National Eating Disorders Association

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How To help a Parent

Hello I have a parent that has an history of an eating disorder and I believe that they still do. My question is how do I address it because every time I do they snapped and wont admit to it


Dear Samsung,

This is a really difficult situation alright ! As your parent's child, it's not really your job to cure them. And yet how can you not be concerned ? It's perfectly normal that you should be.

I'm not sure how old you are, but one thing I do know is that people with eating disorders can often feel huge amounts of guilt over the effect that their ED may be having on their children. So I can pretty much promise you that whatever you've said to your parent has had an effect.

And yes, if they have had an eating disorder in the past, it's not uncommon for it to show up again. Stressful times can do it alright, but sometimes if effects people when things seem OK too.

If it is coming back for your parent, or if they never got over it in the first place, I can pretty well guarantee that they know it. And that it's probably a matter of concern for them too. So yeah, no wonder they get snippy when you mention it. Although they may deny it, you are basically stating the obvious.

I'm not sure if you parent is married, but if they are, you may want to discuss your concerns with their partner. If they are single, you may want to discuss it with whatever close friend they have, if that person seems safe to talk to.

Lacking that, you may want to write her a letter. That gives you the chance to really think about what you want to say, and it can give them the chance to think about what they want to say back to you. The letter thing is a good way to avoid the sorts of interactions that can sometimes happen when the person feels startled when you confront them in person. You've already seen how that can go. Not so well, yes ?

In any case, this should not be something that you have to deal with alone. Talk with a friend of their's or something like that. And give the letter idea a try as well ?

And keep writing here if if helps. xx


Hi everyone. I dont really know what else to do which is why I am here. My mother suffers from Bulimia and alcohol abuse. It is starting to affect the family really badly. She is fine during the day yet after 5pm she turns into another person. She smells no matter what, she leaves a waft where ever she goes. She sneaks off to the bathrooms and leaves them in a mess. She leaves bottles everywhere. She gets really aggressive and defensive after this time. Especially after drinking. She is very skinny yet after 5pm suddenly she has a gut. She burps alot and leaves messes. She eats an incredible amount yet then we can hear her throwing it up.

Now that my younger brother and I are in our later teens we pick up on these things and we have asked our father about it. They both fight loudly at night. Yet everything is fine during the day.

I am just wondering what to do. While the easiest response is to get angry at the stuff she does I know that she just needs love. We have tried numerous rehab places and counsellors. Specific places for people suffering from Bulimia and Alcohol Abuse. She just stops going. Denies everything. Some days when you bring it up she will cry. Other days she will hit you and deny it. She will attack you personally for it. I am finding recently its a cycle of sickness, confrontation, then the beginning fo healing . Yet after this the cycle continues, she gets defensive and starts hiding everything. Sneaking about yet we all know because of the smell. The clogged plumbing . The bottles we trip over.

I am feeling like I am a horrible daughter for not wanting to be around her after 5pm but she is not the same person I normally know. She becomes this sneakative, visablly bloated person who is nasty and spends her nights throwing up and drinking herself passing out.

I do not know what else to do. it is putting a visible strain on our family. Dad has given up. He simply ignores her at night despite her attempts to talk . My brother simply disappears and avoids mum and I'm left trying to help her. Of course before long she turns to attack me. I try to support her then leave to do my own things. She turns up tripping all over the place. Belching and smelling awful . I do not know what else to do to help her.

Recently she has been furiously denying everything. Refusing to go to rehab or even just to talk to someone. She instead will verbally attack you . In this state she has even hurt the dog by pulling on her ears and fur too much in the attempt to get comfort. The dog came and joined me or dad. She will just escape mum wherever possible after 5pm.

I am struggling to help mum while also ensuring the family stays functioning. At the moment it is not. I do not know what to do to help mum. She is an incredible person yet as soon as the sun sets she completely changes personality.

Please any advice would be awesome. Thankyou <3

You really do need the full

You really do need the full support of your family to help your mother deal with this situation. You are having to cope with a lot just on your own.
Underneath the complex cloak of your mother's condition, it does appear that she does want to reach out and receive help.
You mentioned that you've tried various rehab places and counsellors.
One significant point you mention in your post - that appears to re-occur - is the 5PM time. You say that your mother changes into a different person after 5pm. You and your family - the dog included - fear this '5pm' changeover.
It may be worth encouraging your mother to discuss this 5pm point in time with a counsellor. The counsellor may be able to help your mother explore this.
This 5pm changeover time may just be a coincidence, but there may be the possibility that this time means something very significant.
You could also - as a family - look into some form of couples/family counselling in which you could find ways of dealing with the all important 5pm deadline. Both your father and brother need to help you deal with this, rather than you cope alone.
Although your mother is the only one who can make the decision for herself, a stay in some kind of residential treatment centre is going to be the most ideal plan for her. The problem - as you are experiencing already - is trying to convince her to stay and follow the programme of treatment.
Part of any treatment programme could involve looking into the change of behaviour that occurs after 5pm.
Food and guilt can often go hand-in-hand. It's not just the sufferer of the eating disorder who experiences issues with the guilt involved. It can also involve those that are caring for them.
Whatever course of action you take to help your mother, she is the only person who can truly help herself.
You certainly do not need to feel guilty, as you are fighting hard to help your mother deal with this battle.


Hello and welcome to the forum. I am so sorry you have been having to deal with all you mentioned. You shouldn't be having to take care of your mom, as you know, she should be taking care of you. But...that isn't what is happening. As for feeling guilty for not wanting to be around her after 5pm that is completely understandable and you need to take care of yourself and protect yourself from her rage and abusiveness. It is not your job to clean up after her or be her savior. I know this is difficult to hear, but it is her job to clean up after herself. I do not know what to say except that to suggest you contact NEDA at 800-931-2237 or chat with someone online. They would be the best people to reach out to as they are trained in how to help, better than I am. I can offer you support and let you know that you going to your room or out with a friend even though your mother is drunk or purging and binging, please don't carry that burden on yourself. She is choosing not to get help. You need to feel free to live your life and go out with friends and know that this is okay.

I am so sorry for the pain this is causing your family. It is so difficult. You are brave for posting and asking for help. Could you talk to a school guidance counselor about what is going on? They may be able to give you support and help. It sounds like a scary place to live. For that I am sorry. I will pray for your family. There are programs Al-Anon and I think something like that would be good for your father as well as you and your brother to go to and learn how to deal with your mom's behavior. But try giving NEDA a call. Please post again and let us know how things are going.


How are things now?

I'm so sorry for what is happening. My dad was an alcoholic and domestically violent towards my mom. You don't deserve it.

You can use this method.

You make them understand that healthy food is good for them, nearby inspire them to eat healthyy food.

All food

Is good for you. Bad foods don't exist. All foods have nutritional value that give you what you need.