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


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.