National Eating Disorders Association

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Cldwtr
Family member with unsupported parents

I recently learned that my cousin, who is 16, has been eating very little and counting calories and basically exhibiting all the symptoms of anorexia. She has struggled in the past with anxiety before and I believe shes getting help for that. The problem is, her parents do not take these issues as seriously as they should be. Her parents were aware that she was having problems for a long time but didn't act on it. Her parents are so embarrassed of her that they refuse to talk to anyone in the family about it, my older cousin who is an adult found out about her anxiety by chance, and she was the one who told me about it. My older cousin has been monitoring her as much as she can, and that how she found out about the anorexia, but there is only so much she can do. Talking to her parents doesn't seem to be an option because we are pretty sure her mothers obsession with her weight is what caused the anorexia in the first place. I'm extremely worried about my cousin but I'm just not sure what to do. Her family doesn't know that anyone else is aware of her eating disorder, and from what I know she refuses to talk to anyone about anything even related to it because she got angry when my older cousin brought up her anxiety. I'm not sure what I can do, I don't know how to bring it up without making her angry and I don't want her to put up a wall between us, as I'm the closest to her age in the family and probably the one she trusts the most. I've tried talking to the adults in my family and they are just not sure how they can help without the parents support. It's a difficult situation and I just don't know what to do but I can't just sit here and wait around like all the adults are doing and expecting it to get better, because I know it won't get better unless she get professional help. I'm just extremely worried and scared, and if anyone has any advice I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

iwanttolive
Cldwtr

Hi. I am glad that you have been concerned about your cousin and want to help her. It does sound complicated as her parents don't seem too inclined to want to help which is a shame. I know NEDA has some great people to talk with and they may be your best chance at getting some good advice on how to help her. I know when I was sixteen and in the middle of my struggle with anorexia NO ONE was going to help me or tell me what to do. I was FINE. But that is the illness speaking and if that is where your cousin is, I understand her resistance in wanting any help. Perhaps you can just let her know for now that you are there for her if she needs or wants to talk. Make yourself available to her in a non threatening way. Build up some trust and then maybe she may give you an opportunity to share your concerns. Also maybe talk to a school guidance counselor. Or another trusted adult. As you know eating disorders are serious and usually only get worse unless there is some intervention. I wish you the best and hope to hear from you about how things go.. Take care and thanks for caring.

iwanttolive