National Eating Disorders Association

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Adult daughter refusing treatment!

I have a 22 year old daughter refusing treatment. I've gotten her a doctor once claiming it was a physical. She had a blood draw, passed out and ended up in the emergency room that day because of low BP and blood sugar. That didn't scare her enough to admit she has a problem. I am scared to death and feel i'm watching my daughter die! There has to be another parent who has had an adult child refuse treatment. How did you get them to a treatment center?? Can I take away her phone, car, etc. since I still pay for those? I feel like I'm dealing with a bratty 13 year old again and feel foolish, but I'm desperate for any way to help her.


Hi and welcome to the forum. I am sorry it's been a while that you got a response. And I am not sure how helpful mine will be. Somehow my parent's always managed to get me into a hospital against my wishes even when I was in my 30's and 40's. I do not know how. I don't know how the hospital she went to from fainting and low blood pressure and low blood sugar didn't hold her for evaluation. Before I go any further, I want you to understand that eating disorders are a mental illness. She isn't trying to be "bratty". The brain doesn't function properly when it isn't nourished properly. It doesn't think, process, or process clearly. It is malnourished and is not able to think like it does if properly nourished. So I would try to understand that when dealing with her. As far as getting her into a treatment facility, I don't know. Having her medical doctor state it is medically necessary? I am sorry but I really don't know. I know a lot of my admissions were easier because I was self harming and it wasn't just the eating disorder so I was a danger to myself so that was very cut and dry. I would try talking with a NEDA volunteer whos number is on the National Eating Disorder Association web site. You can do a live chat or talk on the phone and they may be able to give you more answers than I was able. I just want to let you know you are not alone, and please post again. You are a doing a good job and trying hard to do the right thing. It is painful and difficult to watch a daughter destroy herself. My mom cried herself to sleep so many times she can't count. My parents would peek in my room at night just to make sure I was breathing. But because of God, and my parents and the love of my church family, I am more free than ever. I wish you the best.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your story. I've unfortunately been through this with her older sister about 10 years ago. But she was under 18 so I could take her to the hospital and admit her. I have talked to NEDA and the doctors have said she needs to be hospitalized. My problem is she is refusing. So unless I pick her up against her will and take her, I'm limited on treatment. I have her set up to go to a clinic for treatment - I just need her to go. It's the most frustrating thing ever to see her refuse treatment. I'm taking baby steps and every step is one in the right direction. Next is me taking away her phone and car since I still pay for those. Seems childish, but I've been told it's what I need to do. I'm hoping someone else has been this desperate and tell me what worked for them. I am so scared and all her family and friends are too.

re: Thank you for sharing your

Hey jladdish—welcome to the forums! You've come to the right place for support. This is a great community full of people who understand firsthand what EDs are capable of.

My heart aches for you and your daughter. I'm so sorry she's not at a place where she's ready to accept help. I mostly just wanted to chime in and gently remind you that if your daughter does not want to recover, she won't recover. No amount of treatment, inpatient or out, will be able to magically cure her if she doesn't want to get better. EDs are complex mental illnesses and she might be clinging to hers for any number of reasons, but recovery takes a lot of hard work—emotional, mental and physical—and unfortunately you can't do that work for her.

I know how excruciating it must be to feel like you're sitting on the sidelines totally helpless, but I wanted to share some resources here on the NEDA website that might be helpful, too. There are other ways you can support your daughter until she's ready to accept help, simply by educating yourself about the disease and knowing some basic guidelines of what to say (and not to say).

Parent Toolkit ( this is an incredible resource for anyone who's trying to support someone suffering from an ED.

General information about EDs:

ED-specific information:

Big list of links to resources that fall under the topic “how to help”--I suggest focusing on the Family, Friends and Caregivers section:

NEDA blog ( really great resource for stories of hope—not just for sufferers but loved ones too.

NEDA Helpline ( have you tried contacting the volunteers at NEDA, whether by phone or online chat? They can provide specific answers to some of your questions and they can also be a good shoulder to lean on when you just need a live body to talk to.

Please keep us posted on what's going on with your daughter. And never lose hope—I'm four years into full recovery and I never would have imagined that was possible five years ago. We're here for you.

refusing treatment

im in the same boat after multiple admissions and 7 yrs of damage to my daughter im at my wits end

Refusing to Embrace Recovery

I am also very frustrated and worried. My daughter has been in intensive treatment for two years. She recently checked herself out of treatment (against medical advice) and has come home with almost nothing in place to support her. There are very few resources where we live. Her stated goal as soon as she got back was to take off the weight that had been restored, and she is now underweight again and restricting to a frightening degree. I don't know how she manages to function with the little she eats. All she ever drinks is diet sodas, and I see all the hard work that she accomplished in residential treatment on restricting and self harm just going to waste. She's in a fast downward spiral, and I don't know how or when this is going to end. It is so scary and sad. I see that until she is the one to embrace change, nothing we can say or do is likely to fix this. I am so thankful that treatment centers exist, but they don't seem to have had any effect on her. I wonder if more of the same is worth it, but then again, what is the alternative? We never thought this could happen to her...she used to be happy and healthy. I find myself mourning the absence of the sweet kid she used to be, and I feel so guilty about saying it.


its so hard and i told my daughter today to get out of my house talk about guilt i did know if that would push her to suicide but watching her self destruct everyday is just that. She told me mom you were always able to fix things but now she had to do the fixing and i told her stop feeling that she can not lean on those around her for help, its not failure to get help especially when the ED voice is so loud in her head. I am so saden that there are so many families dealing with eating disorders ,as we reach out for support with the very tool that may be killing our kids ....the internet

Next step

Since my daughter is living with me and I pay her bills, my next step is to turn off her phone today. She finally admitted to a friend of hers that she knows she has a problem and needs to fix it. But, when I brought up IOP again (6 days/week), she said she's not quitting work so she's still not willing to go. So I get to be the bad parent and treat her like she's 13 years old and turn off her phone. Next would be taking away her car. Seems childish, but I know I don't have another option. I want my 22 year old happy, healthy daughter back!

