National Eating Disorders Association

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Courage in seeking support

Hi everyone,
It is not easy to see someone you love and care about suffer through an eating disorder. It can be hard to know what to say or it can be scary to see someone doing harmful things to his/her mental state and/or his/her body. I just wanted to let you know, however, that you being on this page today and seeking support from others is an incredibly brave step! You not only care about your loved one, but you also care about yourself -- that is just as important!

What is something you may do to help cope with these feelings in a healthy way?

I think it's important to

I think it's important to remember that while you are trying to offer support and care for someone else, you need to also focus on your own feelings. It's stressful to see a loved one suffer form an eating disorder, and sometimes the worry can be overwhelming. Thus it's good to know that there are othres out there who can help not just sufferers but their support group:

Mother is addicted to laxatives

My mother who is 76 takes laxatives very frequently then is completely incontinent and soils herself constantly. She has been hospitalized twice for severe electrolyte imbalances but while the doctors correct her physical needs they do nothing for the underlying mental problem. Because of her age I don't think they take me seriously when I tell them what she is doing and chalk it up to dementia! The thing is she is sharp as a tack and knows how to dodge their questions about what is really going on. Sadly my father and sister are not helping me and my marriage is suffering because my husband wants nothing to do with her because of how unsanitary she is. Somehow she just can't understand why we avoid her even though she has to know what she's doing right?? I just don't know how to find the words to tell her there's a problem and if I do I feel she will lie or disagree to the therapy she needs but I can't allow things to continue like this and unfortunately it looks like it's up to me. Any advice?? So much different than telling a child what to do!

mother's addiction

Hi Wolfgaab. I'm so sorry to read what you're going through. That sounds pretty brutal. And so frustrating that the physicians aren't even willing to consider anything other than dementia, even when directly suggested by her child who is in the best position to know.

Since it sounds like your mother denies that she relies on laxatives to purge, would it be possible to challenge her to give up the laxatives -- and I mean literally clear the house of them -- to put that denial to the test? I think it could be communicated in a loving, supportive way, reiterating your primary concern for her health and suggesting that she may not be able to currently recognize her dangerous reliance on the laxatives. Maybe that would at least trigger a productive dialogue with her?

I would also encourage you to be candid with her about the stress it's putting on you and your relationship with your husband. Maybe she's still not yet seeing the effects on those around her? Based on my own experience, clear and firm statements about what you're not willing to enable, while affirming your love, can sometimes become turning points. Good luck, and keep posting.