National Eating Disorders Association

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orlandaws
when will it end?

I have two younger sisters, they're identical twins and they both have been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa this year. They're fifteen. One twin is hospitalised at a facility for young people with eating disorders, and the other twin is recovering at home but she's too weak to go to school.

They're both at different stages in their illness, but it's such a long road ahead that I feel overwhelmed by it all. I help my parents with both my sisters, but the way my mum in particular handles my sister (the one at home) and her re-feeding process/meal plan makes me angry. If my sister refuses to eat something, or cries, or shouts, or argues about a portion size/aspect of her meal, she reacts emotionally, will get upset, will try and make my sister feel guilty for being difficult, or will give into my sisters demands and change the meal according to her specifications. We got to family therapy and have all read books about anorexia, and she should know very well that this only fuels the eating disorder. My dad and I are much more on the same page. I ressent my mum for being so immature and unable to cope with my sister's illness. I myself am tired and I can't see an end to this. I plan every day around my sisters meals and her progress and I visit my other sister at least once a week. I've gone back on anti-depressants and I find work and school too much, let alone socialising.

The twins' anorexia came out of nowhere for me and I'm still shocked, even though I've been living at home now for nearly two moths. When will things go back to how they were? When will things be like they used to? I can't talk to my parents about how I feel because I'm scared that I'll upset them further, and none of my friends understand what it's like to have a loved one with anorexia, let alone two loved ones. I just want someone to understand, I feel as if it has taken over my life and that it'll always be there.

BobJ48
Mother is Off Script.

"If my sister refuses to eat something, or cries, or shouts, or argues about a portion size/aspect of her meal, she reacts emotionally, will get upset, will try and make my sister feel guilty for being difficult, or will give into my sisters demands and change the meal according to her specifications. We got to family therapy and have all read books about anorexia, and she should know very well that this only fuels the eating disorder. "

As you've seen, it's hard not to get drawn into the drama of it all. And how the whole thing can bring up issues of our own. Which is what seems to be going on with your mom. Instead of sticking with the plan, she's letting her own stired up issues get in the way.

This is not to say that people should never get frustrated, because EDs can really be frustrating. But your mom may need to take a look inside, and see why it's extra-frustrating for her. To the point that she finds herself going off into areas that she knows full-well are not helpful.

"I myself am tired and I can't see an end to this. I plan every day around my sisters meals and her progress and I visit my other sister at least once a week. I've gone back on anti-depressants and I find work and school too much, let alone socialising."

No kidding, this sort of stuff can be emotionally corrosive, and effect everyone who's associated with it. So you're right, we probably need to find ways to keep ourselves safe too.

Which may mean setting some boundaries. Practical and emotional ones too. You may want to make some changes in how much time you spend interacting with the situation. Like maybe don't go to the facility, but write your sister a note instead. Or take yourself out for a meal by yourself or with friends now and then.

It would not be something to feel guilty about. It wouldn't. xx

orlandaws
hugely appreciated

thank you endlessly for taking the time to read and reply. I feel a lot of guilt because I'm the oldest sister, and my two sisters idolise me and have ever since they were little. We've always been very close.

I left home for the first time last year to work in France, the job was part of my university degree, and I was away when the first twin was admitted to hospital. My parents told me not to return home and I was scared about not honouring my job contract/not getting college credit. My parents said that coming home wouldn't change anything and I was only 6 weeks away from the end of my contract. When those 6 weeks were up and I did come home, I found the second twin emaciated and my parents in complete denial about it. They'd been focusing so much on the first twin who was diagnosed and in hospital, that the second twin was left to her own devices. I spoke with them the second I was home from the airport, and only then did they get her referred and eventually diagnosed and on a treatment plan.

So basically, this all happened because I wasn't there to see the warning signs. I play in a band that tours regularly and I work part time at a studio, plus school starts again in September. I'm torn between wanting to never be home, wanting to be busy all the time and forget about anorexia, and then feeling tremendous amounts of guilt for not being present and for making something about me when I'm not the two people suffering the most!

