Thursday, May 2, 2013

Life With An Eating Disorder: A Message For The Parents

Playing catch up this week? A Love Letter To My Sister The Challenge To Stay, and Beautiful For Me .

Today I am sharing a post written by an Australian mother who writes over at Surviving Anorexia: eating disorder recovery - our family's journey through anorexia. Her daughter, Sophie, has been struggling with an eating disorder since 2009.

To read more about Sophie's story click here.

 . . .

Confused, Broken Parents 

For those of who care on a daily basis for someone with an eating disorder, the road is rough, painful, scary, and brings so much pain. This is not a post to build or promote guilt in those who have an eating disorder illness. You didn’t choose this, you don’t stay by choice. You had no say in getting the illness. So don’t take anything from this. It is simply about how difficult it can be and how alone you feel as a carer.
I have met another wonderful mum, whose daughter is about to come home from inpatient care. Like me and others before, the mum is distraught, grieving, struggling and wondering what lies ahead. It is a terrifically hard and terrifying time. Yes your daughter is now back at her BMI weight, her brain is functioning and her body healing. BUT, the eating disorder is now cornered. It is fighting loudly and desperately for it’s space. It won’t give up easily nor back down. It heightens the fight and finds many other ways to now live.
My daughter like many who come home from inpatient care for the first time and are still to really start deep counselling therapy can only hear the screaming ED voice. Our daughters hate their safe weight, hate they have to eat, hate those around them making them eat, hate being watched, hate being monitored. They feel they look like Biggest Loser before photos. Their only thought is when they get home is to not eat, to lose the weight and use every trick in the book (plus new ones) to not do what their parents or team are telling them.
caring for someone with an eating disorderUs parents find the several daily fights (a fight for each meal so that’s 6 fights a day), and stubbornness and sneakiness of the eating disorder very, very difficult. It is wearing, exhausting and an emotional roller coaster. You are constantly watching, sifting through conversation with your daughter as to what is her and what is the ED talking, always monitoring. And always loving her so much but unable to protect her from the damned illness.You hope for full recovery and no relapses. But the hard, cold reality is relapses will happen, some being big ones. You don’t know if your daughter is one of the ones headed for full recovery or not nor how long it will take her. Will she just do the 5-7 years or will she be stuck for so much longer. I remember days when all I wanted to do was pack my bag and run away. It was just so tough and at that stage a seemingly thankless task of trying to save  daughter, who appeared to not want to be saved.
The only advice I can give of someone who has come out the other side and lived through some very dark, scary times with my daughter is find support for yourself. Friends, family, your daughter’s support team, your own counsellor. You need others around you to mentally and emotionally support you. Try to find some time out, somewhere to scream and cry it all out. Take each day as it comes, one day at a time only. Remember you are not alone in this, there are many of us who have gone through this before (and may still do so again). Just knowing that another understands exactly what you are feeling and going through (even if they are on the other side of the world), can be so empowering. Hold on, remember that your daughter/son is still under the monster like tentacles of the eating disorder and they need you and love you. They desperately want you to last the distance and be there for them. My daughter’s gratitude for me being her strength and foundation during her illness knows no bounds. That is reward and enough in itself. Believe and know that your daughter/son wants to be saved, deep down they don’t want to be sucked under with this illness.


  1. This is such good advice. Thank you for sharing and being so strong for your daughter!

  2. In reading these posts I've realized much of this advice goes across the board for other problems as well. Although at 6 times a day I can see how a parent would need a lot of support to make it through. Another great, informative post Brittnie


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