National Eating Disorders Association

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Transforming your relationship

Hey everyone!

I'm curious to know from others, what were some of the things that transformed in your relationship with your sibling as you supported him/her through recovery? As intense and draining as it is to support someone with an eating disorder, I've found that there are fortunately some positive unintended consequences. I've been supporting my sister for about 7 years now, and for me one of the biggest changes that I noticed was how open our communication became. We weren't walking on egg-shells anymore because her eating disorder literally forced us to address all the things that we avoided talking about for long periods of time. Not to mention, there were dark moments during her illness where the thought of losing her drove me to open up to her even more, because I didn't want to live with the regret of, "I wish I had told her that....." She is still in recovery, and I think it's, truth be told, wildly ironic that I credit her eating disorder for allowing us to strengthen and really work on our communication. I can tell her anything now, as can she, and it's really made a difference.


How ED transformed my relationship with my sister

I'm smiling after reading your post, because I've also strangely discovered a deeper more honest connection with my sister since I've been supporting her with her eating disorder. There is nothing like the fear of losing her to make me as honest as I can be about how I'm feeling. My sister is also still in recovery and I've never had such difficult conversations in my life. At the same time, she tells me everything, and vice versa. There are no more secrets. Why should there be? I share my own struggles that I would normally keep to myself with her because I think it is important for her to see me struggle with life too. She is my best friend and gives great advice that I tend to follow and so I'm a better person for not bottling up my issues as well.

We haven't always been this close. Even though we grew up sharing a room with bunk beds, sharing friends and being just over a year apart, I don't think I've been closer to her than I am now.

It is because of our newer/deeper relationship that I believe I was able to move her to seek professional help.

I too would love to hear from other siblings some of the things that transformed in your relationship with your sibling. I'm online for about an hour and happy to chat!


ED transformed the bond with younger brother.

Hi ! I must say that there are positive effect of ED, my younger brother used to talk so arrogantly wit me, no respect at all, whenever I try to talk to him he ignored me and insult me, but I suffered from eating disorder and I was so sick that I was admitted in the hospital. He really took care of me, my needs, my wishes and when I returned home he huged me and cried. After that day, we are best friends. :)

This is a great topic that I

This is a great topic that I think shows the "silver lining" to a very difficult and often heart-wrenching situation!
Working toward and through recovery can definitely be draining on the person struggling with the ED symptoms, but it's also important to consider how recovery also affects the friends and family members who are supporting that person. In helping someone, especially someone as close as a sibling, face their inner demons, the process can also help create new stronger bonds.

Here are some links with some helpful information about talking to and supporting loved ones:
For family and friends:
What should I say:
Stories of hope:

The NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237) is another great resource to call for more information or resources, and the NEDA Navigators program ( can also help connect you with someone who has also supported a loved one through recovery.

All the best!