National Eating Disorders Association

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Feeling helpless

I'm new to this forum. I'm at a loss and have run out of options my 18 yearold daughter has had this disease since she was 14 years old the thing is I knew it and nobody believed me and I mean NOBODY but I knew. She was a big girl for most of her childhood she loved to eat she would always ask for seconds and as a mother I couldn't say no because she enjoyed it. But I didn't know what was coming down the road she said friends at school would make fun of her and the teachers would keep her in for recess I never knew this went on at the school I didn't find out till she told me later on. Then the abuse started she would cut herself break her mirrors punch holes in the walls especially her room she would curse at us hit us call us everything she could use to hurt us. She was such a loving and caring child she had manners and loved to help out around the house and make crafts for the family as gifts. Where did all this come from? This is not my child I don't know this person what went wrong? I'm so hurt and sad because I did get help for her she went to the doctor he said there's nothing wrong because her weight was good she went to a nutritionist all good. Child psychologist all good.
They looked at me like I was crazy they said there's nothing wrong with her even when I showed the doctor she was taking weightloss pills which she bought herself. The cops have been called many times because of her behavior she has kicked me in the stomache punched me grabbed my arm which she put bruises on me scratched me just because I want her to get help I'm tired and can't take much more she's taking pills the last few years she eats then spits out the food. she eats us out of house and home she wastes all the food. she drinks large amounts a day spits out all food I don't know how she survives she's getting so thin still thinks she's fat she bangs on the walls at night tells us to shut the f#@k up when we're not saying anything in bed. Calls us names etc this is every night she's 18 now and is very smart she's in nursing now but h16as this eating disorder I'm lost to know how to help her when she won't go see a doctor don't know what to do to help her. Has anyone gone through similar situation?


Hi Cher01,

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Welcome to the forum!

Hi Cher01,

I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter, and the rest of your family that is affected by her ED! This is such a difficult issue to deal with and it can be difficult for other people to understand that have not experienced it in one way or another. You sound like a very caring parent though since you are trying to learn as much as possible about the situation and how to help her. If you have not read it over already, the Parent Toolkit might be helpful for you ( Hopefully you will come across some useful tips to get her to seek treatment. You can also call the Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Mon-Thur 9am-9pm EST; Fri 9am-5pm EST) for advice and information on local resources. I wish I had more specific advice for you!! I truly help things improve, please keep us updated.


Feeling helpless

Thank you Mel for your info I just hate not being able to do anything she's 18 and in denial about her disorder when I bring it up she says I'm crazy she would t seek help I told her to make a doctors appointment and she said she would but when the day came and I asked her if she made the appointment she said she was busy etc and hung up on me I wish I could do something about it I just want her to be happy and healthy that's all I want and it's hard when I work across the country but I have to work to pay the bills before I tried getting time off to help her but my doctor said no way your not getting time off definitely not you need to quit I said that's easy for you to say when I'm the provider I feel defeated in so many ways I cry all the time because I'm stuck with all the things of life throws at me I just hope things will get better. Thank you

You are definitely not alone

I don't even know where to begin....when my daughter moved back after graduating college, our food bills skyrocketed. Every knob on the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator door was sticky from her licking the food and throwing it away. Her anorexia anger at being questioned or countered raged all of the time.

Remember...this is the disease. She is simultaneously fighting and placating a controlling partner (demon/ED/Spouse). Her anger is knowing that it isn't right but lashing out justifies what she is compelled to do. You can't change her behavior without her consent. You can change your reactions.

Calmly...make up a list of non-negotiables. You are still the parent with a child who lives in your house. If she wants to continue, she has to agree to a contract. It is best to list what bothers you. For instance, my husband and I said that "we don't like when the cabinets and handles are sticky. If you touch the cabinet with sticky fingers, please wipe the knobs." No blame. And she couldn't argue that she did or did not make them sticky. That behavior ended quickly.

For us, she finally moved out. It wasn't healthy for any of us. I don't know what you are willing to do, but you can set boundaries.

List the behaviors that you don't like...keep it separate from who she is as a person. She is ill and will respond better if you asked her not to yell at you while you are trying to sleep because you need to get up in the morning for work.... or some other reason that relates to your needs not a response to her actions.

If she is buying the pills with her own money, you can ask that she not bring them into the house. You know she won't stop taking them if you take them away or threaten her. She may respond better if you acknowledge that she is buying them, and it isn't okay for her to bring them into your home.

Good luck. She sounds scared and conflicted. Talk with her with compassion. Or ask her if she has ideas of what might help her through this difficult time. Continue to acknowledge her struggle. And keep your boundaries clear...firm... and loving.

It didn't solve our problems, but it did allow for good conversations and a place to start to heal. The blaming and screaming has gone away. The rage still comes out but it is when she is really feeling controlled by her eating disorder.