Wife has left me to move home after anorexia and binge eating

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Sorry, this might ramble on and I’m new here so please bear with me. I’m having a very difficult time, as my wife, who has suffered with anorexia and Binge eating disorder over the last 20 months, has left me to return to Ireland and I’m at a loss to what to do. 

Trying to cut this short, she is from Ireland, and we met 6 years ago almost. We got married 3 years go in April, and bought our first house 3 years ago end of September. In the Summer of 2015, she started showing signs of anorexia behaviour. Exercising too much, eating too little, and by October that year she had lost so much weight I was terrified. I told her I thought she may be anorexic, but she showed little reaction to my concern at the time. A few months prior, she had visited Ireland and come back to England saying she felt like England was her home now. This was due to her family questioning her weight loss, and obviously she didn’t like it, as anorexia patients don’t.

In April 2017 we went on holiday to Italy and it was the first time I lost my temper with her as she was still 6.4 stone, and obviously on holiday the illness is most visible. I regret it to this day, but I had to do something to get her to listen to me as she still at that point, almost 7 months later since first showing signs, had done nothing about it and was still very thin. She eventually went to the doctors, and was diagnosed with anorexia in June last year. 12 months ago. From then, she was seeing a counsellor and a dietician to help her, but as she has recovered, she has ended up with Binge eating disorder.

We have had huge problems in our marriage because of it all. At times, I haven’t handled it well, and live with the guilt of not knowing what to do when she first was going through anorexia. But I WAS supportive, I had never commented on her weight before she developed it (I don’t care what she weighs, and never have, only that she’s healthy). We had a ‘normal’ marriage, only that she was from Ireland, and I was from England. I’d never been abusive, always encouraged and supported her, and always tried to show her how much I loved her, told her she was beautiful 100 times a day and that I loved her every day.

When she developed it, things got tough at times as she never opened up to me, and tried to deal with everything alone. She wouldn’t admit there was a problem, and she wouldn’t allow her family to get involved (mainly to ‘protect’ her Mum who was diagnosed with cancer about 2 years previous). She’s a very closed book anyway, but was even worse with anorexia. But I tried, in the face of her secret exercising sessions and her non eating. I did all I could, short of dragging her to the doctors, until that moment in Italy which she still holds against me for doing.

I had a hard time in my working life, being bullied, was off with stress twice, then 4 out of 6 people in my department quit the job with no jobs to go to, that shows how bad it was. So each of my work days were taken up by worry for my wife daily, plus all that going on. Stupidly, I never got help for any of it, and didn’t consult any therapists myself. It was stupid, lack of self care, and led to me being very depressed.

So as my wife recovered from anorexia, she obviously had to then see me going through a difficult time in the new year this year. My work life became worse and worse from January onwards. We had arguments about things, When she had recovered her weight, and was back to her healthy BMI, I took a photo of her and she said she looked ‘fat’ which led to an argument. Then things like she was very unthinking, and very unfeeling. She has been on sertraline which she has since come off of, and I know it affected her a lot.

So from January, we seemed to get worse. I cried a lot and one day said that I have to leave my job, but discussed it with her as I didn’t want to put pressure on her with the house and the mortgage, but she encouraged me to do it. So in March, I quit the job. But felt under a lot pf pressure, as I would have no work and no income. Then the week I quit, she suddenly told me that she didn’t like England, and wanted to move back to Ireland. It was the worst timing and led to a big row. Of all the weeks to do it, she picked that one. 

I have said things to her I didn’t mean, and regret bitterly about not being able to cope with over 12 months of her having anorexia and being bullied in work, and that by refusing help she was ruining our lives etc (which kills me repeating, as it wasn’t true, I have since been diagnosed with depression too). 

So we had huge difficulties, she said she was going for a job over there (no discussion with me, or planning it, or what I would do, what we would do about the house here etc), she just didn’t want to be here anymore. It was like I didn’t even come into the equation, but she didn’t want to split up. But had decided she was moving back no matter what I thought.