Punishing a person into treatment.


I can understand where you may feel the need to exert further control over your daughter, by taking away her phone and her car, but I'm not sure that upping the adversarial nature of the thing is going to be the best approach.

I'm not a parent, so I'm not the best one to ask about this. And I know that you feel you must do something, so you may want to call the NEDA hotline, and see what sort of steps they might suggest ?

I have talked to NEDA, an ED

I have talked to NEDA, an ED counselor, an ED clinic and read books/articles. I've been told to use whatever hold I have to get her to enter treatment. They are all in support of withholding her phone, car, college tuition, etc. I can't sit by and watch my daughter waste away. She's going to push back and she may hate me for a while. But, I can live with that. If she's still here but never talks to me again - then at least I've saved her life.

Been there

I am only a parent and not a professional. However, I have always been advised by the professionals that I have dealt with while dealing with my adult daughter's (24) ED that you do not have to enable her choices. If you are financially supporting your daughter then you do have the right to insist that she receive treatment or that you will no longer financially support her. Now be prepared that you may not immediately get the response that you want and she may even try walking away from you but if your daughter is truly financially dependent on you and lives with you then you have every right to use that and any means possible to get her into treatment. Always let her know that you are there for her if and when she is willing to accept help but that you will no longer be her pawn or enabler and stand by watching her harm herself. I know your always told they have to want to be treated for it to help but there is also always the chance that while in treatment, even against their will, a light bulb might go off and maybe she will actually accept being helped. You have every right as a parent to do whatever you have to do to try to get your daughter to accept help. I have been where you are and although my daughter still struggles, she is trying now to get better. My prayers are with you and your daughter.

I could have written the

I could have written the script for the way our conversation went when I told her I was withdrawing financial support. She walked away, told me I was treating her like a child, etc. But I didn't expect anything different and I'm o.k. with that. I keep waiting for that "aha" moment when she realizes I'm only here to help. I wish the one time she ended up in the emergency room, that I had tried to get them to hold her for further observation. I thought for sure that would be the thing to make her realize how sick she is. But I also know I'm not dealing with my daughter - I'm dealing with the disease and it's controlling her. I just want my girl back and will do anything and everything I can! Thank you for your encouraging words. It helps so much knowing someone else (and way too many it seems) is going through this.

I stand with you

Your not alone. Be strong, keep living your life and be ready for when she wants help. Have a plan in place. God Bless. <3

Making baby steps

I feel I made another step in the right direction the past few days. I used the "turn off your phone" tactic - and it worked? I told her she needs to contact her boss and take a medical leave of absence or I would and I would also turn off her phone. It took some prodding, but she did it. She's agreed to go into treatment Aug. 7. It's an IOP program so I told her she'll be able to come home at night so treatment will just be her "job" for a while. I'm crossing everything I can that this works!!

I did want to ask - has anyone watched "To The Bone" on Netflix and if so, did you watch with your child? I'm not sure it would be helpful or hurtful. Thought I'd see what others thought.

To the Bone.

I watched it online, with a web group of people who have EDs the evening that it came out. These folks are connoisseurs of the ED movie genera. Among those who have EDs themselves, there's been quite a bit of conversation about it, and the reaction has been mixed. Some liked it and were emotionally moved by certain parts, while others thought it was corny. As far as these sorts of ED dramas go, it's probably better than most I thought.

But keep in mind that it's not a documentary. It's just not. It's one attractive white girl's story as she spends time in a fairly comfortable residential setting where some of the treatment approaches are unconventional, and which tends to stress personal responsibility food-wise over forcing people to eat. It's good in that they show a diversity of people with EDs, which most such movies rarely do. Plus they get to have the handsome Keanu Reeves as their doctor. There's an awkward romance between a couple of the residents that most people didn't feel added much to the thing. There's also enough "in" content that's included for ED veterans to feel assured that the writers knew what they were talking about. So there's some realism and authenticity to it from that angle.

There's no uplifting happy ending though. And few open attempts to change a sufferer's attitude towards their ED. We appear to see the hero have epiphanious change of heart towards recovery at the end, so that part was positive I thought. But that's pretty much where they leave it. You don't really know if they will succeed at recovery or not, which probably leaves some room for productive conversation if a person should watch it with their child.

So I guess one needs to consider what one's attitude towards ED's as a subject for drama is. There certainly are plenty of them being made these days, to add to the many (often terrible ones) that have been made in the past.

It's gotten some decent reviews from individual treatment providers, but how such movies manage to kick the can any further down the road remains open to question I think.

Thank you for the feedback.

Thank you for the feedback. I think I'll avoid bringing it up to my daughter - she may very well have already watched it. Since she's agreeing to treatment starting next week, I'm going to let the ED clinic discuss it and make any recommendations should the movie topic come up.

Is IOP helping?

