Wow! So based on feedback it seems you all really enjoyed last weeks Q&A with my hubs! If you haven't read it yet you can find part one of the Q&A here! I was asked this past week if these were really his answers, and YES! They are! I spell check (I'm no english major though, so all you grammar police, calm down) and we take out anything that might be a liiiiittle TMI, but these are his actual thoughts and answers. I'll respond more to his answers in my next blog! I really hope that this Q&A gives a little more insight as to what it is like to be married to someone going through anorexia and recovery, as well as encouragement to love and support someone you may know going through it!
This week we are onto PART TWO of our Q&A with my hubs! Enjoy!
24. Did you need support yourself when she was anorexic or during recovery?
I did, though I resisted for quite a while. Guys don’t like to think that they need help with most things, especially sharing feelings, which was a real struggle for me, even to this day. I saw a counselor by myself for a little while, but found that the morning men’s group that I regularly attended on Wednesdays was a safe space for me to share things that were going on in my life. I actually had quite a bit of support now that I think about it, all from Christian men that I trusted to speak truth and help remind me to continue to love Sara through the tough times.
25. Do you struggle with the sexual aspect of the weight gain?
Doesn’t seem to be an issue for me… I’ve always been more attracted to a pretty face than a specific body.
26. Someone wrote in about how their husband no longer is attracted to them sexually since gaining weight in recovery, thoughts?
That’s really hard to hear and I’m sorry that this husband is treating her that way. Maybe he needs to seek some help himself, find out if he has low testosterone. If a husband is loyal and his wife comes on to him, my feelings are that nothing would hold him back from loving on his wife. I would highly suggest marriage counseling, it can work wonders!
27. Do you think she will fully recover?
Yes, and I believe that it is happening from the inside out. The further into recovery and the more lab work Sara gets back, the more I believe that she is on the right track. Vitamin deficiencies, glucose, hormones, are all almost back to normal from her last tests, which is much improved from the first time she tested. I believe that she has put the hard work in, and it will absolutely pay off!
28. Could you see her getting thinner and thinner when she was anorexic?
I could not for some reason. It wasn’t until much later when we would look at pictures and then it was like WHOA! How did I miss that?? There are some pictures like when we were vacationing in Baltimore (we were poor…) and there’s a picture of Sara fishing with me, looking so gaunt and thin, so unhealthy. It really makes me sad to think I missed it…
29. Did you worry about her dying?
Great question. For me, I remember when she had some heart pain that led her to go to a cardiologist who told her that they thought Sara may have an enlarged heart due to her anorexia. They also tested her for osteoporosis and found she had onset osteopenia. At this point I realized how lucky we were to get her into a treatment program. So I don’t think that it was so much I was afraid of her dying at the time, more that I was thankful that she didn’t die. Just this week I read an article about a model dying in her twenties from a heart attack. The article didn’t go into any details, but I could only help but wonder if she struggled with an eating disorder like so many do.
30. Do you know what caused the eating disorder?
From what I’ve learned (mostly through my wife’s studying of the disorder) is that certain people may have a “gene” that given the right set of circumstances may be triggered. Once that occurs, the ability to cope with stress in a healthy manner is replaced by the ED, thus giving a false sense of control. Environmental factors like the stress of when we first got married, moving her to NYC, new friends/job/school, and her grandmother passing away all within 6 months was probably the catalyst.
31. What do you think about getting a treatment team/her treatment team?
We would not be here today if it weren’t for her treatment team. They’ve been the support that Sara has needed through this journey, and I’m very grateful for them. Some have come and gone, getting Sara over a specific hurdle and helping her grow, and then they’ve moved on in their own lives and have been replaced by someone who has helped Sara even more. I believe it’s a crucial part of the recovery process and these people should be given a medal of heroism with how they help people every day. Thank you Sara’s team if you’re reading this, from the bottom of my heart!
32. What are the biggest changes you see in your wife since choosing to recover from anorexia?
This process has only made Sara a stronger and more resolute woman and the change in her confidence about right and wrong has never been more steadfast. When Sara knows the truth about something, she can only speak truth and will not back down from speaking that truth, whatever it may be! Be warned those who want to talk ignorantly about whatever the fad diet is today, or dare to tell lies, for Sara’s ability to see through BS has never been more clear. Good luck!
33. How has faith played a role in all of this?
For me, faith has been something like an old friend who always seems to be there when things seems darkest. He never lets you down, and always tries to remind you of things yet to come, that our sufferings produce perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope (Romans 5:3-5). So holdfast, for God is not done with you or me!
34. Do you feel pressure not to diet and work out because of her recovery?
Diet yes, workout out, not so much. I am mindful not to talk about working out or feeling like I need to work out too much, because I know it can trigger her feeling like she needs to work out more. Sara still supports me working out and staying/getting into better shape, as long as it’s not obsessive (not a problem I have). I just try to be sensitive to what she’s gone through, and I hope others can as well.
35. Do you ever wish you never married her because of all this?
God put me in Sara’s life just like God put Sara in my life. She’s helped me to become a better man and I hope to help her become a better woman. I sometimes wonder if she would have become anorexic if she would not have married me, but it doesn’t really do anything to help the situation now. I believe we have a purpose in life, mine right now is to help Sara get back to being Sara, and I’m glad I’m here to do so.
