National Eating Disorders Association

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Want to recover but don’t want to tell anyone about my ED?

This is my first post on here and I’m not really sure how this works, so bare with me. I’m a 16 year old girl struggling with ana, and I sort of feel like I’ve hit rock bottom recently, like I essentially have to choose to recover, or to die.

I get it, of course recovery is the only option here – I don’t want to die. But I don’t want to tell anyone about my ED. Literally nobody knows. I’m currently living with my family who are all so, so supportive of me and I know if I reached out, they’d support me and want to help me, but I can’t bring myself to do it without feeling like a burden. I also am currently seeing a therapist for general mental health issues, and I can’t bring myself to tell her. My situation appears so simple. I have a massive support system, I’m seeing a qualified psychologist/therapist, my family can probably afford sending me to treatment if it came to it (that’s another reason I’m scared to reach out for help)- why wouldn’t I reach out? I just can’t burden my family (especially my parents) with my ED. They’ve already bent over backwards to help me with other mental health issues (depression, anxiety, etc), I’d feel like such a pain for being like, “oh yeah, by the way, I’ve also been struggling with anorexia for the past year and a half!”. Also, even though we are a fairly financially stable family, I know money is tight for my parents right now and seeking professional help for my ED would just be more weight on their shoulders.

Another thing is that my mum would blame herself for my ED. A while back, she sort of expressed concern about how I looked as though I’d lost weight (I brushed it off and said I hadn’t been trying to lose weight and that I’d probably just grown taller) and she said that it had always been a worry of hers that her issues with her body (she’s a chronic dieter, and recently had weight loss surgery) would rub off on me and my sister. And I just... I couldn’t bare knowing that I’d be making her feel that way. Because it’s not her fault.

I don’t feel comfortable telling my therapist about my ED for numerous reasons: 1), I think she has an ED herself, or definitely at least struggles with disordered eating. She’s a chronic dieter and has lost heaps of weight throughout the time I’ve known her, and has made it clear to me she was trying to lose weight, and 2) she’s the sort of therapist who you’re only supposed to see for a short period of time, until you’ve “gotten better” (???) e.g. gained good coping skills etc., and I’ve already dragged it out long enough that I just feel bad every time I email her askinf to see her, because at the end of our sessions she’s always like “you seem to be doing a lot better. Remember you can always email me but if you feel you don’t need me anymore...” blah blah, and ugh. I just feel like a bother to everyone. And, on top of all of this, even though in my heart I know I want to recover, I’m so terrified to let go of my ED.

This whole post is pretty dumb, and I realise how privileged I sound. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what I’m expecting people to respond. I just feel so stuck. And so alone.

Here for you

I'm sorry you're struggling so much, and you don't sound dumb, at all. I totally get the feeling of being afraid of being a burden on others. My therapist, however, would challenge me by asking, would my friends truly say I'm a burden? Would they ever feel like I'm expecting too much from them? She also said that she thinks they probably have enough self-preservation to be able to say if they can't handle my issues or other such stuff. I have a feeling your family would be the same way. As far as your therapist goes, maybe you could try finding a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. NEDA can help refer you to find one in your vicinity, also within a cost range or insurance plan, if that becomes an issue. Yes, I realize that means you will have to tell your parents about your e.d., and hopefully, you'll be able to do that soon. As far as the guilt goes with your mom, that's going to happen, no matter what. Parents are like that. Any problem that happens with their children, parents automatically feel and think, "oh, I must have done something wrong!" You are NOT responsible for your mom's feelings. You do not cause her feelings. I understand why this is a concern for you, because I went through a very similar situation for years, and I'm only just now realizing that I am not to blame. (I'm 43.) Nor are you. I'm not saying she is, either. Eating disorders are complicated. I just hope this gave you some "food for thought" (pun intended), and hope you are able to get the help you need and deserve. Keep us posted.

You don't sound privileged at

You don't sound privileged at all, anyone rich or poor can have an ED. I understand not wanting to let go of an ED though. It made me feel like I was in control when my life was out-of-control. Since you can't talk to your therapist maybe talk with someone at NEDA, on the NEDA call/text line. They can give you very helpful advice. I know it can make you feel isolated when only you know about your ED, but the thing is, your ED wants it to stay that way, and the best way to get better is to do the opposite of what your ED wants. Please keep posting on the forums, we are here for you!

NEDA Helpline

Hi lucyjennifer, we want to make sure you know the NEDA Helpline is an option to talk about finding support and resources. It can be reached at 800.931.2237 or chat with them online ( M-TH 9-9 EST and F 9-5 EST. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and take care.

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