National Eating Disorders Association
Blog
Parents & Caregivers

It was very difficult for our family to lose our daughter Karyn to an eating disorder in the prime of her life at the age of 46. We and she did everything in our power to save her, and in the end, by telling her story we would like the story to be one of hope and miracles.

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The journey through my daughter’s ten-year battle with anorexia was long and difficult. There were many twists and turns, detours and crashes along the way - almost to the point that we thought it would end in her death.

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Catch them, challenge them, change them. Get used to this phrase; it is the seed of hope that must be planted in both you and your child’s minds for ANY chance of long-term success.

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One of the things I found most difficult during my daughter’s struggle with an eating disorder was how to fulfill my role as a parent even when the experts’ advice ran completely counter to my instincts. I would feel like some of my daughter’s behavior demanded consequences, yet her therapist would tell me to let him handle it, and/or to remember that she was punishing herself in so many ways and didn’t need more punishment. I felt at odds letting her get away with behaviors that I wouldn’t let my other children do without consequences.

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Every eating disorder story is unique. My story starts with having the baby girl of my dreams after having four boys in the family. She was nurtured, loved, smart, beautiful, athletic, more privileged than my other children and the product of a loving home environment.  

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As my college-aged daughter was landing on the tarmac after ED treatment away from home, I stood at the stove feeling apprehensive about the sour cream I was stirring into the chicken paprikash and the homemade macaroni and cheese that was baking in the oven.  My mind buzzed with all the concerns she could potentially raise, and I felt keenly aware of the return of mealtime anxiety.

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This Mother’s Day, we want to thank all the wonderful mothers (and mother figures) for their unconditional love and support when caring for a loved one with an eating disorder.

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Early intervention. The phrase can sound like a negative judgment to a parent whose child has been in treatment for an eating disorder for multiple years. The mind returns to the time that the clues began appearing and wonders anxiously, “What if I had done x or y then? Would I have staved off the ED?  If I had been more vigilant, more protective, stood like a demon mother with a pitchfork outside my daughter’s bedroom door, would I have prevented the eating disorder from getting in?

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I took the screening  and it told me I could be at risk for an eating disorder...what do I do now?

First, congratulations for reaching out to the National Eating Disorders Association and finding the courage to take the screening. You’ve taken the first step to getting help! If your results show that you are at risk for an eating disorder, it means that you selected criteria that could be consistent with disordered eating behaviors and it’s time to get the help you deserve to overcome those thoughts and behaviors. 

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