National Eating Disorders Association

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20 year old college student relapsing again

My daughter is in college on the east coast (we're on west coast) and has decided to quit college, continue to work at university's book store and not want to communicate with us. She was diagnosed with severe anxiety and anorexia 3 years ago which led her to hospital stays, residency, outpatient programs. She has gone through the whole gamut of programs and recovered and relapsed several times. In the interim, she has managed to excel in high school, was valedictorian and do really well in college (received full ride scholarship). She wants to do it all, lead every school club and get all good grades. She always has been an overachiever and puts pressure on herself.

In the middle of the Fall semester 2016, she decided to quit school and take a medical leave of absence but has stopped seeking therapy and has ostracized herself from all her friends. This is coming from someone who is very social, loves college and her independence so it was a surprise to us.

She is no longer anorexic but bulimic now and her ED has gone out of control. She does not want to come back home or get help or even communicate with us. Her college friends do not talk to her anymore and basically she is on her own. She did not want to come down for the holidays.

In the past she would ask for our help but this time she does not want to see us. We have and are still telling her that we love her and are here for her whenever she decides to get help. This is the worse relapse we had to deal with because she is so far away and other than a few texts here and there she does not want to communicate much to us. She has no direction and we don't know what to do. We told her we will fly out but she wants nothing to do with us.

She has acquired so many coping tools over the last few years. I know she probably feels that she has dug such a deep hole that she can't come out of it. We feel completely helpless and we have no one on the east coast to check up on her. My husband and I sought advice here from therapists to guide us through this and as everyone says the asking for help has to come from her and to continue to support her which is what we are doing.

In the meantime, we don't know what to do anymore. We have reached out to her former roommate and other school acquaintances but they no longer speak. It is sad to see that she is losing her friends. I welcome any thoughts, guidance as we are at a complete loss.


Hi edm96,
It is so hard to have someone you love struggling with ED, even more so if they are rejecting help. My daughter is 17 and still living at home. This is actually one of the fears I have, is when she moves out, that the ED will take over again. My heart breaks for you and your family.
Please take care of yourself, you cannot control her choices, but you can keep yourself healthy and find some peace and joy. If and when she wants help then you will be in a better place emotionally and physically to help her.
There was a time when my daughter was in an ED center that she refused to phone us and did not want us to come see her. It was heart wrenching. Her therapist still wanted us to come, and we did, which helped her, She was 15 at the time. She has attachment disorder. She was so afraid that we would disown and leave her, that she decided she would close herself off, in her head it was less painful and she had control. I know are situation was different. You will need to decide what works best for your family.
I do not know what to tell you, other than to continue to love her and support her.

Personality Has Changed

My 23 year old daughter has had a notable change in personality since she began struggling with ED in college. This illness has cost her a good job, the desire to finish her degree, and most of her personal relationships because she isn't the person she was. I love her, but I only rarely see the sweet caring person that I knew her to be before this overtook her. She has been in and out of several residential and PHP treatments during the past 4 years, and is in residential again now, but nothing seems to be working. I know some of the problem stems from lack of medication compliance and she continues to engage a lot in self-harm. I fear for her, as she is very ambivalent about living. Why isn't she getting any better with treatment? Is it possible that the constant exposure to others who have some of the same problems is holding her back? I have to say that it was easier to have hope earlier in her treatment, but it gets harder as she seems to go deeper into this black hole. Has anyone had a child who came out of treatment worse than they went in? Then again, if she hadn't gone into treatment, I'm not sure if she would be here today. How do you keep up hope?

Wrong place

Oops, I'm sorry that I posted the previous comment under your posting. I didn't mean to, and I can't figure out how to delete it and post it where it belongs. I am sorry for what you are going through, and didn't mean to contribute a negative thought to your post. I am certainly aware of how painful this is, and I hope you and your daughter can come out of this well and soon.