National Eating Disorders Association

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Husband wasting away

My husband has been anorexic for 15 years. He's been in and out of treatment faculties and had periods of remission. Over the last few months his weight has dropped significantly and I cannot convince him to get help. He claims he needs to do it on his own in the real world and treatment centers provide too much of a cushion. Also, we live in an area where the closest treatment center is an hour away which makes life much more difficult when working full time and raising children. He sees a counselor and has recently started seeing a psychiatrist but I'm scared. He's 5'10 and somewhere between 100-110 pounds. I love him unconditionally and plan on sticking by him but I feel repulsed by his body and can't help but to feel I'm married to someone who is slowly killing himself. I feel terrible saying I'm disgusted by his body, but I can see every rib, bone and vein in his body. I can't force him into treatment because he is a grown man, I can't leave because I love him so what am I suppose to do? I've done so much to help him on the road to recovery but it seems as though he doesn't have the will to get better. Any advice?

What to do...

This has got to be so difficult I know ! A person can feel disgusted with a loved ones body, partly because they do think it's ugly, but also because of the problems it represents when they see it.

And really, what can you do ? He's done treatment facilities, so it's fair to think that I knows what they are about. Even though….they actually have helped him in the past.

But you can also see where he might be frustrated himself. If you've ever been on boards with the girls, them being frustrated with themselves is a pretty common thing. In and out of programs, and yet still nothing seems to be helping. :-(

Still, the idea that he's willing to submit himself to counseling, and has been open to seeing a psychiatrist is hopeful I think. He may say that he's going to try and recover on his own this time, but he does have some backup.

But yes : To see him dropping weight like this must be discouraging I know.

None the less, I think the best role you can play is to continue to support him, even if it seems like it's not helping at all.

If he seems genuine in his desire to get better, I think there's still hope, even when things look dark.

Taking care of yourself though : That will be important as well.

As far as counseling goes, are you getting any yourself ?

Husband wasting time


You obviously love your husband very much. He's fortunate to have your love and support, especially when he needs you most.

As someone who personally battled anorexia for years, and recovered, After my recovery, I learned something very important I want to share with you in hopes it will provide you with valuable insight. It helped heal me, as well as my loved ones that supported me during my battle. An eating disorder is NOT a choice! It's a mental illness. Most people that have never battled an eating disorder, don't understand why their loved one won't "just eat"! It's an incredibly complex disorder. When someone is battling an eating disorder, their brain chemistry changes, as well as their congnitive thinking. Just as if someone is physically not well, as a loved one we would do everything to help them towarads wellness. The same applies for someone who is not mentally well. I applaud you for reaching out for support and guidance. You are NOT alone!

There is hope though! I would encourage you, and/or your husband to reach out to the NEDA Helpline #1.800.931.2237. You can reach them Mon. - Thurs. 9am - 9pm/Fri. 9am - 5pm/EST. They are trained volunteers that personally understand the challenges of an eating disorder, and are a wealth of information and resources. They can answer any questions and concerns you may have.

Another great resource to consider is the NEDA Navigator program! This free program connects you (your husband)
with a volunteer who has experience in recovery and is there to listen, support, and advise you along the way!! I think it is a great way to receive absolutely sincere support! It’s like having your owner “recovery” buddy. Here is a link to learn more!

Here are a few additional links I think you will find of interest and value.
Family/friends info:
Stories of Hope:

Please let us know how we can continue to support you, your husband and your family.

HEALing Hugs,
Legacy of Love

Thank you

Thank you both so much for your response. I do need to find some more personal support for myself. I know that me being stressed out and worried doesn't help my husband recover and I definitely need a place to vent my sadness and frustration without causing my husband more stress. I understand that anorexia is a mental illness and not a choice. Most days that is consoling for me but when I see it impact his body so clearly I tend to forget that recovery starts with the mind. I will pass the information you guys gave me along to him and hopefully he will look into it. I know I will. Thank you again