National Eating Disorders Association

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daughter won't give up ED

Hello, My daughter has suffered with her ED (bulimia, anorexia) for three years. She has been to multiple hospitals and treatments center throughout the U.S. Inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, residential treatment... Nothing has worked for her. She refuses to give up her ED. She is 22 years old and lives at home and goes to college. Her eating disorder behaviors are getting worse and she is very resentful that my husband and I try desperately to stop her from engaging in them. We lock up the foods that she usually binges on and have taken away her credit cards so that she can not continue to buy food just to binge and purge. She is so loved by the whole family. We tell her that all time time. But she hates us. Truly hates us. The other day, we went out and told her that we wanted her to come with us to visit a relative and would only be gone 1 1/2 hours. She refused. We told her we did not want her in the house alone because she would do what she always does, eat any available food just to purge it. She said she would rather sit outside in her car rather than go with us to visit the relative for 1 1/2 hours. She tried to take food outside but my husband saw her and took the food from her. She got extremely angry and said some very unkind things, including, in very strong terms, that she hated me. We did leave for 1 1/2 hours. Apparently, my husband missed some of the food that she had smuggled out (must have been hidden in her car). She was so angry that she purged multiple times all over our patio, in an area that would be difficult to clean and one that our dog has access to. It took me quite a while to clean up the multiple areas where she had purged. I am at my wit's end. I have told her that she needs to move out, at least for a little while. She will be moving into my parents' house for a short time. She is not happy about this. But her sisters are afraid of her, afraid of her volatile mood. She is increasingly difficult to deal with. But I feel so guilty. I have done everything that I can for three years to help her. We have literally spent thousands and thousands of dollars on treatment for her. We have changed family plans a hundred times to make her happy. We take her to the best doctors that we can take her to, regardless of whether or not they take our insurance. Yet, it does not help. Her health is terrible. She is pure misery right now. Hates us, hates herself, hates the world. I have never in these past three years reached out on a forum of any kind, but I am desperate for others' thoughts on this. Thank you.


Hi motto3. What you're experiencing sounds absolutely brutal to me (and I'm a mother to three teenage children). On one level, I don't know how you've managed to carry on as her caregiver, when you're feeling such hatred from her in return. I'm sure after all that you've been through with her ED you do know that her brain has been transformed over the past three years by the ED. All of the anger is generated from that place. When she is finally able to dig her way out of the dark pit she's in, she will likely see that -- please try to have faith that your relationship can be restored with her mental and physical health.

That being said, there really is only so much one can do for and adult with a deeply entrenched ED, and you've certainly done all that and more. I think you're right to tell her that she needs to move out for some period of time. You just can't allow this to make living in your home awful for everybody, especially given her sisters' fears. Hopefully your firm demand, and then the experience of living elsewhere, will impress upon her that there really are boundaries that can't be crossed and that while you love her very much and understand that the ED is at the crux of all of this, she has to commit to recovery in order to remain at home.

I'm wondering how you've been caring for yourself through all of this. Have you considered engaging in your own therapy? I think that could be so helpful to you (and your husband, also). I would also like to encourage you to take a look at NEDA's Parent Toolkit ( which offers a great deal of insights and tools.

Please keep posting and seeking support on this forum.

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your post. I was afraid no one would respond. Your words were reassuring!


Hi momto3,
You are an amazing mom. We can love and support our loved ones with ED, but only they can make the choices they need to to recover from ED. It took me a long time to realize that I was judging myself unfairly. If my kids were making good choices than that meant I was doing things right that I was a great mom. And that if my kids made bad choices then I should have done something differently, that I was failing as a mother. I now realize that I need to take my kids choices out of the equation. To just look at my love for them, my actions, my hopes for them. It is so hard to do, especially when you are giving so much and then are told that they hate you. I have been there and it really hurts. You love your kids so much and you have done so much. Please be kind to yourself and let yourself know that you are a wonderful mother.
I hope that your daughter can get healthier soon.

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so appreciative!

We are with you.

Sorry that this is happening to you. You are doing the best you can under the situation. Has family or counselling for you and your partner been tried? You need all the support you can get! She needs to find a way to start believing she can change.

Thanks for your support - I

Thanks for your support - I am grateful! I have not gone to a therapist, even though I am thinking about it. I have spoken to close friends and family, and my priest, which has been helpful.

Your Welcome

As parents of children with ED we are waging a battle with very high stakes. A therapist may be able to help you figure out how to reach your daughter.


Hi Momto3,

I have been following this thread and just wanted to follow up with you & see how your daughter has been doing? And how you have been handling it all? Thinking of you! <3



I am so sorry for what you are going through. This is also my first post to a forum - I came here today frustrated because my older daughter came home from college for the weekend and it is clear that she is acting out on her ED behavior. My younger daughter has been crashing for the last 5 weeks after making a lot of progress towards recovery. My older daughter thinks her ED is just fine, my younger daughter wants to get better. We've been dealing with this for about 8 years.

What a world of difference between the two but both are exhausting. You get tired of the deceit, of the hostility, of the anger, of the disappointment and can't ever say that to them for fear you will drive them deeper into their behavior. I haven't experienced the anger in a while, mostly because the angry one has been away at college and we haven't been on her about it. I know I'll have to say something this weekend and I'm dreading it. What else can we do, though? We can't give up - we're the only ones who love them completely. So we take the anger and hostility and love them and do what we can.

