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blueberry_kid's avatar

Mother situation: How to help her through this?

Asked by blueberry_kid (5867points) February 23rd, 2015

Call me crazy, but I think my mother is going through a mid-life crisis. I’m not trying to joke about this because I find this very serious but it’s the only way I can cope with it because I can’t really see my mother as the type of person to go through a situation like this.

Since my mother had me, she’s been a heavier woman. No, not obese to the extent of aid when walking, moving, eating, breathing or living for that matter, just a woman with a fuller figure, for the lack of a better phrase. Lately, since she’s gone through her divorce she’s had this feeling of focusing on herself and feeling better about who she looks, and I’m more than happy to support her through it. It’s been three months or so since the divorce, and she’s lost more than 50 pounds and is almost down to my size. Although I’m taller than her, she’s becoming more lean and muscular and nearly thinner than me. She says she’s happy with the way she looks now, but keeps staying at the gym for almost 5 hours, then comes home late.

Lately, She hasn’t been eating full meals, or eating hardly anything at all. I’ve been hearing from the study or from the living room what sounds like vomiting. No, it’s not like coughing from a cold or because she’s choking, it’s sounds of forceful coughs coming from her bathroom. And these aren’t occasional, they’re as common every other day and as forceful as if something is making her throw up, like a tapeworm almost. I’m not trying to make “an ass of u and me”, but these all sound like symptoms of bulimia. I’m getting really worried for my mother as if she’s trying to lose too much weight too fast and I don’t want her to get sick or hurt from doing this. I didn’t want to consult a doctor yet because I’m sincerely not sure, and I haven’t told her yet because I don’t want her to think that I’m accusing her of cheating on her weight-loss plan or anything like that.

I’m worried and don’t know what to do. All she’s been doing is taking vitamins, eating one meal a day, if that, and spends 40% of her day at the gym. I’m confused and don’t know if I should consult someone about this issue.

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16 Answers

janbb's avatar

Oh yes – you are right to be worried. It does sound like it could be bulimia. The first step is definitely to approach her about it and air your concerns. See how she reacts. If she seems to be in denial, you might want to talk to a close friend of hers or a relative she trusts and enlist their aid in talking to her again.

JLeslie's avatar

I think bulimia is very possible, the extreme exercise is a form of purging. Also very possible is she is full of anxiety from the divorce. It isn’t unusual to lose a lot of weight on the stress diet, have trouble eating, and trouble keeping things down.

It could be a combination of the two. Also, she might be using her obsession with food and exercise as a distraction, much like an addiction.

Have you told her you are worried about her?

blueberry_kid's avatar

@JLeslie No, i’m afraid she’ll accuse me of thinking she’s trying to cheat her weight loss, or make me feel bad about it more or less. I’ve thought about it, but I’m honestly scared to. I’ve told her I hate that she stays for hours at the gym, though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, yes. I’d call a counselor and ask their advice.

Or…you could write a letter?

Poor @blueberry_kid. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this.

blueberry_kid's avatar

@Dutchess_III Do you think a letter is too impersonal, though? I thought about it, but then I thought it would seem like I’m running away from the issue, or trying to avoid it.

It’s okay, sort of. We’re both strong women…I hope I can help my mom, or she can figure out herself that she doesn’t have to do this.

sidebar: she says she’s not affected by the divorce, but the marriage was 6 years and some months, I think she’s been affected by it but doesn’t have the balls to admit it.

Judi's avatar

I’ve been gone for a long time so excuse me if you have talked about the divorce before. I don’t know the details so I could be way off base.
What I know about eating disorders is that they are usually a way to try and have some control over something. If she is feeling like other areas of her life are out of control she might be taking control of the one area where she feels she can.
I would bet if you confronted her she would accuse you of being jealous because she looks so good.
You might be able to go ask her when it sounds like she’s vomiting if she’s ok. I doubt you would get very far though.
Is there anyone else who could talk to her? Is it just you two living in the house?
I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You really shouldn’t have to carry this burden.

janbb's avatar

Write her a letter if that is easier for you to do. Or enlist the friend/relative and talk to her together. You shouldn’t have to carry this burden alone.

janbb's avatar

@Judi Written at the same time. Great minds think alike.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, a letter is not impersonal. It has the advantage of allowing you to edit to say exactly what you’re trying to say. Do you have an aunt or uncle to help you?

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Sounds like she has an eating disorder. I’m not sure where you are but do a Google search for organisations that provide support for people with eating disorders and the family members of those suffering from eating disorders. See if you can find a site that has an online counselling service. Sometimes you can talk to experts online. They’ll be able to give you with more specific guidance than we can here and if nothing else, some support and advice.

I think the letter is a good idea to let her know you’re scared and worried about her but I’d get some advice from a support service about what you might say in that letter. They might be able to give you some tips on how to get your mum to recognise her behaviour is worrying.

She’s been through a recent divorce. It’s good she’s losing weight but it sounds as though she’s going too far. It may be she feels her life is a bit out of her control and this is one area she can do something about.

She’s lucky to have you there to help her.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I have a selection of aunts (3) to choose from, so it’s not an issue to tell them. I’m just worried I might be wrong…but it sounds like my assumptions were right this whole time.

Thank you everyone.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’d be more concerned – especially at her age – with the idea that she may be having chemotherapy that she’s trying to hide from you. “The gym for five hours” could just be a cover for where she’s really going for treatment. I don’t know much about eating disorders, but I do understand energy, and it doesn’t seem like she could manage the energy to exercise for five hours if she’s not eating regular, healthy meals – and holding them down. (Do adult women often suffer from these kinds of eating disorders? I had always thought that this was the domain of teens and other young women.) In any case, a fifty-pound weight loss in three months is the definition of “unsustainable”, so some kind of health issue is at play.

I could be wrong, too. But if I were you and the sounds are that obvious I would find a time and a way to talk to her; don’t pretend you don’t hear what you hear. I’d consider “a letter” as a script from which to hold a conversation, so you get to say the things that you need to say.

I do not want to seem judgmental, but it seems like you’re both trying to keep secrets from each other, and the main secret here is: “There’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room. Maybe if we pretend he’s not there then he’ll go away.” She’s pretending to be all right, and you’re pretending not to hear that – in whatever way – she’s not.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you have an aunt or uncle you can talk to? A sibling of hers who lives nearby? That might be an option.

If it were me I would tell her that you think she is taking the dieting and exercise too far and you worry about her all the time. Maybe ask her if she would be ok with you dieting, exercising, and throwing up like she is.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I’ve decided to do a combination of all of your ideas. I’ll write her a letter and leave it for her the same day I talk to my aunts and grandmother about this.

Thanks for all your help…I hope this isn’t what I think it is.

janbb's avatar

Good luck. Keep us updated.

Dutchess_III's avatar

((Hugs)) @blueberry_kid. I think talking to your aunt and grandmother will help relief some of the burden you’re carrying.

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