Anyway, since around mid June it all fell apart. She went over for an interview, and couldn’t understand why I was so upset. Said she was quitting her job, and did, and left two weeks ago to go back to Ireland, but hasn’t ended the marriage and says she just needs ‘space and time, and peace from all the arguments’. 

And here is the other issue. I was looking for clothes in our wardrobe Saturday, and I found some journals from the start of January, given to her by the eating disorder clinic she was attending, in which she had to write down daily what she ate, where, time, and feelings. They were from 1 January to 28 April, and they show that from January she was suffering from Binge Eating Disorder. I never knew. I knew she was struggling with food, and we had spoke about it, and I was again very supportive, but again, she didn’t tell me half of what she was going through, and they may be the saddest things I’ve ever read. 

From 7am every morning, to 11pm at night, she struggled. Every day. For four months. Off the back of 15 months being treated for and having anorexia, she was now binge eating. She struggled with exercise, compulsions to binge, to eat. Every time she went for even a small snack, she struggled with it. The journals are littered with ‘binged again :-( Why do I do this?’ and she was sneaking food and snacks in anytime she could. I would go out, and she would binge. I would go to bed before her, and she binged. 3am in the morning she would binge badly (she told me she was watching TV as she couldn’t sleep). When she started to eat, she would not stop and then hate herself for doing it. She says several times ‘seize chance to get food :-( ‘ or ‘I’m never going to get over this disorder, I hate myself for it’ etc. It’s so sad. I didn’t know all this, as she’s incredibly good as hiding it.

She writes a few times, she would be better off dead. Which destroyed me and I ended up crying for an hour. She feels useless, worthless, weak, independable. She always had terrible self esteem which I tried to build up always. But reading these was awful. I’m devastated and feel incredible guilt for not seeing it and not knowing it. I already harboured so much guilt around her anorexia, that I didn’t do enough, that I could have helped more, and now I found this out and it killed me. 

There are multiple entries where she seems ok and happy, but then will write we had an argument and it starts again. But the arguments were always about her lack of communication. Example one day her dietician changed her food, but she didn’t tell me, so I came home and she was eating something she had never had before, and I immediately didn’t trust it. If she had said ‘the dietician has told me to eat (food)’ then the arguments or distrust wouldn’t have been there. She just had to be open with me, which I begged her to do, but she never was. 

So the journals slowly show us unraveling from January to April. More arguing, her binging getting worse. But they also show signs of what was happening, i.e. there were days she was especially irritable, or if she went to bed before me, I could tell there was something wrong, which I now know was probably because she then couldn’t binge before she came upstairs (which was probably the night she got up to do it at 3am). :-(

There were entries in the journal that she feels like she’s ruined her life, would kill herself if it wasn’t for the effect it would have on her Mum, that she wishes she had never met me as she could just then move back to Ireland with no problems, but in the midst of it says she loves me. But that was 3 months ago. She was an sertraline at the time too. She would say that she can’t control her bingeing even in April, but now says she doesn’t have a problem (after 4 months of doing it?).

She wrote that she wanted to move back, and ‘should I leave him to move back?’ etc. It’s like in her desperation to escape where she was ill, I have been sacrificed and have become the focus point and the reminder of not her eating disorders, and all I ever did was try and help her, stay supportive (at times failing because of my own issues) and see her through it. I told her time and again to just involve me, and she didn’t. She still kept everything hidden and secret. It’s just so unfair. I love her so much, so dearly and married her for a reason, but she’s left me I believe because of these horrible disorders and what they have done to our marriage, not because of us, because before she was ill, we were fine, and ‘normal’. She also had no history of this, but I do know she has always had terrible self esteem issues which are worse if she feels she’s harming anyone else by her actions.

