National Eating Disorders Association

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Hover or watch from a distance?


My 14 year old was diagnosed with bulimia last week. She is also suffering from depression. She had good first appointments with her therapist for emotional support and another for nutrition/eating disorder. The past few days have been a whirlwind of emotion for our family. I don't know if I should hover or watch from a distance. We had an emotional crisis the past 24 hours and had to see our therapist today. Any thoughts? I've taken the rest of the week off from work - I commute over an hour one way, the therapist agreed I should stay around. Already started looking for closer this is stressful. I'm not afraid of facing ED with my daughter, just want to make good decisions.

Hi deeanne,

Hi deeanne,
I'm sorry to hear that this is such a stressful time for your family, but your daughter is lucky to have a mom who cares so much about her and you are taking the right steps in seeking help for her with a therapist! It's hard to come up with one approach that any parent can take to help their children, since EDs present so differently in each person, but in my opinion remaining close by always offering a listening ear and maintaining open communication with your daughter can be very helpful in her recovery. I know there can be a fine line between being too pushy and too hands-off, but consistently showing her that you care and are there to help can build a strong foundation and help motivate her.

Have you attended any of her appointments with the therapist? I think also maintaining communication with the therapist can be helpful - not so much that your daughter feels that she has no privacy at all if she is worried about that (she might not be but again, every person's approach/response to treatment can differ widely), but teaming with the therapist to see how your daughter is progressing and what they might recommend for you can be a good way to guide your decisions.

As someone who suffered from anorexia and overexercising when I was 14-16 years old and did not seek out help or open up to my friends/family until I relapsed years later, I know that having a support system can be very helpful, and I wish I had realized that earlier. I think being aware of how your daughter reacts to certain modes of help (becoming resistant/defensive vs opening up more) can help you figure out what strategy might be best for her.

The NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237 M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST) is a good resource to call for more advice or information, and here are some links that might be useful too:
Parent Toolkit:
Family/friends info:
Stories of Hope:

I hope this helps - wishing you all the best!


Thanks Nan for responding. So glad you have recovered! It means a lot to have someone who understands.

family involvement

Hi deeanne,

My thoughts are with your family at this time. I am so glad your daughter is getting help and that you are so bravely facing the stress.

I am currently in recovery from anorexia and exercise addiction. I am 24 years old and live several hours away from my family, but I can tell you with certainty that I need them every day. Especially my mom. I call her every day, and consider her a key part of my recovery team. It is so helpful to be able to confide my ED thoughts (as warped as they are) in the safe space of family.

I don't know your daughter but I can tell you that for me, it always helps when loved ones recognize my small victories.

The other comment from nanzhu suggested you attend a therapy session; my mom has attended a few of mine and it has been wonderful. It tunes us all into how we think about food, and it helped me identify some triggers.

I hope something there helps. Again, best wishes to your daughter.

Dealing with a new diagnosis


My 16 year old was recently diagnosed with bulimia. She is my youngest. My two older sons are in college, away from home. It was hard to pinpoint, because she was always so secretive. I did catch onto it after 3 months and I feel sad that I couldn't see it sooner. I took action right away by taking her to the doctor, getting referrals, and having blood work done.

After that, we started therapy. She's had 2 sessions so far. I sat with her for part of the second session. I also found a nutritionist who specializes in ED. Now we're looking for support for ourselves. This is all so new for my husband and myself. I'm afraid to leave her alone. She was always such a responsible, mature and happy girl. Now this illness has taken over and it is so hard to watch. We are not sure about what to say or do for her.

I have found out about all of these social networking sights that are pro-ed and it makes me sick to think that they share tips on how to cover it up, among other topics. I wake in the middle of the night and get so frustrated. I wish there was more we could do. I know that the diagnosis is recent, but watching all of this unfold is just heartbreaking.


Thanks so much for reaching out and trusting these forums to share your feelings. I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's bulimia and the strain it is putting on you and your family. It sounds like you are doing so much for her, and while you say that you are frustrated and wish you could do more, you seem to be very attentive, involved and caring.

The sites you mention are definitely disturbing, and hopefully as individuals embrace recovery they steer clear of all triggering information and reach out and network with healthy individuals and sites that promote recovery and wellness.

As for resources for yourself, I would refer you the second post in this string, by nanzhu, who included several links including the parent toolkit, family/friends info, and stories of hope, as well as the NEDA helpline number so you can get the support that you, as a parent, need and deserve.

Know that you are not alone, and I am rooting for you!