National Eating Disorders Association

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New here and at a loss

Hello everyone.

My daughter (age 15) recently got out of inpatient treatment for severe depression and threats of suicide. While she was there, she was placed on an "eating watch" where she had to turn in daily food logs. She was later diagnosed with an eating disorder (NOS). She has been home for just over a week now.

On her first day home, we went shopping and picked out several food items that she can grab easily and eat, with minimal preparation (her depression takes away her motivation to do pretty much anything, and I can't wait on her hand and foot - I have two jobs and three other kids I must attend to). She was excited to be out of treatment and seemed really motivated to make some positive changes. She even had her days scheduled to mimic the schedule she kept in treatment. The schedule seemed to help her quite a bit.

Within two days of her discharge, however, everything changed. She's basically stopped eating entirely. While she did have bouts of not eating prior to treatment, it was never as severe as it is right now. I could usually entice her to eat one of her favorite foods fairly easily by simply putting it in front of her. But now, no matter what I do, say or put in front of her, she refuses to eat anything at all. If she does eat, it's only very minimal. Today she ate very little.

In everything I've read and been told, I shouldn't push. I shouldn't threaten. I shouldn't force her to eat or engage in a battle of wills. But, at the same time, I cannot just let my child slowly starve herself to death. I'm told I should be supportive while working to encourage her to engage in her own treatment (she sees a therapist multiple times per week), but that's absolutely worthless at this point.

I talked to her briefly tonight and said we need to come up with a plan together, something that will get her back on track and eating every day. I was gentle and loving, but firm. She knows I'm frustrated. Her response was "whatever. you can't make me eat." And she's right. I can't. She has absolutely no interest in getting better right now. None. Zero.

So, what can I do? Certainly I'm not expected to just sit back and watch her slowly starve while her health deteriorates, right?

Any advice?

Hi Tyeryann,

First, welcome to the forums. I hope you find the advice and support you're looking for here! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

It sounds like your daughter's recent EDNOS diagnosis came as somewhat of a surprise to you, so try to be kind to yourself and give yourself time to wrap your head around this. From what you've written, it's clear that you're a dedicated, hardworking parent who is willing to take the time to research and ask questions to try and make the best decisions for your children. Your daughter is already better off for having a parent like you who is willing to learn more about EDs and try to help.

NEDA has a lot of great information on their website that might be helpful. An especially useful resource is the Parent Toolkit:

You mentioned that your daughter is seeing a therapist, but it sounds like you aren't sure if this therapist will be helpful when it comes to ED issues. Is this person a certified ED professional? You might ask them if they have any referrals to ED professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists, nutritionists) in your area. You can also call the NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237; Mon-Thur 9am-9pm, Fri 9am-5pm) to find out about professionals and other treatment resources in your area. It might be helpful for you and your daughter to talk to someone who has more experience working with EDs specifically.

You've already taken some great steps by posting here, doing your research, and by establishing open communication with your daughter. Unfortunately, EDs and depression often go hand-in-hand, and this co-occurrance can make treatment more complicated. I hope you can take advantage of the resources on the NEDA site to find out more and help your daughter move towards recovery. You're in a tough situation, to be sure. Ultimately, the person suffering from the ED has to want to recover and come to the decision on their own--you can help them along, but you're right, you can't force it. Just make it clear that you're there for her, and that you care about her and you want her to be healthy and well.

You might encourage your daughter to check out NEDA's resources (including this forum!), such as the Proud2BMe online community, which is targeted towards teens and has a lot of great recovery-oriented and body positive information: .

I hope this helps at least somewhat! Please know that recovery is possible, and know that we're all here for you on the forums. Best of luck to you and to your family, Tyeryann!