Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach it! - Talk About Marriage
Physical & Mental Health Issues Marriage and relationships are difficult by themselves, but coping with physical or mental health problems can make things even more difficult.

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach it!

My wife weights 102 and is 5'6", down from 160. She excercises everyday at least an hour and a half either Zumba or running. All cardio. She eats a zero fat, zero sugar diet. I have had a hard time convincing myself she is anorexic because she does eat but it's all filler. I achieved a small victory and confronted her about some hunger suppressants and diuretics she was on and she's either hiding them or off them now. She has taken herself off of the birth control pill to lose that little extra she says the pill causes you to gain. She refuses to see a doctor and the "intervention" we had with friends backfired and almost led to our divorce. It pains me to see her like this, all bony and veiny, down to less than a 00, probably shopping in the kids section. She has no sex drive, shows no emotion and just doesn't care. I'm afraid I will be calling an ambulance soon. ??

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 08:07 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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Originally Posted by Sflorida75 View Post
My wife weights 102 and is 5'6", down from 160. She excercises everyday at least an hour and a half either Zumba or running. All cardio. She eats a zero fat, zero sugar diet. I have had a hard time convincing myself she is anorexic because she does eat but it's all filler. I achieved a small victory and confronted her about some hunger suppressants and diuretics she was on and she's either hiding them or off them now. She has taken herself off of the birth control pill to lose that little extra she says the pill causes you to gain. She refuses to see a doctor and the "intervention" we had with friends backfired and almost led to our divorce. It pains me to see her like this, all bony and veiny, down to less than a 00, probably shopping in the kids section. She has no sex drive, shows no emotion and just doesn't care. I'm afraid I will be calling an ambulance soon. ??
Sorry about this. This is a tough problem, for sure.

I saw this with some close family members, all girls. They wanted to be perfect in everything that they did. Besides getting good grades, the one thing that they could control was their eating habits. It is a desperate attempt to control "something" during very stressful times. Stress plays a big part in this.

Your wife may be severely depressed and have low self esteem issues.

Trying to talk logic to them usually does not work. Remember the singer Karen Carpenter? She died from anorexia nervosa. I believe she was bulimic also. The biggest danger is when their electrolytes get way out of balance. Also, the heart muscle can be damaged by starving oneself.

I think you know all of this.

You need to remove all the stressors from her life. Keep talking to her.

Get her to take vitamins and nuts or hard boiled eggs. Each egg is only 100 calories but contains protein.

Psychological help will be needed soon. Problem? She likely will refuse any help.

You have my heartfelt sympathy.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 08:36 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

Wow. I am really sorry. I have zero doubt from what you wrote that she is absolutely anorexic. I would talk to a health care professional yourself to plan the best approach. I have some ideas, but anorexia is a mental disease and it's probably way out of your or my league to know the best approach.

My two thoughts are:

1. Show her some pictures of herself next to healthy weight people. They say when an anorexic person looks in the mirror, they see a distorted body. When I was in my first marriage I got so stressed I could not eat and my weight got down to 103 (I looked anorexic and I'm 5'4" so I can only imagine how skinny your dear wife is.) I was not trying not to eat - I was literally so stressed from that AHOLE that I could NOT eat. However, I will say that when I looked in the mirror, my butt always looked fat to me, no matter how skinny I got. But when I saw pictures of myself, I looked like someone from a prison camp.

2. You may have felt you made a mistake when your intervention almost caused a divorce, but you may have to be willing to separate for her to get help. This is a deadly illness, so on one hand you want to say "it's not her fault" - but diabetes, alcoholism, depression, bi-polar, etc. etc. etc. also are not anyone's FAULT, but that doesn't mean you have to watch your diabetic spouse have cake for breakfast every day, or accept your alcoholic spouse drinking, depressed spouse not getting help, and so on.