I scoured the internet trying to find someone in the same position I am in and found your post. Our nightmare started about 22 months ago, coming up on 2 years. We have a 21-year-old daughter whose weight is now well below her normal, naturally slim weight. She is a college runner and was being monitored closely and not allowed to compete unless she gained weight, so she managed to gain a little and cheated the weigh-ins enough to be allowed to compete again. She has been home all summer (where she swore to everyone--us, her coach, her M.D./therapist (who is where her college is), the team doctor--that she would do best being left to gain weigh on her own), and instead, her weight has stayed the same and even dropped some more. She is clearly depressed and compulsively addicted to exercising several times per day. Did your daughter show up for Intensive Outpatient a few days ago? How is she responding? Our daughter is asking to withdraw from school/the team for the fall semester "so she can gain weight on her own at a steady, gradual rate"" rather than go back and be monitored by the athletic department. We have don everything, to no avail. She doesn't want help, refuses antidepressant medication (which her M.D./therapist says would help for her to be able to even look at the problem. She is a different person, and we wonder if it's the depression or the malnutrition affecting her personality in such marked ways. Do you have any advice? Our daughter is financially independent due to running scholarship, except for medical bills/cell phone. Her weight is getting dangerously low (lanugo on her arms and face), and we feel crushing despair and helplessness, like we are watching her slowly kill herself. Does anyone have advice? We have tried giving her the latitude/autonomy for the past year and half and it isn't working. Next step would be to force her to continue therapy and start IOP program (where she could continue to exercise while she keeps trying to gain weight (bad for her but if she is committed to inpatient and not able to exercise, she may bolt out of there) OR to commit her to inpatient if we got a court order. She has said that she is willing to show up for IOP and therapy but has remarked numerous times it has ZERO value to her. We are spending a fortune on the therapy (therapist is highly recommended, excellent, but he has said she is unwilling to look at things and he believes it may be partially due to malnutrition and the need for medication). Sorry to ramble.....jladdish, I hope your daughter showed up for her IOP and is responding well. You are in my thoughts. I know the feeling of complete helplessness.

edit notification

Hi parent-of-older-ED, your post has been edited to comply with our community guidelines: Users are not allowed to post details about specific weight or numbers, as this information may be triggering for forum users who are suffering from EDs. Thanks for helping us keep this a safe space for everyone!


Sorry about that -- thanks for the editing and the link to the community guidelines.


Good morning. My daughter did go to treatment all last week (M-Sat). The 1st day was "willingly", the 2nd day she refused but we somehow wore her down. The 3rd, 4th, etc. got easier. She even started talking to me more each day. Of course it was how "stupid" and "dumb" everyone was there and the food was disgusting - but I'll take negative over silence! She told me after I took her last Saturday that she wasn't going back. She promised if I cook for her (we eat fairly healthy at home) that she would follow the rules. But, she didn't eat well on Friday & Saturday night or all day Sunday at home with me, even though I cooked. She is trying to manipulate us to let her to stop treatment. But I know it's not her talking - it's the anorexia. So I talked about everything but treatment all weekend and last night, I gave her to option to drive herself today. She didn't fight it (though she didn't talk to me much which is o.k.). I think the more nutrition and calories she receives, the more her brain heals and the more she's cooperating just a little more. It didn't hurt I promised her a kitten!! We don't have her on anti-depressants - we tried but she quit after a month. I'm not pushing too much since she is eating in treatment (though it takes her 2 hours to finish). I do still support my daughter for college tuition, car insurance, health insurance and phone. So, I did turn off her phone, changed the wi-fi password and took her car keys. I felt ridiculous doing it, but after asking for advice from ED counselors, they said that was o.k. They are acting like a 13 yr old teenager because they're brain is malnourished, so I had to treat her like a 13 yr old. The phone was what got her! I did also talk to a lawyer about getting medical guardianship if necessary. My daughter too is dangerously low. I talked to her one day and tried to get her to see it from my side. I asked her if I had a deadly disease (I used breast cancer) and I just said I'm not going to get treatment and you're just going to have to watch me die - how would that make you feel. She didn't really respond, but maybe it gave her something to think about. My daughter has told me over and over - they're not helping her, she can do it on her own. So it's not just your daughter. The counselors tell me they all try that. We as the parent just have to not let her manipulate us and remember - it's the anorexia talking. My daughter doesn't talk in therapy either. But I show up to the family therapy and I don't play "food police" at home (though that's tough). I truly think the only thing forcing her to go is taking away the phone and car. Seems silly, but maybe give it a try. It may be worth her withdrawing from school at this point and just making treatment her full time job. It truly sucks to watch our kids go through this. I would love to keep in touch and hear how your daughter is doing.


I spend a whole lot of time over on "the other side" on a site that can't be named here. People talk about all sorts of things that they still have not had the nerve to tell their therapists about. And what I wanted to say is that I read a lot of things that sound pretty much like what your daughter may find herself thinking.

As in….they really want to recover….and they want to "do it on their own"….but at the same time they definitely don't want to gain any weight !

Most of the other people there will tell them that they can't really have their cake and eat it too. That there's pretty much no way around it, they really will have to start eating and gaining. On one level they understand that this is true, but as you've seen, these habits can be incredibly persistent. At some point in the game many of them come to the understanding that they really will need outside help if they are ever going to get the nutrition they need.

But yes, when do they reach that point ? It's possible that your taking away her privileges may give her the excuse she heeds to go back into treatment. It's quite possible that one part of herself really does know that she needs to go, because many people who are still loosing also begin to understand that it really can't go on forever. But it may be easier for her to actually get the help that she needs when she has the excuse of "My mom is forcing me to do it !".

