National Eating Disorders Association

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Fuji1999
24 year old daughter home for Covid-19

Good morning,
Our daughter came home for Shelter in Place mid-march and during the past 3 months her eating disorder has progressed to the point where she is isolating in her room, door closed, only coming out twice a day to eat. She gets food quickly from the kitchen and retreats to her room to eat. She is severely restricting, eating as little as possible. She is severely underweight.
We, her parents, are going to tell her that we want her to see a medical doctor because we are concerned about her health. If she refuses, we are going to tell her she cannot stay here any longer, as we cannot participate in her destruction.
Has anyone else done this? Taken a hard-line such as this with the hope that the sufferer seeks help? We don't know what to do. She is angry, isolated, lethargic, and refuses to speak to us. Please, if anyone has had a similar situation, what did you do? She is not under any therapy at this point, though we are going to encourage that.

BobJ48
Retreating

I'm on a board for people with EDs, and with the lockdown a lot of people are retreating. It's hard to tell if they are glad about it or not. Mostly not I think, but as you said, they can use the time for ED. And they know what they are doing.

Even if she is pushing forward, and being angry and irritated, it's also possible that she's not happy about it. But when people have eating disorders, they act like people who have eating disorders do, even if they are not overjoyed. It's tough one both sides.

Which…she probably understands that part too. So it's easy for things to turn into a stalemate.

I'm not sure what to tell you. I can't give you any advice on making her move out. But I think you could ask her what her plan is. If you can do it in a way that shows you understand that she wonders too. Because she most likely does.

NEDA has a bunch of parental resources and educational things you can check out.

But yes, EDs can cast an evil spell, and are difficult for everyone involved.

Fuji1999
Isolating

Thank you for your response. We did not know she had an eating disorder before this, but it is very apparent now. She is very angry, very hostile towards us, and as crazy as it sounds, we are afraid to confront her because we know the explosion that will follow. How pathetic is that?! What do you think of sharing with her the symptoms and the consequences of anorexia? That is, I am not sure she realizes the damage she is doing to her body and to her mind. Perhaps now she won't care, but in the future, maybe she will reflect on that and it would help her get some support.

brutus94
My experience as a parent.....

My daughter is 20 and has been dealing with an ED for 3+ years. I have spent a lot of time lecturing, pleading, fighting, and avoiding the topic with my daughter. The cycle of hope, sadness, depression, and anger is a real thing (for both the parent and the kid). So I understand what you are describing very very well, unfortunately.

We finally told our daughter we would no longer give her money for college unless she got the help she needed. She made that deal with us prior to her first year of college, which she completed, but her health declined. So, we said no more money. It took a year to really kick in (about 6 months for her to realize we were serious, and another 6 months to find a program to go to). So in the grand scheme, she has missed this last year of college. But, I'm happy to report she is finally getting the help she needs, and she made the decision to go to a residential treatment program on her own. Her motivation is to get back to school (which she LOVES), so that has worked. At the end of the day, the beauty of this is that we didn't have to force her or argue with her, we just didn't write a check. Unfortunately, it took us awhile to find a "pain point" that 1) motivated her and 2) we could implement without fighting. One key here is that we did not forbid her to go back to school......she was free to go back and pay for it all on her own, but we knew that was pretty unlikely.

So back to your question......I don't know if kicking her out is the right answer or not, but we did seriously consider it. Other ideas we considered were taking away the car and taking away the phone. In the end, college money seemed to be the best option for us. It was emotionally hard to do, but I was 100% certain it was both right and fair. I am hopefully the progress continues and she can manage things better going forward, but it will always be a struggle for her.

Over the years my wife and I spent alot of time beating ourselves up over this entire situation, so let me also offer you some encouragement. This is not your fault and you are not a bad parent. And your daughter is not a bad/mean person either, she is just suffering from a very difficult and frustrating illness. In fact, kudos to for doing your homework, looking for answers, and trying to help your daughter. In the end, we had to realize that WE could not fix it. WE could not MAKE her do anything. They have to choose to fight. I wish you and your daughter the best...…..and make sure you take care of yourselves too!

Fuji1999
ED

Thank you for your response. Our middle daughter also had an ED, orthorexia (she was a competitive swimmer), and it took her a year of outpatient to finally decide she wanted to get better. She did a 5-week in-patient (at age 16) and that worked. She is now 20 and thriving. But, as you say, it was HER decision, and that made the difference. We had been forcing her for a year to go three days a week outpatient, and it didn't work.
This older daughter has anorexia (restricting), and has the whole self-loathing, guilt, and so on that is common with ED. We know we need to confront her (we suggested that she see a doctor for a physical and she flipped out), but her anger keeps us from speaking up. We will, though. She is out of school, but we will also tell her we cannot help to support her unless she gets help. Perhaps in the long run, that's all we can do.
Thank you for your story. As you know, it's all very confusing.

Fuji1999
ED

Thank you for your response. Our middle daughter also had an ED, orthorexia (she was a competitive swimmer), and it took her a year of outpatient to finally decide she wanted to get better. She did a 5-week in-patient (at age 16) and that worked. She is now 20 and thriving. But, as you say, it was HER decision, and that made the difference. We had been forcing her for a year to go three days a week outpatient, and it didn't work.
This older daughter has anorexia (restricting), and has the whole self-loathing, guilt, and so on that is common with ED. We know we need to confront her (we suggested that she see a doctor for a physical and she flipped out), but her anger keeps us from speaking up. We will, though. She is out of school, but we will also tell her we cannot help to support her unless she gets help. Perhaps in the long run, that's all we can do.
Thank you for your story. As you know, it's all very confusing.

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