She has a duty to you as your wife to do what she can to take your concerns seriously and try to fix this. I'm no therapist, but right now, it sounds like you are enabling her self destruction by staying with her while she starves herself to death. It is your duty as her husband to cherish and protect her, that's why I say to see a professional - because staying beside her while she does th is may be the worst thing to do.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 08:16 AM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

I have spent a good part of the last year and a half working with a young anorexic girl. She lived with my family for about 6 months of that time after getting out of a inpatient therapy center. After about 3 months, she went back to a different center for 3 months, then back with us. After deciding that drinking and being free was more important than the stability of our home, she moved out. She is now back in the inpatient center she went to while living with us.

I can tell you from my experience, there will be denial, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. She was so sick and unable to eat that she had a feeding tube put in. Yet, she knew more than the doctors. She had to go through a refeeding process because anything she ate or drank would immediately be thrown up. Yet, she did not have a problem and was just fine.

I do not envy you the journey you are on, but there are a lot of good resources out there. The place she is at now is in Clearwater, I notice you name is south florida, but not sure how far south you are.

Your wife will eventually die from this, if there is not some kind of intervention. What you cannot do is enable it. Statistics show that an enabler usually adds about 5 years to how long it takes someone to get help. So, you may lose your marriage over it, but ultimately you are losing it by not stepping in.

Be the man that did the right thing, rather than the man that stood by while his wife starved herself to death.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 08:29 AM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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Originally Posted by Tasorundo View Post
I have spent a good part of the last year and a half working with a young anorexic girl. She lived with my family for about 6 months of that time after getting out of a inpatient therapy center. After about 3 months, she went back to a different center for 3 months, then back with us. After deciding that drinking and being free was more important than the stability of our home, she moved out. She is now back in the inpatient center she went to while living with us.

I can tell you from my experience, there will be denial, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. She was so sick and unable to eat that she had a feeding tube put in. Yet, she knew more than the doctors. She had to go through a refeeding process because anything she ate or drank would immediately be thrown up. Yet, she did not have a problem and was just fine.

I do not envy you the journey you are on, but there are a lot of good resources out there. The place she is at now is in Clearwater, I notice you name is south florida, but not sure how far south you are.

Your wife will eventually die from this, if there is not some kind of intervention. What you cannot do is enable it. Statistics show that an enabler usually adds about 5 years to how long it takes someone to get help. So, you may lose your marriage over it, but ultimately you are losing it by not stepping in.

Be the man that did the right thing, rather than the man that stood by while his wife starved herself to death.

^^This^^

You are dealing with a deadly disease that has a grip on her mind that you'll never be able to fully comprehend it if you haven't had it. She needs professional help. All of the "interventions" and monitoring her weight and eating will just make her fight harder and hide it more. She needs help from professionals that know how to treat this. Find a treatment center for ED's and contact them about help with how to get her treated.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 08:44 AM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

SFL75,

For the past five four years I have dealt with my wife's life threatening illness and with her resulting depression and denial. I share my humble experiences and suggestions:

1) If not already done, goggle anorexia and become an expert on the subject. Find the national organizations that provide help and information, and request or download the info that applies to you. Here are some:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders....orexia-nervosa

Eating Disorder Support Groups - National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

2) Obtain information on how family members can cope or deal with this. You not only have to help your wife, you have to help you and your daughter deal with this to. My therapist suggested I participate in some Al-Anon meetings (although our family issues is not alcohol) to learn how family deals with destructive behavior of a spouse.

3) Call your wife's doctor / GYN. They might resist at first due to HIPA, but since you are not asking for confidential information they can be made to help. Tell them the story and say you need help from them.

4) If you are able to get wife to go to doctor, make sure YOU also go, even it means missing a day's worth of pay.

5) Contact you local health department. In my county the coroner (yes, coroner) has the legal authority to commit a person for medical help if they are a danger to themselves.

6) In your other post, you said you are willing to divorce over the lack of sex. Would you divorce to save her life? I had to threaten divorce, and I meant it, if my wife did not go to doctor to seek help for depression. I have no regrets over that.

7) As all the others have said, do not let the threat of divorce by her to affect what you MUST DO. If she is dead, you will be "divorce" and will lose her anyway. Read this one again and understand this. IMO this is life threatening and imminent risk of death.

8) Check your health insurance to see what benefits are offered to help her seek inpatient mental health.

