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An open letter to parents of children with eating disorders

*This blog is not medical guidance. If you have concerns about your child’s eating behaviours please consult your GP for referral and support.


Dear parent,

I know that you haven’t got a clue what to do right now, whatever you say is wrong; too caring and you are ‘suffocating’, too strict and you ‘don’t care’ and say nothing and you’re accused of ‘ignoring my needs’.

Here’s the thing about my eating disorder, it’s not me, it’s part of me but it distorts my thinking and actions at the core of my being. I don’t mean to snap at you, yell, scream, tell you that I don’t want to be here anymore, but it’s suffocating the energy out of my soul and preventing me from using logic and rationale right now. Some days I have control of it, some days it has control of me. On those days I feel like I have been taken over, I don’t recognise myself any more.

As much as everyone thinks otherwise, I didn’t get up one Monday morning and decide to invite anorexia into my life. It’s not like that, it’s not how it works. It slowly and decisively snuck into my world without my awareness, initially offering a semblance of a friend and becoming my worst enemy. Over time, it’s evil nature has become ‘normal’ and the concept of a world without it is terrifying as I can’t remember what my world is like without it. I know that I need it gone, want it gone, but it’s not as simple as ‘just eating’, everyone thinks that eating alone will fix this, but eating alone isn’t going to remove this monster. I need super powers to extract it from my mind and give me freedom of thought, super powers to restore happiness and calm and strength to put my world back together.

I know I have to eat, my body wants to eat, my mind wants to eat, I want to eat. The powers in my body, from this toxic friend tell me I am not worthy, not able, shouldn’t be eating. They want to punish me and tell me I do not deserve to. It’s like a permanent battle between mind and sense, I know I need to eat to aid my recovery, yet deny myself the things that my body needs to stay alive. I can see, on my rational days that this has no common sense, no reality. I know I need to push myself to eat, and in honesty, I need the encouragement and support to do this – but I will push you away, blame you, project on you – tell you that you don’t understand, that you do not love me – the reality is – how can anyone understand.

The problem with this eating disorder, is that the world feels freely able to comment on my weight, my eating, my appearance, my habits – they talk as though I don’t exist, it’s not behind closed doors, it’s in front of me, to my face, in my space, on open phones and the more it happens, the more I withdraw. Every comment aids the need to hide, extract myself and thus I allow myself to be drawn deeper into my toxic friend and recovery becomes harder. You may think I do not appreciate you, care for your help, the reality is that I cannot fathom how I have ended up in this space, I want to prove that I am strong enough to beat this on my own, but this toxic friend needs to become my toxic enemy and to do that I need help, right now, if you give my eating disorder an inch, it will take a mile. I need someone to set new rules with me, to collaborate with me and to find a path through the darkness to my recovery. A path that, although new, different and a little bit overwhelming, will lead me to a route of recovery, peace and restoration.To help me move from this place to become the butterfly I am capable of, to spread my wings and live the life that I deserve and am able to live when I am free of this monster.

As I take those huge steps to increase my food intake, the toxicity inside me gets smaller, please support me to keep the consistency, to keep the variety, so that I take control of the monster and keep control of the monster, but keep in mind that the causes still need addressing, my eating disorder is more than just food, it’s a feeling of not being good enough, a need to be perfect, a need to be better, a need to be someone else. This monster, this illness, this catastrophe living inside me is evil, it’s toxic but it’s my normal…..and I need everyone to help me move out of it to a new way of living where I can be free and enjoy life.

I need someone to show me how to fix that, how to heal that part of me that is; scared of the world, scared of who I am, scared of what I am capable of, scared to fulfil my potential, scared of a world where food and eating behaviours do not fill my world. In this world I have freedom, laughter, liberty, opportunity – how do I navigate that? Who will show me? How will I know what to talk about? Think about? Do? Help me to find things that make my soul come alive, activities, hobbies, behaviours that bring me joy and happiness, I’ve lost those and my recovery needs them, I need them, to help my brain work in new ways, different ways, to think differently, be different. I need healing on more levels than just food.

My eating disorder is a monster which crept into my world in silence and has wreaked havoc on me, my family and those around me, that monster sometimes takes over my mind and body, but that monster can be beaten. It will be beaten. That monster is NOT me, it may have taken up residence inside me but with the right help and guidance I will realise that I am able to beat it, that I can extract it one monster part at a time, and once my eating is restored, please ensure that my causes, my internal belief systems, my stressors and my triggers are all found and changes or safety guards put in place so that I can stay in recovery and live the life that I am worthy of, able to fulfil and is consumed with opportunities and happiness.

Most of all, know that the monster crept past you in the dead of night and had taken up residence long before you would have realised. My toxic enemy fooled us all, and you cannot be blamed for that, he’s a professional, he knows exactly what he is doing. Our job together is to beat him, cage him and banish him from our worlds.

Love always x



**Nicky experienced disordered eating at 19 and again from 25-27. Having made a full recovery and using therapy to remove her triggers and recognise her stressors she has been in recovery for over 10 years.

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