Since she left, she has emailed me, and been nice and polite but has refused to say she loves me. They are just standard ‘hi’ emails. She has given me no indication as to what is going to happen. She seems to hate me for being in the way of her life, but I’ve never given her reason to. Never stopped her doing anything she wanted to do, never held her back, always said I would move to Ireland with her even. But I don’t think the way she did it, which I think was her brain basically saying ‘ we need to go and NOW’ was at all right and it created huge difficulties. 

It’s two years since she developed anorexia, recovered and then developed binge eating disorder, and she’s changed so much from who I married but can’t see it. She just says ‘people change’. I have blamed myself over and over, but I know I wasn’t an abusive, nasty, husband but a supportive one who did everything he could for her. I’m beyond depressed and down about her leaving, even though it’s not final and hopefully won’t be. Despite everything, I want her in my life. I know she’s ill, and I now she’s been through horrible times, and also had to see me very down and depressed too (which was my own fault as I didn’t self care), but I love her so much. So, so much. She’s my world, my everything, and I can’t get through to her how much these disorders are to blame for our situation, not us as a couple. 

To this day she can’t say why she developed anorexia, although she feels it may have been when we bought the house in England as she always wanted to move back to Ireland. Then felt ‘trapped’. But again I never said I wouldn’t move over there, that ‘trapped’ feeling was all in HER head. She always had trouble communicating, so felt she couldn’t bring up the subject, even though again, I never gave her reason to be like that. I’d even discussed moving to Ireland with my parents over and over. She's said some horrible things about us getting married, things about our marriage that aren't true (and it's not me being deluded, they simply aren't). E.g. she said 'I always felt guilty taking the car ...' We boguth a car together, and the day we bought it and multiple times over and over, because I was going to using it more than she as I had a 10 mile journey to work, wheras she worked 10 mins awlk from our house, I said 'take the care whenever you need it. Anytime'. I even put her on my last car insurance and let her have it, and got the bus. I NEVER made her feel guilty about it, but she levelled that at me, which wasn't true. And she said other things too that weren't true, they simply weren't. 

To go from anorexia which I knew about, to binge eating which I didn’t, it’s left us in ruins but with a tiny flicker of hope we can sort it all out, but I’ve no idea how when I am here and she’s in Ireland. I’ve told her I’d move, but she’s switched off. Her emails aren’t loving, but she said yesterday that she ‘just needs time and peace’ said she was ‘ecstatic’ that I was getting help (I’m now seeing a counsellor) but then will say something that makes me think she hates me for stopping her doing what she wants, which I never have.

It’s bewildering, confusing and baffling. And I can’t talk to her family, as A. They just don’t take it seriously (her Mum had had the sum total of about 10 minutes conversation with her about her anorexia) and B. They know nothing about her binge eating, suicidal comments or the way she has been since January this year.

It’s heartbreaking and I’m at a total loss as to what to do, where to turn and struggle to get out bed every day.

Does any of the behaviours, the wanting to escape where she was ill, ring true to anyone?

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Wow Paul, you really poured your heart out.

    Just to share so maybe it might

    Help you.

    I developed Anorexia in my teens. At first not eating was easy but as time went by and I lost more

    Wieght my appetite got out of

    Control. I became obsessive about

    Food and would think about it

    All day. That's when it evolved

    into binge eating.

    I now realise it was my body

    responding to deprivation.

    When I was binge eating I would

    Purge also and if anyone found

    Out I would absolutely hate and

    Despise them. Because I couldn't handle anyone knowing my dirty

    Little secret.

    That could be why your wife is

    This this way, she is ashamed.


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    • Posted

      Hi Kelly

      Thanks for the reply. Yes, she's said over and over she can't handle the shame and guilt. But I've tried and tried to tell her she doesn't have to have any but to no avail. It's like she simply can't get past it. Her journal was littered with things like 'I feel fat, lazy, undependable, useless' etc. I've told her over and over I love her and we can beat this together despite our problems, but feel lost as to what else to do?

