National Eating Disorders Association

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2 Sisters and no change in sight

I have two older adult sisters with clear cases of anorexia; One sister's case developed pretty quick so it has completely affected her personality and made her into this different person who only can talk about food and thinks being thin is probably the only important thing in life and the way to be happy. She has cut ties with many friends, reverted back to child-like behavior since she is so fragile, and has put a huge strain on my entire family as she lashes out at all of us and anyone who dares to say anything about how sickly she looks or is at the wrong place at the wrong time. Neither of them have had their period for probably over a 1.5 years.

The other sister is much older and is a DOCTOR. She thinks that the first sister I described is the only one with the problem and constantly talks about how that sister needs help and is a clear anorexic every time she comes home meanwhile she has been as thin if not thinner for longer. Although she is a more quiet person and it has not changed her personality, it is disturbing when she talks about how our other sister looks very thin when she can not see in the mirror that she is literally identical. As a doctor I can't even imagine the psychological problems and rationalizations she must be making all the time to explain how she can weigh the same and be the same height as a girl she is calling anorexic and in need of help. Another slight concern for this sister is that she became too thin right when she broke up with her boyfriend and she is 30 and is looking for a relationship but can't find one and I believe this disorder is definitely holding her back because any guy who sees her is probably repulsed even though I think she may have gotten to this point to get a guy.

After over of year of me telling my parents to take action especially with the sister at home, they have chosen to help her. They are helping her first because her personality is so volatile now, and she doesn't have her life and future together like my other sister does; which she said was the reason she was unhappy this past year. However, they are putting all of her eating in her control and she has been avoiding making appointments and has not changed her eating behavior despite all the talk she does now to us constantly about changing her lifestyle and how she's healthy now. Literally all she talks about. I think she definitely needs inpatient care but my parents keep avoiding that option. I also feel like my other sister can't just be ignored during this time because she definitely needs some outpatient help too.

All my family talks about are eating disorders and I can tell it has put serious strains on my grandma who lives with us and my parents. My grandma feels bad because the first sister will lash out at her and she won't let her spend time with my mom because she needs my mom's full undivided attention constantly. My parents who have been very nurturing and attentive during this time, get no alone time, are constantly yelled at by her, and basically have a adult baby to massage and sometimes even sleep with at night. And I'm forced to live my life catering to her every need but yet ignoring the fact she isn't eating still. We have to do whatever she wants, I have to invite her out with all my friends even though she acts strange with people now and people stare, and we can't even go out to eat or do anything without planning ahead and letting her choose the place.

I feel like having one person with anorexia is bad enough but 2 such severe cases because my parents tried to ignore it is literally impossible to deal with. I just wish I had my old family back but I know things will never be the same because they will struggle with this disorder their whole lives and my family will never look at a meal the same way again. I want them to get better and I know I personally can't do that for them but being in a house with the first sister is literally maddening. Any advice on what to do with 2 sisters with this disorder or how to have patience please comment.

No Progress. :-(

No kidding, it really is bad seeing people in a state like this, and worse when it seems like things are just stalled and no progress is being made. We would like to be supportive, but what have they given us to support ?

I'm sorry about your younger sister. She's in that "frantic" stage of her ED, where she's really going for it, and keeps everyone unsettled, upset and feeling helpless. Normally this stage doesn't go on forever, as the person slowly starts to realize how their ED is robbing their life of all meaning. The part about where all their brain is good for anymore is to think about food, and how those thoughts get to where they take up all of the available space in their minds…usually after a while that realization begins to become increasingly distressing for the person, but it doesn't sound like she's reached that spot yet.

So yeah, it's professional help time alright. None of her situation is going to get better without your parents taking some kind of action. Plus the longer she remains in this state, the deeper and deeper these ways of thinking burn themselves into her brain, in ways that make them *very* difficult to get rid of, once the time finally arrives when she does want to free herself of all this.

Case in point, your older sister. I really doubt that she's as oblivious as she likes to make out, and dollars to dimes she would like to get rid of it, but you see how successful she's been. And yes : The relationship stresses she's had must make her feel less in control of her life than is comfortable for her. And when people with EDs start feeling not in control…I'm sure you've seen how things can progress from there. Back to the same old coping methods that got imprinted in her brain when she was early in her ED like your younger sister is. And she's back to them probably not by choice either.

And you are right about her projecting her own issues onto you sis. She may indeed be aware that she's doing this, or perhaps not I suppose. At her age people with EDs have usually got a lot of this figured out, but denial can be a powerful thing too.

So yes : People need to start taking the bull by the horns, if anything's going to change. And if you are going to be provided with anything to support yourself, you know ?

Your parents *really* should not be alone with this either. There's really no excuse for that these days. There are some very active online forums for parents that they need to look into. F.E.A.S.T. is pretty much the big parents organization these days, and NEDA has good information too.

How you are supposed to have patience with this is difficult to say, when there seems to be so much avoidance and inaction. Once your family members start confronting things in more healthy ways, you can bring your support of bear, and it will be a lot easier for you then as well.

RE: 2 Sisters and no change in sight

Hi mdidona1! We are glad that you are finding support here on the NEDA forums. A portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific behaviors that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here In the event you need further assistance please call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-Th 9-9 F 9-5 EST).
Again, thank you for posting, and we hope you will continue to do so!