National Eating Disorders Association

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what to do

My sister was just diagnosed with anorexia. I hate being home sometimes because everything is so stressed and confusing. I'm spending more and more time with my friends, doing homework there, eating dinner with them. I don't like how distant i'm becoming from my family, but i can't stand the atmosphere there. What should i do?

Hi oboeDuck,

I'm sorry to hear about your sister's recent diagnosis, but I'm glad she seems to be getting help. I can definitely relate to what you're saying because I was the main supporter of someone who struggled with an eating disorder and it was a toxic environment for me at times. It's good that you're taking care of yourself and recognizing that being in that environment isn't good for you, but I understand that you don't want to become distant from your family. Have you thought about talking to your parents about possibly getting professional help yourself?

A therapist would definitely be able to give you techniques for handling your current family situation, and you could even have family therapy sessions where you have open communication about the toxic environment. I definitely think this is something worth considering, because it's important to take care of yourself in all of this. If you need a place to start, I would recommend calling the NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237) for help finding professionals and other resources in your area.

I hope this helps! Stay strong, and don't forget to take care of yourself!


Hi oboeDuck,
I'm sorry you are going through this! I know it's hard to find a balance between taking care of yourself and being a source of strength and support for your sister. If you haven't already come across this page, this resource may help: Communicating your struggles with your family should help -- try not to feel guilty for taking steps to take care of yourself because you matter too! Perhaps consider seeing a professional yourself just for some tips on how to cope.

Keep us updated!

Hi oboeDuck,

I totally agree with what torib23 and Mel2016 had to say. I have an idea of what you're going through. When my sister was diagnosed with an ED, it caused a lot of stress at home, and I reacted very similarly to you. I really focused on school and spent a lot of time in my room and focused on myself, my friends, anything but my sister's ED and the stress at the dinner table. It's really tough. I know that sometimes it made my want to resent my sister, or resent my parents for having to focus so much time/effort on my sister and her treatment. But I had to remind myself that it's the ED's fault, and that it's the disease that's to blame, and not my family.

I agree with what others have said in that it can be good to take time to yourself. It's good that you're paying attention and recognizing what parts of your environment are harmful. I also agree that talking to your parents about what you're feeling is good. I felt a lot of pressure to be "perfect" and not "get in the way", since I knew my parents were so preoccupied. But that's not a good strategy! You are also worthy of love, care, and attention.

I agree that talking to a professional yourself can be incredibly helpful. If your sister is seeing someone, or is in an inpatient treatment center, they might have referrals or recommendations. And family therapy is another great idea to help you all work through this situation.

NEDA has compiled a great self-care "master post", which I love: . Check it out!

I hope this helps. Please know that we're here for you. You can post here anytime you need a listening ear. Good luck to you and to your family! Please keep us updated!