      I know she has huge shame. There was one entry where she had binged and I found out and she wrote 'can't face husband. Feel so ashamed'.

      It's a cruel, horrible condition and I only wish I'd known exactly what she had been going through and the torture around food after she had put the weight back on after anorexia.

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  • Posted

    Paul - I'm so sorry to hear this but putting it on a paper is a very good thing to do. I thought this message warranted a decent reply so I will do later this week.

    Have you called Beat's helpline (the UK's eating disorder charity). It's open 3pm - 10pm and is completely free and confidential.

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    • Posted

      Hi Kat

      I haven't called Beat's helpline, but I did go to their website and downloaded information, lots of it, such as caring for anorexic sufferers etc. 

      Sorry for the late response. Well, to update, again, this is lengthy, apologies.

      I told her I'd found the journals and she didn't react well. First she denied they were from recently (even though they are dated and talk of things that happened up to June / July) and then she denied things that she'd said in them. She was upset more than anything that I'd seen the journals, not the content. Accused me of snooping (I wasn't) and that I should focus on myself and not her. Then she sent me another message telling me, almost demanding that I do not tell anyone in Ireland, her family, as if I did, over there would be ruined for her too. Just to add, I told her that when I saw the journals I was devastated and heartbroken for her, that she couldn't tell me and involve me in her thinking and that I would do ANYTHING to help her.

      I felt like she was just showing again, that she has gone there to escape her problems, and ours, and that she can hide from the disorders. Or do I think that she is trying her best to use this time to get over the disorders? The problem I have with that is that she isn't getting help over there. Her family don't take it seriously, she's asking me NOT to tell them (as in her words 'she doesn't want to be watched, scrutinised or monitored, although I didn't even do that when she was here) and she isn't seeing anyone for a problem she still had at the start of June.

      She also suggested that at the moment, our relationship was a 'trigger', something which kills me to hear. Her disorders started at a time when we didn't even have relationship issues, and it feels like she's part blaming me even though I did everything I could to help her. When I told her I'd seen the journals, I said I'd done a lot of research, a lot of reading. Used Beat, got advice, downloaded help leaflets, to try and understand her condition, but she simply said that trying to pretend I understand why she does what she does is 'demeaning and pointless'. It's heartbreaking. I asked her why is it demeaning? She said it's patronising. So again, I said I'm not trying to understand her thinking, but to educate myself on how the disorders make people feel, or why people do it, not pretending to know her thoughts, but I cannot get through to her. It's painful, and very stressful being on the end of it all.

      So I left it at that, as further messaging was only making her worse. She was obviously upset I'd seen her private journals on binge eating etc. And that I now knew. And she was lashing out and attacking me again and it was so hard to take.

      But then yesterday, I got a message from her completely 100% the opposite. She was friendly, nice, talked about her week, said she was happy that counselling and meds were working for me etc. But she still refuses to say if she's coming back to England, doesn't end any message with she loves me, and keeps deliberately holding back any affection or love. I asked her last week if she still loved me, was going to come home, and she said she was sorry but she couldn't answer me as her life was 'a mess'. But it still leaves me in total limbo, trying to get myself better with her holding back any love, affection, or what she is planning to do or if my marriage is over or if she's coming back or not. And if she is, when is she?

      It's a horrible limbo, I don't know from one minute to the next what she is thinking. If she's getting any help over in Ireland she won't say, but as she was adamant NOT to tell her family, I don't believe she is. I think it's unfair that she told me not to involve them also as it would 'ruin' over there for her, when she's left me in this horrible limbo and ruined over here for me, of not knowing where to turn, whether my marriage is over or what time frame she wants if she is thinking of coming back. I'm finding it all very difficult.

      I told her sister to keep an eye on her, but also warned her that she would be angry if she knows I told her. I think she said something to her, and that's what caused the 'don't tell my family anything' message. I'm wracked with not knowing whether or not to keep using the disorders as an excuse for some of her behaviour, or to say at some point 'I can't do this anymore' as it's been a good 6 months almost of this and nothing has changed in so far as I simply have no idea what she's going to do.

