For Parents & Loved Ones

These are words from those in Recovery. When asked “What do you wish parents/loved ones would understand about recovery – these are their responses.


I wish my parents would have realized I WAS sick. That it wasn’t something I just chose to do. I had mental problems, not “demons.”

I think I’d like people to know that it is more than the weight or the food

Eating disorders/addictions are diseases. We can’t just choose to be different. It takes work; even if you don’t understand it, acceptance and support would be great.

That it’s not about the food or “beauty”…. there are almost always underlying issues that don’t go away just by eating and/or gaining weight. In other words, just because we’re in a healthy weight range (or working towards one) doesn’t mean everything is all better.


It’s not their fault, and to stop saying “sorry”

It’s not all their fault


It’s a process. That just because I’m in recovery, doesn’t mean that I will never slip or relapse, or have bad days.

My parents realizing that recovery is not a straight line up has been good

It’s a process and doesn’t change overnight.

Some moments/days are better than others.

That *it takes time*. And that I need them to trust my treatment team.

That there will be setbacks, that as much as they would like me to, I cannot really go to them with my ED thoughts and expect any really help.

It’s not that easy and it’s an ongoing process and it’s HARD and not just a simple black & white rational choice


When I get all mad and upset, it’s not that I’m mad or upset at them, it’s just the only way to fight it.

I am really trying and hate lying to them but it’s no longer my control, it can’t just be stopped by being told to. Parents shouldn’t feel bad that this happened, it’s not their fault at all. I did this to myself and can’t stop it alone

I’m really scared about the damage I have done to my body which we know and maybe don’t yet know…that I don’t want to be a statistic…that I am afraid every time I reach a goal or feel stronger emotionally that it will all disappear and be overshadowed by the eating disorder…that when I quit being the “perfect people pleaser” and become who I am on the other side, it may be weird for ALL of us but it will be more HONEST and that makes it worth it.


I have a need for healthy boundaries

That pushing boundaries is not a good way to help. People will move through the process at their own pace. DON’T PUSH.

As much as I push away I need someone to push back 10xs harder. When I say I’m okay or don’t want to talk that is when I really need to talk. when something seems off that prob. means something is off. no matter how strong i may seem i really am not and am just a girl scared of the world but too prideful to say anything or do anything about it


Their participation is valuable in my recovery process

Recovery doesn’t stop at the end IOP DTP. That’s just the beginning talking, that it’s not just about saying “honey i think your pretty”, it’s hard for both parties to talk about these feelings

You cannot recover alone.


Don’t give advice, don’t judge, and never say I told you so

First of all, I wish they believed how sick I really was, and that I wasn’t faking or attention seeking. If they knew how sick I was, maybe they could appreciate the incredibly long and painful journey I have been on, and maybe they would be PROUD of how far I have come… My recovery is my proudest accomplishment of my entire life and it means nothing to them. (that is referring to my parents- my real family, my fiance, is amazing and seems to understand me more than I understand myself!)

I know when I’m doing something eating disordered, and that I’m working to gradually give more behaviors up. In the meantime, it doesn’t help to hear “That’s eating disordered.” It just makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Positively supporting and reinforcing the PROGRESS I’m making is much, much more helpful.

Telling me to eat does not help me recover at all. Believing me when I say I feel fat instead of trying to convince me that I am not. Just be there. Give me a hug not a lecture. Recovery will not happen overnight. It is a lot of work and slow progress.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. Hugs, Joni

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