I can't really tell you what the answer is to all this, but in my experience most people who actually do try and "do it on their own" end up becoming even more upset when they find out they just can't. It's hard to say, of course, but that may be the next phase of all this, if she continues to find out she can't eat.

Also, it's been my experience that there are very few happy anorexics. Once they've been in it for a while, and come to understand that it's now moved beyond their control, they come to hate the situation they find themselves in, even if they are still working at loosing. So that may enter into things too at some point.

In any case, I know there may not be much comfort in any of this, but what I mean is….It's quite possible that a part of her actually does want to recover, despite all of the things that she finds herself saying and doing.


So glad to hear that your daughter is going to treatment and talking more, that it's better than silence. So many of your observations mirror those that I have of my daughter (21). Taking the phone away is not something I would have thought of -- won't work unless she is living at home. As of right now, we are waiting on results of a phone evaluation for IOP (intensive outpatient) that is near her college, so that she can return for her senior year. She also has a medical evaluation tomorrow by an M.D. I have no idea what the outcome will be. What I noticed is now that she has agreed to go to IOP if accepted, she seems more relaxed. Also realize that so many of her behaviors--totally uncharacteristic of her before this -- such as slamming doors, frowning constantly, not talking to us at all, extreme sarcasm, and a 24/7 obsession with what others in the family are eating--are the disease talking, and not our daughter. Jladdish, please keep us posted on how she is doing. Not sure how to give you my email address without posting it publicly on this forum, but would like to keep in touch. Hoping your daughter is still going for treatment this week.

Back into treatment

My daughter stopped treatment at one facility with the hope of going to a different one. But she was too unstable for them to accept her other than residential treatment in another state. Of course she refused. We are back to a program that is PHP (M-Sat). We're on day 3. She's going but unwillingly again. She argues that everyone is stupid and doesn't know what they're talking about. She hates the food they're offering her (it's not healthy she says) and she said (again) she can do it on her own. When she goes on and on about how awful it is in treatment, I honestly don't know what to say. I wish I had some advice on how to respond to her. 2 weeks at home and she didn't gain anything, so I know she can't. Though we tried our hardest - I so wanted to believe she could. But realistically, I know she needs help. She's actually at a very scary and unstable place right now. I've been told to get medical guardianship in the event she has refeeding issues and needs to be transported to the hospital. If she's not complaining about how awful the program is, it's the silent treatment. I've just let her rant but don't give her any indication she's going to be allowed to stop. She says I'm not treating her like an adult and all choices have been taken from her. I'm assuming all of this is "normal" and I'm not the only parent experiencing the hatred and constant negativity? I know it's only the first week, so I hope little by little as she gains weight, things will improve.

Back into treatment

Thanks for your post on 9/8 about your daughter and please know that others are thinking of you. It sounds like you are doing everything you possibly can as a parent and hopefully that gives you some sense of peace. It feels like we are heading toward what you are experiencing now, but aren't there yet. Much is being handled right now by the athletic department where daughter attends school and competes, which takes us "off the hook"--for now. They are the "bad guys" insisting on treatment. To her credit, daughter started meds one month ago, is going to therapy, and is gaining weight. But the inner demons persist and I don't see this self-correcting without stronger interventions (which are in the works). I wish I had advice to offer about how to respond when your daughter goes on about how awful it is in treatment. On the one hand, you don't want to discount her experience and not all programs are good; on the other, it may be her disease talking and she might say it about even the best of programs. It sounds like you are willing to listen and not shut her down when she needs to rant. The fact that she is going, however unwillingly, is still good. As BobJ48 pointed out (above), a part of her may know she needs treatment and on some level want it. That is my hope for your daughter, our daughter, and so many others.

Never been in treatment

My daughter has never had any treatment. She has had her eating disorder for 8 years now.She is 26. I am desperate for her to seek professional help. But she doesn't want or is unable to get out of this awful cycle.She hasn't worked now for about 4 years. Totally reliant on us. Has Ocd, panic attacks, bulimia and anorexia.I tried to get the help for her from the GPS, but all they kept saying was she's an adult and you can't help unless she herself gives permission but of course she's ill. Now after 8 years I despair at ever seeing my daughter well. I am not coping very well. Its so heart breaking to see her like this everyday and not be able to make her better.

NEDA Resources

Hi bookworm, we're sorry to see how desperate you are to help your daughter. Have you looked through any of the NEDA resources for caregivers: may be a good start for you to prepare yourself for a conversation about your daughter's ED and beyond. You can also call our NEDA Hotline for more information about treatment in your area. We are available Monday - Thursday, 9 AM - 9 PM EST and Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM at 1-800-931-2237.

In denial

Thanks for your advice.l have the same conversation with my daughter over seeking professional help over and over again.She explained to me that unless she makes the choice to recover, nothing I do will help.I am always going to try to encourage her to seek professional help, but I also feel so confused and warn out. Like those other parents you never know if you are making it worse or not doing enough. From our point of view you should be able to interact with the professional and work with them to get your child better. But you see, despite being an adult they are very ill and cannot or do not want recovery and so the longer it goes on the more damage is done to their body and minds. I'm sorry to sound so defeatist. I have read and spoken to so many people in a desperate attempt to get my daughter well. And eight years on she is still suffering with Ed and more.

resedential facilities recommendations

looking for LGBT friendly options in the Massachusetts/New England Area? Anyone have thoughts on Belmont mass facility or CT facilities


Hi there. I am sorry your daughter is suffering. Unfortunately we are not allowed to recommend or suggest facilities here on the forum. My suggestion is to look up the ones you are thinking of on the internet and see what you think, talking with the places directly asking questions about any concerns you have. Also NEDA may be able to provide information but I do not think they are able to prefer one over another. Your best bet is to do your own research on places. I wish you both the best.


