National Eating Disorders Association

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Parent dealing with Binging/Purging

It's been six years now that my daughter went from being anorexic to bulimic. She is now 24. There have been some good days, but more bad days lately. As a parent with a daughter having this illness, I know and have read the all the books, how I should behave around her, what to say and not to say, etc. She has had several therapists thru the years and I see a therapist as well. I just am wondering how others have been able to not lose it, stay calm, and ride this awful disease out. What does it finally take to turn her life around? Occasionally, my patience wears thin and I do lose my control. Most of the time, I try and hold it in, but it is so hard to watch her do this for so long. There is that saying, "You are only as happy as your saddest child".
Nothing could be more true. Any words of advice?

Helpful Advice Info

Hi Joey2016,

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's suffering from ED. I know it's incredibly hard on not only your daughter but yourself as well. I applaud you for being so awesome! It's not easy but your love supersedes every these obstacles. Hang in there! You've made it this far through these 6 years but I hope and pray that this year will be the end of your daughter's ED. And she's see the love that you've shown down through the years and see how beautiful she is inside and out!!!!! :)

I hope and pray nothing but the very best for you and your daughter. And I pray this year when it's all over her joy will be happiness for the both of you!!!!!!!!! God Bless you both!!!! :)


Hi Joey2016,
I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter! Has going to therapy helped her? Does her therapist specialize in EDs? If not, NEDA has information on local resources (1-800-931-2237). Is she seeing a dietician too? You may also want to look at this page: It's hard always saying the right thing and remaining in control of your emotions in situations like this, I'm glad you are also getting help. Please keep us updated!


Hi Joey2016

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I am glad to hear that you are in counseling, I hope it is helping you. I remember being so worried about saying the wrong thing, it was like walking on egg shells. My daughter would say they we treated her like she was fragile, and she hated it, but she was fragile.
I have only been going through this for a year, so I do not know how hard it would be to be doing this for six years. I do know that at times I felt like I was standing below a damn that had just broken and I was just trying to survive and not drown. I found that counseling helped and letting myself find happiness and joy. I also struggled with doing anything for myself, even sitting outside for 5 minutes and watching the sunset. Once I started letting myself take a break and enjoy doing little things for myself, it helped a lot. I also prayed a lot, especially at 4am.
I can understand wanting to keep your emotions under control, I work on doing that, but there are times that my emotions just come out. I now realize that it is okay to let my emotions be seen. It actually helps my daughter realize that I care.. That I am not perect and that she does not have to be perfect. Please do not be too hard on yourself. You love your daughter and it sounds like you are a wonderful parent. None of us are perfect, and when I finally realized that I did not have to be perfect for my daughter to overcome ED, it took a lot of stress off my shoulders.
I hope that things get better for you and your daughter. Don't give up hope.

Thirteen Years

My daughter (youngest of three, twin sisters a year older who are happy and healthy) was diagnosed as anorexic at the age of ten. We celebrated her 11th birthday in the hospital, where she spent a month inpatient with forced feedings and separation from the family. She is now 23 years old and she has advanced through the years to having a clinical diagnosis of bulimia/anorexia/social anxiety. She has been inpatient twice. She has seen several counselors and been through numerous physicians, all of whom, when they learned the depth of her history, opted to discontinue treatment. We were supposedly fortunate enough to have physicians in our area that specialized in eating disorders. I believe they made things worse. She has subsequently been turned down for various reasons by a handful of local groups who specialize in eating disorders. Their reasons ranged from "we aren't accepting new patients" to "she's physically in danger and we won't take the chance that she could die on us." Literally. I'm not exaggerating. I've read a ton of literature, and lived a ton of grief over this. A few bitter observations that we, as a family, have made: Most ED counsellors and counseling programs are really only looking toward "treating" angsty teenagers whose parents have the resources to pay regularly until their children move past those difficult teen years. They are then "cured" and the provider's success standing for the insurers is secured. A patient who suffers from true ED along with it's multiple co-diagnoses, is left out in the cold. There is nobody who really knows how to handle this illness or knows how to teach her to cope with it, much less cure it, and insurances only go so far in paying for the long-term treatment that would help. In our current society, you are better off claiming drug or alcohol dependency, which is instantly regarded as requiring life-long, complete support and for which there are extensive support mechanisms available. I am at a loss for what to do for an adult daughter who cannot seem to find a counsellor who will stick with her. They listen to her history and pass her on to associates who "might be able to help." The associates either do not respond to phone calls, or respond by telling us that they are not accepting new patients. Unable to keep a job, she is fully dependent on her father and me with no alternatives in sight. In my heart I sometimes refer to her as my "forever" child. While the parents of a drug addict can look forward to their child receiving subsidized counseling and the assistance of social services, including living quarters and financial aid, eating disorders are not recognized. I'm sorry I don't have a happier story. I wish somebody did. As an aside, I find it very disquieting that the inpatient programs she has been to go cold-turkey into forced feeding, without trying to determine the underlying reason for the behavior. I do understand that the program's objective is to stabilize the physical side of the patient in preparation for outpatient treatment; i.e., get the body weight to a less dangerous level, but after discharge, she was left to her own devices for THREE WEEKS before (we were told) the insurance was cleared for a day treatment program that would have helped her to continue any progress she made while inpatient. During that three week time period she relapsed and was subsequently DENIED by the outpatient organization to which she had been referred. Want to talk about broken hearts?? I am bitter. And I am convinced that we are on our own with this. There is nobody who really knows how to help. Somebody prove me wrong. Please.

I'm so sorry to hear that

I'm so sorry to hear that things have been so tough for so long debraen. First of all, I want to say that I appreciate your candor as well as your loyalty to your daughter. I imagine that you've gone above and beyond in supporting your daughter; and it sounds to me that you've done more for your child than most parents have to for theirs. Sadly I do not have as much experience with in and out patient treatment in this case. I did, however, come across a post by another user that had a tone of NEDA links in it. I'll post those here:

I would also consider calling the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237
They're available from 9:00am-9:00pm EST Mon-Thurs and 9:00am-5:00pm Friday
You can talk to a trained volunteer who might be able to send you some new information. I hope that helps and best of luck.

Hi Debraen, Perhaps you might

Hi Debraen, Perhaps you might think about looking for a different type of therapy. DBT has been recommended for my daughter. it is not designed specifically for eating disorders, but it can be helpful for motivating people to be forward looking. If you are getting nowhere with ED specialists, DBT may be helful for your daughter.

Joey2016, my D has also gone from anorexic to bulimic. I know that shame is a big emotion for my d. It is frustrating but if you keep in mind that they are suffering, it may help to temper your reaction. If you can point out facts without blaming it may be helpful.