Medication and L.

L is now allowed full weekend leave – which means Friday evening until Tuesday morning. As usual, it is so lovely to have her here. But we are a long way from recovery. She still is anxious about food and constantly wants to control, to weigh and measure and to monitor every ingredient. It frustrates me, not because of the behaviour, but because I want her to embrace recovery, not be so scared of it. She is anxious about her weight and told me she is now eight stone four. How does a tall young woman become upset about being eight stone four? We talk about her being nine stone and I can tell the idea terrifies her. But at nine stone, she will still be very thin, by anyone’s standards. Except those of an anorexic obviously. I grieve for these lost years of her childhood. I look at her when she doesn’t see me, when she knits or watches TV and marvel at how incredibly beautiful she is – and how kind, clever and funny. She brings joy to all of us, except herself.

She is so unhappy and I suspect not just about her weight. A row with a friend reduced her to sobbing on Sunday night and the conversation about her feeling a failure at life still haunts me. I know we are really close, but it is really difficult to get her to talk to me. I see her smile, I hear her say she’s fine, and I don’t believe it. I suspect that underneath she feels hopeless and worthless and despairing, as if nothing in her world will ever be right and is crippled by self loathing much of the time. If I could, I would hold her forever until the clouds went away and the sun came out, but I think it wouldn’t work. She might feel safe and loved, but not happy or stronger.

So, is medication the answer? It is mentioned at each review, but so far none has been prescribed. We talk about it and it turns out that every other girl in her dorm is taking medication, Fluoxetine, it would seem. I believe strongly in medication for illness, of any kind, so why would I resist this for L? Part of me worries about the side effects – in young people, sometimes the risk of suicidal thoughts increases rather than decreases. But if this helped her feel better about herself and recovery, it would be a godsend.

L looks so much better physically, although I cringe every time I say this or hear someone say it. I imagine she just hears “bigger” or “fatter”. She is not able to see how terribly ill and frail she looked before, and didnt see the shocked glances of passers by at her skeletal frame, especially when we were abroad and baggy cover ups were out of the question. She has bloomed – her hair is shinier, her skin brighter and her eyes have life in them. If she were happy and eating food normally, without fear, without control, she would just be an underweight girl. But her depression and acute controlling anxiety need to be addressed now. And I think drugs could help – but usual, I would love to hear the views of others.

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5 responses to “Medication and L.

  1. I believe Fluoxetine is very effective and commonly prescribed to girls with anorexia and also symptoms of depression. I took it for a while in fact. It really does work and its not addictive. There were no nasty side effects – I only took 20/25 mg. It may well help L. It sounds like she is doing so well – but sometimes once weight is gained that can be the hardest bit. I felt in the same way when I was in the exact same boat that she is now in. Love to you both xxx

  2. I’ve been taking 20mg of Fluoxetine daily since mid February. I haven’t experienced any side effects and whilst my anorexic thoughts haven’t abated, my mood has improved. I still go through very dark periods but these are shorter on comparison.

    I was reluctant to turn to medication because I thought it would make me feel something that isn’t real. That’s not the case, however. It has simply broken the density of the black cloud so a little more light shines through allowing me to address my issues with more clarity of vision.

    I hope that helps.

  3. I was given fluoxetine at a fairly high dose for a young person (increased about 4 times) as the first medication to try when I was 16. I didn’t experience any side effects from it but also didn’t find any benefits from it either…generally it didn’t do anything for me. Went on to another four different medications but turns out none of them made any dent in things for me. ‘treatment resistant’ banded about… But as with anything medication related, what works for some doesn’t for others and visa versa.
    You can never know if a medication might help unless it’s tried, it might be the thing that turns the corner on lifting the mood of hopelessness that L is experiencing, it might not be but perhaps it’s worth a try.
    Thinking of you all, take care xx

  4. A doctor recommended i be put on antidepressants when i was 14 (for depression, anxiety and OCD). My parents were very much against the idea, mainly because they had similar fears as you about increased suicide ideation. However, i convinced them to let me try them, at least for a few months. 8 years later and i am still on them (albeit a different kind, my medications have been reviewed and changed periodically. I was taken off them twice but couldnt function). Some people see 8 years of antidepressants as sad and awful. For me it was a godsend. I can LIVE now, and would definitely not be here without it. I liken it to insulin- my depression is like diabetes. Yes, i have to take medication twice a day. But there is no harm in that, only amazing relief.

  5. Thought I’d give you my experience: I’m on 40mg per day of fluoxetine and it definitely helps. I myself was resistant, I generally never take drugs, even just pain killers, because I just hate the idea. But it was strongly recommended and I started it at the beginning of my treatment. About a year ago I forgot to take it for a few weeks and the effects were dramatic, I felt out of control, I could barely leave my room at college. I think L should take it, it calms my nerves, it takes the edge off, suddenly, eating and body shape aren’t as important and some of the anxiety subsides. That’s just my experience though, but remember this is coming from someone who never even takes paracetamol!

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