BobJ48
Responsibility

Response moved to the bottom of the page.

iwanttolive
orlandaws

Hi. You said that if you were home this wouldn't have happened. You are NOT responsible for what happened to your sisters. You are taking on this burden and responsibility that you can not possibly bear. It isn't your fault for living your life. You have every right to be going to have gone to France. You had no way to know your sisters would get sick. Please do not own this as your fault. I worry that you are thinking this. You also can not fix them. You can be there for them, but their recovery is their responsibility with help from their team as well as support from you and your family. It is not your responsibility to carry the burden. You can be a support, but not carry the responsibility. I know I am repeating myself here, but I am trying to stress the point that you are feeling so guilty. I hope you can lay it down.

iwanttolive

iwanttolive
orlandaws

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am glad you found us and have reached out for support. I am really sorry for what you and your family are going through. It sounds very painful. Are you getting help for yourself to help you as you go through this with your sisters? I had various eating disorders for many years and am now in recovery and I have to say my sisters did not know how to cope or deal with me and my "problem". I think it is good that you want to help your sisters but as BobJ48 said, you may need to reduce the amount of energy you are putting into your sisters, especially the one at home. If someone isn't ready to get better and are being forced into gaining, there will be a lot of noise and fighting. I never had to have family based treatment. Didn't really exist when I was at my worst but even if they had this approach, I assure you, I wouldn't have cooperated. This approach doesn't work for everyone. It sounds as though your mother needs help understanding how to use this approach and not allow your sister, her daughter call the shots. That isn't how this approach is supposed to work. It sounds like your sister is scared. Most people with anorexia are terrified of gaining weight and need a lot of support while going through the process. How is your sister who is in the hospital doing? Do you think your sister at home needs inpatient?

Again, it is painful and so difficult watching loved ones go through this. You also need support. Especially if a lot of your parents attention is being put on your sisters you may feel ignored and angry and want your parents to see you as well. It is not uncommon for siblings to feel this and rightfully so. I hope you can find support and please, keep reaching out here for support. I can tell you recovery is possible but it often times is a long road. Recovery also can not be forced, it has to be something someone wants, and even then the process is difficult. I wish you the best and will pray for you and your family. Take care.

iwanttolive and I am

orlandaws
thank you

first off, thank you for writing back. Just hearing from someone who understands feels amazing.

I started the anti-depressants again because I knew that it would be a difficult time ahead, and I've had therapy in the past which has helped loads with my own personal issues with depression and anxiety. I go to family therapy at the hospital my sister is at, but I can't get say what I feel like I need to say with both sisters and my parents in the same room. now that I'm an adult, it's harder to get therapy quickly, but I'm on a waiting list.

My dad is a lot better at managing his emotions and not giving into my sister at home. He and I work well together and he knows that I'm frustrated with mum's mishandling of the situation. Maybe together we can continue to talk to her about why certain aspects of her behaviours aren't helpful. My mum can get very defensive.

"How is your sister who is in the hospital doing? Do you think your sister at home needs inpatient?"
My sister in the hospital is making progress. She passed her restaurant family meal task today which means she's one step closer to being able to spend weekends back home again. I'm very proud of her! I think my other sister would recover quicker if she was inpatient, but that would be painful in its own way, and I want her to stay home. She's gaining weight even if she doesn't want to, sometimes it feels like theres two sides to her - the one who wants to go back to school and be her old self, and the one who's terrified of food and hates the whole family.

thanks again for the kind words, I think this forum is going to be really helpful in the coming months

iwanttolive
orlandaws

"sometimes it feels like there's two side to her-the one who wants to go back to school and be her old self, and the one who's terrified of food and hates the whole family". Very well stated and so very true. The fear drives a person with an eating disorder, anorexia, to be people they never were, to say hateful things, lie, and self destruct because of the fear of gaining weight. I used to find safety in being underweight and there are issues that cause one to turn to an eating disorder and initially it is used as a coping mechanism but then the disorder takes over and the individual no longer is in control but the disorder is. There is a lot hiding behind the fear of gaining or food. That is why therapy is so important. Could you write a letter about how you are really feeling and read it at the next family session? It is really important for you to have a voice too. And it may help reduce your own anxiety and depression as well. I am glad to hear your other sister's outing went so well. Yay!!!! Eating disorders are so complex. They are very difficult to treat and recover from. But...recovery is possible. I recommend you reading through some of the other posts on the other headings so you can see the challenges. I am trying to help some talk more about what is underneath their fears and symptoms, to talk about their fears as this will help the recovery process. I was afraid to get better because I was afraid to live in the real world. Hiding out in hospitals as horrible as that was was easier than living outside of them. Then God healed me. I am free from all behaviors and addictions and am getting ready to start volunteering to help those who suffer with eating disorders. My user name, iwanttolive is so true because for most of my life I wanted to die. My life Scripture is I will not die but live and declare the works of the Lord. Psalm 118:17 meaning what God has done in me and through me. I live because of His love.

