Not eating as a manipulation?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by amelia, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. amelia

    amelia New Member

    My difficult child and I have been arguing all weekend because I want her to enter a transitional program for young adults with depression. She is 25, no job, and hasn't left the house in a month, spends all her time in bed. She says I can't make her go to this residential program because she is an adult. I finally said she could not stay here unless she went to therapy and was actively looking for a job. Her respone was fine, she will go die on the streets. She has been in her bed all day and is not eating at all. I made her scrambled eggs and toast and she threw it in the garbage. I am at a loss. Do I ignore her? Take her to the emergency room? How long can she go without food before she causes permanent damage? If i take her to the emergency room she could face involuntary commitment and/or forced electroshock. She knows this but doesn't care, says maybe they will shock her enough that she will die. What do I do? I am so freaked out I can't think straight, and no one here seems to be taking ths seriously.
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You also don't have to house and clothe and feed her, because she is an adult. Let her choose. Transitional living, or wherever she can find a bed that's not your house.

    Please ignore her. Please don't ask her to eat. Please don't ask her to do anything other than pack or you'll put it out for the Goodwill. She's manipulating you, and you know darned well she's not going to starve herself. Seriously, I'd have a hard time not breaking into hysterical laughter at a 25 year old threatening to starve themselves to death. What next? She's going to hold her breath until she dies? These are threats that four year olds make. People who want to die just do it. They might threaten it, but I promise you they never threaten to starve themselves to death. They get a knife or a gun or a bottle of pills - not that I'd mention any of this to her - but I'd give her until noon tomorrow to get out, and skip making any deals with her. Transitional Living or streets, her choice.
  3. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and I am sorry that you are dealing with this. I seriously doubt that your daughter will starve herself to death so I do see the refusing to eat part as sheer manipulation.

    I also don't think that you should just let her lie there. If she is that depressed, she needs treatment now. I don't see why they would use shock treatment before they try to stabilize her on medications. Either take her to the ER of call an ambulance and tell them that she is depressed and refusing to eat. They may tell you that she is fine and doesn't need treatment but at least you will feel better then when you tell her she will have to find a new place to live.

    Let me caution you about one thing that Witz said. Depending on the state that you live in, you may not be able to just kick her out. In my state, you have to go through the eviction process even if your adult child is not paying any rent. We were told we would have to give her 30-day notice and go through the court to start the proceedings.

    Your daughter obviously can't lie in bed the rest of her life so I think you need to take action ASAP.

    Keep posting and we will be here for support.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the board, although sorry you had to come here.

    There is nothing you can do to force a 25 year old to do anything, however you can make getting help, a job, and dressing in the morning a condition of living in your home. She is not going to starve herself and she is not a child so you should not be cooking for her or trying to feed her. I suffer from depression, and my parents were not at all sympathetic, which meant I was out of their house and cooking for myself and doing my laundry and getting help because it felt rotten to be depressed and nobody was going to take care of me if I decided not to function. I got married during one of my bad depressions, but I hid it from my husband and after he found out about it, he had no sympathy either. I was on my own.

    I did end up in the hospital three times, once for ten weeks (before insurance stopped allowing long stays) and I felt it helped me a lot. I got diagnosed (finally) and put on medication and I felt better going out and had some ongoing care. The other two times were for medication adjustments and I felt I got helped all three times.

    It is no help to your daughter to let her lay in bed and make childish threats while living off your dime and refusing to help herself. And there is only one person in the world that you can control...yourself. Your daughter can be given options and she will make her own decision. I do think she is manipulating you and that you shouldn't pay that much attention to her and give her a list of what you expect of her, depression or not, and going for help should be #1 with at least a part time job and paying some bills #2.

    I hope you keep posting and update us. You can ask as many questions as you like :) Most of us have been through a lot and many are still going through a lot. Has your daughter ever taken drugs?

    by the way, you do not get electroshock without hearing about it in detail and consenting. That is not what a psychiatric ward is like at all. They probably wouldn't even admit your daughter as an inpatient. The only way to be admitted is if the person is actively suicidal or homicidal. psychiatric hospitals are nothing like they were in the 1950's and nothing is forced on the patient. It's hard to get admitted, period. I wonder if she's eating when you're asleep.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Amelia, I am sorry you are dealing with this now. I do remember your story to some degree and I know your daughter has disabilities so your role is more complicated. I do know that not eating for one day does not cause ANY damage, except perhaps for blood sugar issues. One can fast for weeks without food, it's water that we cannot do without for long. It sounds to me that your daughter knows you well and knows how to manipulate you using your own fears. You are being held hostage by your daughter.

    I think you might ignore this ploy, go forward with your research for a transitional program and do a little research on evicting her. In some states you have to go to court and have the person, even if it is your own child, escorted out by a sheriff. There may be a time period you have to wait for as well. I would also get myself immediate support in the way of a therapist for ME so that I could learn the difference between love and enabling particularly in regard to someone with a disability. Once I had all those ducks in order I would say "my plan is that if you do not follow through with the transitional program by (insert date) then by this date you will be officially evicted from the premises." You need to establish the boundaries that YOU can live with. Boundaries are an important issue and it doesn't sound as if you have any. Without them, this behavior will continue. You will need support since you have been taking care of your daughter and all her needs for her whole life it sounds like. Your daughter has no impetus to change her behavior, she can stay in her funk because she knows she can come up with some manipulation which will hook you back into doing what she wants. She has all the power in the relationship with you. I think therapy can help you gain your power back, it's your home, your money but it sounds as if your guilt and your fear keep you doing whatever she wants.