Response to jladdish

Hello, I just read your letter dated June 19, 2017 about your 22 year old daughter refusing treatment. My hope is that your daughter is well and healthy and thriving. My 22 year old daughter, Helena Gabrielle, my only child, my beautiful, sweet, brilliant, wonderful daughter, the joy of my life and her family’s lives also refused treatment for her eating disorder, bulimia. Helena passed away December 16, 2013 when she was 23 years old. The pain I feel almost 5 years later is agonizing, debilitating, crushing, paralyzing. My life has been shattered, her father’s life has been shattered. Her death left a gaping wound in our hearts which will, I’m afraid, never be healed.
I am better today than I was yesterday, and will work to be better tomorrow than I am today … but I am broken.
My advice to you, or any parent struggling with a child who will not go for treatment is to do ANYTHING you can to get them to treatment. ANYTHING. Don’t give in to them. Don’t give in to this disease. It will destroy you both.
Do whatever you have to to get them to treatment.

Sorry for your loss

Hi HelenasMom,

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter, Helena. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family, please let us know. You will always have a listening ear here on the NEDA online community forums.

Erin_Patricia1 <3


Hello there. I am really happy you reached out here for support. I am so sorry about your daughter. There are no words to convey that are adequate. It has to be so painful. Just know it isn't your fault. Your daughter made choices. She didn't accept help that was offered. The only person that could help her was herself even if that !want getting help if she couldn't do it on her own. You are not responsible for her death. My sister is sick and doesn't always make the best choices and I want her to get well, but she has to want to get well. So if you are carrying guilty that you didn't do enough I hope you can let go of that and know she made choices. It isn't your fault. I am sorry for your pain. I wrote a post for mothers that talks about the pain and worry I caused my parents. Especially my Mom. Have you considered going through a grief counselling group or therapy for yourself to help you deal with the pain? You are welcome here anytime you want support and encouragement. I am glad you posted. Take care,


So painful

Helena sorry doesn't seem adequate.It is absolutely heart breaking what you and your family have been through. I will fight with everything to get my daughter to receive help. Thank you for the comments. What a brave and supportive thing to do. Thank you. Take great care.

Another Mother

I just found this while looking for others going through similar situations and my heart is breaking for each of you- for ALL of us. I too have a daughter who recently turned 18. She has become obsessed with the celebrity Eugenia Cooney who I believe is a fashion model and trys to emulate her in every way, from her pattern of speech, clothing, and appearance in general. I noticed my daughters weight fluctuating dramatically during her sophomore and junior year of high school, and she was spending a tremendous amount of time on her phone. To make a long story short, I was able to have a heart to heart with her after years of denial where she thank god finally told me the truth. She began following this Eugenia model's career and spent her days watching videos of her, and said she became "transfixed" with her. When me and her father were not home she would obsessively print out photographs of her, and we discovered a binder just filled to the brim with photos which she kept in hidden in her school bag, as well as a detailed diet and restriction plan to transform herself into a version of this model. The icing on the cake was discovering charges for $250.00 on my credit card that we did not make and after taking to the CC company to report fraud found out the charges were from a "streaming" website this model goes on, and Olivia was sending her monetary donations, I guess the celebrities use the website to make videos and the viewers can send them tips. Olivia went from a life devoted to friends, school, and tennis (she made the varsity tennis team her freshman year, she was only the third freshman in the history of her school to be put on Varsity as an incoming freshman). We were so proud. Then slowly but surely the hair changed from blonde to dyed black. Black studded clothing in what I believe is called the gothica style. I know all teens go through periods of exploration and expression but I can't explain just how extreme this is from what she is. Myself and my husband began attending counselling with the goal to get Olivia in, as she was refusing to go. Finally she agreed and we were overjoyed. She was defiant to the counsellor, and the timing could not have been worse as we were so close to her 18th birthday when she was legally an adult in our state. She was supposed to be graduating in May with plans for college and a likely sports scholarship. She had to stop playing tennis due to her exhaustion and physical state, and stopped attending school on her 18th birthday. We are now in a position of working with the counsellor to make a plan. I love my daughter more than anything in the world, and trying to follow the tough love advice is the hardest thing I have gone through. Our counsellor suggested a contract for continuing to live in the house and use the car (requiring her to agree to rules such as weekly counseling--with the end goal getting her into treatment slowly by building up trust and coaxing). I know this is a mental illness and is not her fault, but she has refused to abide by house rules or go to counseling, so we are at the point of having to tell her she will no longer be living with us and getting a police escort to remove her from the house, in hopes that that will be the point where she agrees to accept inpatient help, since she does not have a place to go. I am so scared she will refuse. We've also spoken with the police about legal options which they have warned us if a doctor finds her mentally sound they will not Baker Act her- the officer said many doctors overlook eating disorders and will discharge them because they don't view them as strongly as a mental disorder such as bipolar, schizophrenia etc. despite anorexia BEING a mental illness! I am at such a loss. Her father and I went to clean out her locker when we had a meeting with her principal last week to discuss her being absent and refusing school since she turned 18, and her locker too was covered in pictures. I cannot believe so many of these social media websites allow pro-eating disorder pages with "inspiration" for our daughters who suffer. Ladies, I stand with each of you and I pray that our daughters will some day be able to overcome this horrific disease and live happy and healthy lives. I think back and look back on baby pictures and just sob, thinking where did I go wrong?

