National Eating Disorders Association

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applemom
How to Talk to 18 Year Old Daughter Doesn't Want to Get Better--Bulimia-

My daughter who lives at home is in therapy reluctantly, and says she is taking her meds for depression and anxiety, but I don't know for sure. When we talk about it she says she doesn't want to get better so therapy won't work. She refuses to discuss it with me because she has boundaries and I am not a therapist. I tell her I have my boundaries too because I am her mother I can't stop trying to help her. We are in family therapy as well. She cries or gets angry and I feel that this is consuming us. Any suggestions please.

iwanttolive
applemom

Hi and welcome to the forum. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt. A friend. When I was at my worst, I did not want to get better. I was in denial as to how ill and close to death I was. No matter what my parents told me or doctors or anyone. I was fine. FINE It is difficult to deal with a supposed adult legally saying. When I was eighteen I was really only a child. I needed my parent's love and care no matter how much I yelled and rebelled. I do not remember rebelling and yelling. I only remember wanting to lose weight. And I went through a bulimic state as well. Almost died from both. Denial. No I was never that sick. Now newly recovered I still don't remember being that ill.

I say all that to say this. There is Hope. Don't give up on Hope. Also, your daughter needs you no matter what she says or screams at you. The eating disorder takes over a person and turns them into a different person, a person controlled by an eating disorder. There is much fear with an eating disorder, for everyone involved but especially for the sufferer because sometimes we know what we are doing but can't help it. Just love your daughter. Let her know you are there for her. Set boundaries since she is eighteen. You can find help with that with the family therapy. But she needs you. I don't know what your relationship was like before the bulimia but even if it wasn't good, she needs you. Love her, be there when she wants to talk, don't take her attacks personally.

I know from watching what my parent's went through what having a daughter with an eating disorder is like. Now that I am better they share more about what it was like. They didn't hide that from me so much but I can hear it better now. They don't tell me to shame me but to help me understand what it was really like since I seem to have selective memory. I remember the horrors of it and all but not the disrespect to my parents whom I love dearly. That still bothers me, that I treated them like that, but it was also the disease in progress. And they knew that too. SO I wish you the best and hope the best for you. Please continue to post for support. We are here for you.
iwanttolive

also, she is correct in saying if she doesn't want to get better she won't. You can not make her want to get better. That has to come from her, with the help of the counselor she will hopefully bond with. Until I chose to want to get better, I stayed sick, for many, many years. But there comes a time when one wants to get better and we can. We can recover. This is actually to encourage you. She may not want recovery now, but one day she may. Hold on to hope that that day comes soon.

Mikhope1
Thanks for the hope!

Dear iwanttolive:
Thanks so much for sharing your feelings. I have a 20 year old daughter that has had bulimia for over a year. She binges and purges after every meal. I wish I knew what she was feeling. I have always supported her and been there for her. As far as loving her, she (and her brother) are my world. This disease is ugly and really changes the relationship. Some days she will confide a little, but will quickly slam the door and angrily tell me that I am not her therapist. I have learned that this is how she manipulates me and holds onto the disease, but it doesn't make it any easier. She can be so mean and say the most cruel things. I know this is to drive me away when I get too close. Thank you for saying that you still wanted your parents even though you didn't show it. So many nights I cry and grieve the child/woman that is lost. She was in family and individual treatment but has since stopped both. I recently began seeing a therapist with a back round in eating disorders, she has given me the strength to set boundaries and still let her know how much I love her. She has agreed to see her primary doctor to have her labs checked. Hopefully, through my therapist I can help her find someone that she can confide in. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that although I can support her, it is still her journey. She will get better when she wants to get better. I only hope it is not too late. This disease is very difficult on the family dynamic. My son and husband are angry and I am in the middle trying to keep the family together. I'm glad to hear you and your family have survived this nightmare...stay well and thanks again.

_admin_moderator
Hi and welcome to the forums.

Hi and welcome to the forums. Please have a look at this Parent Tool Kit for supporting a child through their ED https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/Par...and some helpful tips https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/%E2%80%98parent-talk%E2%80%...also, https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog-tags/parents-caregiversPlease also reach out to the NEDA helpline available from 9-9  EST M-Th and F 9-5  800-931-2237We hope you continue to post!

Mikhope1
Dear applemom:

Dear applemom:
I feel your frustration... I feel our daughter's illness is completely consuming our family life. We can't just turn off being a mom. It is so difficult to watch them hurt themselves. The guilt and pain is torture. Some days all I want to do is cry, scream and yell but that would accomplish nothing. Have you tried seeing a therapist for yourself? I was blessed to find one with a back round in eating disorders and she is wonderful. She is helping me to be strong and set boundaries in a loving way. She has also given me some of my peace back. Good luck, sending prayers your way.....

heya2k
applemom

As a mom of a 24 y/o daughter with an ED, I say you do everything yo can right now while you can still legally enforce it. Once they hit 18, all bets are off and its very difficult to get them into treatment. Good Luck!