Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So saddened by a recent phone call home

I had to write Dr. Phil yet another letter. This time it wasn't about me and my weight issues although it did hit home with me... this letter was for my beautiful 11 year old niece, Ryleigh. Here is the letter I wrote to Dr. Phil. (I checked NOT willing to appear on the show and I don't want my niece as an example, she's obviously going through enough).


Dear Dr. Phil,
I just got off of the phone with my sister and knew I had to write to you immediately. My 11 year old niece, Ryleigh, is showing signs of food obsession and is already asking her mom, my sister, for diet pills. She isn't morbidly obese, in fact I don't even think she would qualify as obese yet but she is definately over weight and, at age 11, totally self conscious.

Ryleigh has always been a "good eater" we joked but after the talk I just had with sis I know this is so much more. Apparently Ry is grounded for sneaking 2.5 homemade cheeseburgers (so big ones) from the fridge after her mom and dad were out and the baby sitter was asleep and eating them all. This was after already eating her dinner, a cheeseburger, 2 servings of salad and some chips and being told no more food.

Ryleigh has already been taken off of plate clearing duty at their house because her parents discovered she was also clearing off (eating) the leftovers from her parents and siblings plates. After getting caught with the cheeseburgers she said to my sister "see this is why I want diet pills. I just can't stop Mom".

Sis has already taken Ry to the doctor who told her it's just a growth spurt, it will pass, but Ry has confessed to sneaking food for years now. That's no growth spurt.

Please reach out and help my niece. I don't care if she doesn't get to be on the show, just tell me what to do or where to send her for help. I, too, was food obsessed and am so very scared her. I don't want her to end up like me at age 28 and trying to change a life time of food obsessions (which I did with your book!).

I asked my sister to write to you but with 6 kids at home I don't know if she will find the time.
Please, save my niece from herself. She's only 11. I hope to hear back from you soon.

Sincerely, Sarah, concerned aunt and reformed food obsessor.

I am so saddened by the conversation I had with my sister. I can see so much of myself in what she's telling me Ry has had to deal with. The doctor won't help and probably doesn't believe her or even know how to help her. They've tested her thyroid and done a physically and in that way, nothing is wrong that they can see. She, being 11, probably really doesn't understand why she is so obsessed with food. I know I didn't understand when I was her age... all I knew is that I wanted it and had to have it or I would feel paniked. It brought me back to some of my first posts on this blog so quickly and vividly, when I was reaching back in my memory as to when all of this food obsessing started for me...it was before Ryleigh's age but as I've said, this has been a long time going on for her as well. Already the pattern and habits are formed.

My sister is trying her best to focus on being healthy (not numbers, fat, and negative aspects of it) but Ryleigh gets so depressed, angry and hurt when she isn't able to eat everything she wants to. I don't even know what to tell my sister to do because honestly, she is doing everything I would be doing in her situation but it's just not helping. How do you tell an 11 year old that she is food obsessed without permanetly damaging any self esteem she would have?

I told my sister to take her to doctor after doctor until somebody listens to what she is saying and takes an interest in Ryleighs problem because it is so much more than a little growth spurt. I told her that nobody knows her child like SHE knows her child and she knows in her heart that this is so much more than just a little spurt. This is a problem that has potential to grow into a serious of other serious health problems including eating disorders (since she will often times eat until she is sick, literally).

The fact that my 11 year old niece is asking for diet pills to help her gain control of her eating just breaks my heart. I want to take her away and hold her and tell her how perfect she is and just help her but I know the help she needs is really beyond anything I could ever provide for her. I'm just really sad and worried for her. You always want so much more for the children in your life, wether it be your child or your younger cousin or your nieces and nephews. I just don't want her to have a repeat of what I went through as a food obsessed teen and adult. Kids (and adults) can be so very cruel. She doesn't deserve that. Nobody does.


becklette said...

you know this breaks my heart, right? cause you know i started at 8. and, dear god, i don't want this little girl ending up like me, either. this little girl i don't know. she needs to see a child psychologist (ideally one who specializes in ed), not a physician. most insurances will cover some outpatient treatment, and if not, child services in their city may be able to help. i can't tell you how much i regret clamming up when my parents took me to one at 14. can't even tell you. it was only ten years and +30, -10, +20, -30, +80, -25 pounds.

Monica said...

This is so scary. I hope your sis can find a good doctor who will LISTEN, and help your neice get on the right track.