National Eating Disorders Association

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Daughter diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa


I just learned a girl I consider a second daughter has anorexia nervosa. She lives in Germany but lived with us our daughter for nearly a year. So anyway, even though she is half-way around the world I love her as if she was my own daughter.

The girl is 16 and will be 17 in a couple of months. She apparently had a mild case of anorexia when she was in the 8th grade but when she came to live with us she gained a fair amount of weight. She never was overweight, she actually left back home looking very healthy. That was 9 months ago and apparently now she is seeing therapist and receiving hormones and other nutrients. They have not admitted her to the hospital but it happen soon.

Now that I gave you a little background here's where I need some advice. I believe I know the cause... I think it's a result of her mother being too controlling. When she lived with us and she would facetime with her mother her mother would tell her she was getting fat. The girl also always told us how her mother controls everything back home. I think her lack of eating was the one thing she could control and now it's spiraled out of control and she can't stop. She knows she has a problem so that's the first step but I don't know if she or her mother know the cause. I'm sure it's more than her mother but what can I do?

I want to say something to her mother or ask her directly but I don't know how to go about it. Can anyone give me an advice?

Anything is greatly appreciated!


Hi rcarrara

I am so sorry to hear about this wonderful girl who is like your second daughter. I can only imagine how helpless you might feel as she is in Germany and is struggling with ED. My advice is to love her and to listen to her. To let her know that she is wonderful and she is of worth. It seems that ED takes away a lot of confidence that a person use to have. Let her know that you are there for her.Write to her, call her, let her know she is not forgotten. My daughter isolated herself a lot, she still does. It makes a huge difference when her uncle calls to see how she is, when a neighbor takes her to a movie, or when a letter comes in the mail.
I am glad she is in therapy, hopefully it will help her. I hope she gets healthier soon.

Hi Rcarrara,

Hi Rcarrara,
This must be a very rough time, being concerned about a loved one and them being far away. Thank you for using our forums!
We just wanted to let you know that a small portion was deleted in order to adhere with our community guidelines ( Please continue posting for support!

I think while your heart I'm

I think while your heart I'm sure is in the right place, pointing out to the mother that her controlling behaviour has probably added to the trigger of the illness, won't actually help the situation at this time.
I'm sure, as a mother, she is already feeling guilt and over analysing "why did this happen to my daughter?"....and I think sometimes that needs to be realised on it's own, or in therapy. It may come across accusatory, and perhaps make the mother feel worse than I'm sure she already does.
I'll liken it to what our therapist said....
In the beginning we need to arrange recovery and stability before we ask why? If someone cannot swim but they're out in the middle of the ocean, do you argue about how she got out there, or do you take her out of immediate danger and then argue about how she got out there?
I think in time, if the discussion needs to be had, do it then. Tread carefully.
As a mother of a daughter with anorexia nervosa, I've been blaming myself more than I care to ever admit. And I've constantly wondered what other people perceive the trigger to be. But honestly speaking, I dont want anyone elses opinion of why. It would kill me to hear someone else blame me especially when I'm already so hard on myself.
Time.... and good luck xxxx

Showing support

lostamanda makes some good points. It may be unwise to approach the situation from the origins perspective. That might trudge up more than can be handled at the moment (especially if the girl in question's ED stems in part from her relationship with her mother). It might help just being away from her mother. Its good that she's doing therapy. I think that you can direct her to this sight as there are a lot of resources she might find helpful such as the hotline. Other than that, just letting her know that you're available to skype or talk on the phone might be a good way to show her your support.

As everyone has said just

As everyone has said just letting her know you are there for her. Remind her that she can talk to you whenever she needs. It's so important for her to know that she has people that do care about her because that can be one of the hardest parts for people in recovery. As lostamanda said it can be difficult to find a specific trigger but instead focusing on just being there for her is the best thing you can do.
Keep us posted, I'm glad this girl has someone like you who cares so strongly for her!