Things to say to after your daughter tells you she has bulimia

“I have bulimia!”

These are shocking words that almost no parent wants to hear. If your daughter has the courage to open up to you and talk about her struggle with bulimia, we have a few tips to guide you through the conversation.

  • Just listen Take the time to listen to what your daughter is telling you. Many conversations are a steady back and forth of spewing ideas with little listening. Listen carefully to what your daughter is saying. You will learn a lot by just listening.
  • Don’t rush to judgement or make assumptions. Try not to judge her about why she has bulimia or make assumptions about her mental or physical wellbeing.
  • Be caring Let your daughter know that you care about her and that you can be a shoulder for her to lean on.
  • Tell her that you care Your daughter is probably scared, nervous, and confused. She might even be depressed. Let her know how much you care about her. **Being caring and telling a person that you care are two completely different things. Sometimes a person needs to hear the words “I care about you”.
  • Do not give advice or criticism. Even though your daughter talking with you about bulimia is probably a very emotional and unsettling experience for you, be careful not to give advice or criticism. Take time to absorb what she has talked to you about before making a plan of what to do.

Things to do after your daughter tells you she has bulimia

:

  • Learn about bulimia. Knowing about bulimia will help you understand what to expect.
  • Join a support group. There are many, many, many support groups for parents of children with bulimia. Support groups are important and will help you navigate through your mixed bag of emotions and feelings. We have compiled a list of free bulimia hotlines and support groups.

Bulimia, Remission and Recovery

Dear Brenda,

Please help my wife and I, we’re having a rough time in our relationship. She has a history of bulimia. And while she confesses that she no longer suffers from this condition, the constant lack of normal eating during meal times creates an awkward feeling at the dinner table.

Everything in her daily life has to stick to a strict regimen; I understand this is a trait of bulimia sufferers. I would like to find some information that would open her eyes to what she is doing to herself and others around her.


Dear Please-Help-My-Wife
,

While your wife might confess that “she no longer suffers” from bulimia, the truth of the matter is that your wife has been in what most clinicians would call “remission” or “recovery.” And you should know that this is an ongoing process.

Your wife uses food so that she doesn’t have to confront feelings or experiences that make her uncomfortable.

Relapses happen. It doesn’t mean that her whole recovery is trashed, it only means she needs the support and space to figure out what is challenging now in her life. She needs you to be non-judgmental and compassionate. You can encourage her to try some of the therapies that have had success with some bulimics, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) group or individual and/or anti-depressants. Please know that the recovery work is up to your wife.

Food will always be an issue for your wife and the spouse or family of a bulimic can be their greatest source of support. And I hear your need for your wife to know what her behavior is doing to the family, but something is making your wife uncomfortable. So rather then put her on the defensive by telling what her behavior is doing to the family, use “I” messages to let her know your feelings or concerns. Support her on this journey of recovery and find a therapist or a trusted friend to help support you as well.

Brenda

Memories of my battle with eating disorders

Every Tuesday, Mama shares a personal story. This story was sent to us by an Anonymous person.
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I am 22 now, and I would like to share my story about my past with eating disorders.

I was a chubby child. My mother took me to a child psychologist when I was only four years old. As I grew older my mother continued to make comments about my weight. Coupled with pressure from the media to be thin, I began my journey with eating disorders.

As I hit puberty, my weight ballooned and I became bulimic at 14. I also felt pressure to be thin because I was drum major of my band and president of several social and academic clubs in my high school.

I grew up in a wealthy family with a live in housekeeper. I always found ways to hide my bulimia from her.

I was only bulimic for two years before I realized I wasn’t losing weight and my health was declining.

At 16, my mother bought me Metabolife. (Yes, that was when ephedra was legal). Metabolife was the catalyst that started my life-long battle with bipolar disorder. I became manic and ate nothing but a snickers bar each day.

I am 5’6″ and I got pretty skeletal. When I was diagnosed, I was put on Lithium, which made me gain 60 lbs.

I moved to NYC for college at a prestigious fashion school and became manic and suicidal at the same time.

I was so mentally unstable that I got into a situation where I was slipped a date rape drug and nearly died. I woke up convulsing in St. Vincent’s emergency room, the main trauma center for 911.

Four years have passed and I am now stable and on medication. I am a healthy and muscular size 0 and food no longer rules my life.

I am an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, and even though I have reached my ideal image and have a healthy level of self-confidence, memories of my battle with eating disorders are never far from my mind.

– Anonymous

Everyday Is A New Day: my struggle to stay thin

Every Tuesday, Mama shares a personal story. This story was sent to us by Haley.
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“Everyday is a new day,” I would say to myself and pretend tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow will be different. Well yeah, it’s not Monday anymore, but the same struggles and bad feelings are still there. They don’t just creep off in my sleep, but they sometimes show up in my dreams.

I suffer from bulimia. Like many people who suffer, I chose to keep it to myself. I guess that is part of the disease, to be sneaky and mysterious, but for me that is the worst thing.

I have always been open about my problems and I’ve always been able to talk to people about things most people would be embarrassed to talk about. But, I enjoy embarrassing moments, I live for them! It’s part of my quirky personality. Although, I don’t feel very honest when I describe myself anymore.

