I can't do it for you!

@hvedra (1623)
December 4, 2012 8:37am CST
My brother-in-law is in hospital awaiting an operation because he has phlebitis. He has phlebitis because is is morbidly obese - like not far off a documentary obese. He's been obese for years and there are a number of factors that have contributed to this but, at the end of the day, he chooses not to do anything about it. If people try to encourage him to be healthier he resists, if they are frank with him he gets upset and will blame something else. He declares he'd have phlebitis, sleep apnoea, breathing problems and joint pain even if he wasn't overweight. It doesn't help that when he visits his mother she overfeeds him. Giant portions of fried food and half a loaf of bread is her idea of what to give him followed by snacks of chocolate and crips or cake. She doesn't do this with anyone else in the family (like I said, there are a number of factors here) EXCEPT the grandkids who are also allowed to eat nothing but junk when they visit. We can't point a gun at him or lock him away from food and even if we did he'd go straight back to bad habits as soon as he was able to. His wife lost a lot of weight and is healthy, via weight watchers. Other family members have also dealt with being overweight but he always has an excuse - doesn't like the food even when it is a diet programme that allows most things in moderation. Is always "hungry" even just after a meal. We've tried talking to him about emotional eating and food addiction but he seemed to think that the latter was an excuse to give in rather than get help. He has seen therapists but won't act on their advise. He won't change his habits for himself or for anyone around him. Even when senior doctors have been brutally honest, he gets upset with them for saying something rather than doing anything about it. I've kind of set myself up waiting for a 'phone call or visit saying he's really, really ill or even dead because that's what I've been expecting for some time. I know it sounds harsh but every time he goes into hospital or has some medical crisis the family goes through the wringer emotionally and we can't do anything about it because he won't. So this is the thing. When someone who is fully aware of their problems goes into this kind of denial, what can you do?
3 people like this
9 responses
@bestboy19 (5481)
• United States
4 Dec 12
I wouldn't begin to know how to deal with someone like your brother-in-law, but I would be tempted to say to him, "We know you're trying to kill yourself by overeating, and your mother is trying to help you. We can't stop you, but we would like to know why. Do you have such disdain for your family that you would put them through such hurt?" I would want an answer and not an excuse.
4 people like this
@GardenGerty (112410)
• United States
4 Dec 12
All that can really be done is to make sure the life insurance is paid up if he has any. He may really want to die, but is afraid to kill himself, so he is doing it the slow hard way. He is taking everyone else into the deep pit of depression with him as well. He is probably too obese for bariatric surgery as well.
2 people like this
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
5 Dec 12
Hi hvedra~ It's really difficult to deal with someone who is in total denial and makes excuses about things, especially weight. As you said, there is more to it than just a physical issue. It is also an emotional issue most of the time too. I have 2 girlfriends who "stress eat". Every time I am talking to my BFF on the phone she is "crunching" something in my ear (a very annoying habit). But, I smoke and that is my "deadly and annoying habit". As for the phlebitis, I had it when I was in my 20's. In fact it was so bad that I couldn't stand the sheets touching my legs and I weighed 94 pounds then. The doctors were never sure where it came from, although I was on Birth Control pills at the time and was ordered to stop them immediately. It eventually got better, but I still have pain if my legs are touched even slightly. I now have Fibromyalgia so that might be the issue for the pain. But, it usually does come from people being overweight and it is very dangerous. The only way your BIL is going to do something about his weight is if he really wants to or has a serious health scare that gives him a "wakeup call".
1 person likes this
@hvedra (1623)
5 Dec 12
We're hoping that this latest hospitalisation might have scared him enough. He actually had his operation under local anaesthetic because he was terrified of being given a general anaesthetic because of his breathing problems. He's had some scares before and been in hospital before but it's just a case of whether it is scarey enough. He'll be off work for a while so hopefully his wife will be able to control what he is eating and cut down the snacking - when he's at work he buys stuff from the vending machine and canteen and that's where a huge amount of his intake was coming from.
@AmbiePam (51138)
• United States
7 Dec 12
So his mother is an enabler. My grandfather was about to lose his legs to diabetes and my grandmother STILL brought him four pieces of cake the last Christmas he was alive. He wasn't even morbidly obese. And he didn't even ask for the darn dessert! She just fed him and fed him despite everyone telling her how much it affected his health. She was a classic enabler. I don't know what to say about your brother-in-law. My brother-in-law is actually very obese, close to 400 pounds. However he gets around okay and doesn't have significant health issues other than sleep apnea. He knows he would be better off losing weight, and I believe he's lost 20 pounds. But I think sometimes he sees at it as an insurmountable problem. Even if your BIL's wife threatened to leave him, that would probably just make him eat more. I feel for you.
1 person likes this
@mzz663 (2773)
• United States
5 Dec 12
It sounds like he is slowly killing himself and thinks he can do it on his own, just fine. I can't even begin to think what you, the rest of the family or he is going through. One thing I have found that works for weight loss was the Dukan Diet, which feels nothing like a diet at all for someone that likes food. Maybe something like that within a couple of weeks would help him lose some weight, feel better about himself and how he feels.
1 person likes this
@tatzkie23 (772)
• Philippines
5 Dec 12
Sorry to hear about that. And I really do feel sorry for your brother in law. And yes, i think he is having some denial. I know it's hard to convince someone to change their habits but i think that he needs a family right now. I know you did everything you could, but don't lose hope. Maybe you can try to cook some healthy foods for him. There are some recipes that have low calories and less fat that have the same taste or quality of food that he likes.
1 person likes this
@ANTIQUELADY (36471)
• United States
4 Dec 12
U can't do a darn thing. If he chooses to keep on keeping on doing this he will suffer the consequences. Y'all harping on him probably just makes him more determined than ever to do exactly as he pleases.
1 person likes this
@cutepenguin (6448)
• Canada
4 Dec 12
I don't think you can do anything. The only person who can change him is himself, and he doesn't see the need to change, or thinks it's too hard to change. I have a similar problem with a relative who is a hoarder. She is full of excuses, reasons, and justifications, and she will always deal with things later. In the meantime, you can't walk through areas of her house.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (164266)
• Garden Grove, California
4 Dec 12
hi hvedra yes whether its obesity or smoiking we can offer advice and suggestions and plead for our loved ones to follow them. But we cannot do it for them.They have to want t o help themselves then we can aide if we wish but they have to make the first move. then we can be supportive of them and hope they will carry through on helping themselves.there is little you can do til they decide to do it for themselves then offer support.
1 person likes this