboots Tue 16-Oct-18 16:03:26

Allsortsofbags, thank you for your very helpful post. It has certainly made me think about my relationship with my youngest son although his problems are different to the OP. I am 74 and the thought of still having to deal with this in 20 years is frightening.
To the OP I can only say stay supportive but don't have him to live with you if he leaves. He needs to stand on his own two feet and try to take some responsibilty for his children. Only then he may realise he has problems that need sorting.

M0nica Tue 16-Oct-18 16:05:20

Britgran I cannot add to what others have said, but there are a number of groups who advise and support the parents and families of people with these disorders. You may find contacting them helpful.

Type help for parents of people with eating disorders into google and you will get a list of such organisations.

GabriellaG Tue 16-Oct-18 16:47:40

Allsortsofbags
I don't know anyone with bulimia, or indeed the problems your cousin suffers but your comment was insighful and very touching. To stand back, as your Aunt does, takes courage. flowers

britgran Tue 16-Oct-18 17:11:54

Thank you all for responding, just to be clear I do not despise my son ......I despise men who act like him, moody, nasty, selfish,promiscuous .....I love my son and my love is unconditional, but I have reached a point where I feel enough is enough, he has a mental illness ,we have spoken in depth about his mental health, he is well aware of his eating disorder and admits he is frightened to recover in case he gains weight, he knows he won't be coming here if he leaves his wife, she's a strong minded girl , she has always wanted to help him but I fear she is struggling to deal with his moods, especially if it affects the children, he blames everyone for his problems it's never him, Allsortsofbags although not as old as your aunt I feel the same....I can't keep doing this but I feel so guilty, hence my original post, once again thank you all your replies I shall keep reading them they have helped

britgran Wed 17-Oct-18 12:24:50

Bit of an update.......after once again listening to my sons woes and believe me he is very convincing and tearful, he tells me his wife belittles him and shows no affection, she tells him he is repulsive and he is rock bottom with no self esteem, he ends with what should I do mum!!! He wants me to say leave her which I refuse to do, I spoke to her she's adamant it's not true, he lies but though it sounds strange he believes it's true, last night I had my GDs so they could talk, apparently he insisted it happens then eventually admitted he made it all up, he has agreed to go back to the GP to discuss what to do next, he seems to have some sort of Bipolar which happens with Bulimia but I'm no doctor, hoping a corner has been turned !!!! Thank you for letting me rant xx

Jaycee5 Wed 17-Oct-18 14:05:51

That sounds hopeful. Going to the GP is at least a step in the right direction.