    This is not a healthy situation for either of you. It's all or nothing, she either does what she wants or she is going to die on the streets. Neither of you can see that there is a giant gray area in the middle of that thinking which has many more options. That kind of black and white thinking keeps both of you stuck in this negative insanity where no one wins but the game stays the same. Over time these unhealthy, dysfunctional roles become cemented behavior which is rigid and very difficult to break out of. You've been doing this for a very long time. You're going to need help to stop. With time and some professional support, I think you can come up with options that will work better for both of you.

    Nothing has happened except she has refused a meal, there is no reason for you to "freak out." Her refusal to eat is her choice. If you give that choice zero energy, my guess is that she will quickly be sneaking into the kitchen to grab a bite. Give some thought to your response to her, she doesn't need to go to the emergency room for not eating a meal. Try to gain some perspective on this so you can react more appropriately and more calmly. I I know that changing our behavior is difficult, but the only way you are going to gain any peace is by changing YOUR behavior, your responses, your reactions and your way of dealing with her. I hope you seek help so you can find some peace of mind.
  6. amelia

    amelia New Member

    Thanks all for reinforcing my feeling that she was manipulating me, though it is scary, she weighs about 100lbs soaking wet. Electroshock has already been brought up to her and me the last time she ended up in the emergency room for cutting her arms up and threatening suicide. She has very bad reactions to anti depressives and anti psychiotics and electroshock seems to be the treatment of choice here for those who dont respond well to drugs. All it takes is a psychiatrist to tell the court that its necessary and it happens, they call it "assisted therapy" meaning against the patients will. It actually more common than people realize, and she is skirting that line, but just doesn't care.
  7. amelia

    amelia New Member

    but the only way you are going to gain any peace is by changing YOUR behavior, your responses, your reactions and your way of dealing with her.

    Thank you, I know that to be true since I say that same exact thing to other people, I needed to hear that addressed to me, and I am working on it.

    In my defense, she has not eaten since yesterday, its more than one meal, and she also has a history of aneorexia, so it really does freak me out, and she knows that.
  8. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Which is why she does it. However, knowing more of her history now, I do think that she needs to be assessed by a doctor. As far as the shock treatment, I have read that it is very different now than in the past and has been used successfully to treat bipolar and depression. Carrie Fisher (Debbie Reynold's bipolar daughter) has written about it and she said it really helps her. She has jokingly said that she goes in for regular tune-ups.

    I wouldn't be so scared of having her committed. If that is what she needs, so be it. My daughter recently checked herself into a psychiatric ward when she had stopped taking her medications and felt unstable. It seems to have helped.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, now the way you described her, she does sound very mentally ill to me. I never did any of that stuff. She probably SHOULD be in a hospital for now.

    Kathy is right about electroshock therapy. It has been modified and helps a lot of medication resistant patients. She can't go on like she is, can she? Frankly, I have trouble with medications too, but found one I can not only tolerate, but that helps greatly without bad side effects. If it ever stopped working I'd opt for electroshock over the endless attempt at trying different pills. The success rate for electroshock is very high.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Fortunately I know very little about electroshock treatments but this year a family member agreed to try a series of treatments and there has been a huge improvement in functioning and a sizable reduction in depressive behaviors. Also, I gather, there has been very minimal side effects. Furthermore the psychiatrist said that if medications are not working after a reasonable trial, shock treatment therapy should not be delayed too long as it is most effective when begun following six months or so of medications. Good luck. DDD
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Where do you live? if you live outside the USA you may have much different choices. When I was a little younger than your difficult child, I stopped eating much and got down to 87 pounds during a depression. It wasn't about dying it was about control. When I heard about Karen Carpenter I realized that I could really die and started eating. I had always eaten enough to keep alive but not enough to put weight on. I knew that if I just dropped dead from a heart attack I was not going to be in control of my death so there was no reason to not eat, because not eating is about control. Your daughter is using it to control you.

    While I agree that your daughter is mentally ill, I never felt any doubt about that. It's her illness, and only she can seek the cure. Right now she is making you a part of her sickness. She's also 25 years old and I assume that she has been aware of her illness for decades by now. You can only help by no longer aiding her in her sickness by propping her up as she gets more and more manipulative. Do see someone to help you get back your life for you, and it will be a great help to her. Figure out a plan that you can stick to before you make any decisions, but if she's threatening to not eat, I'd guard the fridge and cupboards and call her on her manipulation when she goes for a snack. If all she eats are her words, it's a good start towards a meal.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Do you have a mental health help-line? or a suicide line?
    Those are staffed by people that can help you determine if she needs to be taken to hospital due to the risk of self-harm. It's harder for "us" to be objective.
  13. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I agree with ignoring her. When she is hungry, she'll eat. She wants you to get all in a tizzy and hysterical because she won't eat. It's her game. It is very painful to not eat and people who don't eat and injure themselves do have a serious problem. She wants a pity party and you're giving it to her but it isn't helping her, it's feeding into it.
    I don't know anything about shock therapy but I do know someone who has had it and she is all better. She battled debilitating depression all her life, she couldn't work, was never married, now in her 50's has finally has friends and a life. I am unsure about doing that against her will though. Maybe it will be a good thing. Sending support.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'd be surprised if anyone was doing electroshock therapy against a patient's will at this point in time. I understand that it can be very helpful in certain cases, but it's very rarely done.

    Your daughter is having difficulties to be sure, and we'd all like to have a magic bullet - even if it is electroshock therapy - but the truth is that for the most part recovery from mental illness takes the determination to get better and hard work on the part of the patient. This difficult child doesn't seem to want to get better at this point. She's miserable, but not motivated to change that.