My bulimia has gotten really bad and I feel like I am mean and rudely sarcastic. I feel under pressure with the smallest tasks. I find sorry excuses to flake on people and class. All I have in life right now is school, and I can’t even dedicate myself to school. It use to make me happy, courageous, motivated and creative, but now I dread getting ready and seeing people.

I hate to leave the house, but I hate to be home alone. On times when no one is around and I have that little thought about food, I freak. I try so hard to think of something else because I can not be alone. I used to be able to be alone, actually.

Now, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I wish I could give up and turn myself in, tell someone, or go get help, but I am not as courageous. I feel like I am dying a slow death. That isn’t very courageous, now is it?

– Haley

My eating disorder story: It all started with a food allergy

Every Tuesday, Mama shares a Story. Today’s story was sent in by an Person who battled anorexia and bulimia

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My story may seem a little different…

I have a lot of intolerances and allergies to food. One day I had a bad allergic reaction to something I had eaten, it left me in bed for 4 days recovering. Whilst I was recovering I made a vow that I wouldn’t eat food again that way I would never have to experience an anaphylactic shock again. From that day I only ate a small amount of broccoli and every now and then I would have an apple. I lived like this for months I soon lost a lot of weight and become 5stone 5lbs. My hair was falling out, I had permanent cold sores and cracked lips, I had bed sores on my bones that had been touching the bed for to long, I bruised easily, I had bad heart palpitations and many other problems. Not only did this effect my physical health, it ruined my soul.

After a year or so I was still frightened to eat but it was more than the average loss of confidence I had anorexia, it was like id forgotten why I stopped eating and anorexia took over. My 3 year old niece ate more than I did and my clothes had gone down to age 8 to 9 years when I was 23 yeas old. My mum is a healer and luckily for me she found out about my problem and gave me lots of Reiki treatment and love and care, after about a year I ate a little bit more but I would suffer with constipation and bloatedness. So I would then eat and be sick. This soon became a familiar pattern and not only was I seriously underweight; when I ate I was sick therefore I was bulimic too.

It was like living with another person in my head constantly telling me you can’t eat this and you shouldn’t eat that and all I really wanted deep deep down was a meal and to feel well. I decided enough was enough, not only was I suffering but my family was so worried about me. I refused to get the professional help I needed at the start, so for about 10 months I managed to get well little by little day by day on my own but my health was wrecked. I had terrible pains in my bones especially in my shins and I hadn’t had a period in 4 years so I went to the doctors. They then referred me to an eating disorder association and I was given a psychiatrist to help me. It was hard, everyday was a task whether it is fighting demons in my head or overcoming the physical effect it’s had on me but I got there! I still haven’t had a period and I don’t have hunger pains I actually pass out before I get hunger pains so I have to clock check to see if its time to eat to get my body in a natural pattern and I also have osteoporosis but luckily it’s not getting worse. My hair is a lot thicker, my skin is not as pale and I don’t have cold sores anymore, I don’t feel desperately cold anymore and I have lots more confidence. I now have a better social life and I smile a lot more!

When you think there is no way out and no human being can help you, your wrong… you just have to let go of the past and be willing to forgive yourself and the past that may have triggered your eating disorder. Put your hands up high along with your head and pride and surrender…. I did and I’m now well.

God Bless and God luck 😉

– Anonymous

A mother’s story

Every Tuesday, Mama shares a Story. Today’s story was sent in by an Anonymous Mother

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I am 25, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a college student, a lover, and I am bulimic.

It’s so sad that with so much beauty in my life, I can’t find one thing that will give me the strength to overcome this.

It all started in college. Weird, right? There are many things that I could blame, but why? I felt inadequate, worthless, unimportant, overweight, and out of touch with what was going on around me.

It was just supposed to be a health kick. I was feeling great! I was running, eating healthy, cleaning out the negative energy around me, really loving life. Remember that feeling?

The first time it happened, I just felt guilty for working so hard on my perfect, healthy, lifestyle and then, eating so much. How dare I go outside my daily caloric intake? My friend did it and so did I. It wasn’t that bad but unfortunately, one time turned into two and then two into weeks and then weeks into….wow I can’t believe it has been haunting me for seven years.

So, here I am, sitting at my desk after teaching all day to such wonderful children, waiting until 5 so I can go pick up my 10 month old, beautiful, little boy, and in tears because I don’t know what to do.

Here I am sitting, at 25, more lost than I have ever been, looking up doctors and support groups online because I can’t do it alone anymore.

Here I am sitting, as a mother, looking into her sons eyes everyday and apologizing because I don’t know why I am doing this, how to stop it, or what effects it is taking on my body, and how long I will be able to look into his eyes.

Here I am sitting, as a daughter, hating the pain that she has caused her own mother and father.

Here I am sitting, as a friend, hiding behind fake smiles and laughs just so I can hear someone else’s voice on the other end of the phone.

Here I am sitting, as a lover, filled with sorrow for all of the early turn ins, all of the “I love you’s'” that were never said, all of the cries in the middle of the night without an explanation, and all of the questions left unanswered.

Here I am sitting, as a college student, wondering why I am so educated, and yet, so trite to think that this isn’t a problem.

And here I am sitting, as a bulimic, hoping that someone will hear my cry and answer, with what, I do not know. Maybe something that will let me know that one day I will be able to stick my tongue out at that cloud and live the life that I was meant to live.

– Anonymous Mother