National Eating Disorders Association

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My Son Needs Urgent Help

I have a young adult son who used to be extremely overweight. When I found this site, I read about Bulimia Nervosa, and as I read through the description, he exhibits every single one of the characteristics, and has every symptom listed. He has lost a good amount of weight and exercises excessively. He now abuses steroids, has unprotected sex with several girls a day/week (not sure how with the steroids). We are scared for him. There are only 2 therapists within 100 miles of our home. One had a 3 month wait, and the other was not competent with the male eating/extreme workout disorders. We are exhausted, and have been in talks with a well know tv show, who is interested in his story. However; if that does not come through, we are at a loss as to what to do. Legally he is an adult but mentally much younger, and we are not sure he is strong enough mentally for us to kick him out. Any advice would help.

Thanks for reaching out.

Thanks for reaching out. Resources to help you are listed below. I would encourage you to call the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 M-TH 9-9 EST and F 9-5 EST for support as well.

Thank you. What are your

Thank you. What are your thoughts on a television show getting involved. They do have an 85% effective rate of helping those they highlight.

hope .your son will be fine

hope .your son will be fine soon .........

First, I'm so glad that you

First, I'm so glad that you love and support your son and want to get help for him. It can be difficult as a parent to know who or where to turn, but NEDA is great resource in that regard.. NEDA can't endorse any particular TV show or treatment facility. I see your point about a TV show helping those people whom they highlight in their stories. However, eating disorders usually cause shame to those who are suffering. Your son might feel this already. I'm not sure how he would respond to going on a television show to talk about his personal struggles. It might cause him more shame. I would really encourage you to use all the resources at NEDA first. They are non judgmental individuals who are well versed in how to get help. Not only can they help your son get treatment he needs, they can also provide caring support to you too. I hope this helps you!

I am in no way trying to tell

I am in no way trying to tell you what to do here. I’m only offering my perspective from experience.

After denying inpatient treatment for seven years, I finally made the decision to accept intense treatment. When I arrived at the facility, intake gave me a form to sign agreeing or disagreeing to be filmed as part of a documentary. I had no idea they would be filming during my stay until my arrival, so I had no choice but to stay as I had traveled to Florida from Pennsylvania with my mom and sisters who had also arranged for at least a month stay in a hotel near the rehab facility.

I will say that I personally found the cameras and filming to be extremely, EXTREMELY distracting. A great deal of people in treatment seemed to be constantly thinking about how they would look or sound on film. No part of the group recovery efforts felt genuine to me, though I was absolutely able to focus enough to make HUGE leaps in my recovery that did have long-lasting effects. However, I attribute that to the highly trained professionals that treated me at the facility as well as those going through the process with me. At night when the cameras were gone, I felt comfortable enough to talk to my roommate and other patients.

As far as the recovery rates go, most every post in the Maintaining or Pursuing Recovery forums will talk about recovery being a very long term process. TV show or not, treatment will probably not end because filming wrapped. My honest guess is that the 85% effective rate they advertise is based solely on what patients experience during filming. Anything after is probably not taken into consideration.

Setting your son up with long term professional help is an excellent option. I spent the most time (years, actually) finding a therapist I could truly feel comfortable around. Perhaps he’ll love the first person he sees, but if not there are many professionals and forums and treatments available to pursue.

I hope this was a little insightful and encouraging. I in no way mean to direct your decision, I’m only letting you know that my personal inpatient recovery process would have been less stressful and distracting without producers and cameras in the room.


Brooke Thanks for your honest opinion!
The cameras do worry me. However in dealing with the casting crew (at this point we have not been chosen), my son is very open and willing to share his experience, mostly, I think because he does not feel there is a problem with vomiting and shooting steroids or lifting to excess. As we speak, he is Skyping with the casting crew to show them how he uses the steroids.
My bigger concern is that he is under the assumption that he is trying out for a documentary (going to indie film) about his weight loss transformation. He fears they will not choose him because he is not good enough, so he is working harder than ever at this point to become the best he can be (in his mind).
As far as therapists, there are only 2 within 100 miles. The one we did take him too, spent much time projecting to him that he may be gay. This did not go over well. I am continuing to look into treatment facilities, but keep being told that a therapist or doctor must refer him to inpatient therapy. That is the struggle as there are only the two therapists and the one he was unhappy with, the other has a waiting list a mile long. My next step is to talk to my insurance company in hopes that they may be able to direct us. We will not know about the show opportunity for another 2-3 weeks, and he needs help now.

You're so welcome.

You're so welcome.

I empathize with your situation since it sounds like right now this tv thing is the only treatment prospect you have. I had trouble finding treatment options as well. Eventually I flew to another state for inpatient/residential treatment. Perhaps that can be an option if he is willing to accept treatment.

Have you tried reaching out to the NEDA helpline? It's toll free and maybe they can offer in-person alternatives like finding a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and uses Skype to treat some patients. I'm pretty sure there is an app for finding medical professionals and treatment is only provided online through skype or facetime, but I'm not sure I can share the specific name of the company on this site. I think it's against guidelines to endorse or promote products. With that said, try googling some key words and see if you find a way to connect with a professional that accepts your insurance without having going to an actual office.

I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

Full Disclosure

I don't think it's a good idea to let your son agree to be on a television show if he doesn't know exactly what he's getting himself into. Recovery is only truly possible if the individual desires it. If he thinks the television show is highlighting his "weight loss transformation" rather than his eating disorder, he's not truly consenting to the process. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the situation, but I think you should be honest and frank with him prior to any sort of formal commitment.

Hi! I'm so sorry to hear

Hi! I'm so sorry to hear about your son. It must be really difficult as a parent to handle that, but so far you have taken the right actions.

Thanks for reaching out!

Hi Sandy,

Thank you for reaching out to the NEDA Forum. We would like to inform you that a portion of your post was edited due to endorsement of outside sources. What might have worked for some individuals might not work for the other individual. You can see the full guidelines to the NEDA Forums here:

Thank you,

NEDA Moderator