Post edited

Thank you for your post. We edited it slightly to remove your daughter's name and birthday to help keep these forums safe spaces. Here are the guidelines: We hope you continue to post and find support.


Hello and thank you for posting. I posted a note for mothers on this site. I am sorry you are going through this with your daughter. I think it is great that you are getting help for yourself and your husband. It is really important that you take care of yourself as well as your daughter. There are different views on how to handle adult children who are dealing with mental health issues including drugs and eating disorders. It is true that many don't realize the seriousness of eating disorders which is a shame in this day and age. The statistics show that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate than any other mental health issue. A bit frightening considering how little help there is out there for those struggling. I applaud you for doing everything you know how to do to help your daughter. If your daughter is a danger to herself, you can call PESS or a crisis center and tell them that she is a threat to her safety. That will get them into a hospital for a three day evaluation, in most cases. Sometimes parents have to draw a bottom line. With one of my sisters, she was abusive. She was living temporarily with my parents and it came to the point where she was asked to leave. She wouldn't. So they were advised to put her things in the driveway and let her know they were doing this. This was not done with ill intent, but in an effort for her to get help. It has been painful and difficult. Sometimes if we make it comfortable for someone, it enables them to stay in their illness. Boundaries are difficult but often necessary. How this is done varies for every individual. Seeking counsel as you are is the best way to know how to handle your particular situation. It is unfortunate that these pro-ana web sites are still up and hurting people so much. It must be scary for you to be seeing all that your daughter has been influenced by. I want you to know that recovery is possible. I was ill for thirty-two years and today am walking in recovery. Since your daughter lives with you, you have the right to set limits and guidelines for her and if she doesn't follow through, she has to choose what she will do. I wish you the best and hope to hear from you again. Having a mother's help supporting a daughter is so important. So I encourage you to try to keep the lines of communication open. Let her know she can talk to you and come to you with her struggles. I know without my Mom's love and help, I wouldn't be here, nor without the help of my Savior. My faith has been so important in my recovery and why I am still here and in recovery and reaching out to others. Take care.


daughter feels hopeless about life and treatment.

My 37 year old daughter has suffered depression for 20 years and from anorexia and chronic pain and fatigue for the past 10 years
She had two bad experiences with two residential treatment centers. The most resent one discharged her after a 5days because she was too weak to fit into their program. last year she was hospitalized after trying to take her life. They put her on a feeding tube she started gaining weight after six weeks she went home.She was suppose to go to a residential treatment on discharge but she wanted more time to be home first. a few months later the feeding tube got infected and was pulled out. She started losing weight. Because of her chronic pain fatigue she needs help bathing etc. We searched for and contacted treatment facilities but none would do the extra care and let her take her pain meds. The few places that would work do not take medicaid medicare patients even thought we can pay cash. My daughter has given up all hope. She does not think there is any treatment out there that fits her. She is convinced her stomach issues and pain are the main problem not anorexia. As her weight goes down so does her reasoning. Her mother is been providing most of her care and has mental and physical issues of her own. I fear my daughter might take her life soon. We are in a remote location. I talked to the local mental health people and they say we cant force her to get treatment. The question is there any treatment for someone that is severly disabled in pain and anorexic?


Hi there. I am so sorry for your situation. It sounds rather complex. I was just thinking but it may not work. Have you considered an assisted living facility? They usually take elderly, but they have taken in people who are in need like your daughter is, I just don't know about the help she would get for the eating disorder. You may also want to look into home health care to help you in caring for her physical needs. They can come in and help with personal care, get her dressed and bathed and do some laundry and give you some time to go to the store or just have some time to yourself. The amount of time given is different for everyone, but if she has Medicare and Medicaid, she should be approved. Just something to think about. Her depression seems to be a major concern. And the chronic pain. I deal with chronic pain and so do most if not all of my sisters. I believe if she goes into a facility like an assisted living, she would be able to take pain meds. Again, I am sorry for the painful and complex situation you are in. I am sorry I don't have more answers for you. Just know you can post for moral support and emotional support as you go through this. I will say a prayer for you that you might find answers to your questions and that you find the right services to help your family and your daughter.


My dear friends, please allow me to clarify ...

I came across this blog somewhat by accident. I’m not even sure what I was looking for online when I discovered it, but I am glad I did.
I am Helena’s Mom.
Thank you to those who replied to my note. Your sweet words of support really helped me, and I am grateful.
Some of your notes filled me with heartache and despair. I know what you are going through and I am so sorry.
I wrote my note November 1, 2018 that my daughter also refused treatment for her eating disorder, bulimia.
Please allow me to clarify.
Helena developed bulimia when she was about 15 or 16. Her Dad and I suspected something was wrong, but she denied everything. And what a great little liar she was. She hid her eating disorder, convincing everyone she was just trying to get healthy.
Except me.
My mother’s intuition told me she was lying to me, to everyone, to herself.
Desperate, months before her 18th birthday and as a complete shock to her, I took her to a hospital in Baltimore renowned for its treatment of E.D. I wanted her to go into in-treatment, but she refused with furor and rage. I begged her to just go in the out-patient treatment, just give it a chance, I told her. I drove her to the hospital at 7am, and picked her up at 7pm.
She only went for 4 days.
For five years, she was better. She was a straight A student in college, had lots of friends … bright, witty, with a wonderful sense of humor … beautiful, kind, loving. She was my life, my joy.
Nine days before Christmas in 2013, Helena was in her bedroom on her computer.
I asked her to help me put up the holiday decorations but she told me she didn’t feel well. I said ok, and left her in her room as I busied myself getting ready for Christmas.
About 7pm, I discovered her near-lifeless body on her bedroom floor.
I called an ambulance.
She was taken to the E.R.
An excruciating 10 hours later, without any hope, she was taken off life-support.
Her whole family was with her.
Her dad, her aunts and uncles, her cousins, her boyfriend.
And her mom.
We watched her die before our eyes.
She had a heart attack.
She was 23 years old.

