National Eating Disorders Association

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Help a Sister

The school noticed the dramatic weight drop of my sister and has been forced her to take time off from College for the spring semester. She is in denial mode for seeing any therapist as she thinks the doctor might diagnose her symptoms at a much severe degree, which might potentially jeopardize or delay her chance of returning to college in the Fall. She's convinced that she's gaining weight, but would not reveal her weight to anyone around her. I have struggled for a while seeing her going to different restaurants and engage in behaviors. It seems that the only thing she's interested in doing is going to different restaurants, and she admits that this is the only meaningful thing for her to do given she literally doesn't know what to do with her time off.

Since the weight drop, she has changed into a stranger to me. It pains me to see someone who's moderately tempered turned into someone who would throw a tantrum just because our parent made a suggestion to order less food. She could be triggered by the slightest thing in life and has even opened the car door and tried to jump out while we are driving. We tried our best to help, yet everything is in futile. She has refused to go to any residential programs, and even has refused to see any nutritionist or therapist. Gradually, we started to realize that her problem has gone beyond physical emancipation, and it has been distorting her psychology and turned her into someone who's always in denial mode and easily triggered by the most harmless things in life.

Looking ahead, the college has a weight requirement for her before they could re-admit her in the Fall, and frankly there's no way for us to monitor her given she's furious every time when we touch upon the subject of weight or seeking help from anyone. Please let us know how should we deal with her in this situation and what are the best remedial steps that we should undertake.


Hello and welcome to the forum. I am so sorry you are going through so much fear and pain. It is very scary watching someone you love turn into a different person overnight. But as many of us know and have shared, it is really not your sister, it is the eating disorder that is so entrenched and doesn't want to let her go. That can be both difficult to hear and understand. But the fear, anxiety and depression that often comes along with an eating disorder, the individual, your sister, is really scared. She may want help but is terrified getting help equals gaining weight. It is good there are parameters being set up for her protection. Do you have support for yourself? It is difficult to go through this alone. You are not alone on this forum. Most of us understand and care. So please post as much as you need and let us know how you are doing and your sister.
Take care,

Pokey - Your Sister

I guess you are seeing just how much EDs can effect a person ! It really can be frightening to see how much a person's "self" can be taken over by something like this.

Like you said, it can *seem* like the person is in denial, but I'm never sure how true that really is. I mean why does she think they made her take time off from college, you know ? Somehow they didn't really understand her situation ? Or what ?

And all of that snippiness and irritation. She thinks that her loved ones should not be concerned ? I'll bet she knows better than that too.

So yes, she's being irresponsible. She may have an ED it's true, and be under it's spell, but at the same time, I can pretty much guarantee you that she's not clueless about the situation that she finds herself in.

And what : She's going to jump out of a moving car, simply because the people who care about her know it too ? I'm sure she has an idea that she's over-reacting to things.

So yes : What's next ? She's just going to continue to indulge her ED ? And if she doesn't make it back into school, then that's simply tough luck ? Like what sort of plan does she have, you know ?

And I think that's what you need to ask her. Rather than you guys telling her what you think she should do, you should ask her what she plans to do.

Granted that may seem like a cruel question to her. By now she has a pretty good idea about just how helpless she is. And it's an idea that frightens her. This realization may be why she gets so angry when you try and discuss things with her. "Don't you think I already know all of this?" may actually be what she is trying to say.

So it's going to be up to her to take action. The therapist thing will need to be the first risk she takes, and again, I suspect that she already knows this.

In any case, I'm sorry if this note sounds harsh, but I talk to a whole lot of people who have EDs themselves, and I'm really only repeating what they would be telling her if they could talk to her too.

That she needs to start taking responsibility, rather than just letting this stuff rule her life like this.

Also they would tell her that she's lucky that she has people who care about her, and resources that she could access if she wanted to. A whole lot of people don't have those things, so she needs to get on the stick and take advantage of them, rather than continuing to indulge her ED like this.

To be honest, things sound pretty acute for her now, so I hope you'll keep writing us here. If you think things can't go on like they are, you are probably right, so do keep in touch if it feels like it helps. xx