National Eating Disorders Association

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An open letter to my husband

Dear Husband,
I know you and I have our differences when it comes to our child's eating disorder. You were a child of the stout, hardy, conservative, old school, Midwestern stuff. I come from a more liberal, fluid, accepting, although no less dysfunctional family. Yours simply didn't appear to be from the outside. And that's what it's all about for you isn't it? Appearances.
When I tried to discuss with you, our child's dramatic weight loss, you said the child should simply "eat more." This, from the same person who, just months before, had called that same child, chunky. When I made the suggestion that we could move all your electronics downstairs so our child could have the upstairs to study and be as far away from the kitchen as possible, you said, "don't let's be ridiculous. Our child should simply stop going into the kitchen."
Let's suppose for a moment, that our child was in a wheelchair. We would do certain things to accommodate our child, would we not? We would widen the doorways. Move the dishes to the lower cabinets. Move our child's bedroom downstairs, so no stairs would be necessary to get to the bedroom or bathroom. We would do anything we could to make our child's struggle with illness a little less taxing whenever and wherever we could. Would we not?
An eating disorder is an illness. No less than being confined to a wheelchair. Why would you accommodate one illness and not the other? I know you don't think ED is a "real" illness, and that you don't believe our child is truly "ill." However, just because you don't believe it, doesn't make it not real. ED does not need your belief in it, to exist.
So, when our child asks if you can turn down your TV, and turn off the lights, and please not eat upstairs in front of the TV and please not leave your jar of peanut butter out on the coffee table where it is visible and within easy reach, know that our child is asking these things because our child is struggling. Our child needs to be distant from these distractions and temptations. Refusing to acquiesce to our child's requests, is akin to refusing our wheelchair-bound child a dish from the high cupboard. Isn't it our job to help our children? Isn't it our job, as parents, to ease their suffering in any way we can?
So, if, in the near future, you come home from work,to find all your electronics have been moved downstairs near the kitchen, and a calm, quiet, work area has been provided for our child, as far from the kitchen as possible, upstairs, you will know that I, at least, am doing everything I can to minimize our child's struggle with this illness, and trying as best I can to help our child to overcome a very real, very visible illness.
Signed, Wife.

An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear MareckScott,

I can sense your pain and frustration as you struggle to help your child. You are correct. An eating disorder (is NOT something someone asks for). It definitely is an illness.

I personally battled an ED when I was in high school and relapsed in college, and nearly died. This was many years ago. Like most parents, siblings and loved ones of someone battling and ED, they simply don't know enough about the life-threatening illness, and don't know how to help their loved ones.

When I was battling my ED, my father was in denial. Again, it was, in large part, due to lack of knowledge regarding ED's.Plus, there's shame often times associated with an ED, and there shouldn't be. The more family/friends can "accept" and "support" their loved one, and help them to secure the professional treatment, the greater their chance for recovery.

I've pasted the NEDA link for the Parent's Toolkit below. I believe you and your husband will find this to be an incredibly valuable tool. I'm hopeful it will bring you both together as you create a plan of action for your child so you can be on the same page, working towards the same loving goal.

Please consider contacting the NEDA Helpline #1.800.931.2237 with any questions you might have. They can also help you locate a local therapist trained in ED's. They're available Mon. - Thurs. 9am-9pm/Fri. 9am-5pm (EST).

P.S. My parents and siblings didn't understand this life-threatening illness, and thought it was as simple as telling me to "just eat!" What they didn't realize, and I didn't either, is that when you're battling an ED, your brain chemistry changes, and thus, changes one's perception of the severity of their illness.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can do to help you, your family, and your child. We, as a forum, are here for you.

Healing hugs,
Legacy of Love