This is what I want to tell you, anyone who may be reading this. this is important.
My daughter may have been battling a mental disorder, but her HEART GAVE OUT. This disease weakens the heart.
No one told me E.D. affects the heart.
No one told me she could have a heart attack.
As I wrote in my original note, my advice to you, any parent struggling with a child who will not go for treatment is to do ANYTHING you can to get them to treatment. ANYTHING.


Helena could have lived for decades with a mental disorder.
This disease weakened her heart.
This disease destroyed mine.
I am better today than I was yesterday,
and will work to be better tomorrow than I am today.

On December 16, 2018, it will be 5 years since Helena died.
Please take a moment to look up at the moon and think of us.



Dear "Mom", I am so very sorry for your loss. This is a terrible loss. But I want to say to you that you did the best you could for your daughter. She refused the help. Her death is not your fault. You really need to know this to your core. My sister is ill. She hasn't taken proper responsibility for her illness for many years and it is scary, as we can not force her to get medical attention, and it involves her heart among other things. I understand the fear. But you did not know the dangers. This is a story others need to hear, that parents can get their children, and even adult children into treatment if they are a risk to themselves or another. My parent's had to get medical power of attorney in order to put me into treatment against my will. And to make decisions I was unable to make at that time. Today I am walking in recovery. Thanks to my Savior and many supportive people in my life.

I send you a virtual hug and will pray for you and your family as this time of the year is especially difficult for you. But I want to reiterate again that you are not responsible for your daughters death. Please believe this. The cold hard reality is that eating disorders do kill. That is why it is so important to have organizations like NEDA to spread the word. I am deeply sorry for your loss. May God give you His peace in only the way He can. With care,



I’m not sure if this note will reach you privately,
or publicly ... in any case, thank you for reassuring
me my daughter’sdeath was not my fault.
Helena was a genius manipulator and liar.
I miss her more than I can ever hope to put into words.
If you are reading this, please have your loved one
see a heart speciust.
Helena died of heart complications from an ED. .


Hi. This is a public forum so it will be seen publicly. Most people who suffer with eating disorders have at one time been master manipulators. It goes with the illness. I have been a very honest person most of my life. But when it came to protecting the eating disorder, I have to sadly admit, I lied. I won't sugar coat it and say I deceived, or I hid the truth, the fact is I lied. I didn't want to have my parent's know what I was doing, what I was or wasn't eating, if I was or was not purging and how much, and if I was self harming. I do not do any of these things anymore. I am going into the seventh month of recovery from self harm and overeating. Two plus years from the anorexia. So the fact that she lied to you was just part of the illness. It doesn't take the pain of her loss away. But hopefully it helps you to understand that it wasn't really the real person who was lying. It was the illness. It doesn't want to let its victims go. It is an addiction. Among other things. I am no longer lying. I am able to let my parent's know if I am struggling. I thank God that I do not struggle as I did. I am in recovery. Soon I will be able to say I am recovered, but I want to give that some more time before I say that. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

My sister is seeing a heart specialist. It took her a while before she got serious about it, but she is seeing one. She does not give the family much information about how she is doing. She prefers to keep those things private. She has an autoimmune illness. It affects many things, one of them being her heart.

Please try to remember your daughter as she was before the illness took over. The disease, or illness, changes personalities, characteristics, the individual. We become different people. But that is the illness. We are still there, beneath it all. I pray for you and hope you find peace with this, and that God will help you process all that has happened. It has been through my faith in Jesus that I was finally able to surrender all of it to Him. It took many years.

You deserve to give yourself permission to grieve. Perhaps a group called grief share. You can google it to see if there are any in your area. It will help you process through what happened and not have her death steal life from you. Please consider this. With love,



We are not allowed to give outside links or personal information on here.

Reaching out

Ive read these posts and I send love and support for all of you. I need support. I am sad, I am a mom of a beautiful smart daughter age 25. She has lived with her ED since sophomore year of college, but we suspect there were symptoms as early as junior year of high school.
From my mothers perspective she is currently fully in the ED. She denies this, and tells lies to protect the ED and claiming she does not have an ED. She is in treatment at UCSF. They did an amazing job helping her out of it 2 years ago but it came back really bad and now its worse but in a different way. Because she is 25 she does not share with us any of her medical information. She treats me as the enemy because I don't go along with the cover up and the lies. Im scared because I see her thinner than I have ever seen her before. Im sad because I don't pretend that the ED does not controlling her. It makes me so sad and hopeless. She was hospitalized times in the past 9 months. Its hard now because all I see is her skinny little body, her not eating much, and her exercising tons. I guess thats all I have to say. Thank you for listening to me. My heart breaks.


Hello. I am not a parent but a recovered daughter of two parent's. I am so sorry for your fear and pain. I understand how scary it is, on both ends. One thing that may be an option is if your daughter is declared to be a harm to herself and unable to make sound judgements, you may be able to get medical power of attorney. If she is in danger you can bring her to a hospital and have her assessed by PESS or a psychiatric screening service. They may even be able to come to the home.