36. If I think my family member is anorexic, what should I do?
This one is tricky, because I feel like Sara would actually do a much better job of answering this from an anorexic’s perspective. I think it’s important to come from a place of deep concern and care for their welfare and to communicate that to them. At the end of the day though, you can talk to someone about what’s going on that may be causing the ED until you’re blue in the face, but if they don’t want help or want to get help, there’s not much you can do except try to encourage them to do so. Get other family or friends to help address them and come up with a game plan together to get the family member help.
37. Are there things you have learned not to say or are afraid to say?
There are the obvious things like talking about weight, food, or exercise that can really be triggering, so I try and circumnavigate those topics. There are times where I can really sense that Sara is not in a good place about body image, and that’s when I have to be very sensitive and really try to figure out what’s going on inside her mind, what caused this, and then try and help her back off the edge. Reminding her of self-evident truths always seems to help.
38. Is it hard that her ED affected her ability to have kids?
Yes, it is hard to think that we will not bless this world with the fruit of our loins… But it’s just one speed bump in the road that we will take on head first and look at making the difference in another child’s life, who may bless us even more than if we had our own kids. Pray for us in this manner.
39. Did you ever blame yourself for her eating disorder?
If you knew me at all, you would come to find out that I’m really good at dodging blame, at least in my own mind. As I’ve shared in past questions, I am not a perfect person (though I continue to try and convince Sara of that) and have caused a lot of stress and heartache for Sara.
40. Knowing what you know now about her illness, looking back what would you do differently to help her more?
I would have asked her parents and siblings for help. I think I could have rallied her family for more support to address the issues that were going on and get the help she needed much earlier. I would have been stronger with her when I realized she was eating less and less, and shared with her my personal concerns for how she was looking and asked her to really consider getting help.
41. And now, what are you doing differently to continue helping her?
Now it is more about keeping her focused on the treatment she’s getting from her doctor and dietician, and reminding her of the facts and what they want her to do that can easily be forgotten when there are body image issues. She would probably want me to check in on how she’s feeling more than I do, so I need to step up in that regard. I also encourage her to step outside her comfort zone when someone asks her to hang out, but also not push like I used to when she lets me know that she’s not comfortable. It’s a balancing act.
42. How do you deal with all the food changes and restricting that she has now?
When Sara did this food allergies test to find out what could be causing the inflammation, she had to restrict certain food like apples, coffee, carrots, and gluten. There were others but I don’t remember what they all were now. The rules were the that she would get off of them for 3 months, and then reintroduce them to see how her body reacted. The one food that she is still restricting is gluten, per the doctor’s orders. Sara does not cheat on anything, so she has remained gluten free for the past 8 or 9 months now, and it has been hard. I look forward to a time when she can truly eat freely, but I’m not sure if that will happen, time will tell. I deal with it by supporting her, so we are gluten free in our home, I just get my gluten when I’m out for lunch.
43. What has been the hardest part for you to deal with?
It’s really seeing the tears that Sara has cried over all of the stress from this eating disorder. I would not wish this on my worst enemy, and Sara has put so much time and effort in to getting healthy, something that most people really struggle to do 100%. Sara has done it 150%, but it’s like taking baby steps for the entire journey, which just wears her down some days. It’s really hard to see her suffer as she has, and seeing how lonely she feels most of the time
44. What’s the one thing or things you love, admire and respect the most about her before, during and after ED?
I think Sara added this question herself… (Sara here, I did not!)
Before ED, Sara was confident and secure in who she was, that’s what initially made me attracted to her. She’s also a perfectionist, so what made her really good at whatever she does (piano, softball, art), was also what made her good at being an anorexic. Her yes is her yes, and her no is her no. If she says she’s going to do something, she’ll do it to the best of her ability, which I do really admire, I wish she was just not as good at being anorexic as she was. After ED, her same tenacity is what has kept her from fully relapsing, so again when she puts her mind to something, get out of her way because she’s going to complete it one way or another!
45. What has been the most stressful part about the recovery process?
I’m not sure what a “normal” recovery process looks like, but there have been a lot of adverse health effects that have really made things challenging. I forget what the exact number of supplements that Sara takes in a day, but I feel like it comes to 30 pills a day, which is 900 a month! That’s a lot of vitamins and it’s a reminder of how sick she has been. I’m stressed that there may be long term effects of the ED that will surface 20-30 years from now, and that scares me. It’s like when I person stops smoking, but if they smoke for a long time, there are bound to be long term health issues
46. Are there ways you take care of yourself while she recovers?
For me, taking care of myself while Sara recovers means still socializing with friends when I can. I’m naturally very social and it’s hard for Sara to get the energy to go out while she’s recovering. But she has encouraged me to still meet up with friends and serve at church when she may feel like just staying home and laying low.
47. Final thoughts?!?!
I want to thank the readers of Inwardly Renewed for their love and continued support to Sara while she shares her journey to recovery! I'm so impressed with Sara's commitment to continue to write and post, even during some of the lowest moments, with the hope that she will help and make an impact in others lives. She's told me before that it would all be worth it if it help just one person, and I know that her voice has been a light to a very dark and not talked about subject, helping many. I think that going through these questions in a way has helped me to appreciate my wife more and allowed me to reflect on how challenging this process has been and the growth that I've seen in Sara. It's like when you look at a picture from years ago or read an old journal entry, when you compare now with then, that's when you see the real change, and it's been positive and encouraging! I hope that I was able to clearly answer your questions, though personal they were! It's only when we are real with people that we can make a difference. Thank you for letting me share and reflect my feelings, much of which I had never dug into before! I hope that I can share again sometime!