National Eating Disorders Association

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loosing hope/unsure of what to do

My partner has a very terrifying eating disorder. She is totally out of control and cannot function as far as the rest of her life because of this. And now it is destroying our relationship. She is constantly in crisis lately, and I may the only one she reaches out to for help. I am completely burnt out. So much so that lately I just shut down and tune her out when she is freaking out. I;ve been begging her to talk to a therapist or something, anything for the last year and a half, but to no avail. I don;t know what to do. We are currently living in a new city with only a few friends between the both of us. Her friends have also brought up concerns to me in the behavior she displays. How do I get her to get help? I'm at a loss.Please help.

Hi there!! Thank you so much

Hi there!! Thank you so much for your post!!

You are definitely a great partner for the one you love!! You care so much for her and it truly shows through your post. She is very lucky to have such a supporting and active advocate!

Your observations about her mental health and physical well being are very concerning and I think that you need to ask her some serious questions such as if she wants to end her own life and if she has plans to do so. These are really crucial things to ask as soon as possible!! If she answers yes to either question I strongly say to call 911 immediately and seek out help for her.

Also, I think it is critical that your partner see a doctor as soon as possible regarding her ED behaviors. The ED can do some real damage to the body and it is really important to check to make sure she is medically stable. Can you ask her to go with her to her next doctor's visit? To find an ED specialty doctor in your area I highly recommend calling the NEDA Helpline at


I also feel it is important to begin looking in to some additional support for you and her during this time. Have you tried seeing a therapist to receive help and support for you? Certainly this is a very emotional circumstance and it is really important to take care of yourself!!

If you would like some guidance as to therapists in your area please call the NEDA Helpline!! Their again number is:


I cannot stress enough that your love for your partner is real and that at the same time your health and well being is vitally important as well. The only way to truly stay strong for her is to stay strong individually!!

Here are some links that may help you!!

Please let me know if you have any questions!!

I don't have any great advice

I don't have any great advice but I know exactly where you're coming from. My wife's struggles with her ED are daily. There are cycles of binge / purge daily and not leaving the house, and anorexia and the accompanying fight or flight "everything is a huge medical crisis" times.
Both cycles throw me for a loop as to be the best help I can without completely burning out. Our relationship has dissolved mostly into a caregiving / familial relationship. We moved closer to her parents so they could help out and I'm currently working on trying to work on my own life a bit more and withdrawing a little from her chaotic life. I think, as others have mentioned, without focusing a bit more on your own needs, you will indeed burn out and not be able to care for her as well.


You are in a tough spot. I can certainly relate to being burned out. It happens to the best of us. The caretaker roll can be extremely difficult and can often be thankless. I know that in my situation it often feels like no matter how much I do, the focus inevitably turns to things that I didn't do. The truth is that (despite your best efforts) you will likely never be able to do enough on your own. One of the truly horrible aspects of eating disorders is that any form of satisfaction is short term at best. The things that are perceived as "wrong" receive a sort of hyper-focus, while the things that are "right" are only marginally considered. It can be very difficult for those with an ED to place what most of us would consider to be a "normal" context on many life situations. Distinguishing between nuisance and tragedy can be surprisingly difficult for many. It's a very difficult cycle to break.

I'm curious. What does she say when you bring up the therapy option? I think the thought of therapy can be a pretty scary one for those who spend a great deal of their time living in fear of being judged negatively. Eating disorders also often go to great lengths to protect themselves.(I often think of them as entities of their own.) They can be evil/diabolical voices who have constant access to your loved one's head) They are expert manipulators who will say anything to get what they want. Unfortunately, telling your loved one to simply stop listening is pretty useless.

Have you tried/considered a more proactive approach? Perhaps you could research resources available in your area and even contact some of them. That way, when you bring it up, the legwork is already out of the way. If she remains resistant, you might even consider seeing someone on your own. You can tell her that you are going to see a therapist with or without her, but that you would very much like for her to be there too. Then follow through on going either with or without her. Be patient with the process, she may still resist for quite a while or refuse altogether. Either way you are addressing the issue and making efforts to take care of yourself at the same time. (It is SO important that you take care of yourself!)

I'm certainly no expert, so take me with a grain of salt. However, I'm more than happy to share what I have learned/experienced on this crazy ride. I too have spent a great deal of time feeling more like a caretaker than a partner. It's a miserable feeling and I'm sorry you are having to deal with that. I wish you the best of luck with it all.