I am as sorry for your pain. I am not able to say more now but will check back later.

iwanttolive and I am

Thank you for your nice words

Thank you for your nice words and thoughts. Now I have to let her work on it with the medical team at UCSF. I pray they can get through to her to help her accept that she is sick and needs to eat food and gain weight to get better,
Thank you for listen to me. Its a very hard year and time for me watching this and trying to help her. She doesn't want my help or anyones help at the moment.


Read your post today, and I am in a similar position with my 19 year old daughter. I've been sad and hopeless too because I feel my beautiful and smart daughter is also throwing away her health and future. Her current situation is not great, but we seem to have reached a point where she really does understand how much we love her and she wants to get better. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it is sincere or just a lie to get out of the conversation.

Anyway, I have found comfort in sharing my story on this forum because this is the only group of people I have found that understand everything I say and feel. It is also a little bit comforting to know that I'm doing all I can by making help available......and still the pain and guilt are overwhelming.

Recently I have been challenged to stay positive and pray that my daughter recovers fully. It is hard to summon that kind of positive mental energy sometimes, especially when I see what is happening in front of me, but I know I have to dig deep and find a way to keep going. If my daughter eventually dies from this, I want to know I did everything I could and I never gave up. You are not alone in your battle.

Thank you for your kind words

Thank you for your kind words of understanding.
April 2018, I would have told you my daughter is mostly recovered. In fact she had written a book that was published about coming of age with Autism and an Eating Disorder. She even wrote articles for NEDA's blog. Never did I think the ED would come back stronger than ever. Its sad because she truly believes that she does not have disordered behaviors - like she did in college. This is true. She no longer purges, or runs 10-12 miles a day to burn calories, or take things like laxatives or other poor behaviors. Now she is just the queen at staying and maintaining a very low weight. She looks very thin. Its upsetting to me to look at her. Now her ED is worse than ever for the simple reason she wont acknowledge that she has an Eating Disorder. She is now fighting back with the Doctors and her team at UCSF. She says she wants to go somewhere else and get another opinion because she feels she does not have an ED.
I pray she does not have cardiac arrest. She was hospitalized 2x this last 9 months . UCSF has a really good model for eating and she doesn't embrace the model anymore. When she was mostly recovered she embraced all of the UCSF's models and the plan. Now she acts like she knows everything and whats best for herself. She seems to think this low weight is OK. My husband and I send notes to the doctors, but they cant reply because my daughter has said she's an adult and doesn't want her information shared with us.
Im rambling right now because this has been the worst or one of the worst years of my life. Thank you for listening to me ramble.

I also want to tell you that

I also want to tell you that Im sorry for your sadness about your daughter. I understand this helplessness, because I worry what if we lose our daughters? They really can die from cardiac arrest. This scares me. These young ladies have everything to live for, why wont they eat their food,
Im sorry for what your living through. I don't have very good answers.


Hi. I am really sorry for the fear you are living with. You mentioned several times about prayer. I was wondering if you believe in Jesus? He is Who got my Mom and Dad through the worst years of their lives while worrying about me dying or not making it. For me, I know I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for me. I wish it were as easy as just getting us to understand that we just need to eat. There is such a deeper level of underlying issues going on, as I am sure you are well aware of. I recommend that you get help for yourself and or your husband. This is so difficult to go through without help and when your daughter is outright refusing help it is so scary. I would always do what my parents wanted me to do, after a while because I saw what I was doing to them. My Mom often wonders if they practiced tougher love with me would it have taken me so long to get better. We can not answer that question. All's I know is that I was terrified of living. Of life. If they stopped supporting me I don't know what I would have done. Others are more grown up than I was, even at the age of forty plus I wasn't grown up but still felt as though I was ten. So for some, tough love works and is what is needed. That is why each case needs to be examined individually and there is no clear cut answer. For me, I know that they were always praying for me, many people were. It wasn't until I was able to surrender my fears to Jesus that I received my healing and was able to stop all behaviors.

I hear your fear and the thought of your daughter dying. You are not responsible for her at this point and I know that doesn't erase the pain and fear you live with. Give her over to God and ask Him to watch over her and ask Him to give her the eyes to see that she needs help, that you love her and are there for her. I would try to stay away from talking about her appearance and your fears and doctors and the need to gain weight. Deep down she probably knows this but is scared. Try to just let her know you are there for her if she ever wants to talk. That you love her. Talk about her schooling and anything but food and eating. This will help her to learn to trust that she can trust you that you won't bring it up and one day she may bring it up herself that she needs and wants help. If you are a believer of Jesus, keep trusting Him and keep placing her into His capable hands. He healed me. After a very long time of struggle. I had to be ready.

I will pray for you right now and ask for God's peace to come over your family. Take care

iwanttolive and I am


I have come to peace with a few difficult realities. For instance, i agree i am not responsible for my daughters life at this point. I feel like the dad watching his kid play sports.....i cant be the guy who wants his kid to succeed more than the kid does. But unlike sports, this is actually life and death. I do believe God can reach into her life and change her in ways nobody else can, and currently we are praying that someone somehow gets her attention before she dies. But i also know that bad things happen to good people and i really have no right to expect God to save MY kid when so many others are not spared. So many parents suffer tragic loss.....who am i to demand a happy outcome? I hope for the best, yes, because i am weak and dont want to endure this misery and i dont want MY kid to suffer. Thus the cycle of hope, acceptance, fear, sadness, and anger.

Pretty deep, yes. Hard to admit, yes. But im sharing this because i know some of you can relate. Wishing and praying the best for ALL of us!


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