National Eating Disorders Association

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Dealing with Mood Swings


I'll start with a little bit of context before I get into the area I need help in...

I am 19 years old and an older sister to my 15-year-old sister who, since 2020, has been struggling with an eating disorder (anorexia), and was diagnosed professionally with it earlier this year (2021). Before my sister's eating disorder, we were so extremely close; and we still are, but ever since the ED, unfortunately, snuck up on our tight-knit family, it has definitely been up and down. My mum and dad have been incredible with getting my sister the help she needs, and when she was diagnosed this year, my sister was already getting help in outpatient services. We tried family-based therapy, but it wasn't working (i.e. my sister was still leaving food and restricting a lot). After countless arguments and screaming matches, my parents and the team at the inpatient center decided she needed to be admitted in late October this year. Fast forward to now, my sister has been discharged from the hospital, and we finally thought she was on the journey to recovery. In some ways, she was; she now finishes every meal we give her, my parents make the meals, not her (to stop restriction), and she doesn't partake in exercise anymore.

However, here lies the issue that I wanted to talk about. Her anger and mood swings are now more worse than they were before she went to the hospital, and they are impacting everything. She doesn't want people to see her because of her disorder/the fact that she is/has gained weight due to the refeeding process, and she can't even look in the mirror without crying and screaming. Then, after a few hours, she is back to her happy self, as if nothing has ever happened (which is really confusing for me). I understand that it is a hard and horrible process for her, but it is so hard for me to see her scream very disturbing and harmful things at herself, me, and my parents every single day. I try talking some sense into her, telling her that how she looks does not define how she is as a person and that being skinny is not the be-all end-all, but it all goes in one ear and out the other to her. It has gotten so bad that it is now impacting my anxiety and I don't know how much more I can take. I hope saying this doesn't make me sound selfish, but the underlying issue is that I need some advice on how to deal with the screaming matches that are happening day in day out.

If anyone has experienced any of this kind of behavior in themselves or someone they know, any kind of advice would be much appreciated, as I really need it.

Thank you! :)

Hey, I’m 19 - twin sister to

Hey, I’m 19 - twin sister to a sister with anorexia. She was diagnosed in 2016 - we had just turned 14. I find the screaming matches and her hurtful comments towards me very difficult to deal with. She tends to become less rational as she loses weight, but at the same time, when she is losing weight actively her hurtful comments are less. I don’t understand that part about it. I tend to remove myself from the room where I can, if not I try to ignore it. I admit I do snap on occasions - but I consider that typical - how many times does she expect a non-reaction from such hurtful comments - it’s totally normal to react - and to be honest, ignoring her comments doesn’t tend to work in de-escalation - me staying quiet gives her something more to yell about. My sister has been inpatient on a few occasions - most recently in an ED unit 6 hours from our home. With guilt I admit I enjoyed the peace. I think it is important to take time for yourself - away from the environment if possible. Though I realise as a second year university student (moved out of home, though home due to my own poor health, physical and mental, often) that it does follow you around. Just know that you’re not alone - though I know siblings are often ignored. Happy to talk further if you think it would be of use to have someone who understands - I hope you and your family are doing okay x

Sorry to hear your sis got anorexia

I would like to give a suggestion on this. We can try to help our brain and body by taking care of it. Yoga can help and be good for us, especially our mind.

That's not true

You can't always control your brain. Yoga and controlling the brain don't prevent diseases.


Hi! We have very similar situations! I am also 19 and have a younger sister with anorexia. The mood swings are definitely real. I feel like I am always walking on eggshells around her. I often avoid her if I'm feeling tension around her to avoid a screaming match. It's so hard and it has made my anxiety worse as well. I think the best thing to do in these situations is remember that it's the anorexia that's talking, not our sisters. Turning the anger into empathy has helped me, along with just trying to be patient and understanding. I know this isn't always possible, but hopefully knowing someone can relate will help too!