National Eating Disorders Association

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In patient hospitalization

My college age daughter first told me about her eating disorder in July. She has been seeking therapy but I have noticed it getting worst and have become really really worried about her. She told me this morning that she is checking into an inpatient hospital on Friday. I am so so so glad she is getting the help that she needs and she is initiating it (hopefully that means she is ready to accept the help). At the same time, I am overwhelmed by the unknown. I don't know where to turn. I don't want to burden her with my emotions so I try not to unload them in front of her. Can someone please tell me if this is normal? My biggest goal in my life was to not screw up my kids like my parents did and now here I am feeling like I clearly failed at it.


Hi JScales99,

Thank you so much for posting here and sharing with us! I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's eating disorder, but am glad to hear that she will get the help she needs through inpatient. It does sound like she is ready to take ownership of her recovery and that is such a positive step forward, as she has to want to recover for herself and it seems like she is in that mental . I can totally imagine how overwhelmed you feel and can ensure you it is totally normal to feel this way. Is there any way you could seek therapy for yourself in order to freely discuss your emotions and worry about your daughter in a safe place?

I am a daughter who has achieved stable recovery after years of disordered eating and I know how distressed my own mother was, especially in the aftermath where she felt as if she was unsure of the extent of my pain during that time of my life- and wondered if it was the result of the family dynamic or anything she did/did not do. I can assure you that eating disorders are such a complex illness that encompasses so many factors, such as genetics/biology, personality tendencies, and methods of coping, none of which is is any way your fault. There is never one thing we can point to in terms of how an eating disorder emerged, therefore it was NOT a result of any of your actions. I hope you can come into full belief and acceptance of this truth that you did not fail her, but in the meantime, it seems like you have so much care and love for your daughter in what she is going through. She is blessed to have you.

I wanted to offer NEDA's Parent Toolkit as a resource in case you wanted to look into more information in supporting your daughter. You can access it here:

Please keep us posted and let us know how you and your daughter are doing. I will be praying for you both!



Hi jscales1999,
I am so glad that your daughter is seeking help. It is so hard, confusing, overwhelming, feelings of relief, anxiety, and sadness all at once or in waves. It is very normal to have these feelings and sometimes to even be numb. I hope that she does well in the program. I believe in healing, health, and conquering ED, it is a long hard road, but it happens. Hope is very powerful.
It is so natural for us as parents to want the best for our kids and to want them to not suffer and to make good choices. When life happens to our kids and they have trials, suffer and make bad choices, we then ask ourselves what we did wrong, what could we have changed, how do we fix it. That is the hard part of being a parent, a lot of those things are out of our control. That does not make us bad parents. It took me a long time to realize that. I need to take my kids choices out of the equation when I evaluate how good of a parent I have been. Have I loved my child, have I taught them good things, have I spent time with them, have I listened to them, have I set boundaries for them (even if they do not keep those boundaries), and do I have good intentions? It sounds like you love your daughter very much and that you have worked hard at being a good parent. Please be kind to yourself. Eating Disorders are very destructive. They also alter how the person with the ED sees life, themselves, and their loves ones.
You are not alone. I waited months before I got my own councilor and I wish I had gone to him sooner. It helped me a lot get things more balanced in my life and just to have extra support. Please keep us informed of how she is doing and how you are doing.
It was one of the hardest days of my life to leave my 15 year old daughter in a hospital. She was mad and scared. I was so sad and felt horrible. We talk about it now and both know that it saved her life and that it was a turning point we needed. It has still been a lot of work and some very hard times, yet it has made a huge difference. She has come a long way. I have also learned a lot in the process. There is hope and healing. Please take care of yourself. ED is very draining on loved ones..

Thanks. Today has been rough.

Thanks. Today has been rough. Last night her best friend told me that my daughter didn't want me to go with her to the hospital. She didn't think she could leave if I was there. So he took her. They admitted her to a unit at the hospital until there is a bed open at the eating disorder clinic. I have no idea how long she'll be gone or when I'll even hear from her again.

Me again

I should of read this before replying to your first post. The important thing is that she is there however she managed it. Not sure how your relationship has been, but our son insisted that he needed to be inpatient so he would not have conflict with us trying to get him to eat etc. Stay in touch via the friend and see if you can get her to agree to a visit at some point. We are trying to figure how to manage the conversation during the visits now. It's like walking through a mine field. We decided we will move the conversation away from food and not discuss the future too much. He gets overwhelmed so easily. Heavy emotions are not well tolerated. That is what we have found so far.


Our son just started inpatient last Tuesday. Try not to be too hard on yourself. We felt the same way. Sometimes I think they have to hit bottom before they seek help. About a week before our son went into the program he passed out due to low heart rate and low BP. Scared us and really scared him as well. His attitude changed after that.
The people that run these programs are experts and will help your daughter beat this. You just have to support her. It's tricky to figure out what to talk to them about when you visit. That's the challenge you have right now. You did not screw her up. This just happened.


Hi JScales1999,

I just wanted to check in with you and see what you have heard from your daughter/how she is doing?

Praying for ya'll- please keep us posted! <3