ANA and her lies..
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Everyone wants to protect their loved ones, you make sure they have the basics in life. The house is secure, locked and alarmed. You teach your kids to never talked to strangers, but what happens when the threat is unseen, it's already entered your home, and taken control and you didn't see it coming. ANA strikes silently, undetected before they reveal themselves slowly. ANA moves in; you don't see them because they have taken up residence inside the person you love. That person can be anyone, daughter, niece, sister, aunt, mother, brother, son, nephew, father, husband.. anyone.
Are they possessed? No.
But, I often refer to it as the lying bitch in my nieces head which could amount to the same thing.
This is what is called an eating disorder. There are different forms of eating disorders, my niece suffers with Anorexia Nervosa. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anorexia
Here is my story of taking care of my niece who has this silent predator living inside her. Although I had a slight advantage, I knew when my niece came to me who was joining her. I was prepared for a fight, it didn't sneak up on me, I was waiting. People hear eating disorder and think they know, understand what it is, but unless you are a living with this illness as the patient or the person who has to try and save that person, you have no idea. Don't try to pretend or make comments, even in the most kindest way because I can promise you, what you think you know is not even close. It is considered a way a person is vain, just cares about their looks and starves out of a sense of looking good. Nope, it goes way beyond that.
It gives them a sense of control. It is usually a tool they turn to during hard, stressful times when they feel they have no control on the situations around them. One thing they can control is what they eat, once that has given them the sense of being in charge it begins to drip negative thoughts into their mind. It becomes their only comfort in life, and once it has hooked on it is hard to remove. An invisible parasite.
You won't see the signs at first, but soon things will spiral out of control. Suddenly, they are losing weight, counting calories, obsessed with food but not in a good way. Food is their enemy and they will do anything to avoid it. Then the illness will use anything to manipulate their victim, taking anything as simple as a painkiller for a headache becomes an enemy.
'Will it make me fat?'
'My anti depressants are making me fat, I'm not taking them anymore.' This one has shown it's ugly head at midnight and I've had to sit on her bed and convince her they won't. She isn't being difficult but is so confused. It's heartbreaking to watch as she grabs at her skin and cries at how fat she is.. as you see a completely different image.
This is what they see in the mirror. (Nothing wrong with the mirror image but this is body dismorphia) this is what they cannot get past. They don't see what you see, so they are convinced you're lying.
A girl so trapped in this war in her own mind; you worry you may never get through to her. The real person inside fighting so fiercely every second of every day.
They consider this illness a friend, a toxic one. They won't think logically, nothing they say will make sense to you, it will upset you, even scare you. What you need to do is separate the two people, my niece isn't the one saying those things ANA is. I had a crash course in how this parasite works on it's victims, and I learn't some important things.
These are the things you must never say...
1. Just eat.
2. There is nothing wrong with you.
3. Don't be silly, you're not fat.
4. Get over it.
5. It will be fine if you just eat.
6. Comments on their weight in anyway. It's a massive NO NO
7. Never get angry, it doesn't help. This is not an easy task, and it takes more strength then anything to stay calm.
Some things you could do instead in order to at least begin to rid this beast.
1. Listen to them without ridicule
2. Find out why or how this started.
3. Give them a safe place to be with no negative energy.
4. if they do eat something be happy it's something, don't continue to force them to eat more.
5. Understand food is evil to them, so don't try to make it anything else. That is for the professionals, while you are waiting on treatment or just starting it is best to take it slow.
6. Be prepared for the fact that this illness won't be fixed easily.
7. Don't have unrealistic expectations on recovery, there is no way of knowing the answer to that. It can takes years in some cases..
8. Patience is vital
Right now, all I can do is guide my niece through any stressful times, this is when ANA will strike in full force. Always have that in the back of your mind and beat ANA to it. How I do it is detect that trigger, get my niece into a safe, and understanding conversation. Don't allow the other voice to scream louder than you. (Not always easy)
This is my first blog about this Illness and I hope I help others out there, feel just a little less alone. Some days it feels like you are getting nowhere, but you are. My niece is fighting right now to beat this. All I can do is fend off any negativity that might stop her. It's important to understand they are not doing any of this to hurt you. The reality is they are doing this to hurt themselves. They don't feel good enough and they are fighting against an impossible enemy. Themselves..
My niece back 2017 and she still thought she needed to lose more weight...
Until they accept they are good enough it won't help to continue to repeat the usual praise. What you see isn't what they do, they see someone different looking back at them in the mirror. ANA makes sure of that and if the illness has been unseen for a long time, that voice is dominant. While ANA tells them what they are doing wrong, looking wrong and unworthy any negativity from you will only impact on them.
It feels impossible when you read the above, doesn't it? Yeah, I hear you. I've been there and I have said all the wrong things, been sat up at 2am while my niece cries about how she's no good and doesn't want to be here anymore. I've been afraid to go to sleep sometimes for fear of what I might wake up to. You can do it, all they need is love and support. It sounds simple but it is all they need while you seek the help they need.
My niece is still fighting this illness, and after an 8 month wait is attending therapy weekly. Going to University and has a part time job. She struggles some days, but she wants to rid herself of this darkness. Last week an eating plan was put in place, this is a good thing in one respect but will throw in more curve balls. Now, she needs to gain weight, slowly, the one thing she feared the most.
But I am ready and waiting for ANA to start fighting back, thankfully I am just as stubbon and unafraid to take on ANA if I have to say or do whatever it takes to save my niece; I will even if she hates me for a short period of time, because I know it isn't my niece with the problem it's ANA; and I don't care what ANA thinks.
I'll post again soon with more on my journey and hopefully I've helped others feeling lost or alone.