I do agree with you, though, that there is a point where you have to protect yourself and the family and let your child reach the point where they either decide to change or die. I don't know when that point is for me but I've been seriously thinking of asking my older daughter not to come home since it triggers my younger daughter tremendously and she's the one who is trying to recover. Then I think about how I'll live with myself if she dies and I change my mind and try to keep fighting. I believe I'll have to let her go at some point, though. I don't know how.

I'm sure this doesn't help - I have no answers. I just want you to know you are not alone. My faith helps me a lot but I also question why God allows both of them to walk through this. I'll continue to pray and trust that there is a brighter future for them. I'll do the same for you.

I am just seeing your post

I am just seeing your post for the first time. I am so sorry that you are struggling too. What a difficult journey... Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. My daughter is still struggling, is very underweight, with no end in sight. But her mood has improved these last two weeks so I am hopeful. Praying for you and your family!

Sending some support

You are facing an incredible challenge there. Have they been in treatment?


Not sure if that last question was directed at me. If so, yes - both of my daughters have gone through treatment. My older daughter refuses to continue any form of treatment because she "knows it all".

My younger daughter was in a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program earlier this year. She is now stepped down to weekly appointments with her therapist, dietitian, and process group and is doing really well. Unfortunately, recovery isn't a linear process so there are setbacks but that is to be expected. Take it day by day.


I just read this post and the

I just read this post and the exact same thing is happening with my 20 year old daughter who has bulimia. She has gone through all the programs, treatments, residencies and after 3 years of this struggle she is worse now than ever in that she does not want to come home from college and rejects any help.

Thank you for your post; it's comforting in a weird way to know that we as parents are all going through the same emotions and challenges. I often think there's got to be another way to treat these ED conditions because they just keep coming back and sometimes make in a worse form.

I wish your daughter better health in 2017 and for your family too. Let's stay strong as parents! We're all in it together.

I'm so sorry to hear about

I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter's illness. It is terrible and I wish that there was more support for our children and for us as parents. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

update to original post

Hello again. My daughter is down to a frighteningly low weight and having heart issues. We went to the cardiologist on Friday and she had to wear a portable heart monitor over the weekend. We won't find out the results until her next appointment on the 17th. Right now it is almost 11 a.m. on Monday and she has not eaten since around 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon. She drove to her dietitian appointment just now and I'm not even sure that she should be driving. But she flat out refused to let me drive her. I am at a loss of what to do. She will not seek inpatient treatment again, after having done that many times before and not recovering. No amount of begging, crying, bribery, etc. will make her eat. No calm conversations about life and how beautiful and intelligent she is changes her mind. Reminding her of her amazing future and all the family around her that loves her to the moon and back makes no difference. She graduates from college in 3 months and I don't think she will make it. She is mentally competent so I don't think we can have her hospitalized without her consent. So, sadly, I do not think I have any options at this point. I just need to wait until she passes out or goes into cardiac arrest. What else can I do? For 3 1/2 years, I have watched my daughter slowly die and I feel that her death is near. But I am helpless to stop this. I have dedicated my life these last several years to helping my daughter recover to no avail. Her eating disorder has complete control of her brain. Nothing matters to her but her ED.... I wish that I had a more positive update to give. I hope and pray that all of you are seeing improvement in your child's health. I will pray for all of you and your children and I hope that maybe you could say a quick prayer for my sweet girl too. Thank you!

Hi to everyone on this thread

Hi to everyone on this thread. I was hoping for updates on your daughters. Have there been any new developments that have pointed them in a more positive direction? I could have written your comments myself about my own daughter. After a very extended stay in residential treatment, she checked herself out and came home. She isn't ready to be here, and there are no supports for her in this community. She is hardly eating or drinking anything and leaving the house to take long walks every day. She is unwilling to resume taking her medications, and I know that a crisis is looming. There seems to be nothing we can do but watch as she spirals down yet again. The past few years of intensive treatment have not seemed to help, and she just wants to give up. She is not interested in renewing her former relationships, or forming new ones. What can we do to help her when she really doesn't seem to want to get better? We are full of fear for her future.
If your daughters are getting better, is there anything that you can point to that has helped?


I am so sorry to hear that your daughter is going further into ED. It breaks my heart. ED is so consuming and destructive. I hope that she decides to get help.
Have you considered going to a therapist for yourself? I know you were thinking about it a while ago. It might help you, as you are dealing with the heart wrenching effects of your daughters ED and what it is doing to her and to you and others that love both of you.
I am praying for both of you. Please take care of yourself and know that you are not alone.

I'm sorry that you're dealing

I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. I was bulimic from the age of 15 to 25. I'm 34 now and recovered with 3 kids. I was very much like her. I purged many times a day. Your daughter doesn't hate you. Bulimics will push anyone away who becomes a threat to their lifestyle. i would use ED behaviors in secret and hide them from everyone. Unfortunately, if she's not ready change her behavior there might not be much else you can do. You've helped her far more than my parents ever helped me. They mentioned taking me to the hospital once .. I denied needing help and that was the end of it. I continued making myself sick until I became pregnant at 21 and recovered temporarily. Sometimes there is an emptiness inside that needs to be filled for people who suffer from eating disorders. Many could probably benefit from antidepressants. For me it was being pregnant and being a mom. I'm now dealing with some health problems that are likely a result of purging for so long. Have you tried eating disorder support groups? She might not even be willing to attend one... but it might be easier than a hospital setting or treatment center.

edit notification

Hey mlw22--your post has been edited to comply with our community guidelines: Users are not allowed to refer to specific ED behaviors or numbers because doing so may be triggering or harmful to other forum users. Thank you for helping us keep the forums a safe space for everyone.