National Eating Disorders Association

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Aunt with Eating Disorder

I am not sure if I fit into this category, but I suffered from 6 years of an eating disorder. I have been symptom free for over a year now, but my problem is my aunt has had an undiagnosed eating disorder for around 50 years or more. It has always been a huge tension between us and teared a hole in not just our relationship but my mom has been dragged along too. My aunt will never get treatment ( we are resound to that - her husband of 25 years and dog passed away at the same time two years ago and since then her symptoms have gotten much worse). What I am looking for are any helpful strategies or suggestions that can help ease the tension between us because I am at a loss but we are such a small family I don't want to lose her.

Hi fishgirl123, first

Hi fishgirl123, first congratulations on your recovery! I can empathize with you. I had a similar experience with a relative who had many disordered eating behaviors which increased tension and made it more difficult for me during my time of recovery. I think one of the most helpful strategies for me was to realize that I was not to blame and not responsible for their behavior. It wasn’t up to me to fix them as much as I wanted to. I had to focus on me and my own commitment to recovery and health. When I re-focused on me and less on their behavior, some of the tension became less and I was able to love them flaws and all. Sometimes it is hard to help someone who does not want help, but you can love them anyway. I hope this helps. You can also consider speaking to a professional who may offer other insight. The NEDA Navigator program may be a good option too:

Hey fishgirl,

Hey fishgirl,
Thank you for sharing. I think your words are really beautiful. You empathize and relate, you're also cautious, worried and full of love and support. This is merely a suggestion, but perhaps you could write a letter to her about how much you care about her, how you don't want to lose her and that you support her.


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