National Eating Disorders Association

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sister doesn't want to change

Hi everyone,

I've come here because I have absolutely no idea what to do anymore.

About 3-4 years ago (when I was living in another state) my beautiful sister was being bullied and ended up dropping A LOT of weight. Looking back on this period she admits she got there by constant exercise and not eating. At the time we kind of laughed about it, but I can see now how serious it was.

Living interstate I guess it was easier for me to see through photos just HOW much weight my sister had lost. I ended up calling Mum and telling her that I was worried and thought she needed to talk to my sister and seek some help.

My sister was eventually diagnosed with an eating disorder. For a short period it looked like things were going to change in her lifestyle, but before we knew it she was in her old ways. I remembered that mum had said the doctor and psych said it was very easy and common to relapse and that they just needed continual support. So that's what we did. That's what we have done for ages. Tried not to make any judgements and just continually be supportive of her getting healthier.

This year I moved back with my parents for a year so my sister and I are now living together. This has changed things a lot. My sister has grown different behaviours to what she had before. If I go to the gym - she will not speak to me for the rest of the day. She hates when I exercise. She's constantly snappy at me and all about competition. She will ask me what I've done that day, just to tell me about the massive amount of exercise she's done. I try to see this from a different angle - that exercise and food are 'her thing' and that if I am trying to do that it's taking away from her, but lately it's just become way too much. I can see that it's completely taken over her life and just want to help her!

Earlier this year she was told that it is likely she will go into early menopause and that she most likely will never be able to have children. She was devastated and I thought surely this is a wake up call about her lifestyle. But STILL, everything is exactly the same. She crys and screams at me if I even touch a drop of one of her 'healthy products.' She never sees friends or goes to restaurants with the family because of the menu. No matter how many dieticians, psych's or doctors she goes to see, everything still remains exactly the same.

I get so angry inside when people say to her 'wow you do so well restraining yourself from bad food' or 'god you're good going to the gym everyday' or 'your body is looking amazing'. I just want to scream at them, STOP commenting on her lifestyle, it's not healthy and you saying these things are contributing to it!!!!

She also has her own fitness instagram account which she will not let me or any of the family be apart of. She has heaps of followers and one day I tracked it down on the internet and saw all these pictures she was posting of her 'perfect lifestyle' which is so annoying because people believe this stuff!

Anyway, in a month I will be moving back interstate and just worried that my family has grown so complacent with everything that's happening. I just don't know what the next step is. She's fully aware of all the health risks but still wants to 'keep up her following' and to keep looking the way she is. I'm so confused and frustrated because she is also constantly judging my lifestyle. All i want to do is to see her start living healthily (mind and body).

Hi dontunderstand!

We are glad that you are finding support here on the NEDA forums. A portion of your post was edited due to the mention of specific foods that may be triggering to other forum members. Our community guidelines are always available to review here:

In the event you need further assistance please call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-Th 9-9 F 9-5 EST).
Again, thank you for posting, and we hope you will continue to do so!

Hi dontunderstand!

Welcome to the forums! I'm so sorry to hear about your sister. I recommend checking out the Parent Toolkit - its not just for parents - available here:

The Toolkit has a lot of great resources, including information on treatment and how to talk to loved ones about treatment and their eating disorder. I hope you find something that can help you!

Try to remember that when your sister says something that angers you, its not her talking, its her eating disorder. She might not mean what she says, even though it seems like she does. Stay strong for her and for yourself!




This sort of stuff is *really* unsettling for sure ! People with EDs are often in that crazy and frantic place where it seems that nothing, and no outside influences can touch them, or have any sort of influence on the direction they are taking themselves. "Full speed ahead" seems to be their mantra when they are in that stage of their ED, and they'll let nothing turn them aside.

They are "Hangry" and easily irritated too, as they move forward in their quest for perfection. I mean what : Are you trying to be better than her, when you go the the gym yourself ? "Comparing" becomes an obsession too, and they are surrounded by threats on all sides.

And then she has the Instagram account, where lays out the perfection she's constantly achieving for herself, and trolls for admiration and approval ?

Things sound pretty bad alright, so you are certainly right to be concerned.

And what about the "support" thing ? Sure we want to be supportive of our loved ones, but the problem with that can be that first they have to provide us with something to support. And to be frank, it doesn't sound like she's providing you with much to grab onto, when it comes to something like that.

However, usually at some point in the game, the person begins to realize that things aren't quite as great as they think they are. They start loosing friends, it gets harder and harder to get out of the house, all of the varied things they used to enjoy doing hold no draw for them anymore, and their ability to let anything other than thoughts about food and exercise exist in their head begins to go right in the tank. Even in the midst of all this, these sorts of realizations can begin to creep in, and I'd not be surprised if some of the increases in her edginess are coming from that kind of growing awareness.

Like maybe she's not as much in control of things as her ED has been trying to tell her she is ?

Uh oh….

But it's like Birdie said : Until she's able to label any of this as a problem herself, it's really difficult to know what to do.

If anything, perhaps once you have left and should you find yourself writing to her, you could say something like…." I know you may be having some difficulties with things these days , so I want you to know that I'm on your side."

What you imagine those difficulties might be….I really don't think that you need to spell that part out.

But she will begin to be having some I guarantee you, and that may be the next important phase in all this.