9) Check your health insurance to see what benefits (and costs) are available when she physically collapses and needs immediate life support.

10) Make plans on what you will do if you need to divorce, or she starts divorce. That might be your only option to save her or save yourself. Read this one again.

11) Understand that you might lose her over this - lose your marriage or lose her life. You cannot control her. Remember, the threat of divorce is not control. You are giving her a CHOICE. She can continue as she is if she wants, but she will to that as a single person.

12) Provide emotional support to your 14 yo. She will be very affect by this, regardless of the outcome.

BTW, does she work? How?

Good luck and my prayers are with you.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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SFL75,

For the past five four years I have dealt with my wife's life threatening illness and with her resulting depression and denial. I share my humble experiences and suggestions:

1) If not already done, goggle anorexia and become an expert on the subject. Find the national organizations that provide help and information, and request or download the info that applies to you. Here are some:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders....orexia-nervosa

Eating Disorder Support Groups - National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

2) Obtain information on how family members can cope or deal with this. You not only have to help your wife, you have to help you and your daughter deal with this to. My therapist suggested I participate in some Al-Anon meetings (although our family issues is not alcohol) to learn how family deals with destructive behavior of a spouse.

3) Call your wife's doctor / GYN. They might resist at first due to HIPA, but since you are not asking for confidential information they can be made to help. Tell them the story and say you need help from them.

4) If you are able to get wife to go to doctor, make sure YOU also go, even it means missing a day's worth of pay.

5) Contact you local health department. In my county the coroner (yes, coroner) has the legal authority to commit a person for medical help if they are a danger to themselves.

6) In your other post, you said you are willing to divorce over the lack of sex. Would you divorce to save her life? I had to threaten divorce, and I meant it, if my wife did not go to doctor to seek help for depression. I have no regrets over that.

7) As all the others have said, do not let the threat of divorce by her to affect what you MUST DO. If she is dead, you will be "divorce" and will lose her anyway. Read this one again and understand this. IMO this is life threatening and imminent risk of death.

8) Check your health insurance to see what benefits are offered to help her seek inpatient mental health.

9) Check your health insurance to see what benefits (and costs) are available when she physically collapses and needs immediate life support.

10) Make plans on what you will do if you need to divorce, or she starts divorce. That might be your only option to save her or save yourself. Read this one again.

11) Understand that you might lose her over this - lose your marriage or lose her life. You cannot control her. Remember, the threat of divorce is not control. You are giving her a CHOICE. She can continue as she is if she wants, but she will to that as a single person.

12) Provide emotional support to your 14 yo. She will be very affect by this, regardless of the outcome.

BTW, does she work? How?

Good luck and my prayers are with you.
Thank you for taking the time to write such an in depth reply. Like a few of your bullet points mentioned that threatening divorce, or actually going through with it could be an eventuality and I have been preparing myself for that these past months. What scares me is my daughter and leavin her with her mother if and when it gets worse. Maybe that is another consequence of the disease in that I try for custody?

Anyway there is always this cloud of doubt that I'm the crazy one and everything will be OK. She doesn't exhibit the classic purging of an anorexic but I believe she is accomplishing just the same result through diuretics and excercise.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 04:59 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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Anyway there is always this cloud of doubt that I'm the crazy one and everything will be OK. She doesn't exhibit the classic purging of an anorexic but I believe she is accomplishing just the same result through diuretics and excercise.
It is normal to feel that way. You just hope it does away or does not exist.

My wife received her diagnosis. We said ok, we will deal with this when it happens. 5 months later we are unexpectedly in the hospital, had to cancel our 20th anniversary cruise to Alaska. They told us what to do next. We delayed. Had to rush her to ER with ambulance. 5 days in ICU in coma. She barely made it out. It took THAT for me to get serious.

DON'T DO THAT. Don't do what I did.

She is not eating any fat so she is not absorbing the critical A, D, E, and K vitamins. She needs K for blood clotting. Her body will shut down, just a matter of time.