      I've tried to reconcile in my head the way anorexia, binge eating and purging affects people's thinking to the way she used to be. The fact that anorexia left her body not working as it should, and her hormones affected. The fact that binge eating and anorexia is filled with shame and guilt, and how that has clearly affected her too. She's racked with it. But at the same time, she has done so many irrational, horrible things. So many thoughtless, nasty comments to me about me, our marriage (which I know are not true, and it's not just me being deluded or unable to see the problems). My counsellor asked me if there were any comments in the journals about how much she hated me, or disliked me, and there isn't one. Not one comment about her marriage, me. If anything she used them to say I was supportive a few times, but only ever said in them 'flare up with husband' when we had an argument over her unusual behaviour. So I know, and I know it in my heart anyway, that her struggle has been with herself for so long now. She has unusually low self esteem, hates herself even more now too although she was always like that before she had eating disorders. She told me a few times she had been 'an accident' (i.e. her parents weren't expecting to have her). She denied she was ever suicidal after me telling her about the journals, even though she wrote of it 3 times.

      I sometimes wonder if something has happened in her past? Her brother has always teased her about being 'fat' (even though she wasn't). Her parents don't get on. She was very 'catholic' when we first got together (although that eased too). i.e. very traditional, morals and virtues. But I also wonder if something has happened, bullying, abuse, in her past to make her hate herself as much as she does? Does that also show up in eating disorders? The self esteem? Childhood upbringing? I have done nothing but tell her how beautiful she was since the moment we met. Have done anything and everything to build up her self esteem.

      She also has a lot of issues with criticism. She hates even the slightest criticism, and has always been like that. She immediately goes on the defensive if anyone tells her she's done something wrong, or not even wrong, but an innocent 'why did you do that?' was always met with an over defensive attitude. And the smallest incident would provoke the largest response. Such as a broken plate would be the end of the world to her when to anyone else, it's just a plate! So may times I've been made to feel like a monster, an overly critical nightmare when in actual fact, her reaction to anything was the problem. She hid the fact she had broken a garden chair, because she was terrified of what I'd say! Even though I've never given her cause to be that way, and never gotten angry at her about anything at all like that!

      She has also always had terrible problems with decisions. Again, she told me one day she was scared to make a decision as she was always concerned it would be the wrong one. Again, I had never given her cause to feel that way. For example, we would be going out and have two choices of where to go. She would always ALWAYS leave the choice to me. So if we went to a restaurant, and it was awful, she could then not have the burden of being the person who chose it. I've read that comes up a lot in eating disorders too?

      At the moment, I feel lost. I've tried everything I can, and more. I'd even say that if she didn't have the disorders, the way she's treated me, acted and behaved, I wouldn't be writing this now. I just don't know how much longer I can try, or even eventually if I want to, as it's causing me a lot of pain and depression. How long can you have accusations, things that aren't true, withholding of affection and your wife living in another country, unwilling to get help and unwilling to have anyone know about it, and keep going and trying before you give up? I find myself thinking I'm selfish for thinking this way, but I know I'm not. She doesn't even acknowledge the fact that I'm the only person who's had to live with her through her illnesses, as she won't involve her family, but I'm also the only person who has had to face her behaviours because of it but STILL get no, and I don't want to use the word credit, but no appreciation of that fact. I just get the rough end of her treatment while her family are blissfully unaware of how bad she's been and I don't believe it's fair to me.

      Even after all this, I love her. Again, I probably wouldn't if I hadn't been on here or the various other websites to research and read about them and the affect they have. I want everything to be the way it was before she developed anorexia. I'd give anything for it to be so. It would kill me know my future won't involve her. But at the same time, how long do you go on with no answers from her (all I get back to anything is 'I don't know'wink.

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