I again encourage you to be open and honest about how you are doing and feeling. It is important for the family to be open and honest and while it may be painful in the moment it will hopefully help the family to heal and bring lasting change if all are open and talk about the difficult things in the family dynamics. Glad you are finding this forum helpful.

iwanttolive and I am

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Resources

Hi, iwanttolive. Since you mentioned some past concerning feelings, we just wanted to post up some resources in case you or anyone else on the forum needs them. Crisis Textline: Text "NEDA" to 741-741 or www.crisistextline.orgSuicide Prevention Lifeline: Call (800) 273-8255 or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org IMAlive: Call (800) 784-2433 or www.imalive.orgDial Help Inc: Call (906) 482-4357 or Text (906) 356-3337 or www.dialhelp.org Please take care!

BobJ48
Balance and Responsibility

" So basically, this all happened because I wasn't there to see the warning signs. I play in a band that tours regularly and I work part time at a studio, plus school starts again in September. I'm torn between wanting to never be home, wanting to be busy all the time and forget about anorexia, and then feeling tremendous amounts of guilt for not being present and for making something about me when I'm not the two people suffering the most!"

No kidding, it can really eat at a person when there's this lingering feeling that somehow we haven't done enough to help matter progress for those we care about. . We take some time to pay attention to our own needs, but in the background were's a certain nagging guilt, and a feeling that somehow we should be doing more to help others instead. Particularly if there have been a few episodes where we actually do seem to have made a difference.

Keep this in mind though -When push comes to shove, it's going to be the person themselves who helps themselves the most. We can be supportive, but they will have to be the one who ultimately cure themselves. as you may be noticing, it's easy for us to fall into a "rescue" mode, but those sorts of efforts really work out it seems, and can be a drag on our own lives.

At the risk of sounding cliched, its' important to keep a healthy balance in all this. If we neglect toking out for ourselves, we're not doing ourselves or the other person any productive favors. Which kind of gets back to the boundaries and healthy balance thing.

So do give some though to how much energy you can afford to expend, and how to schedule your support in the most effective way, while mindfully giving yourself time for your own needs too.

Balance, you know ? xx

You're Not Alone

Hello! I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this. My younger sister has been struggling with anorexia for over a year and I have gotten to the point where I can't live my life like this anymore. It is so debilitating to see your family practically fall apart due to an ED. I miss the way our family used to be and especially how my sister and I used to have so much fun together. I feel so sad, angry, and lonely as a result of her mental illness. I can no longer keep my feelings in so I am going to try to find a therapist. Your post helped me so much, this was such a challenging week in my household because my sister's ED voice is growing stronger. I wish you all the best, we can do this!

Username

Sorry this is unrelated but I just created my account. I did not mean for my username to be my email, does anyone know how to create a new username? Sorry!

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Changing Username

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iwanttolive
hello there

Hi. I am so sorry for what you are going through but am happy to hear you are going to get help and support for yourself. That is a very good decision. Seeing someone suffer, either because of a mental illness or just in general is never easy, especially when dealing with anorexia. The family does suffer as well. And you are right, your sister relationship changed when anorexia stepped in. For this I am sorry. It is not fair. But, it is. So, we hope, pray, offer support when we can or when we are allowed to, and then we take care of our own health needs and emotional needs. We need to in order to be able to be there for a loved one or friend. I am sorry the past week has been challenging. I hope things are a little better. Have you found a therapist yet?

We are here for you. I understand your feelings. They are not easy to process. So it is good that you are looking for someone to help you. Please post again and know that you are not alone. Take care,

iwanttolive