National Eating Disorders Association

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Mom doesn't believe/care enough?

My sister has struggled with an eating disorder for about 5 years. Our family is awful at communication, so we've never actually talked about it but we all know. I could tell from the very beginning and would often get angry with my mom for not making my sister eat or allowing her to skip meals and over exercise. My mom never saw anything wrong in this, even as my sister lost an incredible amount of weight and became a skeleton. I finally convinced her to get my sister some help so she took her to a nutritionist and our GP, but never a mental health professional. She's gained a little weight, enough to satisfy my mom, but she still looks very unhealthy and scary to me.

My sister recently mentioned that she missed her period and my mom completely brushed it off and just said "it happens." With my sister going to college in a few months, I'm absolutely terrified that she'll get even worse. Please help me! I need advice for how to talk to my mom and make her take this seriously! Thank you so much


Hi. I want to welcome you to the forum. I am sorry you have been going through so much with your sisters illness. I understand the whole "sweeping things under the rug". It is frustrating and can cause anger as have been experiencing. It can be very scary watching someone so close to you suffering and not being given the help that your sister needs. I am that sister. I was very ill for most of my life and it was very scary for my younger sister watch and she had lived in fear that I woud die. My other sisters just got angry with me and never tried to understand so I applaud you for wanting to get your sister help

So you and your sister talk about this at all? Is she able to confide in you or anyone? Your mothers lack of action may be out of fear or just not understanding how dangerous eating disorders can be. On NEDA's web site, there is what is called the Parent Tool Kit. In that there are suggestions on how to help with a child that has an eating disorder. It may be helpful for you as well.

You are correct in saying that it seems important to get her help now, before she goes off to college. Do you know why your mother doesn't want her to get psychological counselling?

I know this is scary and I am glad you reached out. Please continue to as much as you need. And check out the resources NEDA puts out, you may even want to chat with someone from the organization. Take care of yourself too while you are dealing with all of the fear and family dynamics that are challenging. Please post again.


Mom might care... and be too scared to look...

Hey Cactusmoon. I'm sorry to hear that you're going through this as a family. When I was going through my eating disorder as a teen, my family had a similar dynamic in terms of brushing it under the rug, which ultimately made things worse of course. I think appealing to her mom could be a good approach, and perhaps appealing in the most non-accusatory way that you can while trying to inspire action? The turning point for me getting treatment was actually a neighbor who approached my parents and voiced her concerns and went to them with more of a "I know this is scary, and this isn't your fault, but we have to do something or your daughter is going to die." Every family is different, and every situation is different. I'm sharing what triggered action in my situation in the hopes that it might be a viable avenue for you. Good luck, and great job seeking support!