National Eating Disorders Association

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Not coping

My younger sister was diagnosed with anorexia in September 2017 when she was 16, and I moved to start university in October. Even before I left, life at home, meal times especially, were unbearable. Every single day multiple times a day there would be screaming matches between my mum and my sister because she was refusing to eat. Whilst getting away meant I didn't have to deal with the fighting anymore, the situation didn't really get any better or easier to handle, it's just bad in a different way.
My sister has gotten progressively worse, she was also diagnosed with depression and has been self-harming to the point where the other week my parents had to force the bathroom door open because she'd locked herself in there. This all happened while I was away at university and I wasn't told about it until my parent's came to visit a week after it had happened. This has just served to add my feelings of worry and stress that I have no idea what is currently happening at home and now every time the phone rings my heart drops because I'm terrified it's my parents calling to say she's finally tried to kill herself, or worse has succeeded. On top of this, her anorexia has gotten to the point where she's had to be pulled out of school cause she hasn't put on any weight and if she doesn't gain some soon she'll be moved to a institution or unit somewhere permanently until she puts weight on. This unit could be anywhere in the country (I live in the UK) and if that happens I have no idea when or even if I'll be able to see her as she could be hundreds of miles away. I feel like my family is falling apart, my sister must be terrified, and I'm not able to do anything of be there for anyone because I can't even be at home. I started counselling in January, and whilst it helps to talk to an anorexia specialist, I still feel isolated because even if I try to talk to my friends about it I always feel like they think I'm making a big deal out of nothing because I'm not the one who's ill. I feel like no one understands and there's nothing I can do and I really don't know how to cope. I haven't told my parents anything about this because I don't want to add to their worries.

Above all, take care of yourself

I can totally understand your worry about your sister. As a person who has witnessed someone I love very much go through similar struggles, I sympathize with you. It is difficult for people who don't know about eating disorders to understand the huge impact they have not just on the person suffering the illness, but on those around them, too. People simply don't know how devastating it can be.

I'm glad to hear you are seeing a counselor. I hope that helps. Have you considered trying to talk to just "one" friend about what is going on, singling out one person who you might be able to trust? As for your sister, would it help if you wrote letters to her? Even just to say you are thinking about her and asking if there's any way you can help her?

It sounds like your parents are doing the right things in planning for inpatient treatment and keeping a close watch on your sister. That leaves you to take care of yourself. Do things that you've always enjoyed. Write back and let us know how things continue.

i know how you feel

reading your story, i can relate to you so much.
my home life has completely changed since my sister was diagnosed. what was once a really happy family is now overshadowed by tiptoeing around my sister and continuous arguments over food and her angry outbursts.
i understand how worried you are about your sister, i feel the same way. i really want to be there for her but at the same time i'm so angry at her (i know i shouldn't be but its hard to not feel resentment and anger when you watch your mum crying and your little sister feeling neglected because she hasn't spent any quality time with her mum in over a week, because your mums life is now taken over with keeping your ill sister alive).
I hope counselling helps you. i to recently started counselling and it has helped me to understand my sisters illness a bit better.
Maybe try and give your sister a text or call at least once a day to see how she is and let her know you love her. i really hope your sister manages to get better and enjoy life again.
and just remember, you're not alone xx