I know this svcks. You did not sign up for this. No sex. Trust me, I am in the same boat. THE SAME. I know what it feels like. But no matter how bad my wife has it, I am 99% sure she will be alive in 3 or 6 months. IMO, I cannot say that about your wife.

Private message me if you want to talk or just vent.

Think about custody of your daughter. Is your wife going to even feed her or shop for food? You will take custody if your wife dies, right?

Is your wife able to work or is she SAHM?
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 05:32 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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Originally Posted by Sflorida75 View Post
Thank you for taking the time to write such an in depth reply. Like a few of your bullet points mentioned that threatening divorce, or actually going through with it could be an eventuality and I have been preparing myself for that these past months. What scares me is my daughter and leavin her with her mother if and when it gets worse. Maybe that is another consequence of the disease in that I try for custody?

Anyway there is always this cloud of doubt that I'm the crazy one and everything will be OK. She doesn't exhibit the classic purging of an anorexic but I believe she is accomplishing just the same result through diuretics and excercise.


Just because she doens't throw up doesn't mean she isn't anorexic. She is using diuretics which can cause dangerous electrolyte imbalances and mineral deficiencies that cause cardiac and renal issues along with a host of other things. She is "restricting" and using excercise in an unhealthy way. If this is what you know about there are probably other things like laxative abuse and some people abuse stimulants (legal ones are ADHD drugs or an Rx diet pill Phentermine), easy to get without an Rx for many people.

ED's are notoriously hard to treat, she can't see what she looks like. She doesn't care about the health consequences because she doesn't think it can happen to her. The earlier she enters treatment the better her chances are of it working.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 05:47 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

SFL75,

Another suggestion is to write detailed notes, a one pager, on all that your wife has done, starting weight, date. Current weight, date. Diuretics she is taking, how much, how often, etc. When your wife finally collapses and you take her to ER by car or ambulance, give this information to the nurse & doctors. It will be very critical to help them give her prompt, effective care. You might not be in a mental condition to remember. It will help in making them decide to commit for at least 3 days observation because she is a danger to herself.

Another piece of advice. If she collapses, call ambulance. Do not drive her. She will get much quicker care in the ER and the doctors will take her condition more seriously and more likely to make her stay at least the three days by law they can keep her. Plus if she has a serious electrolyte imbalance, her heart can stop. Ambulance only.

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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 06:20 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

Eating fat also feeds her sex hormones. No fat, little to no sex hormones. It should return to better levels when her diet improves. Deeply sorry. Wishing you the best.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 07:06 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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SFL75,

Another suggestion is to write detailed notes, a one pager, on all that your wife has done, starting weight, date. Current weight, date. Diuretics she is taking, how much, how often, etc. When your wife finally collapses and you take her to ER by car or ambulance, give this information to the nurse & doctors. It will be very critical to help them give her prompt, effective care. You might not be in a mental condition to remember. It will help in making them decide to commit for at least 3 days observation because she is a danger to herself.

Another piece of advice. If she collapses, call ambulance. Do not drive her. She will get much quicker care in the ER and the doctors will take her condition more seriously and more likely to make her stay at least the three days by law they can keep her. Plus if she has a serious electrolyte imbalance, her heart can stop. Ambulance only.

I can absolutely vouch for this.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-12-2016, 09:11 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

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... Statistics show that an enabler usually adds about 5 years to how long it takes someone to get help. ...
Wow. That could well be the difference between life and death.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-13-2016, 04:38 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

As I mentioned in your other thread, my sister was anorexic/bulimic.

Just because you don't SEE her throwing up does not mean she isn't. When my sister would eat, she would make a show of eating "fattening" things to make us all think she was trying to get calories. So she'd sit with a tub of ice cream and spoon away. We found out later that ice cream was her choice due to it being easy to throw up silently. She would also chug water when she would eat because if she drank enough it made her feel nauseous and make everything in her stomach come up easier.

After a while she learned the art of the silent puke. You could be in the next room and not hear a thing. Pay attention to how soon after she eats she goes to the bathroom.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-13-2016, 06:35 PM
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Re: Pretty convinced my wife is anorexic, refuses to see a doctor, how do I approach

Not all anorexics purge. Some do; not all.
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